Poster

‘Camps That Are Becoming Cities – Cities That Are Becoming Camps: The Case of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon and Jordan

The Oppenheimer Chair is pleased to welcome Faten Kikano, PhD Candidate in Environmental Design, from the Université de Montréal for a conference and a photo exhibition. Ms. Kikano will present her research and her photos about the life of  Syrian refugees in camps in Lebanon and Jordan. Join us for a lunch, a short conference…
Sonia Cancian Poster
Monday, 27 March 2017

The Power of Life Stories: Situating the Narratives of Migrants and Refugees within the Context of the Law

The Oppenheimer Chair and the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism are pleased to welcome Dr. Sonia Cancian, from Zayed University for a seminar on life stories of migrants and refugees and the law. This seminar will lead a discussion on life stories of migrants and refugees and their power (or not) within…

European Commission Press Release

13 April, 2017

“Following up on the Joint Communication on the Central Mediterranean Route and the Malta Declaration, the EU Trust Fund for Africa upon proposal from the European Commission, adopted today a €90 million programme to step up the protection of migrants and reinforce migration management in Libya

Today, the EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa has adopted a comprehensive €90 million programme to reinforce protection and resilience of migrants, refugees and host communities in Libya. The programme will also support improved migration management in the country.

High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “For the European Union, Libya and the Libyans have been and stay a top priority. We are working to promote a political solution to the Libyan crisis and to support the Libyan authorities on the many challenges they have to face, including the managing of the migration flows. As the first donor for Libya, we already are providing a sizeable package of support worth €120 million to assist the authorities and the population. And while we are working to provide training and capacity building to the coast guard to save lives in the Mediterranean Sea, we are addressing the appalling situation the migrants stranded in Libya face, together with international organisations such as IOM and UNHCR. The additional €90 million we adopt today are aimed at protecting and assisting migrants in the country, and the people who host them. Our aim remains cooperating in protecting lives, and promoting peace and stability in Libya. The European Union is doing its part and the Libyan authorities, all of them, have to do theirs”.”

Development assistance is increasingly geared toward the obsession of “stemming the flow” of migration to Europe. This doesn’t bode well for development programs, nor does it for migration governance.

To read the full press release, please click here.

  Photo credit: Rex/Shutterstock on The Economist's website.

The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean keeps rising: so does the risk of death

13 April, 2017

The 16-year-old Gambian who was discovered by a Spanish naval ship as he clung to a fuel tank in open seas will doubtless be haunted by his experience for the rest of his days. But he was also exceptionally fortunate—the only survivor, by his account, among more than 140 people who left the Libyan port of Sabratha on a large rubber dinghy on March 26th or 27th. It began taking on water a few hours later, he told UN officials from his hospital bed on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

“Details of sinkings in the central Mediterranean are often sketchy and sometimes unconfirmed. The Libyan Red Crescent said no bodies had been found from the disaster the young Gambian reported. But it is clear from figures kept by international organisations that both the risks of setting out from Libya and the numbers reaching Europe are growing.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, 24,513 people had landed in Italy this year by April 2nd. That was an increase of about 30% compared with the first three months of last year. Yet UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, calculates that the death rate per 100 arrivals climbed from 1.8 in 2015 to 3.4 in the first three months of 2017. One in 30 migrants in the central Mediterranean now dies en route.”

“As the numbers make clear, the risk of death is not enough to stop them”. All the repression arsenal deployed by most global north states is in part an enormous waste, of human life and of tax-payers dollars. Governing such migration would be a lot more productive than resisting it. States could take over the mobility market from the hands of the smugglers, provide migrants with many more diversified visa options, concentrate their repression on the minute number of criminals and funnel their investments into access to labour market, support for entrepreneurship, language courses, integration strategies and anti-discrimination policies. All this would be directed towards wealth creation and social cohesion, while present policies are divisive, costly and inefficient.

To read the full article in The Economist, please click here.

  A vineyard during the off season in San Giorgio Ionico, Italy. The death of a worker at a vineyard in southern Italy led to an investigation of what has been termed a system of modern-day slavery. Photo credit: Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times.

A Woman’s Death Sorting Grapes Exposes Italy’s ‘Slavery’

Article in The New York Times
11 April, 2017

“Her husband can still recall how Paola Clemente used to set two alarms to make sure she woke in the middle of the night — 1:50 a.m. — to catch the private bus that would take her and dozens of other women to the vineyards.

There, she would pick and sort table grapes up to 12 hours, taking home as little as 27 euros a day, about $29, after middlemen skimmed her pay. Sometimes she was so exhausted, she fell asleep in the midst of conversation.

Her death of a heart attack at 49 in the fields has set off nearly two years of soul-searching in Italy over what the authorities, labor experts and union organizers described as an elaborate system of modern-day slavery — involving more than 40,000 Italian women, as well as migrant and seasonal laborers — that remains at the core of Italy’s agricultural economy, especially here at the country’s jagged heel.

After months of investigation, this year the authorities arrested six people, accusing them of using their recruiting and transportation agencies to extort wages from women so poor and desperate they dared not speak up and worked under extreme conditions.”

A cynic might ask whether this story is newsworthy only because the victim is Italian, and not a migrant worker.

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  Photo credit: European Council on Refugees and Exile

CJEU: in the absence of a clear definition of ‘risk of absconding’, detentions on this ground are unlawful

Article on ECRE's website
24 March, 2017

“On 15 March 2017, the CJEU delivered its judgment in case C-528/15 Al Chodor, which related to detention under the Dublin III Regulation. The Court decided that Member States are required to establish objective criteria of a “risk of absconding” in a binding provision of general application (for example, in a regulation or legislation) and that, in the lack of such a provision, the detention of asylum seekers on this ground should be considered unlawful.

The Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic requested a preliminary ruling from the CJEU on a case concerning three Iraqi nationals of Kurdish origin who fled persecution from the Islamic State. They crossed from Turkey to Greece and intended to continue their way to Germany. In Hungary, they were fingerprinted and sent to a refugee camp for two days before continuing their journey. In the Czech Republic, they were stopped by the police and detained pending their transfer to Hungary, following the procedure under the Dublin III Regulation. Under this Regulation, Member States can detain asylum seekers in order to ensure a transfer to a responsible Member State when there is a significant risk that the applicant will abscond. However, not all MS define in law the criteria to establish a “risk of absconding”.

The CJEU found that detention under Dublin III in the absence of objective criteria to determine a “risk of absconding” is unlawful. The Court noted that any measure on deprivation of liberty must be accessible, precise and foreseeable, as required by Article 6 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights interpreted in light of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.”

The courts slowly put limits to the capacity of States to detain migrants. Ever so slowly however, considering how quick States are to detain migrants for long periods.

  Photo credit: Eric Gay/Associated Press on The New York Times' website

President Trump’s Reckless Shame Game

Article by the Editorial Board of The New York Times
22 March, 2017

A clear endorsement of firewalls between immigration enforcement and local law enforcement.

Beyond the constitutional problems lies an argument about public safety, which also finds the Trump administration on the wrong side of the facts, in service of a campaign of fear. Mr. Trump has been trying to make Americans fear unauthorized immigrants. He has succeeded in making these immigrants terrified of him, having declared open season on the undocumented, in effect making every one of 11 million people a priority for deportation. Nobody — not parents of citizen children, not students, not those with clean records and deep American roots — is above suspicion or safe from arrest.

That fear has had palpable effects. Chief Charlie Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department announced on Tuesday that Latino immigrants had suddenly and sharply become less willing to report crimes. He said reports made by immigrant Latinos of sexual assault had dropped 25 percent in 2017 through March 18, compared with the same period last year. Reports of domestic violence fell by 10 percent early this year.

Chief Beck said Mr. Trump’s deportation crackdown had made immigrants afraid of going to the police or cooperating with courts. “Imagine a young woman, imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother,” he said, “not reporting a sexual assault, because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart.”

And now, with his ICE detainer bulletins, Mr. Trump wants local law enforcers to be afraid of him, too. He wants them to fear being publicly blamed for crime by immigrants, to have second thoughts about releasing anyone who might give the administration an excuse to brand them as complicit.

By attacking them in this way, the administration puts local law enforcement agencies in a terrible position. Honoring a detainer puts them at risk of a federal lawsuit. Not honoring one puts them in the cross hairs of the xenophobic Mr. Trump. His indiscriminate search for immigrants to deport keeps ICE from focusing on real public safety threats. It antagonizes local agencies that want to do policing the right way. It emboldens corrupt local jurisdictions that engage in racial profiling and other abuses. And it makes immigrants fear and shun the protection of law enforcement.

To read the full article, please click here.