Spain’s summary returns to Morocco violate the European Convention on Human Rights

Article in Forced Migration Focus
18 octobre 2017

Courts remain the last line of defence for the rights of migrants, in trying to face down a coalition of interests uniting States desperately wanting to “control” their borders, nationalist populist politicians demagogically pressing the immigration button in preparation for the next electoral campaign, European institutions in search of legitimacy in a public debate which is entirely piloted by Member States at the Council, violent campaigns by the yellow press and on social media, apathetic public opinions confused by the complexity of the migration issues, and despite a civil society that holds the fort and defends the rights of migrants as best it can.

« As discussed in a previous post, the applicants in that case claimed to have been arrested by Spanish law enforcement authorities and returned to Moroccan territory as part of a group of more than 70 sub-Saharan migrants, immediately after descending the third border fence that separates the autonomous city of Melilla from Morocco. These individuals were not subjected to any administrative or judicial procedure and were not given the opportunity to explain their personal circumstances.

The Spanish Government has argued over the years that the fences erected between Spain and Morocco in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla are not considered to be located in Spain’s territory and therefore migrants intercepted while scaling the fences do not fall under Spanish jurisdiction. However, as predicted, the Court´s decision confirmed that Spain had achieved jurisdiction over the migrants and therefore the human rights obligations under Article 1 of the ECHR applied to Spain in the case »

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  The corpse of a fruit vendor lies on the ground in the historical downtown of San Salvador, El Salvador. An argument between security guards and gang members left six people dead on March 15, 2017. Photo Credit: Fred Ramos / El Faro.

Escaping death, asylum seekers surge in Mexico

A text by Óscar Martínez
13 octobre 2017

A very interesting podcast narrating the journey of Central American asylum seekers to Mexico.

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  'I heard the noise of keys as the officers came for me. They opened the door and asked me to follow them. The idea that I might be put on a plane to return home began to sink in.’ Photo Credit: Russell Boyce/Reuters

I sought refuge from torture in the UK. Only to be locked up again

Article in The Guardian
13 octobre 2017

An independent, impartial and educated judiciary, interested in the coherence of the legal system without interference of political objectives, is essential to protect the rights and freedoms of foreigners.

« In September 2016 the Home Office introduced an “adults at risk” policy that redefined torture to exclude torture committed by non-state actors like rebel forces or other armed groups. They then used this policy to lock up survivors who were tortured in these circumstances…

the high court has ruled that, by meddling with the torture definition and imprisoning survivors, the Home Office had acted unlawfully.

As well as fixing its flawed policy and restoring the wider definition of torture to recognise torture by non-state actors, the Home Office should deliver other reforms to protect torture survivors from detention, including access to independent heath assessments and good legal advice. Frontline staff in detention centres must also be trained to identify signs of trauma in order to release survivors of torture from detention without delay.

Furthermore, any independent medical evidence of torture must also be properly taken into account to ensure quality decisions on asylum claims. And crucially, survivors of torture must be immediately referred to specialist organisations who can help them to come to terms with their past. »

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  "Gov. Jerry Brown earlier said the goal "is to block and not to collaborate with abuse of federal power." Photo Credit: Max Whittaker / Reuters windy summer day with clear sky

California Turns Itself Into A ‘Sanctuary State’

Article in Huffington Post
10 octobre 2017

Limiting cooperation between California’s local law enforcement and federal immigration officials is one step towards establishing “firewalls” between immigration enforcement and public services, including the local police. When their rights are threatened or a crime has been committed, every resident should feel confident that contacting the police will not result in retaliation. For undocumented migrants or migrants with a precarious status, this means that calling the police will not lead to detention or deportation. It should be clear that the local police has a mission to accomplish : “to serve and protect”. This mission requires the trust of the population, and it should not be compromised because a sizeable portion of the population will  be too scared to call them, even when egregious violations of rights are committed. ICE has also a mission to accomplish and we hope that its agents are well trained, including in how to protect the human rights of the people they arrest. However, ICE does not need to enlist all other agencies to accomplish its mission. Considering that the vast majority of undocumented migrants have committed no crime (crossing the border irregularly or overstaying a visa is an administrative offence but not a crime), the mission of ICE to enforce immigration laws is certainly not more important than the mission of the police to serve and protect every one against crime and violence.

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Informing Syrian Refugees about Smuggling : First Findings from the Field

Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development
10 octobre 2017

“States have failed to eradicate migrant smuggling networks for decades. Repressing them is not enough. Ignoring them is imprudent.”

« In sum : refugees are barraged by information they neither need nor understand. Meanwhile, smuggling is taboo. Criminals enjoy a privileged position as informants because refugee managers have diligently avoided the topic. By sticking their heads in the sand, governments have relegated the power to inform migratory decisions to criminals.

Accordingly, we propose a policy of information-dissemination targeted at systematically informing refugees of the risks and features of local smuggling operations. Governments should give honest, transparent and reliable information on smuggler prices, operations, recruitment sites, reputations, and – crucially – illegal border-crossing risks and penalties. The only way to strip smugglers of their role as informants is to provide alternative, credible information in these domains. This will deter refugees from risky routes, and discredit smugglers. It will also boost government credibility. Without such an intervention, anti-smuggler repression cannot suffice. »

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