South African soldiers apprehend irregular migrants from Zimbabwe. Photo Credit: Guy Oliver/IRIN

Securitising Africa’s borders is bad for migrants, democracy, and development

Article in IRIN
6 July, 2017

Seeing Europe export to Africa its worst border policies – based on repression, detention, expulsion and separation of families, considered as an appropriate deterrent for undocumented migration – and spending “development” funds for capacity building of African “integrated border management” systems is tragic. So much money, time and energy spent for naught, and such a toxic discourse being “adapted” to the African context!

Africa certainly has difficulties guaranteeing the rights of undocumented migrant workers, but it is not through repression that their situation will be made better. It is through regularisation processes which will empower them to claim their rights and through the availability of many more regular, safe, affordable and accessible mobility options, such as electronic travel authorisation mechanisms, visa liberalisation agreements (with dispense of short term visas) and visa facilitation for all kinds of visas (family reunification, student, retiree, internships, au pair, work permit, looking for work, etc.) which will allow most of them to circulate regularly and avoid finding themselves trapped in the vicious circle of migrant smuggling and underground labour markets.

Exporting one’s mobility problems to another continent by encouraging them to do what has utterly failed at home is not a solution. It will neither produce development in Africa, nor will it reduce unauthorised mobility to Europe. It will increase the precariousness of migrant workers everywhere, and push them further in the underground, in the hands of smugglers, unscrupulous recruiters and exploitative employers. And it will encourage authoritarian regimes to use anti-terrorism, anti-smuggling and anti-trafficking rhetoric to justify abhorrent human rights and labour rights violations.

One would expect much better from a continent that “invented” the human rights doctrine.

To access the article, please click here

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:  http://www.ryerson.ca/content/dam/rcis/documents/RCIS%20Working%20Paper%202017_1GHudsonFinal%20.pdf

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.