Hanna is five years old. She drew this picture of the happy family she wishes for. Her mother named her Hanna but her name is nowhere officially recognised; to the German authorities, she is a nameless child. She was born [...]
The European Union is set to open a dark chapter in its history unless it rejects the European Commission’s proposal on migration, a coalition of more than 100 NGOs warned on Monday. Shifting towards a foreign policy that serves the [...]
Suggested Amendments to the Proposal for an EU Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard to strengthen compliance with fundamental rights
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 [...]
We are pleased and proud to inform that after over two+ years of relentless advocacy by Pro Igual´s team, the Valencia police signed a formal agreement with the OSCE to start police training on hate crimes within the TACHLE program. [...]
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 [...]
As teachers welcome children in classrooms across the continent on the first day back at school, PICUM in which Pro Igual participates today launched a new guide to educate about the realities undocumented migrants face across Europe.
The teaching guide, which is available in English, French and Spanish, shows how PICUM’s web documentary “UNDOCUMENTARY” – which showcases the daily realities faced by undocumented migrants living in Europe – may be used in the classroom. It includes an introduction to the issue of irregular migration, detailed background information on featured characters, exercises and activities for school aged children of various age groups, university students and adults as well as foreign language students with different learning objectives, and a range of additional materials and suggested resources.
To view the full press release online, click here.
Three years ago Europe saw up close the ugly face of violent #xenophobia & #racism. Let´s honor the victims of the Utoya massacre by say NO to #hatecrimes & #hatespeech. Please sign the petition to make July 22 the European Day for Victims of Hate Crimes. This initiative is promoted by No Hate Speech Movement in which Pro Igual Participates. Click here to read more.
The leaflet provides reasons why not to use the term ‘illegal migrant’ and instead the recognized “undocumented” or “irregular” migrant, as well as providing a lexicon with translations of the latter terms in all EU languages.
Besides being discriminatory and criminalizing, the term “illegal migrant” is also judicially incorrect, as a person cannot be “illegal” since irregular migration is an administrative, rather than a criminal offence.
For more information on PICUM’s work on terminology, click here.
Pro Igual is pleased to announce that our application to become a member of PICUM was formally approved by the PICUM General Assembly on 21 June 2014.
Pro Igual´s initiatives specifically regarding undocumented migrants include: campaign Save Hospitality! alongside other Spanish NGOs which succeeded in having the draft Penal Code amended so to avoid criminalizing any assistance to undocumented migrants. Also, our ongoing activities include domestic and international advocacy for closure of Centros de Internamiento para Extranjeros (CIEs).
We look forward to fruitful cooperation with all the Platform members and supporters to bring greater visibility to the issues surrounding undocumented migrants in Spain and to ensuring human rights for all persons, regardless of their administrative status.
For the second year, Spanish NGOs across the country have dedicated June the 15th to actively campaigning for the closure of Internment Centers for Foreigners (CIEs). CIEs are prisons in all but name for foreigners who find themselves in an irregular administrative situation. Pro Igual has written about CIEs in the past and some of our advocacy activities are also related to human rights violations taking places in CIEs.
CIEs exist against a backdrop of the economic crisis and rise in xenophobia exploited by some political forces to gain votes. But declarations demonizing immigrants are not only harmful for social cohesion, they are also patently untrue. Here are 5 persistent myths v. facts regarding immigration in Spain.
Myth 1: Immigrants are “flooding” Spain.
Fact: For several years now Spain has experienced net out-migration, that is, more people leave than come to Spain. According to the figures of the Spanish Institute for Statistics (INE), not only Spanish citizens leave Spain in droves, but also more foreign (non-EU) nationals leave than come.
Myth 2: Immigrants are responsible for most crime in Spain.
Fact: Neither in terms of economic volume (that is, how much money they got through criminal activity), nor in terms of violence, do foreigners lead. In several major corruption cases uncovered in recent years and involving billions of euros, it was Spanish citizens, often holding public office, who were the perpetrators, not immigrants.
Myth 3: Immigrants burden Spanish social security.
Fact: Budget cuts of recent years have left without access to healthcare tens of thousands of immigrants who lost jobs and access to residence. That is despite the fact that immigrants were contributing to economy and social security while they had jobs. At the same time, troubled companies, primarily banks, received billions of public funding after causing economic damage to the country that affected all the rest. Sheer amounts of subsidies to banks dwarf all the (theoretical) welfare payments to Spaniards and immigrants combined.
Myth 4: Foreigners in CIEs are criminals and subject to deportation.
Fact: Less than a quarter of CIE detainees are charged with any infraction. Well over half are released following identification, after having suffered the trauma of de facto imprisonment and on occasion even abuse. There is no need to maintain these expensive and inhuman institutions to address the issues that present less danger to public than traffic violations.
Myth 5: CIEs are “residential centers” for foreigners.
Fact: CIE inmates are often subjected to human rights violations, prompting a nickname “Spanish guantanamos.” Just recently, the Spanish courts ruled against CIE guards accused of rape, beating and other forms of ill-treatment of inmates. And since inmates cannot leave, or for that matter be visited by family at their leisure, CIEs are effectively prisons. The only difference is: there needs to be a crime and a due process in order to throw a person in jail. To get into CIE, it is sufficient to “look foreign” and not have an ID.
So, today, Pro Igual joins with our friends and colleagues from other Spanish NGOs in calling for the immediate and complete closure of CIEs.
La Campaña Estatal por el Cierre de los Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros (CIE), formada por diversas asociaciones y colectivos, está preparando una jornada de protesta para el próximo 15 de junio en todo el Estado con el fin de denunciar y difundir la existencia de este tipo de instalaciones y allanar el camino hacia su cierre definitivo. Se trata del segundo año consecutivo en el que se celebra la jornada. Leer mas…
Watch this space for our initiatives!
See the campaign link (information in Spanish) at: http://15jdiacontraloscie.wordpress.com/
Source: HOPE not hate. | Monday, 26 May 2014
An analytical comment by Cas Mudde
It is clear: the far right “sweeps” Europe and causes an “earthquake” on the troubled continent. The media has spoken! Some even help us identify the “9 scariest far right parties now in the European Parliament.” Thanks Huffington Post UK! All newspapers focus on a select group of winners, mainly in the big countries (France and UK), which picked up large numbers of MEPs.
Let me summarize the far right results and their consequences in seven main points. I’ll start with the most ‘scary’ points, so as to not break too abruptly with the dominant media frame, and slowly work my way to a more balanced interpretation.
1. Far Right as Biggest Party in the Country
Depending on your definition, two or three far right parties became the biggest party in their country. The Danish People’s Party (DFP) and the French National Front (FN) gained 26.6 (+11.8) and 25.0 (+ 18.7) percent, respectively.
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which I do not (yet?) consider a far right party, is predicted to have scored 27.5 (+11.4) percent of the vote. This is the first time that far right parties come first in nation-wide elections in the European Union (EU) – the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) had been doing it in Switzerland since 1999.
2. Neo-Nazi Parties Will Enter the European Parliament
While the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) has been elected to the European Parliament until it transformed into the National Alliance (AN) in 1994, the fascism of that party was more nostalgic than political, and it was not anti-Semitic or racist.
This is different for Golden Dawn (XA) in Greece, which was able to win almost 10 percent of the votes and 3 seats, despite being investigated for political violence and having its leaders in jail.
The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), on the other hand, had a poor result (1 percent), but profited from the decision of the German Constitutional Court to abolish the three-percent electoral threshold, which gives the NPD one seat.
3. Far Right Parties Won… and Lost
Across the EU far right parties gained 15 seats, going from a total of 37 to 52 Members of European Parliament (MEPs). Given that the FN alone picked up 21 new MEPs, this already indicates important intra-European differences.
In fact, the far right won seats in as many countries as it lost: 6. It won seats in Austria (+2), Denmark (+2), France (+21), Germany (+1), Greece (+1), and Sweden (+2); it lost seats in Belgium (-1), Bulgaria (-2), Italy (-4), Romania (-3), Slovakia (-1), and the UK (-2).
Admittedly, this changes to 9 and 5, respectively, if you apply a very broad definition of ‘far right’, which includes The Finns (PS), the Latvian National Alliance (NA), the Polish Congress of the New Right (KPN), and UKIP.
4. Far Right Parties Remain Irrelevant in the Majority of EU States
As the media is reducing the EU to France and the United Kingdom, sometimes throwing in Austria and Denmark for good measure, it is important to remember that there are 28 EU member states, and the far remained irrelevant in the majority of them.
The next European Parliament will have far right MEPs from ‘just’ 10 countries (14 in case of a broad definition). That is to say that almost two-thirds of the EU states have no far right representation in the next EP. This is actually higher than in 2009, as four countries lost far right representation and only one gained it.
5. The Far Right Is Mainly a West European Phenomenon!
Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the ‘return’ of the Central and Eastern European countries, formalized in their integration into the EU since 2004, the former communist part of Europe has been seen as the hotbed of the far right. While this was always at best a skewed view, it has become completely outdated in 2014.
Only one strong far right party remains in the East: the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik), which got 14.7 percent of the votes and three MEPs, which was actually a loss of 0.1 percent compared to 2009 – and of 5.7 percent compared to last month’s national elections in Hungary!
Far right parties lost representation in Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia – the only West European country to loose far right representation was the UK, where the BNP was replaced by a less extreme but much stronger UKIP!
6. The Far Right Did Not Do Well in the Hardest Hit Crisis Countries
As I have argued in more detail elsewhere, the thesis that economic crises lead to the rise of far right parties does not really hold up under scrutiny. This was confirmed in the 2014 European elections, where only one of the ‘bailed out’ countries returned far right MEPs (Greece).
In fact, the highest electoral results of far right parties were almost exclusively in countries that were, in EU-perspective, little to medium affected by the crisis: Austria, Denmark, France, Netherlands, and Sweden. The only exception to this rule is Hungary, which has been hard hit by the crisis and had the fourth-highest score for a far right party.
7.More Far Right MEPs, But Continuing Fragmentation
Finally, although the far right has increased its representation in the European Parliament by 15 MEPs (or one-third), the much-discussed European Alliance for Freedom (EAF) of Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders is far from certain.
As discussed before here, the EAF has the number of seats but not the number of parties (or strictly MEPs). So far only the FN, Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), Northern League (LN), Party for Freedom (PVV) and Flemish Interest (VB) have committed to the EAF, which brings the current total at 38 MEPs – 13 more than the required 25 – in five countries – two less than required. The Slovak National Party (SNS) was expected to join, but failed to regain its seat in the EP.
This means that the EAF has two options: convince at least two other parties or wait for the inevitable implosion of party factions and pick up individual MEPs from at least two different countries. The latter is most likely, and the UKIP faction is the most obvious recruiting ground, but will mean that the EAF will not become a political group for several months.
During that period, both current commitment (e.g. LN and PVV) and possible future commitments (e.g. DF, SD) could choose money over loyalty and join another group (notably Europe for Freedom and Democracy, EFD).
Express solidarity with Dani Alves! Eat a banana against racism now! Take a selfie and upload it to the No Hate Speech Movement website: http://
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.