Migration News Sheet Summary August 2008
Issued on 28/07/2008
French Presidency proposal on European Pact on Immigration and Asylum; return directive sparks negative reactions from third countries; World Bank warns of future manpower shortages in eastern and central Europe; more migrant sea tragedies; news on Iraqi asylum-seekers in Denmark, Sweden; ECHR ruling on Roma children in Croatia
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MNS Summary August 2008
EU-related developments: The proposal of the French presidency of the EU to conclude a European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, the so-called return directive and the negative reactions from third countries, and the conclusion reached by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that there can be direct discrimination within the meaning of the relevant EU directive in the absence of an identifiable victim are the main EU-related issues covered in the August issue.
Other legal developments at the ECJ that are covered include the complaints lodged by the European Commission against a number of EU Member States for failing to transpose the so-called qualification asylum Directive; the referral of several asylum cases concerning this same Directive by Germany's Federal Administration Court to the ECJ; yet another infringement procedure relating to the freedom to provide services brought against Belgium by the European Commission; and the nomination of a European Parliament rapporteur for the Commission's latest Communication on immigration.
On policies and practices concerning immigration and asylum on the EU level, articles cover the warning by a World Bank expert that eastern and central European countries will soon be confronted with serious problems of manpower shortages; the expected decision of Germany to delay further the lifting of restrictions on the free movement of workers from the new EU Member States; reactions by EU institutions to Rome's new census scheme applied to people of Roma origin; the decision of the Swiss People's Party to call off the referendum on whether to extend the free movement of workers agreement with the EU to Bulgaria and Romania; and another ruling, this time in the Netherlands, against returning (in application of the Dublin Regulation) an asylum-seeker to Greece.
National news items included in this section cover the authorisation in Belgium for polygamous couples to exercise the right of family reunion; the recognition by the Danish Government that the country's tough rules on family reunion can be circumvented by coming under EU law; the criticisms of immigration quotas by a government-appointed committee in France; Berlin's decision to set up an "index of worker needs to tackle manpower shortages; two court rulings in the Netherlands which jeopardise the implementation of the country's tough entry policy towards foreign (third-country) spouses; more court challenges of former Gurkha soldiers wanting a right of residence in the UK, London's warning to 10 third countries that they may be put on the negative visa list; criticisms by employers and business leaders of the UK's new policy on labour migration.
More major sea tragedies of migrants who drowned while heading for Spain or Italy are covered in the section on irregular migration with warnings that there will be many more because migrants are prepared to take the risks of the dangerous sea journey because they have nothing to return to in their home countries. Reacting to the tragedies, the Spanish Prime Minister has appealed to rich nations to increase development aid.
Other developments covered in this section include: statistics publicised by Austria and Slovakia to prove that fears that the latter's entry into the Schengen Area would lead to more criminality and illegal immigration are groundless; more hunger strike protests in Belgium after yet another one ended with the authorities' acceptance to issue them with residence permits; apparent acceleration in France of the issuing of residence permits to irregular migrants with regular jobs; concerns voiced by French police unions that some police tasks in dealing with irregular migrants may be privatised; Italian parliament's approval of a controversial package of measures to combat irregular migration and criminality; major migrant trafficking case in Sweden that ended with the acquittal of most of the defendants; proposal in the UK that irregular migrants pay "bail" and wear an electronic tag to avoid detention.
Regarding protection, the main developments, in addition to the afore-mentioned ones, are: the beginning of forced repatriation of rejected Iraqi asylum-seekers from Denmark; the announcement of The Hague of a new asylum procedure coupled with a new policy on repatriation; the Swedish Government acceptance to pay compensation to the Egyptian asylum-seeker Mohammed AL ZERY who was forcibly repatriated by US agents and subsequently maltreated and imprisoned ; the very sharp drop in the number of Iraqi asylum-seekers arriving in Sweden; and the UK Government's u-turn on its earlier decision to repatriate rejected Zimbabwean asylum-seekers.
Other news items in this section cover the situation of Iraqi interpreters airlifted to Denmark who now want to return to their home country rather than be faced with unemployment; an official report published in France that is critical of the detention of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children; Amnesty International's criticism of long-term detention of rejected asylum-seekers in the Netherlands, saying that it is used as "deterrence and punishment"; fear in Norway that the shooting of a 16-year old Somali was intentionally carried out by someone opposed to the arrival of asylum-seekers; accusation by a senior judge in the UK that the Government is guilty of "a serious invasion of judicial independence"; a report by two NGOs and a prominent law firm accusing the British Home Office of "State-sanctioned violence" against asylum-seekers.
Other than the afore-mentioned ECJ ruling concerning the anti-discrimination directive, the section on racism and discrimination also covers the unanimous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that the Croatian system of putting Roma children with poor knowledge of the Croatian language in special classes does not amount to discrimination. There are also articles on an opinion survey that suggest that "visible minorities" in France are twice as likely to be stopped by policemen for questioning; and on a complaint of discrimination in Ireland where the defendant is a journalist with a reputation for provocation, who affirmed that "Africa is giving nothing to anyone - apart from AIDS".
Miscellaneous items include: