Migration News Sheet Summary August 2006
Issued on 24/07/2006
Some countries dump humanitarian obligations and disregard international human rights instruments to combat irregular migration
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MNS Summary August 2006
Irregular migration features prominently in this issue with a focus on events in the southernmost EU Member States, which appear to be absorbing by far the greater portion of migrants entering the EU clandestinely. In combating this, some countries dump their humanitarian obligations and disregard international human rights instruments; and rescuing people at sea if they are asylum-seekers proves yet again to be potentially very problematic.
The more controversial issues dealt with in the August issue relate essentially to irregular migration and asylum, with attention being paid to the southernmost EU Member States. History nearly repeated itself with the almost eight-day stand-off when Malta refused to allow the disembarkation of 51 irregular migrants rescued by a Spanish fishing trawler. A similar incident occurred almost five years ago off the Australian archipelago of Christmas Island. Extensive coverage is given to the role played by the countries involved, namely Malta, Spain, Italy, Morocco, Libya and, to a small but very important extent, Andorra, as well as by the European Commission.
Reference is made to the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. This text, inspired by the Titanic tragedy, was amended after the stand-off at Christmas Island but the exercise does not appear to have had much effect on signatory States that refuse to admit people rescued at sea if they are asylum-seekers.
Whether by sheer coincidence or as a sign that it was working hard on the issue of irregular migration, the European Commission adopted a package of measures to combat illegal immigration at the height of the stand-off. Two days earlier, Malta secured a set of Conclusions from the EU Council aimed at obtaining a stronger commitment from Member States to a comprehensive and holistic approach to the problem.
The articles on this problem in the western Mediterranean region show growing frustration and mistrust on the part of Malta which, rightly or wrongly, feels that as a small Member State, its concerns are being ignored or not taken seriously enough by its partners.
EU-related items also include the Euro-African summit held in Rabat last July, the Commission's proposal to revise yet again the Schengen visa lists by shifting a number of countries around from the positive to the negative list and vice-versa and the other side of the European Commission's rather upbeat assessment of "old" Member States' decision to grant free movement to the workers of the new ones. Italy is the latest to decide to do so.The UK, whose government miscalculated by a staggering 22.5 times the extent of the influx of workers from the new Member States, is reported to be rather concerned and leaked information indicates that immediate free movement to Bulgarians and Romanians when their countries join the EU is now virtually excluded.
Also included in the chapter concerning irregular migration/rejected asylum-seekers are news items covering:
The section concerning asylum gives extensive coverage on a narrow ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the UK's favour on a complaint lodged by an asylum-seeker who was detained not because he was considered likely to abscond but to facilitate the fast-track procedure.
National news items here include:
The section on racism/discrimination covers the ruling handed down by Supreme Court of Appeal quashing a verdict that upheld the accusation of anti-Semitism against three intellectuals because they had criticised the State of Israel, two more racist killings in the UK and Germany's transposition of the EU anti-discrimination Directive.
In miscellaneous, there is an article covering the attempts made by two MEPs to obtain a definition as to who is a "terrorist". The answers provided by the European Commission fail to provide the response.
Other news items include the final adoption of the controversial Integration Bill in the Netherlands, the question of whether the East African habit of chewing khat amounts to drug addition, convictions in the UK in a particularly brutal case of so-called honour killing and the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in the UK not to prosecute any of the police officers who executed an innocent Brazilian because they mistook him for a "terrorist".