CoE Commissioner for Human Rights: Cyprus must stop separating migrant women from their children

On 7 April 2014, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks,  urged the Cypriot authorities to stop detaining and separating migrant women from their children.

In a Facebook post, Muižnieks wrote: “I am very concerned at reports showing that Cyprus continues the practice of detaining and separating migrant women from their children. This practice is irreconcilable with Cyprus’ legal obligation to ensure the best interests of the child and must be ended.”

He added: “I urge the government of Cyprus to put an end to these practices and to fully align law and practice with international standards. This effort would highly benefit from taking duly into account the views of the Ombudsman, the Child Commissioner and the civil society with expertise in this area.”

For more information, see here.

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European Commission publishes guidance for Member States to guarantee family reunification

On 3 April 2014, the European Commission adopted a Communication to present guidance for the correct and meaningful application of the Family Reunification Directive (2003/86/EC) by Member States.

The Communication addresses a number of issues, such as the lack of information on and assistance in the family reunification procedure, the cost of family reunification processes, the administrative hurdles, the duration of procedures (often up to 2 to 3 years), and the restrictive interpretation of dependency.

More information can be found here.

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The Prevention of Infiltration Act in the Supreme Court: Round Two

Publication by a member of the Interest Group
The Prevention of Infiltration Act in the Supreme Court: Round Two’ by Reuven Ziegler

On 16 September 2013, in HCJ 7146/12 Adam v. The Knesset, et al,1 an expanded panel of nine justices of Israel’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Amendment No. 32 of the Prevention of Infiltration Act of January 2012, which mandated detention of asylum seekers  for three years, was unconstitutional and quashed it.

On 10 December 2013, International Human Rights Day, the Knesset passed Amendment No. 4 of the Prevention of Infiltration Act.3 This amendment enacts two fundamental arrangements:

  1. It provides for arrest for a period of one year of any asylum seeker (“infiltrator”) who entered Israel after the amendment entered into force—a phenomenon that has almost ceased to exist since the completion of the fence between Israel and Egypt, as the State boasted in its response to the petition;4
  2. It authorises the holding of “infiltrators” presently in Israel, who according to the State’s official determination have proven to be “difficult” to deport, in an “open” detention centre called Holot. These people are to be held indefinitely, or unless they “voluntarily” return to their states of origin. The only limitation on the number of detainees who can be held in detention is the number of available beds at Holot.

On 1 April 2014, the same panel of nine justices of the High Court for Justice reviewed the petition against the constitutionality of the two components of this law (HCJ 8425/13 Anonymous v. The Knesset et al).5 The petition was submitted, inter alia, on behalf of two Eritrean asylum seekers who were held at the Sahronim detention facility under the previous law, and were recently transferred to the neighbouring Holot facility when Amendment No. 4 came into force. Continue reading

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New Study on Global Migration Flows

In a study released in Science, a team of geographers used data snapshots to create a broad analysis of global migrations over the past 20 years. The study was conducted by three geographic researchers from the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital in Vienna. The researchers presented their data in five-year increments, from 1990 to 2010. Their research is unique, because it turns static census counts from over 150 countries into a dynamic flow of human traffic.

The study offers numerous insights, two of which are particularly interesting. First, adjusted for population growth, the global migration rate has stayed roughly the same since around  since 1995 (it was higher from 1990-1995). Second, it’s not the poorest countries sending people to the richest countries; it’s countries in transition—still poor, but with some education and mobility—that are the highest migratory contributors.

More information can be found here and here

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Transitioning From UNHCR to Government RSD: A report by UNHCR

UNHCR’s in-house think tank, the Policy Development and Evaluation Service, has published a critical new report about how – and to some extent, if and when – UNHCR should help states build their own refugee status determination (RSD) systems.

The report states that while RSD conducted by UNHCR generally yields important protection dividends, only states are in a position to ensure effective, comprehensive refugee protection and durable solutions. There has been steady progress in the establishment of national RSD systems, which has been a longstanding objective of UNHCR and the Executive Committee. Currently 117 Convention States out of 148 are operating a specific and regulated RSD procedure, which includes 41 new procedures since the year 2000.

The research has found that, while country offices are generally very active in supporting RSD transitions, their involvement needs to be more structurally organized, broader in scope, and better sustained in the first five to ten years of the new procedure.

The report can be found here

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Better protection needed for migrant children in Denmark

news article

‘The best interest of the child are not always upheld in the context of asylum and immigration in Denmark. The Danish authorities should improve the protection they provide to migrant children, by ensuring full respect of their rights’, said Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, when releasing a report on his visit to Denmark carried out on 19-21 November 2013.

In spite of positive changes introduced in 2012, further progress is needed, in particular to ensure that family reunification proceedings involving children are dealt with in a positive and humane manner. “This includes extending the right to family reunification to children older than 14, so as to comply with the definition of a child provided in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”. The Commissioner also stressed that the best interests of the child should prevail over their integration potential, or the integration potential of their parents.

Read the report here

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European Parliament adopts new fund for asylum, migration and integration

news article

On 13 March 2014, the European Parliament approved the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) for 2014-2020. The AMIF replaces the European Refugee Fund, the European Integration Fund and the European Return Fund and will support actions addressing all aspects of migration, including asylum, legal migration, integration and return. It has a total budget of €3.1 billion for 2014-2020 (in comparison, the combined budget of the three funds it replaces is €2.1 billion for the previous period 2007-2013).

For more information, see here

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Statelessness within the EU and on the international agenda

Publication by a member of the Interest Group
by Tamás Molnár

Our member Tamás Molnár has written two publications on statelessness: a report on the Expert Meeting on Statelessness within the European Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum, and an article on Moving Statelessness Forward on the International Agenda.

The article aims at shedding more light on the recent re-emergence of the issue of statelessness on the international agenda, from a government perspective. It outlines what a government can do in order to address statelessness through foreign policy initiatives and to highlight the issue of protecting stateless persons in different international fora. The article can be found here

The report was the result of an expert meeting  which included many European countries, IOM, UNHCR and Tilburg University. The general objective of the meeting was to share the participating States’ views about the domestic implementation of the two UN Statelessness Conventions and the relevant national legislations and to initiate discussions on the identification, reduction and prevention of statelessness as well as on the legal protection of stateless persons, their legal status and the specific statelessness determination procedures. The report can be found here

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Conference in Prato: Early bird registration extended

The Conference ‘Access to Asylum: Current Challenges and Future Directions’ in Prato (29-30 May 2014) has now extended its period of early bird registration.

The conference is being organized by Dr. Mario O’Sullivan and Prof. Susan Kneebone, Faculty of Law, Monash University Australia. The early bird registration period is now extended to 23 March 2014; the normal registration period closes on 10 April 2014.

The conference will be discussing many pertinent issues including Access to Asylum; Interpretation of the Refugee Convention and Human Rights Protection; State responsibilities and burden-sharing; Refugee Status Determination procedures; Border Controls at Sea; Frontex and Interdiction; Externalisation and Privatisation of Borders.

See here the link to the website and registration information.

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Seminar: Refugee Diasporas as Development Actors

The European Council on Refugees and Exiles, the Danish Refugee Council and the Maastricht University Graduate School of Governance/UNU MERIT will organize a seminar on the involvement of diasporas in development cooperation. The aim is to gain more understanding on the specific contributions of refugee diasporas to development in their countries of origin and the resulting impacts on their host country.

The seminar will take place on 18 March 2014 in Brussels. It brings together around 40 participants from EU institutions, Member States, UNHCR, NGOs and academia. Some places are still available. Registration is possible here.

More information on the seminar can be found here.

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