The Pragmatism of the Court of Justice on the Detention of Irregular Migrants: Comment on Affum

Article by Giovanni Zacaroni in European Insight
18 March, 2017

Abstract: The recent Affum decision (judgment of 7 June 2016, case C-47/15) represents a new step forward in the case law of the Court of Justice on the detention of irregular migrants. The Court, departing from its previous case law in Achughbabian and El Dridi, adopts a rather pragmatic approach, preferring to stick to a procedural argument (to forbid detention in order to ensure a fast return procedure) rather than indulging in the assessment of the compliance of the detention with fundamental rights. This new approach seems to facilitate the cooperation between the EU level and national administrations. The Court seems, however, driven more by the need to secure the effectiveness of the return procedure rather than the rights of the individuals involved.

On migration issues, many courts try to “balance” the human rights of migrants with administrative efficiency, reducing the protection of foreigners against arbitrary detention, as compared to the standards applied to citizens. Is this a response to the strong stance of mainstream politicians using a populist migration agenda to stave off an outright nationalist populist victory? Are courts fearing for their own relevance in view of a strong democratic pushback against seemingly uncontrolled migration movements? In any case, it is not a good sign for the future.

Click here to download the PDF of the article.

Giovanni Zaccaroni

Sanctuary City Study

By Prs. Graham Hudson, Idil Atak, Michele Manocchi and Charity-Ann Hannan from Ryerson University
8 February, 2017

An excellent study on the inner workings of a “Sanctuary City”, beyond the slogans. An empirical analysis of how firewalls can be put in place between public services and immigration enforcement, and how they still may fail to protect migrants and refugees.

The latest RCIS Working Paper “(No) Access T.O.: A Pilot Study on Sanctuary City Policy in Toronto, Canada”, by Prs. Graham Hudson, Idil Atak, Michele Manocchi and Charity-Ann Hannan, of Ryerson University in Toronto, is now available on the RCIS website:

4.1 Miles: Documentary Short Film by Daphne Matziaraki

25 January, 2017

“When I returned home to Greece last fall to make a film about the refugee crisis, I discovered a situation I had never imagined possible. The turquoise sea that surrounds the beautiful Greek island of Lesbos, just 4.1 miles from the Turkish coast, is these days a deadly gantlet, choked with terrified adults and small children on flimsy, dangerous boats. I had never seen people escaping war before, and neither had the island’s residents. I couldn’t believe there was no support for these families to safely escape whatever conflict had caused them to flee. The scene was haunting.

Regardless of the hardship Greeks have endured from the financial crisis, for a long time my home country has by and large been a peaceful, safe and easy place to live. But now Greece is facing a new crisis, one that threatens to undo years of stability, as we struggle to absorb the thousands of desperate migrants who pour across our borders every day. A peak of nearly 5,000 entered Greece each day last year, mainly fleeing conflicts in the Middle East.”

Please see this documentary short film, nominated for an academy award.

Implementation of EU Readmission Agreements: Identity Determination Dilemmas and the Blurring of Rights

CEPS Research Paper by Sergio Carrera
2 September, 2016

Please see this new publication from the CEPS:

“During the last 16 years, and as of May 2016, the European Union has concluded 17 EU Readmission Agreements (EURAs) with various non-EU countries, as key instruments establishing cooperation between the EU and third countries for expelling irregular third-country nationals. This book examines the ways in which the European Commission and the Member States frame the effectiveness of EU return policies on the basis of ‘successful return’ rates, and the policy and legislative initiatives undertaken to increase the number of expulsions. It assesses existing knowledge regarding the role played by travel documents and identity determination as obstacles preventing person to be expelled or readmitted to her/his country of origin and studies the administrative procedures and common rules envisaged by EURAs aimed at ensuring a swift identification or ‘identity determination’ of the nationality of the persons to be readmitted to their country of origin. The book focuses in particular on the ways in which nationality is to be determined or presumed in the scope of the 2010 EURA with Pakistan, and compares it with those foreseen in the five EURAs that have been concluded since with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cape Verde, Georgia and Turkey. In the final analysis, the author critically analyses the challenges affecting the operability of EURAs, which mainly relate to the lack of accountability and transparency mechanisms as well as the dilemmas they pose to international and European standards in the determination of nationality by states, and to the individual as a holder of fundamental human rights.”

To read the full research paper, please click here.