Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana Credit Darron Cummings/Associated Press

An independent and competent judiciary is essential to fight the oppression of minorities

6 March, 2016

A federal district judge in Indianapolis [blocked] the attempt by Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana to cut off federal resettlement funds for Syrian refugees who had passed a vetting process that took up to two years. Mr. Pence’s order was unconstitutional and “clearly discriminates” against Syrians compared with other refugees, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled in a suit brought by a nonprofit resettlement agency. The judge found that Mr. Pence’s move to withhold resettlement funds was “in no way” justified by his claim that his main concern was the safety of Indiana residents.

The ruling delivered a jolt of reality to the xenophobic politics now inflaming the presidential primary campaign. – The New York Times, ”A Judge’s Message to the Xenophobes”.

This judgement is a great example of why we need an independent and competent judiciary. One commentator mentioned that, if the law was on the judge’s side, the people are largely on Trump’s side. What was implied was that, if a majority of Americans agreed with Trump, then Trump must be right. Isn’t this exactly the reason why independent judges are necessary?

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  A Canadian ship transits into Souda Bay, Greece, on February 6, 2016. Photo: Corporal Anthony Chand.

Migrants rescued at sea by NATO will be repatriated to Turkey

26 February, 2016

The opinion piece written by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is the official confirmation that migrants rescued at sea by NATO assets will be repatriated to Turkey: no mention of whether Turkey is a safe place of return for individual migrants and refugees.

Repeating that the operations will be conducted in accordance with international law will not make it so. The international law referred to seems to include only the principle of territorial sovereignty. International human rights law is not mentioned, and the fact that migrants have rights not acknowledged.

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  Afghan children sit between tents at a relocation centre for migrants and refugees near Athens. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

What is left of the united and inclusive Europe?

26 February, 2016

The unravelling of European trust, solidarity and consensus is spectacular. Time magazine reported that ”tensions are flaring between European powers” while the French newspaper Le Monde described the EU interior ministers meeting in Brussels as a complete failure.

Panic time is the worst time for making structural decisions with a long-term vision.

Indeed, what we are witnessing is a fire sale of everything that made the EU a “common territory”.

It is now clear that NATO will be used to push back migrants from Greece to Turkey. Greece was deemed not a safe country for Dublin refugee returns after the European Court of Human Rights MSS decision, and push backs to Libya were condemned by the Hirsi decision. Yet, it now seems perfectly acceptable to everyone that refugees will be pushed back from Greek waters to Turkey.

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  Photo: AFP-JIJI

We must take a stand in favour of the rights and dignity of migrants

21 February, 2016

An Australian hospital has refused to return an asylum-seeker baby to detention in Nauru, as momentum built across the country on Sunday against offshore Pacific camps for processing refugees.

Under the government’s tough immigration policy, asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat are sent to detention camps in the Pacific island nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru. They are blocked from being resettled in Australia even if found to be refugees. […]

“Doctors must expect to advocate for their patients,” Doctors For Refugees co-founder Richard Kidd, who has joined the vigil outside the hospital, said.

“We have … overwhelming evidence over many years now that detention does terrible harm to babies and children, particularly their mental health but also physical health.”  – The Japan Times, February 14, 2016

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  A Greek Coast Guard vessel arrives carrying migrants at the port of Mytilene, Greece, after a rescue operation in June 2015. Photo: Thanassis Stavrakis/AP

Border militarisation: an inefficient and harmful strategy

11 February, 2016

Militarisation of border control, such as the deployment of NATO ships to the Aegean sea, is the worst idea possible, considering that migrants are perfectly innocent and innocuous persons in their vast majority, and that “fighting the smugglers” is a red herring: as long as persons in need of mobility will not be provided with official mobility solutions, unofficial mobility solutions will be provided by opportunistic smuggling rings. The only way to actually eliminate smuggling is to take over their market by offering legal, safe and cheap mobility solutions, with all the identity and security checks that efficient visa procedures can provide.

The operationalization of such a military operation remains to be outlined. What will NATO do that Frontex didn’t do? When intercepting a migrant boat, what will the procedure be? Will they embark migrants on their navy ships as the Italians did in Mare Nostrum? If not, What? If they do, where will they disembark them? Turkey? Greece? To what authority will they transfer them? How will simple pushbacks be prevented? How will they treat the migrants on board? How will they identify protection needs?

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