Migration News Sheet Summary April 2008
Issued on 17/04/2008
New visa arrangements between EU, US and Canada; France and Spain sign bilateral agreements with African countries on joint migration management; Norwegian and Swedish decisions regarding returning Iraqi asylum-seekers to Greece; more racist killings in Russia, Ukraine and Ireland
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MNS Summary April 2008
EU-related developments covered in the April issue are the on-going negotiations on reciprocity of visa-free travel between the EU and North America, the lifting of visa requirements by Canada for a number of new EU Member States which appears to be in jeopardy following upsurge in the number Czech asylum-seekers, the warning of arrival of millions of “environmental migrants”, and the reactions by European and world leaders to a new anti-Muslim film by a Dutch firebrand politician.
Other developments on the EU level include yet another call for a common EU immigration policy, this time by France which has already made a similar proposal on numerous occasions in the past, and the increase to 17 in the number of EU Member States which have now accepted the jurisdiction of the European Court over so-called Third Pillar matters.
The April issue also corrects false information relayed by the media and in previous issues of the Migration News Sheet. One concerns a young woman of Turkish origin living in Switzerland who claimed almost two years ago that she was the victim of a forced marriage. Her father and newly-wedded spouse were expelled, without trial. It has now emerged that her claims were mostly fabricated.
The other, an alleged anti-Semitic incident in the Belgian touristic city of Bruges, received considerable media attention because the “victim” was a survivor of the Auschwitz extermination camp. His account of what happened did not correspond to reality.
National news items on policies and practices include: the stepping up of identity spot checks on anyone “looking or sounding” foreign in Finland; abuse by employers and the local authorities of the seasonal worker status in France to obtain cheap foreigner manpower; transposition in Greece of an EU Directive after a two-year delay but provisions concerning family members of EU nationals who are from third countries may be inadequate; diplomatic row between Spain and Brazil following denial of entry at Madrid International Airport to many Brazilian visitors; Sweden’s decision to allow irregular migrants with a job offer to stay; plan to take fingerprints of visitors to the UK; India’s criticism against new UK immigration policy as “retrograde”; protests by retired Gurkhas who must leave the UK.
The section on irregular migrants reports on the progress achieved by both France and Spain on the signing of bi-lateral agreements with a number of African countries on joint migration management.
Other news items include: yet another hunger strike by irregular migrants in Belgium; acquittal in France of a French woman in love with an irregular migrant for aiding and abetting in illegal immigration; Gabon’s stricter application of its Aliens Act on French nationals in retaliation for the expulsion from France of two of its nationals; checks on African air passengers before their flights land in France; new reception centre for irregular migrants in Libya; prosecution of three Spanish policeman for causing the death of an African irregular migrant.
On asylum matters, most news items are of a national character, with the exception of the decision made by the authorities in Norway and a court in Sweden to refrain from sending Iraqi asylum-seekers back to Greece on account of its poor reception conditions and almost zero recognition rate. NGOs in the Netherlands are pressing the Government to adopt a similar stand.
Other information in this section includes: the legal challenge in France before the Supreme Administrative Court on the use of airport transit visas to prevent the entry of asylum-seekers; a rather exceptional ruling in Germany where a court ordered the return of the children of a rejected Kurdish asylum-seeker on the grounds of, inter alia, respect for private and family life; still very modest results of the amnesty in Germany for long-stay asylum-seekers; pleas by churches to offer reception to Iraqi Christians; increasing concerns among Kosovo’s ethnic minorities in Germany that pressure may soon be applied on them to leave; UNHCR’s reservations on new Aliens Bill in Ireland; resumption of trial in Italy of CIA agents accused of abduction an Egyptian refugee; UNHCR’s concerns expressed to Stockholm about its new policy of returning rejected Iraqi asylum-seekers to the southern and central parts of their country and its determination to return a rejected Eritrean asylum-seeker; call by leader of the opposition Social Democrats in Sweden to end free choice of residence for new asylum-seekers; dilemma faced by Swiss authorities on how to make the country less attractive to Eritrean asylum-seekers; UK Government’s programme of repatriation of rejected Zimbabwean asylum-seekers; pressure put on rejected Iraqi asylum-seekers in the UK to leave; British Home Secretary’s decision to reconsider the case of an Iranian homosexual after coming under much pressure from home and abroad; new measure to prevent people expelled from the UK from returning to seek asylum; critical report of the Independent Asylum Commission; UK Government’s offer to resettle up to 2,000 of the some 20,000 Iraqis who have worked for the British contingent in Iraq.
On racism and discrimination, more racist killings have been reported in Russia, but such murders have also taken place in Ukraine. In Ireland, the brutal killing of two Poles is generally believed to have been racially motivated, but proof of this is lacking.
This section also includes: another conviction for inciting racial hatred of the French far-right leader, Jean-Marie LE PEN; the annual report of the French human rights body pointing to less racist offences but more violent ones and continued widespread negative attitudes towards Muslims; charges of inciting racial hatred brought against German far-right leader; shame expressed by Lithuanian president over racist march; indignation in Norway over incident when an ambulance crew refused to transport an injured black man to hospital; protest of defamation lodged by Polish Federation in the UK against a populist tabloid.
Most of the news items under miscellaneous concern people of the Muslim faith in Europe, such as: the threat of reprisal against Europe for the Mohammed cartoons by Osama BIN LADEN; the suicide attack carried out in Afghanistan by a German of Turkish origin; growing support in Germany for courses in Islam to be provided in public schools; possibility offered to Ayaan HIRSI ALI for her to return to the Netherlands; warning by the Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican that Muslims are a “real serious menace to democracy and peace in Europe”; another anti-Muslim film scheduled for release in the Netherlands in April 2008; an end to the opt out of sex education for girls of certain cultural backgrounds in Sweden; the Swiss Supreme Court ruling that wearing a veil does not disqualify a woman from Swiss citizenship; Vatican’s move to distance itself from the anti-Muslim position of a prominent new convert to Christianity.
News items not directly concerning Muslims include: the resurgence of the far-right in Austria; suspicions in Norway that “extraordinary rendition” flights may be continuing; Spain and Russia’s position in the list of top five countries from where migrants’ remittances are sent; referendum in Switzerland to re-instate naturalisation via the ballot box; offer of £3,000 to foreign criminals in the UK if they accept voluntary repatriation.