An Ancient Greek idea could foil Brexit’s democratic tragedy

Article in The Guardian
19 January, 2018

The tragedy of Brexit doesn’t concern Britain’s economy but rather its democracy”. This is a lesson to remember: stereotypes are reduced through deliberation and people do not hold as radical anti-immigration (or other reactionary) views once they have discussed concrete issues with peers who have diverse backgrounds and sets of experience and expertise. It is when citizens are or feel they are excluded from effective democratic deliberation that extreme views can prosper.

“As the citizens’ assembly considered the issues, the participants became more tolerant and generous towards each others’ perspectives, and more liberal in outlook. Participants became slightly more inclined to think immigration enriched rather than undermined cultural life and the economy, and substantially more prepared to give priority to trade over immigration in Brexit negotiations.”

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  Illustration by Carys Boughton. (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Confronting root causes: forced labour in global supply chains

Article in
10 January, 2018

Please see this new report by openDemocracy, showing, inter alia, the intricate connections between migration and mobility policies and the global economic structure.

“The question thus becomes: exactly which aspects of poverty and globalisation are responsible for the endemic labour exploitation frequently described with the terms forced labour, human trafficking or modern slavery? Which global economic processes ensure a constant and low-cost supply of highly exploitable and coerced workers? And which dynamics trigger a demand among businesses for their exploitation, making it possible for them to profit from it?”

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Scotland Considering Right to Vote for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Article in
10 January, 2018

That Scotland would envisage to provide “everyone legally resident in Scotland” with the right to vote is a very encouraging sign. Everyone who pays taxes and obeys the law will have a say in how laws are made and how taxes are spent. It may presage a transformation of the public debates on migration. As soon as migrants will be part of the electorate, politicians will pay more attention to their experience and expertise when designing policies which would affect their rights. Public opinion might also be considerably altered if many more migrants are empowered to speak up and present their views on migration policies.

“A public consultation launched last month suggested that the voting franchise for Scottish Parliament and council elections should be extended to “everyone legally resident in Scotland”. The Scottish Greens are now calling for this to include refugees and asylum seekers, arguing it would send a message that Scotland is a “welcoming country”.

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  Some immigrants who have been granted bail were then picked up and held at an immigration detention facility at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, N.J. Photo Credit Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

Judge Faults U.S. for Holding Immigrant Defendants Freed on Bail

Article in the New York Times
10 January, 2018

States too often play on the distinction between criminal law and administrative law in immigration matters, using the one – most often administrative law – which is most convenient to ensure that migrants are detained for prolonged periods.

Administrative law is today the most dangerous law of the land, because it has not yet developed the guarantees of the defence (rules of evidence and procedure) that criminal law has developed over centuries: in most countries, only immigration judges can send people to summary executions, torture and arbitrary detention, through deportation proceedings.

And administrative judges, in many countries, are quite lenient with government officials who decide that detention of a migrant is essential for security reasons: they accept reasons for detention that they would never accept if the person in any administrative proceedings had their nationality.

It is good to see that some judges are waking up to the issue.

“According to both Mr. Lett’s lawyer and the judge, Dora L. Irizarry, the government cannot decide to criminally prosecute immigrants and then keep them locked up on immigration detainers, if, as their cases proceed, they are granted bail. To do so, they said, was to take what amounted to a second bite of the apple, one that skirted the constitutional protections of the criminal-justice system by using the separate immigration process to obtain a result they failed to get the first time.

“The executive branch has a choice to make,” the lawyer, Michelle Gelernt, wrote last week in a motion to dismiss Mr. Lett’s charges. “Whether to proceed with the criminal case against Mr. Lett or whether to proceed instead with his removal.””

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  François Crépeau, who just completed a six-year term as the United Nations' leading investigator on the human rights of migrants, says sealed borders are fantasy. (ACHILLEAS ZAVALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Why nothing will stop people from migrating: an interview with François Crépeau

Article on CBC
7 January, 2018

For the last six years, Canadian lawyer François Crépeau has served as the United Nations’ leading investigator and expert on the human rights of migrants. His post put him on the frontlines of an international crisis, during some of the most challenging years in recent memory…

He spoke to The Sunday Edition host Michael Enright about his time as UN special rapporteur and about why he believes resisting migration is an impossible goal.

In the last six years, in your position with the UN, you’ve travelled around the world. You’ve visited detention centres, camps, places where people try to cross borders. What stands out in your mind now from those visits?

François Crépeau: I was expecting this to be very grim. And what stood out from day one, when visiting detention centres or camps, was the sheer determination, the grit, the courage of those people — the fact that even if they were detained, in their mind they were already somewhere else. They were already in the next step of their journey. They might be sent back home, but they would come back.

They are going to come whether we like it or not, because this is what humankind has always done. They are going to try to find a place where they can thrive, flourish, feed their kids and educate their kids. They don’t do it, often, because they like it. They do it because that’s where the future lies for themselves and their families

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