Tagged: EU

110 NGOs Condemn New ‪EU‬ Migration Response Plan #StayHuman

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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 single objective of curbing migration, the EU and its member states risk further undermining their credibility and authority in the defence of human rights, the organizations say. They call on European leaders to reject the Commission proposal that would cement this approach, making deterrence and return of people the main objective of the EU’s relationship with third countries.

The plan proposes using aid, trade and other funds to encourage countries to reduce the number of migrants reaching EU shores. It was put forward by the Commission at the beginning of June and will be discussed by European heads of state and government at the EU summit in Brussels this week. It is inspired by the EU-Turkey deal which has left thousands of people stranded in Greece in inhumane and degrading conditions. Children are particularly affected, with many hundreds of unaccompanied children being held in closed detention facilities or forced to sleep in police cells.

According to the coalition of 110 human rights, humanitarian, medical, migration and development agencies, Europe risks torpedoing human rights in its foreign policy, and undermining the right to asylum internationally. There are no safeguards envisaged to ensure that human rights, rule of law standards and protection mechanisms are in place when the EU strikes deals with governments it deems useful for stopping migration to Europe. This leaves a very real risk of breach of international law which forbids pushbacks to places where people are at risk of rights violations. “Responsibility and liability for human rights violations do not end at Europe’s borders,” the statement reads.

Also, the proposal discussed ignores all the evidence that deterrence strategies aimed at stopping migration are ineffective. The EU’s current approach will not only fail to ‘break the business-model’ of smugglers but will increase human suffering as people will be forced into taking more dangerous routes to reach Europe.

The NGO coalition is very concerned that the proposal will result in a wholesale reorientation of Europe’s development aid towards stopping migration. “This is an unacceptable contradiction to the EU’s commitment to use development cooperation with the aim of eradicating poverty,” the statement reads.

The organisations warn that striking ‘migration management’ agreements with countries where grave human rights violations are committed will be counter-productive in the longer term. Such deals will be “undermining human rights around the globe and perpetuating the cycle of abuse and repression that causes people to flee,” they say.

The NGOs call on the European leaders to reject the Commission proposal on migration. Instead, European countries should develop a sustainable long-term strategy for migration management. “The EU, a project built on the rubble of a devastating war, is about to embark on a dark chapter of its history,” the organizations warn in their joint statement.

 

To read the full joint statement and a view the list of the 110 signatories click HERE.

The European Commission Communication on a new Partnership Framework with third countries is available HERE.

 

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.

New Guide and Toolkit on How to Use the EU Victims’ Directive

PICUMguide

By November 16, 2015 all EU member states (except Denmark) have to implement the EU Victims’ Directive (Directive 2012/29/EU) establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, irrespective of their residence status. PICUM in which Pro Igual participates has published a Guide to the EU Victims’ Directive with resources for members and partners, to inform and to inspire action to advance the rights of undocumented victims of crime. Read more…

EU Response to Migration: Turn Political Crisis into Opportunity

On the occasion of the extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) and its member organisations, among which Pro Igual, urge EU leaders to establish safe and regular channels for migrants and refugees to come to Europe.

2015 has seen record numbers of migrants risking their lives trying to enter Europe, leading to continuous tragedies both at sea and land borders. Yet PICUM underlines that the subsequent humanitarian crisis unfolding in many countries of Europe is the result of policies aiming to deter migrants and refugees over the past 15 years. According to the Migrant Files*, over 30,000 refugees and migrants have died since 2000 attempting to reach or stay in Europe. EU migration policies during this time period have limited and in several cases even blocked migrants from arriving in regular manners to seek protection and better living conditions.

The EU Migration Agenda**, unveiled by the European Commission in May 2015, presents no significant shift in this discourse. The security agenda prevails and human mobility continues to be seen as a threat rather than an opportunity. For nearly two decades, a security focus to migration has resulted in major efforts towards securing EU external borders, the creation and maintenance of detention facilities, and efforts to criminalise and define unwanted human mobility. Focus has also increasingly been shifted on blaming smugglers who – in the absence of official and safe channels – often offer the only possible route to Europe for migrants and refugees.

While tragedies continue to unfold on a daily basis, the lack of a realistic debate on migration will have long-term impacts on the EU. What is at stake is not only the obligation to safeguard EU values and core principles based on respect for human rights, but also the manifest need for migrant workforce in many EU countries in the coming decades. According to the OECD***, the working age population in Europe will shrink by 50 million by 2060. Already today, various sectors of the economy – particularly those in low-wage occupations – rely on the presence of migrant workforce.

Nonetheless, national and European Union migration policies offer few possibilities for migrant workers from outside the EU to receive work and residence permits. Migrants are therefore pushed into the informal labour market and into an irregular situation. The recently adopted directive on seasonal work**** has been an opportunity for EU policymakers to develop regular channels for low-wage migrant workers in one sector. This has been just one step and many more efforts will be needed in the coming years to address the unrecognised labour market needs in the EU.

Aside from immediate actions that need to be taken to stop victimisation and criminalisation of migrants and refugees who have reached Europe, there is an urgent need for strong leadership in shifting the approach to migration as a whole. Without an evidence-based reform involving not only migration but social, health and labour market policies, more lives will be lost and more suffering will be inflicted. It is painstakingly clear that the current approach the EU has taken on migration is not only failing individual migrants and refugees but our societies as a whole.

PICUM and its members will aim to hold EU governments accountable to establish a new approach, moving away from securisation and criminalising migrants towards a human rights based, social and economic perspective, including more regular channels for refugees and migrants to reach Europe safely.

The statement is also available online in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Greek.

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.

Operation “Mos Maiorum”: the EU-wide police hunt for #undocumented #migrants

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The EU-wide police operation ‘Mos Maiorum’ is taking place in most EU member states from 13 to 26 October 2014. This joint operation is coordinated by the Italian Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with Frontex. Its aim is to apprehend irregular migrants in the Schengen area and gather relevant information including how they were detected, their personal details, as well as the routes and means of transport used. During the operation, controls in the participating countries are expected to be intensified, particularly in airports and train stations, but may also include sweeps in selected areas. More information on the operation is available here.

What can you do?

To find out if your country participates in this operation and to what extent, you may contact your Ministry of the Interior or the police. They might not reveal much information but this could help you to better inform your network of what to expect.

You may also wish to contact the European Council and Italian Presidency directly to express your concern about the operation. If you wish to contact those responsible for its coordination at EU level, you may use the following contacts which were provided to EU member states:

- General Secretariat of the Council: gavriil.kampouroglou@consilium.europa.eu

- Italian Central Directorate for Immigration and Border Police: gruppo.frontiere@interno.it

You can also write to your MEP (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/map.html) asking them to take a strong stand against such control-based measures. The EEP group European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) has already condemned the operation in an open letter to the JHA Council which met on 9 October asking for the operation to be cancelled.

Undocumented, Not Illegal: New Campaign Advocates for Correct Terminology

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With the slogan “Words Matter!” the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) which Pro Igual joined recently launched its leaflet on accurate terminology.

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.

The Far Right and the 2014 European Elections in 7 Points

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).

Original link: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/news/world/article/1948/the-far-right-and-the-2014-european-elections-in-7-points

European Politics: The Rise of the Far Right – Engage or Isolate?

Take part in the online debate hosted by the European Voice:

How should the EU react to the rise of the far right?

Pro Igual´s position is unequivocal: isolate the extreme right.

Original link: http://debates.europeanvoice.com/european-politics-rise-far-right-engage-or-isolate/opening-phase

European Action Day for the Victims of Hate Crimes

22July

The No Hate Speech Movement, in which Pro Igual participates, invites you to join the online and offline actions to commemorate the European Day for the Victims of Hate Crime on July 22. To remind, support and show solidarity with all those people that have suffered aggression because of their skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, disability, religion and many other characteristics. We will also educate and raise awareness about the consequences of hate speech and hate crime on our societies!

WHAT TO DO?

1. Organise a public action or an educational activity for 22nd July. Here is a guide of what you can do and how. Please post information to this Facebook event about your action!

Don’t forget to REPORT your action with photos and videos on the No Hate Speech Movement platform: http://www.nohatespeechmovement.org/join-the-movement

2. We are launching a petition to establish 22 July as the European Day for the Victims of Hate Crime. It will be ‘live’ only until 9 November, so get busy helping to achieve this task! The petition addresses all the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the members of the European Parliament! http://blog.nohatespeechmovement.org/petition/

SIGN it! Get your organisation to sign it! Inform others about it!
Write to your representative/s in these European bodies on July 22nd and ask her/him/zee to sign it and support it publicly!
Here’s where you can find their contacts details:
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/AssemblyList/AL_DelegationsList_E.asp
European Parliament: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/map.html

3. Do you know of a case of hate crime? It is important not to be silent about it. Submit a story to action@nohatespeechmovement.org and on July 22nd we will feature it on the No Hate Speech Movement Platform. Please make sure to send us photos, if possible.

4. Have you witnessed hate speech that incites violence online? Then report it on Hate Speech Watch here: http://www.nohatespeechmovement.org/hate-speech-watch

5. Take action online! Join this event on Facebook! ‘Like’ the Facebook page of the Movement! Invite your friends to do the same!

Share and post the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nohatespeech?fref=ts

Find out more and participate!
www.nohatespeechmovement.org
www.facebook.com/groups/combatinghatespeech
@nohate_speech #nohatespeech

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