he artist Jean-Michel Pancin used the original door and floor measurements to replicate Oscar Wilde’s cell in the chapel of Reading Prison in England. Photo Credit Justin Tallis/Agence-France Presse — Getty Images

Oscar Wilde, a Refugee of His Time

Article in The New York Times, by Kamila Shamsie
18 November, 2016

“Yet standing in Wilde’s cell reflecting on what those laws had meant to him, even after his release from prison, I also realized what he shared with a group of people today who are incarcerated for doing nothing wrong — migrants in Britain — and saw the limits of the progress marked by his pardon.

I had previously thought of Wilde as a man who went into exile after completing his prison term. But when Wilde went to France, where it wasn’t a crime to be gay, he was a man fleeing unjust laws that could be used to persecute him. He was no exile; he was a refugee.”

The analogy described in this article could apply to the five Australian immigration detention centres and to Nauru’s three off-shore regional processing centres I have visited in the past weeks. Several detainees told me that prison is better as one knows why one’s detained and when it will end. One day, an apology will be in order.


  Cover page of the Amnesty International Report on Human Rights violations related to the EU hotspot system.

New Amnesty International report on the human rights violations linked to the EU hotspot system in Italy

6 November, 2016

Amnesty International published yesterday a new report on the human rights violations linked to the EU hotspot system in Italy. The report demonstrates that a host of human rights violations are taking place in Italy, including excessive use of force by police, arbitrary detention and collective expulsions, and details serious allegations of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. The Italy-Sudan recent readmission agreement is also discussed in detail.

The full report is available here.

“Migration matters”

Blog post by Hein de Haas
28 October, 2016

Encouraging and publicising individual initiatives by citizens actually doing something for refugees and migrants is the best way to respond to nationalist populist politicians and demonstrate that not everyone buys their “post-truth” hate and fear rhetoric. See an excerpt from this blog post by Hein de Haas below:

“While migration has become a political ‘hot topic’, public debates about migration have often remained remarkably fact-less. Thanks to the increase in migration research and availability of data, we know much more about the trends, causes and impacts of migration than a few decades ago. However, this knowledge does often not reach the broader public. This is highly unfortunate, since modern migration scholarship has so much to offer in order to facilitate informed debates and better, more effective policies.

Part of the blame lies with politicians, who willingly ignore inconvenient evidence that would unveil their demagoguery and unnerve their migration scaremongering and scapegoating of migrants.

All too often, the news media buy into – and thereby reinforce – the fact-free crisis narrative around migration fed to them by politicians. Many journalists fail in their basic professional duty of fact checking. A case in point is the false political claim that the EU-Turkey ‘deal’ on refugees has stopped refugee migration from Syria.

However, part of the blame also lies with migration researchers, who often fail to communicate their findings in clear, jargon-free language to the broader public, while research papers often remain inaccessible behind prohibitive paywalls of scientific journals. Much knowledge about migration therefore never leaves the academic ivory tower.”

‘I Travel, therefore I Am a Suspect’: an overview of the EU PNR Directive

Report by Niovi Vavoula, Queen Mary University of London
27 October, 2016

Please see this fine analysis of the new EU PNR Directive from a human rights perspective.

“According to the PNR (Passenger Name Record) Directive 2016/681 of 27 April 2016, a series of everyday data of all air passengers (third-country nationals but also EU citizens, including those on intra-Schengen flights) will soon be transferred to specialised units to be analysed in order to identify persons of interest in relation to terrorist offences and other serious crimes. This new instrument raises once again fundamental rights challenges posed by its future operation, particularly in relation to privacy and citizenship rights. Therefore, the story of the PNR Directive, as described below, is probably not finished as such concerns open up the possibility of a future involvement of the Court of Justice.”

To read the report, please click on the following link.

  A migrant holding onto a rope during a rescue operation this month off Libya’s Mediterranean coastline. Photo Credit: Aris Messinis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A “Modest” Proposal to End Death in the Mediterranean

Article in The New York Times
24 October, 2016

“The surest way to shut down this dangerous transit is to stop providing transport. No one should be left to drown, but there is an alternative: Rescue them and send them back. The drownings will stop when the boats stop leaving, and the boats will stop when the traffickers can no longer convince migrants they can get across.

Sending migrants back wouldn’t require establishing an international presence in Libya. Libyan boats could be hired to tow migrants’ boats back in. In fact, the European Union is already working with the Libyan forces to intercept some boats. Smugglers will fight to protect a lucrative business, but militias opposed to them would willingly accept European backing to combat them. And naval forces already involved in rescues could provide cover, instead of doing the smugglers’ work for them.”

A very dangerous proposal, which would put countless lives at risk and push migrants towards even more dangerous routes controlled by even more reckless smuggling rings. The proposal is inspired by the Australian “Pacific Solution” of sending migrants to PNG or Nauru: Australia can boast that it has “stopped the boats”, but at what cost? Australia also benefits from its geographic isolation, which is not the case of Europe. Unfortunately, European States have already started implementing such a policy, through supporting the Libyan authorities (which ones?) arresting migrants before they board the boats and establishing detention centres in Libya. Libyan detention centres have been known to be dreadful places of corruption, racketeering and torture, often controlled by traffickers using migrants to obtain ransom from their families. Funding arbitrary detention and torture centres abroad cannot form part of a viable human-rights-based European migration policy.

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