Do increased deportations mean more orderly migration?

di mercoledì, dicembre 7, 2016 0 , , Permalink

Bruxelles, 6 dicembre  2016. Intervento di Barbara Spinelli nel corso della Conferenza “Do increased deportations mean more orderly migration?” organizzata da The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) e dall’eurodeputata Birgit Sippel (S&D).

First, I would like to thank Birgit Sippel and PICUM for organizing this important conference.

To the question you ask – “Do increased deportations mean more orderly migration?” – my answer is clearly negative. Increased deportations to countries like Turkey, Libya, Eritrea, Sudan and Afghanistan are deliberately ignoring the reasons of mass flights. They seem to forget that wars, conflicts, State failures which push millions of people out of their country are the consequences of European and US military and foreign policy choices, for which we bear a special responsibility.

It’s an externalisation of European asylum and migration policy, and when I say externalisation I mean de-responsabilisation and something more: EU governments and institution are increasingly falling prey to fear: to be precise, fear of the fear felt by a growing number of EU citizens and voters, incapacity to lead and explain them that the affluence of refugees in our countries represents a mere 0,2 per cent of the EU populations. Roosevelt used to say: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. But we are experiencing something more vicious. The governments themselves are frightened by the fear of their own citizens and voters. Externalization is part of a politics of fear, and that’s the reason why we often have the impression that the EU agenda of migration is de facto in the hands of the extreme rights, and of special private interests representing the security industries.

European governments and institutions are trying to be reassuring, repeating that refugees are returned in safe countries. But the opposition coming from judicial authorities and researchers is growing: their conviction is that readmission agreements, whether bilateral or managed by the EU, infringe the rules of international law on asylum, in particular the principle of non-refoulement recognized in the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. The rules are equally infringed when the migrant is returned to transit states, where he risks being exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment and to a second return to his origin country. Some readmission agreements, also at national level, have been criticized by the EU Courts.

I am thinking in particular of the agreement between Italy and Libya concluded in 2001 (between Berlusconi and Qaddafi) that gave rise to the European Court of Human Rights’ case “Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy”, in which the Court found Italy guilty of violating several articles of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The list of migrant’s returns is long. I personally followed two grave cases: the Italian decision last year to return 20 Nigerian women victims of trafficking, and the deportation of 40 Sudanese migrants to Sudan, last summer: in this case, the forced deportations were prepared and facilitated by an agreement signed on Aug. 3 between Sudan and Italy.

These kind of agreements are extremely dangerous, because they link development aid to migration control. In the Italian-Sudanese deal, they also tend to be secretly negotiated between law enforcement authorities and not by Foreign ministries, excluding the national Parliament from any decision. The same happens in the EU institutions, as we have seen with the EU-Turkey agreement: it has been renamed “statement”, and the scrutiny by European Parliament was avoided. The EU-Turkey agreement has become a role model, imitated in the consecutive Migration compact proposed by the Italian government last April. Exactly the same happened last October 2 with the Joint Way Forward Agreement of the EU with Afghanistan, rebaptised “declaration” to avoid – again – scrutiny by this Parliament. There is a method, in European madness.

Let us consider this last agreement, which allows  Member States to deport an unlimited number of asylum seekers to Afghanistan. Amnesty International and many human rights groups were appalled to see that EU has put the condition for development aid in return for Afghan citizens.

It’s time to stop lying and fearing. Migrants and refugees returned to Afghanistan or Sudan or Eritrea face greatest dangers, these countries are not safe and that’s all. It’s not true that Afghanistan is safe and stable, as pretended by the US administration. The suffering of the people is increasing, the control of entire provinces by the Taliban has never be so extended since 2001. Isis is controlling  parts of the country. It’s simply untrue  what has been guaranteed last march in a non-paper written by the Commission and the European External Action Service: that there are “safe zones” in Afghanistan where migrants can be returned notwithstanding the general insecurity of the country.

Welcome refugees to Europe – A moral and political necessity

di lunedì, marzo 7, 2016 0 , , , Permalink

Appello lanciato da Étienne Balibar e co-firmato da Barbara Spinelli. Versione francese: Accueillir les réfugiés en Europe : Une nécessité morale et politique urgente.

Per firmare l’appello

We citizens of the Member States of the European Union, of the Schengen Area, the Balkans, of the Mediterranean, and of the Middle East as well as citizens of other countries in the world, who share our concerns, are launching an emergency appeal. To our government leaders and our representatives in national parliaments and in the European Parliament, as well as in the European Court of Human Rights and in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:

The refugees from the Middle East must be rescued and welcomed!
For years now, immigrants from the southern Mediterranean fleeing poverty, war, and repression have been drowning at sea or been dashed against barbed wire. When they have succeeded in crossing the sea, after suffering extortion at the hands of smuggler rings, they are expelled, incarcerated, or thrown into clandestinity by the states who designate them as ‘dangers’ and ‘enemies’. Despite this, they are courageously persevering and helping each other to save their lives and create hope of a future.

But since the wars of the Middle East and especially in Syria have assumed the proportions of mass slaughter with no end in sight, the scale of the situation has altered. Held hostage between the warring parties, bombed, starved, and terrorised, entire populations have been thrown into a perilous exodus that, at the price of thousands more dead, pushes men, women, and children towards neighbouring countries and knocking at Europe’s doors.

This is a major historic and humanitarian catastrophe. It presents us with a responsibility of which there is no way out.
The incapacity of the governments of all our countries to put an end to the causes of this exodus (if they are not indeed contributing to their exacerbation) does not exonerate them of the obligation to save and welcome the refugees, while respecting their fundamental rights, which, with the right to asylum, are enshrined in the foundational declarations and conventions of international law.

However, with few exceptions – Germany’s exemplary initiative, an initiative that has still not been suspended today; and the gigantic effort by Greece to rescue, welcome, and escort the thousands of survivors who daily arrive on their shores, even if its economy has been plunged into devastating austerity – Europe’s governments have refused to face the overall situation, to explain it to their populations, and to organise solidarity and go beyond national egoisms. On the contrary, from east to west and north to south, they have rejected the minimal plan for distributing the refugees worked out by the European Commission or are involved in sabotaging it. Worse, they are engaging in repression, stigmatisation, and the brutalisation of refugees and immigrants in general. The situation of the ‘jungle’ of Calais, followed now by its violent dismantling, in disregard for the spirit and letter of a court decision, is a scandalous, though not the only, illustration of this.

By contrast, it is the citizens of Europe and elsewhere – fishermen and inhabitants of Lampedusa and Lesbos, activists of refugee relief and immigrant support networks, lay and religious shelter centres, endorsed by artists and intellectuals – who have saved their honour and pointed the way to a solution. However, they are running up against insufficient means, and sometimes the hostility of public authorities, and they have to face, like the refugees and immigrants themselves, a rapidly growing European xenophobic front ranging from violent, openly racist or neo-fascist organisations to ‘respectable’ political leaders and governments increasingly overtaken by authoritarianism, nationalism, and demagoguery. Two completely incompatible Europes are facing each other, and from now on we have to choose between them.

This xenophobic tendency, which is deadly for the victims of violence and ruinous for the future of the European continent as an space of liberty must be reversed immediately.
With 60 million refugees in the world, Lebanon and Jordan receive a million of them each (representing, respectively, 20 per cent and 12 percent of their populations), and Turkey receives 2 million (3 per cent). The million refugees who arrived in Europe in 2015 (one of the richest regions in the world, despite the crisis) only represent 0.2 per cent of its population! Not only do the European countries, taken as a whole, have the means to welcome the refugees and treat them with dignity but they must do so in order to continue to lay claim to human rights as the foundation of their polities. It is also in their interest if they want to begin to recreate the conditions for peace and collective security, along with all the countries of the Mediterranean area that have shared the same history and same cultural heritage for thousands of years. And this is what has to be done to remove from our horizon, once and for all, the spectre of a new epoch of organised institutional discrimination and of the elimination of ‘undesirable’ human beings.

Nobody can say when and in what proportion the refugees will ‘go back home’, and nobody should underestimate the difficulty of the issue to be solved, of the resistance which it generates, and the obstacles and dangers it carries with it. But nobody can continue to ignore the will of the populations to receive refugees and the refugees’ wish to integrate. Nobody has the right to declare the problem unresolvable in order to evade it more easily.

Very large-scale emergency measures thus are needed immediately.
The task to provide assistance to the refugees from the Middle East and Africa in the framework of a state of emergency has to be proclaimed and implemented by the governing bodies of the EU and carried by all the Member States. It has to be upheld by the United Nations and be the object of a permanent consultation with democratic states of the whole region.

Civilian and military forces have to be deployed, not to carry out a coastal guerrilla action against the ‘smugglers’ but to bring aid to the immigrants and to put an end to the scandal of the drownings at sea. It is in this framework that it will possibly be necessary to crack down on the traffic and condemn the complicity that benefits from it. It is prohibiting legal access that generates Mafioso practices, and not the inverse.

The burden of the frontline receiving countries, in particular Greece, must immediately be relieved. Their contribution to the common interest must be recognised.

The Schengen free-circulation area must be preserved, but the Dublin Regulation that provides for pushing immigrants back to the entry country must be suspended and renegotiated. The EU should pressure Danube and Balkan countries to reopen their borders and negotiate with Turkey to convince it to stop using refugees as a political-military excuse and bargaining chip.

At the same time, air and sea transport has to be operated to transfer all the registered refugees to the northern European countries that are objectively able to receive them instead of letting them accumulate in a small country in danger of becoming a ‘dumping ground’ for humanity.

In the longer term, Europe – facing one of the great challenges that is changing the course of the history of peoples – has to develop a democratically controlled aid plan for the survivors of this huge slaughter and for those who are helping them. It has to establish not only receiving quotas but also social and educational aid, and therefore a special budget and legal provisions guaranteeing new rights that embed the displaced populations in the receiving societies in a dignified and peaceful way.

There is no other alternative. It is either hospitality and the right to asylum or barbarism !

Primi firmatari:

Étienne BALIBAR (Francia)
Michel AGIER (Francia)
Horst ARENZ (Germania)
Athéna ATHANASIOU (Grecia)
Walter BAIER (Austria)
Etienne BALIBAR (Francia)
Marie BOUAZZI (Tunisia)
Hamit BOZARSLAN (Francia)
Marie-Claire CALOZ-TSCHOPP (Svizzera)
Edouard DELRUELLE (Belgio)
Matthieu DE NANTEUIL (Belgio)
Ahmet INSEL (Turchia)
Nicolas KLOTZ (Francia)
Amanda LATIMER (Regno Unito)
Camille LOUIS (Francia)
Giacomo MARRAMAO (Italia)
Roger MARTELLI (Francia)
Sandro MEZZADRA (Italia)
Maria NIKOLAKAKI (Grecia)
Barbara SPINELLI (Italia)
Étienne TASSIN (Francia)
Hans VENEMA (Paesi Bassi)
Frieder Otto WOLF (Germania)

GUE/NGL MEPs condemn Denmark’s proposal to delay family reunification and seize assets from refugees

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels 25 January 2015

During a heated debate in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs this afternoon, GUE/NGL MEPs condemned a controversial draft law* proposed by the Danish government to empower the authorities to seize valuable assets from refugees in order to pay for their stay when applying for asylum in Denmark, and postpone the right to family reunification for refugees under temporary protection.

On the eve of its expected adoption in the Danish Parliament tomorrow, the draft law was debated this afternoon by Civil Liberties Committee MEPs with Danish Foreign Affairs Minister Kristian Jensen and Minister for Immigration, Integration and Housing Inger Støjberg.

GUE/NGL Coordinator on the LIBE Committee, Cornelia Ernst, said: “Making people wait for three years before they can even apply for family reunification effectively means denying them their right to family life for three years, for no good reason. We are talking about a human right that is very broadly recognised, in Denmark, all over Europe and beyond.”

Danish MEP, Rina Ronja Kari, expressed opposition from within Denmark: “The proposed changes to the Danish asylum legislation are in breach of international conventions and the Danish government has in no way convinced the Parliament otherwise. It is disgraceful that the Danish government does not listen to the Council of Europe when they express their deep concern over the amendments, and their conduct in today’s exchange of views does not suggest that they will listen to the criticism from the Parliament either.”

Italian MEP, Barbara Spinelli, added: “Confiscating jewellery and goods ‘without sentimental value’ is immoral and grotesque: who will define whether an object is of sentimental value to a refugee or not, when it’s not a wedding ring? I also believe it’s unfair to compare an asylum-seeker to an unemployed Dane or EU citizen: a refugee has nothing, not even a bed. In order to receive a return on our ‘investment’ in the reception of migrants, we should instead invest in integrating them as quickly as possible into our labour market.”

Spanish MEP, Marina Albiol Guzmán: “Measures like having to wait for over six years in order to gain permanent residence or making asylum seekers pay for staying at the centres where they’re forced to live are aimed at closing the door to refugees and all migrants.”

“This legislation is racist and xenophobic, and goes against the European Convention on Human Rights, the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Geneva Convention, and many other European and international treaties. It also goes against all the solidarity compromises of the EU and therefore we expect a strong position from the Parliament and the European Commission to counter this bill that goes against human rights”.

Swedish MEP, Malin Björk, expressed the possibility of an alternative policy: “The Nordic left parties have presented an alternative solution to these repressive measures. A new Nordic Model with better cooperation between our countries, more pressure for a humanitarian EU refugee policy and a dismantling of fortress Europe.”

*Background
The draft law to be passed tomorrow by the Danish Parliament has several different components that will all have a devastating impact on the lives of asylum-seekers, including a 3-year waiting period to access family reunification for beneficiaries of temporary protection, tightening of criteria to obtain permanent residence permits, tightening of rules for revoking refugees’ residence permits, search by police of asylum-seekers and their belongings with a view to confiscating money and valuables to cover the costs of asylum-seekers’ stay, reduction of economic benefits by 10% and the obligation to be housed in asylum centres.

This draft law has been condemned by the UNHCR and Danish NGOs including the Danish Refugee Council. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights sent a letter to the Danish government on January 9, 2016 condemning these restrictive changes as ‘raising serious concerns of conformity with human rights standards’ asking the Danish government to reconsider these changes to ‘ensure that law and practice fully comply with Denmark’s obligation to uphold refugee protection standards’.  

This new proposal must also be read in conjunction with the amendments to the Aliens Act introduced last November which increased the possibilities of detaining asylum-seekers under ‘special circumstances’ and weaken the judicial review of detention. 

During the debate, the Danish Minister for Immigration insisted despite reference to criticism from the CoE and UNHCR that their proposals ‘live up to all conventions’ and reminded the Committee that the four largest groups of the European Parliament will vote in favour of the law tomorrow.

Viaggio nella giungla di Calais

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Foto GUE/NGL

GUE/NGL PRESS RELEASE

Brussels 03/12/2015

GUE/NGL MEPs shocked at undignified conditions of refugees in Calais call on French government to provide adequate reception conditions urgently

GUE/NGL MEPs went to Calais on Tuesday 1st December to assess the situation in ‘the jungle’ refugee camp where around 4,500 refugees are currently living.  The delegation aimed to evaluate the situation on the ground in the camp in light of reports of appalling living conditions, rape, police violence and attacks from far-right extremists. The delegation met with NGOs and refugees on site. The visit was organised with the support of the local section of the French Communist Party (PCF).

The French state has been condemned for serious breaches of migrants’ rights not to be exposed to inhumane and degrading treatment by the Administrative Tribunal of Lille on 2nd November 2015, and reconfirmed by the State Council (conseil d’Etat) after an appeal by the Home Affairs Ministry which was denying French state responsibility. As a result, the court ordered the French state to carry out a census of all unaccompanied minors on the site within 48 hours and to provide within 8 days adequate sanitary conditions. Instead of improving the conditions, the French government has been putting its efforts into evacuating part of the jungle, notably by putting some refugees in detention centres. This practice has just been condemned on 2nd December by Adeline Hazan, head of the independent authority in France responsible for monitoring places of deprivation of liberties (contrôleure générale des lieux de privation de liberté – CGLPL) who, in an 8-page document, calls on the government to end this practice that is a serious breach of the fundamental rights of the people in question (see: http://www.cglpl.fr/2015/recommandations-en-urgence-relatives-aux-deplacements-collectifs-de-personnes-etrangeres-interpellees-a-calais ).

French MEP, Marie-Christine Vergiat, said: “It was important for the GUE/NGL that a delegation came to Calais at a time when the number and situation of migrants is worsening. We have noted situations that are unworthy of a country like France: increasing numbers of unaccompanied minors and women, including young people with no protection. Hundreds of people who cannot apply for family reunification because Great Britain demanded an opt-out of the directive on this issue. We all noted that the situation in Calais is often worse than in most refugee camps outside the EU and subsequently we are not surprised that tensions arise when the response by the government authorities is limited to controls, arrests and even raids.”

Barbara Spinelli added: “France’s Council of State recently declared that the conditions in the Calais camp expose the migrants to inhuman or degrading treatment. We stand with the Court and NGOs’ pleas for adequate reception conditions right now, together with the facilitation of access to family reunification for the many refugees with family and friends in the UK. Seeing the inhuman conditions in the jungle in Calais, I felt shame and anger because this is not happening in an underdeveloped country, but in our comparatively affluent societies. We, as Europeans, are guilty of two crimes, at least: the failure in our duty of care, and the crime of indifference.”

“The worst part of this intolerable and unacceptable situation is the tremendous vulnerability of women and children in a place where more than 90% of the population are men. This means there is a huge risk of abuse and harassment against women and children, especially considering that all of them have been deprived previously of human justice and therefore anything can be expected; this is even worse in view of the fact that mafias operate and control the camp. I urge the French State and the European Union to follow the requirements of International Humanitarian Law to guarantee minimum living conditions for the refugees,” commented Angela Vallina.

Miguel Viegas continued: “This visit confirms the lack of political will to address this problem seriously. It also contradicts all the speeches and all the promises made in the framework of the European Commission’s action plan. The relocation plans are not advancing and aid for humanitarian work is not reaching places where thousands of people still live in dreadful conditions like here in Calais. We must demand a new approach to refugee policies taking into account the EU’s responsibilities in the existing chaos in countries such as Libya, Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan. In contradiction to EU action based on repression and action to discourage the arrival of refugees escaping the war, we must demand policies based on two axes: the first to promote peace and development in conflict zones and the second based on effective support for refugees so that they find the peace and security that they do not find in their countries.”

For Miguel Urban, Podemos, who previously had the opportunity to witness the situation of people under forced mobility in Hungary, Macedonia, Serbia and Spain (Melilla), said: “The humanitarian situation of more than 4,000 people crammed into deplorable conditions in the Calais camp (dubbed the Jungle) shows how much the European Union and its member states have failed to implement effective solutions to the structural causes of the mass exodus of people from their places of origin, and in which Europe has a fundamental responsibility; on the contrary, by worsening the security approach and the repressive siege of these people rather than anticipating dignified reception conditions and integration, member states are aggravating the humanitarian catastrophe.”

“It is essential to denounce what is happening in the refugee camp in Calais. It is essential that European public opinion knows that at the heart of Europe, the human rights of thousands of people are being systematically violated. Society has to know that the French government and the European Union also are allowing this infamy. All rights for all people!” said Josu Juaristi.

Marisa Matias added: “What we have seen in Calais is not the Europe that we want. The European Union should assume its responsibilities for the consequences related to conflicts. It is not possible to live in these kinds of life conditions which are devoid of any European values. It’s important to come to these places and see how these people are living and not only speak about them, but especially speak with them. I urgently demand that we put a stop to this security-based logic and the criminalization of people who are fighting for a better life. European countries have the obligation to put the human life first and foremost and not the business of weapons and oil.”

Pictures of the delegations are available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/guengl/albums/72157661943793875


Si veda anche:

La dignité, malgré tout, Liberté-Hebdo [ 1196 ] du 4 au 10 décembre 2015 (file .pdf)

Open Letter to the peoples of Europe, the European Union, EU Member-States and their representatives on the Justice and Home Affairs Council

di giovedì, settembre 24, 2015 0 , , , Permalink

22nd September 2015

We, the undersigned international lawyers, gathered at the European Society of International Law 11th Annual Meeting in Oslo on 12th September 2015, and other international law scholars and experts, condemn the failure to offer protection to people seeking refuge in Europe, and the lack of respect for the human rights of those seeking refuge.

In particular, we express our horror at the human rights violations being perpetrated against those seeking refuge, in particular the acts of violence, unjustified coercion and arbitrary detention.

We note that European states have obligations not only to refugees and migrants on their territories, but that international refugee law rests on international responsibility sharing. The world’s refugees are disproportionately outside Europe. We note that over nine-tenths of Syrian refugees are in five countries, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. We note that around one quarter of Lebanon’s population comprises refugees.

We note that all European states have obligations not only to refugees as defined under the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, but also to those protected against return under international human rights law and customary international law. We note that this broad duty of non-refoulement protects all those at real risk of serious human rights violations if returned. They should be afforded international protection. EU Member States have further obligations under EU law.

We urge European states and the EU to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, prevent further loss of life in dangerous journeys to Europe by providing safe passage, and live up to their obligations in international and EU law.

We recall the legacy of Fridtjof Nansen, the first League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the initiator of the Nansen passport, created to facilitate the safe passage and legal migration opportunities for refugees and stateless persons.

We urge European states and the EU to:

– meet their obligations of international responsibility-sharing, to resettle significant numbers of refugees and provide aid to countries hosting large numbers of refugees.

– as regards those seeking protection in Europe, abandon those policies which prevent safe and legal access to protection. The UNHCR estimates over 2,860 people have died at sea trying to get to Europe this year alone. Suspending carrier sanctions and issuing humanitarian visas would largely prevent the need for those seeking refuge to make dangerous journeys.

– respect and protect the human rights of those seeking refuge once they are in Europe, including by enabling them to access asylum procedures or ensuring safe passage to countries where they wish to seek international protection.

– immediately suspend Dublin returns of asylum-seekers to their first point of entry, but ensure that its rules on family reunification are implemented fully and swiftly.

– relocate asylum-seekers and refugees in a manner that respects the dignity and agency of those relocated, and increases Europe’s capacity to offer protection.

– replace the Dublin System with one which accords with international human rights law and respects the dignity and autonomy of asylum-seekers, and supports international and intraEuropean responsibility-sharing.

– implement fair and swift procedures to recognize all those in need of international protection.

– while claims are being examined, afford those in need of international protection, at a minimum, the reception conditions to which they are entitled in international human rights and EU law.

– respect the right to family life, including positive obligations with regard to family unity, facilitation of swift family reunification and family tracing.

– treat all refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants with dignity and respect, respecting and protecting their human rights, irrespective of status.