Category: reports

Suggested Amendments to the Proposal for an EU Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard to strengthen compliance with fundamental rights

Credit: Banksy?

Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), in which Pro Igual participates, suggests the attached amendments to the proposal for a Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard in order to strengthen compliance with fundamental rights in the proposal.

PICUM is a member of the Frontex Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights which provides independent advice to the Agency’s Management Board as well as its Executive Director on fundamental rights matters. The Consultative Forum is composed of 15 organisations: The AIRE Centre, Amnesty International European Institutions Office, Caritas Europa, Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), Council of Europe, European Asylum Support Office (EASO), European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Jesuit Refugee Service Europe (JRS), Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), Red Cross EU Office and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Summary of the suggested amendments is included below, while the full text is available here.

  • Fundamental rights as integral to role of the Agency and integrated border management

> E.g. Article 1, Article 4 (definition of integrated border management), Article 7 (tasks of the Agency)

> Risk analyses (Article 10) and vulnerability assessments (Article 12) should look at access to procedures and fundamental rights

> Operational cooperation with authorities on coast guard functions only in line with the tasks of the Agency and international and Union law (Article 52)

  • Fundamental rights safeguards before initiating operations

> Fundamental rights assessment prior to any operational engagement (Article 10, Article 12, Article 18, Article 27, Article 53)

> Return Office should not provide information on third countries of return, and should provide information to support only lawful deprivation of liberty (wording more likely to get in this way than saying ATD outright here) (Article 26)

> No Agency involvement in deportations from member states not implementing EU law on asylum and return (Article 27)

> No deportations from one third country to another (‘mixed return operations’) – this new activity is not compatible with fundamental rights and should be deleted (Article 27.4).

> Non-refoulement not only linked to international protection but all human rights law and more clearly defined (Article 33)

  • Fundamental rights safeguards during operations

> Detailed FR provisions in operational plans and link to power to suspend or terminate operations (Article 15)

> Power to suspend or terminate operations – criteria to be developed, FRO can suggest, should be for all operations (propose to move Article 36 General rules) (Article 24)

> Also operational plans with monitoring and complaints procedures, and FR safeguards, for return operations (Article 27) and operational cooperation with third countries (Article 53)

> Forced return monitors independent and report to Agency and FRO (Article 28); forced return monitors and escorts with child protection profiles (Article 28 and 29)

> Use of force must comply with international and EU human rights law, as well as national law (Article 39)

  • Complaints mechanism

> Officers wear visible numbers/ codes allowing individual identification (Article 39.4)

> Independence of the mechanism, involvement of competent bodies on national level, clear time periods and procedure, information about the procedure and support including for children, right to appeal decisions on admissibility, link to the civil and criminal process as well as disciplinary actions (Article 72)

  • Fundamental rights structure in the Agency

> Shared responsibility – includes responsibility for fundamental rights (Article 5)

> Fundamental Rights Strategy – stronger HR references, includes monitoring mechanism (was in previous Frontex Regulation, but weak here) and complaints mechanism, reference back to fundamental rights assessment prior to operations and in operational plans (Article 33)

> Stronger requirement to consider recommendations of the Fundamental Rights Officer and Consultative Forum and transparency (Article 33.4)

> Liability of the Agency – more information on liability, remedies, and legal aid (Article 59), also considering expanded competences of guest officers (Article 39.9) and taking into account relevant jurisprudence on immunity (Article 58)

> Consultative Forum – ensure independence (Article 60, Article 70), access to information and resources (Article 70)

> Fundamental Rights Officer – ensure independence (Article 60), reporting to the Consultative Forum and resources (Article 71)

> Evaluation – should include fundamental rights and be for all operations (propose to move to Article 37) (Article 25)

  • Search and rescue

> Should be part of integrated border management (Article 4) and the tasks of the Agency (Article 7)

  • Hotspots

> Should be coordinated by the Commission, involve FR and child protection experts, stronger on compliance with FR in all activities, including providing information on FR and procedures (under guidance of EASO and FRA) and referrals, providing for basic needs (Article 17)

  • Cooperation with third countries

> Nature of cooperation with third countries well defined and be made public (Article 53)

Detailed amendments have not been included on data protection. PICUM strongly urges that the recommendations of the Data Protection Supervisor be followed. The purpose and type of data to be accessed and processed must be specified at all times.

Further, the proposal will have significant legal, practical and financial implications, and so should not be adopted without due consultation with relevant stakeholders and an impact assessment, including an evaluation of the efficacy of measures proposed and necessary fundamental rights safeguards.

Pro Igual Continues Surveying Hate Crimes in Spain in 2016

Survey16Spanish

Pro Igual continues its initiative to survey individual experiences with hate crime in Spain. If you were a victim or witness of a hate crime, or know someone who was, please help us raise awareness of the true scope of the phenomenon by taking part in our online survey on hate crimes in Spain, and sharing the link among your contacts and networks. The 2016 survey is available in Spanish. All responses are strictly confidential. Thank you for your help!

Pro Igual commentary on the Spanish draft law implementing the EU Victims´ Directive

AffordableJustice

Over 30 million people fall victim to crime in the EU every year. People who travel or live abroad are potential victims of crimes committed in a country other than their own and need access to justice. This can affect particularly harshly those who find themselves in an irregular administrative situation.

The EU Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime was adopted on 25 October 2012. It replaces the 2001 Framework Decision and will ensure that victims are recognized and receive proper protection and support. The Directive considerably strengthens the rights of victims and their family members to information, support and protection as well as their procedural rights when participating in criminal proceedings. It also includes provisions that will ensure that professionals are trained on victims’ needs and encourage cooperation between Member States and awareness raising on victims’ rights.

All EU Member States must transpose the Directive into the national law by 15 November 2015. If implemented properly, the Directive could fill the important gap that currently exists with regard to protection of undocumented migrants who become victims of discrimination, hate crimes, and other crimes in the EU. The text of the EU Victims Directive is available here: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/victims/index_en.htm.

Spain is currently in process of transposing the Directive and the draft law has been made available for public consultations. Pro Igual prepared comments and recommendations on the draft law, available (in Spanish) here. We urge other Spanish civil society organizations working on rights of (undocumented) migrants to join in the effort to ensure justice for all victims, regardless of their administrative situation.

Pro Igual´s New Shadow Report on Hate Crimes in Spain

Islamophobic Graffiti

Every year, Pro Igual´s shadow report on hate crimes in Spain focuses on specific aspects of this phenomenon. The theme for the 2013 report, submitted to the OSCE-ODIHR, has been remedies for victims.

The backdrop for hate crimes in Spain is severe economic crisis accompanied by the continuing rise in xenophobia and violent extremism of neo-Nazi groups. Yet remedies available to victims of alleged hate crimes are less than adequate, which explains why the reporting of hate crimes is extremely low, as compared to informal estimates of hate-motivated incidents.

Through combination of media monitoring and field work, the Pro Igual shadow report provides an overview of high profile hate crimes reported across Spain in the course of 2013 and highlights some of good practices reported or launched in 2013. Although Pro Igual´s focus is on xenophobia and racism, hate crimes based on other bias motivation (such as homophobia, disability or political orientation) have also been recorded.

On the basis of those findings, Pro Igual has made the following recommendations, both to the Spanish authorities and to the OSCE-ODIHR TND Hate Crimes unit:

To the Spanish Authorities:

  • Introduce an electronic hate crimes reporting system – similar to the one for reporting terrorism, money-laundering and other crimes.
  • Introduce and widely publicize a hate crimes hotline – similar to the one for reporting gender violence or terrorism.
  • Under no circumstances penalize victims, even those in an irregular administrative situation, who come to report hate crimes.
  • Invite OSCE training for the Spanish police on prosecuting hate crimes and assisting victims.

To the OSCE:

  • Launch OSCE-wide online reporting system for hate crimes victims and witnesses to report such incidents.
  • Encourage OSCE Member States to seek training for the police on prosecuting hate crimes and assisting victims.

The full report in English is available here.

Pro Igual Continues Surveying Hate Crimes in Spain in 2014

CrimenesOdio2014

Pro Igual continues the initiative, launched last year, to survey individual experiences with hate crime in Spain. If you were a victim or witness of a hate crime, or know someone who was, please help us raise awareness of the true scope of the phenomenon by taking part in our online survey on hate crimes in Spain, and sharing the link among your contacts and networks. The 2014 survey is available in Spanish and English. All responses are strictly confidential. Thank you for your help!

Pro Igual Survey on Hate Crimes in Spain 2013

HateCrimesSurvey

Monitoring and documenting hate crimes is one of Pro Igual´s core projects. We realize that many victims do not report hate crimes because they fear repercussions, or because they think nobody would believe them. As a result, an estimated 95% of such crimes remain unreported. And the Spanish State has no incentive to address this problem. If you were a victim or witness of a hate crime, please help us raise awareness of the true scope of the phenomenon by taking part in our online survey on hate crimes in Spain in 2013 available in Spanish and English. All responses are strictly confidential.

The Treatment of Migrant Women in the Spanish Detention Centers for Foreigners

Pro Igual´s Intervention at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Working Session 3: Violence Against Women

The following are the summary and recommendations of the joint report by Spanish NGOs Pro Igual and Ferrocarril Clandestino on the situation of migrant women in Spanish Detention Centers for Foreigners. The full report is available here.

Detention Centers for Foreigners are prisons in all but a name. Both governmental institutions and civil society have decried the appalling conditions and violations of human rights there. What is important to note is that detainees have not committed any crime, but merely an administrative infraction of not having papers in order, which presents less danger for the public than incorrect parking.

While both men and women face violations of their human rights, female detainees face a number of specific concerns. These include: sexual harassment by the guards; ill-treatment of pregnant and breastfeeding women; separation of mothers from minor children; lack of access to general medical and gynecological care, and lack of adequate nutrition even for pregnant women. Victims of human trafficking get no support whatsoever, even though they may be eligible for residence on humanitarian grounds.

Many migrant women end up in detention centers because of police raids based on the controversial practice of ethnic profiling, condemned by a number of international human rights bodies.

On the basis of these findings, we would like to recommend to the Spanish authorities the following:

  • Human rights NGOs and monitors should be allowed to enter detention centers and privately interview inmates – this is often sabotaged by the centers´ directors.
  • All personnel of the detention centers must wear visible identification badges and face sanctions for failure to comply.
  • All allegations of ill-treatment, especially sexual abuse of female inmates, by the guards must be investigated and prosecuted.
  • All inmates should have access to independent legal counsel, and translation if necessary.
  • The authorities should declare a temporary moratorium on expulsions of migrant women, pending the review of their cases.
  • Women detainees in particular should have gender-sensitive healthcare and adequate nutrition.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should under no circumstances be detained or separated from their children and families.
  • Suspected victims of human trafficking should receive necessary legal, medical and other assistance.
  • The authorities should decisively end ethnic profiling practices by the police.

The Rise of the Extreme Right Parties to Power

Pro Igual

Pro Igual´s Intervention at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Working Session 2: Tolerance and Nondiscrimination

In the course of 2012 and 2013, PRO IGUAL conducted monitoring of hate crimes committed by Spanish extreme right elements against immigrants, minorities, and other vulnerable groups. The aim of the project has been, besides documenting individual cases, to explore the origins, specifics and the reach of the extreme right.

The project highlighted certain weaknesses in the Spanish legal and policy frameworks. Spanish legislation, on the one hand, allows proliferation of parties and organizations propagating intolerance. But on the other hand, it fails to provide adequate recourse for victims. In addition, victims often either do not know how to complain or are afraid. This serves to create a climate of denial and impunity for hate crimes.

PRO IGUAL reports and other materials on the subject are available on the website. In the meantime, we would like to make the following conclusions and recommendations relevant for a number of countries in the OSCE region.

Recommendations:

  • The Governments must recognize the reality and the danger of the extreme right ascent to power, and not dismiss the right-wing extremism as fringe behavior of a handful of marginalized youths.
  • It is also important to recognize that the extreme right has received a Public Relations makeover. We are no longer dealing with just crude manifestations, such as shaven heads or military boots. The contemporary extreme right is an increasingly sophisticated and insidious ideology that masks hate as care and violence as freedom, and actively uses democratic means to attain undemocratic ends.
  • Appeasement does not work. Some of the mainstream parties tried to woo the extreme right voters by embracing xenophobia. But they will never be radical enough for the extreme rights, but will instead lose their core supporters alongside with integrity.
  • Economic crisis and corruption must be addressed urgently, as they feed into the extreme right´s popularity. Ineptitude in handling the economic crisis, lack of transparency and seemingly endemic corruption turn the mainstream, moderate voters away from the established parties into the grip of the extreme right.
  • Laws must protect the victims of right-wing extremism, not provide loopholes and excuses for perpetrators.
  • It is not enough to be reactive; it is essential to become pro-active. This means the alarm must be raised BEFORE the extreme right ascend to power. Otherwise, with each new victory of the extreme right, there will be fewer countries even left to condemn it.
  • Last but not least, the Governments should work treat civil society as an ally, and not as a nuisance, as presently civil society is the only force resisting the rise of the extreme right to power.

 

Right-wing Extremism in Europe: Country Analyses, Counter-Strategies and Labor-Market Oriented Exit Strategies

This anthology was compiled as part of a project entitled “Confronting right-wing extremism by developing networks of exit-oriented assistance.”

Pro Igual and Ferrocarril Clandestino present a communication to the UN Commision on Women

FERROCARRIL

Within the framework of our work on the rights of (undocumented) migrants in Spain, Pro Igual has cooperated with Ferrocarril Clandestino and presented a joint communication to the UN Commission on the Status of Women on the Human Rights Violations of Migrant Women in Spain: Detention in CIEs.

The communication draws the UN Comission´s attention to singling out of migrant women through ethnic profiling and disproportionate use of deprivation of liberty for migrant women for mere administrative infractions, such as not having paperwork in order. Migrant women in CIEs suffer a range of human rights abuses, ranging from absent due process or legal counsel, to discrimination and sexual harassment, to separation from families and small children and lack of healthcare even for pregnant women.

Pro Igual and Ferrocarril Clandestino put forth recommendations to the Spanish authorities to remedy this situation.

The text of the submission is available here.

CIDDHH Pro Igual es Asociación sin ánimo de lucro registrada en el Ministerio del Interior con el nº 595496.