Blog: Ill-Treatment of Migrants in Greek Law Enforcement – Are the Strasbourg Court Judgments the Tip of the Iceberg?

By Nikolaos Sitaropoulos

This blog was originally posted on the Blog of Border Criminologies, Oxford University.

A number of reports by international human rights organisations, like CPT and Amnesty International, have recorded  numerous cases of ill-treatment, including torture, suffered by migrants while under the control of Greek law enforcement officials. Despite the frequent reporting of such incidents there have not been any major cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (‘Strasbourg Court’ or ‘the Court’) until recently. In 2003 the first application (Alsayed Allaham), concerning the ill-treatment of a Syrian migrant by police in Athens, was lodged. The 2007 judgment against Greece in Alsayed Allaham was followed by another judgment in 2012 in the Zontul case condemning Greece once more for failing to investigate the rape of a Turkish asylum-seeking detainee by a coast guard officer in Crete. Both cases demonstrated the need for structural changes in Greek law and practice in order to eradicate impunity and ill-treatment in the law enforcement sector.

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Call for papers: ‘Migration and the Environment: Some Reflections on Current Legal Issues and Possible Ways Forward’

The Department of Law of the University of Naples “Federico II” and the Institute for Research on Innovation and Services for Development of the National Research Council of Italy are working jointly on the analysis of the link between Migration and Development. In the context of this cooperation,and following the publication (open access) of the collective volume Migration and Development: Some Reflections on Current Legal Issues, Rome, 2016, they have decided to issue a call for papers for a second volume intended to address the specific issue of the relationship between human migration and the environment. The deadline for abstracts is 30 March 2017.

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Blog: An African Protocol on Mass-Influx of Refugees

by Cristiano D’Orsi

This blog was originally posted on the International Refugee Law Interest Group Blog (IRLIG) on the American Society of International Law (ASIL) website.

According to a 2004 Conclusion (No. 100) adopted by the Executive Committee (ExCom) of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR)[1], the following characteristics can be attributed to the phenomenon of ‘mass-influx’ of refugees:

  1. “considerable numbers of people arriving over an international border;
  2. a rapid rate of arrival;
  3. inadequate absorption or response capacity in host States, particularly during the emergency phase;
  4. individual asylum procedures, where they exist, which are unable to deal with assessment of such large numbers.”

This description contains very broad references that can be applied to Africa, which is often referred to as a ‘continent of mass-influx.’

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Recent publications by Interest Group members

Nikolaos Sitaropoulos wrote a paper entitled ‘Migrant Ill-Treatment in Greek Law Enforcement: Are the Strasbourg Court Judgments the Tip of the Iceberg?’, which is available on SSRN. The paper provides an analysis of the first major judgments of the Strasbourg Court which usefully shed light on the underlying, long-standing systemic failures of the Greek rule of law. The author argues that these judgments are in fact only the tip of the iceberg. For this the paper looks into the process of supervision of these judgments’ execution by Greece, which is pending before the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, as well as into alarming reports issued notably by CPT as well as by the Greek Ombudsman. The paper also highlights the question of racial violence that has not been so far the subject of analysis in the Court’s judgments concerning ill-treatment in Greece. However, a number of reports, especially the annual reports of the Greek Racist Violence Recording Network since 2012, record numerous cases of racist violence by law enforcement officials targeting migrants and the ineffective responses by the administrative and judicial authorities.  The paper’s concluding observations provide certain recommendations in order to enhance Greek law and practice and eradicate impunity.

We also want to bring three publications of another member, Vincent Chetail, to your attention. ‘Sovereignty and Migration in the Doctrine of the Law of Nations: An Intellectual History of Hospitality from Vitoria to Vattel’, appeared in the European Journal of International Law (Vol. 26, No. 4) and is also available on SSRN. In this article, the author reminds us that the movement of persons across borders is a permanent feature of history that has been framed by international law for ages. Insights on the dialectic between sovereignty and hospitality, offer us innovative ways for rethinking migration, the author argues. In ‘Is There Any Blood on My Hands? Deportation as a Crime of International Law’ (Leiden Journal of International Law, Vol. 29), available here, Vincent Chetail sets out how deportation – although traditionally a prerogative of the state – may degenerate an international crime. Vincent Chetail also wrote ‘Migration and International Law: A Short Introduction’ for his edited volume on International Law and Migration. In this short intro, the author offers a general overview of the international legal framework governing migration, while taking stock of key issues and academic debates.

Boldizsár Nagy produced a study entitled ‘Hungarian Asylum Law and Policy in 2015-2016: Securitization Instead of Loyal Cooperation’, which appeared in a special issue of the Germal Law Journal (Vol. 17, No. 06) on Constitutional Dimensions of the Refugee CrisisThe study describes  Hungary’s policy towards asylum seekers  and refugees in the tense period of 2015–2016 before and after the erection of fences at its southern borders of Hungary. It offers a theoretical explanation of the legal measures and practical  actions.  After briefly reviewing the factual basis,  that is the  magnitude of the movements and the number of decisions taken in the EU and in Hungary and the pertinent legal changes in 2015– 2016  it elaborates the theoretical fundaments.  Securitization  majority identitarian populism and crimmigration are invoked as explanatory frames. The paper then  reassembles the factual elements under six headings showing them in a new light. These are: denial,  deterrence, obstruction, punishment, free riding constituting  lack of solidarity and breaching the law (international, European, domestic). Finally the question is raised if all these moves are compatible with the duty of loyal co-operation of Member States with eachother and the EU as prescribed by  article Article 4 (3) TEU.


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Call for papers: “Africa and Migration Flows: from Repression to Circular Migration – Legal and Socio-Political Implications of a Paradigm Shift”

On the occasion of the re-launch of its “Focus – Africa“, the online law journal has issued a call for papers entitled “Africa and Migration Flows: from Repression to Circular Migration – Legal and Socio-Political Implications of a Paradigm Shift“.

The African demographic explosion is apparent from the most recent data. Today, one sixth of the world population lives in Africa, and already in 2050 one fourth of the nine billion people will be African – to become more than a third of the world population at the end of the 21st century. These long-term and structural features cannot be dealt with through a purely emergency approach, nor on the grounds of the traditional repressive/regressive model focused on building walls or a “fortress Europe” surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. Rather, it is crucial to build an international governance of migration flows based on shared values, new policies and innovative tools. This approach not only serves Africa’s interests, fostering human development, but also that of the European Union and its Member States.

The call for papers welcomes scholars interested in these issues to contribute with analyses, critiques and proposal to tackle the challenges of what is shaping up to be “the African century” from several points of view. In this context, enquiries on the role of law in the regulation of African migration flows with a special – but not exclusive – reference to the promotion of circular migration are particularly encouraged. welcomes contributions on legal, socio-economic, historical and political matters. Papers may be sent in Italian, English, French or Spanish. Abstracts specifying the chosen topic (maximum 800 words) must be submitted by 15 March 2017 to the e-mail address

More information on this call for proposals can be found here.

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New publications on EU relocation mechanism (by Prof. Peter Hilpold)

Professor Peter Hilpold (University of Innsbruck), our IG member, has recently published two topical papers on the international, EU and domestic law implications of the EU relocation quotas as instruments of burden-sharing in the asylum context. According to the author, such a system would violate international and EU law, but on the other hand the respective discussion has triggered a necessary debate about a reform of the international refugee system involving some form of a fairer burden-sharing.

The publications are available here (in German – published in 14 Migralex 3/2016, pp. 58-66) and here (in English).

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New Book: The Human Rights of Migrant Women in International and European Law (Eleven International Publishing, 2016)

Our IG member, Fulvia Staiano has recently published a book titled “The Human Rights of Migrant Women in International and European Law” (Eleven International Publishing, 2016, 118 p.) in which she shows the existence of a gender bias in European norms regulating migrant women’s family life and employment. Her monograph further analyses the potential of European human rights and fundamental rights law to expose and correct this bias. For this purpose, the book focuses on the case law of the ECtHR, the CJEU, as well as the domestic jurisdictions of Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, in search of effective judicial interpretations to ensure migrant women’s enjoyment of their rights and entitlements in conditions of equality and non-discrimination..

For more information about the monograph, see this  web link.

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New book captures regional developments, tools and techniques on “Solving Statelessness”

As the UNHCR #IBelong Campaign enters its third year, it has become evident that making meaningful progress towards the goal of ending statelessness demands a more ambitious approach to the whole statelessness debate. While research projects, mapping studies and doctrinal discussions have helped to clarify the challenges faced and our understanding of what is at stake, it is time to move beyond stocktaking to inspire solutions. “Solving Statelessness”, a new book co-edited by Laura van Waas (Co-Director of the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion) and Melanie Khanna (UNHCR’s Chief of Statelessness Section), seeks to do just that. Twenty-five experts from academia, civil society and UNHCR have collaborated to produce fourteen essays which all approach statelessness from a solutions perspective.

Statelessness was long seen as a niche, technical problem and those working in this field often described their experience as a rather lonely one. This is no longer the case today. Interest in statelessness has been steadily increasing since the late 1990s – within academia, among governments, at the UN and among civil society organisations. With a fresh sense of purpose in addressing the issue, there is now a growing international movement engaged in finding solutions – spurred on by the UNHCR-led #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024. As Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Director of International Protection, outlines in his introduction to this ground-breaking publication: “The global debates have moved beyond the need to explain the problem and its causes and consequences. The time has come to accelerate the momentum to implement durable solutions effectively.”

The essays Continue reading

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Vacancy/internship at ECRE: legal assistant

The European Council on Refugees and Exiles in Brussels is recruiting someone (11 months) to assist ECRE’s Legal Support and Litigation Team with legal research on specific topics relating to international protection, contributing to the EDAL database and activities by the ELENA network. Applications should be submitted before 11 December 2016.

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International Refugee Law Student Writing Competition

The American Society of International Law’s International Refugee Law Interest Group (IRLIG) announced its third annual International Refugee Law Student Writing Competition, co-sponsored by the Global Migration Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva; the International Law Students Association (ILSA); the International Journal of Refugee Law; and the American Society of International Law (ASIL).

Papers may address any topic related to international law and refugees, internally-displaced persons (IDPs), and forced migrants. Papers must be written solely by the candidate, in English, and may not have been submitted for publication elsewhere.

The deadline for submissions is 21 November 2016, 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time.

For more information about the competition, click here.

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