Migration News Sheet Summary December 2007
Issued on 10/12/2007
European Commissioner seen to support Italy's expulsion of Romanians; sea tragedies continue for irregular migrants; UK House of Lords authorises repatriation of Sudanese refugees from Darfur; Czech Republic criticised for discriminating against Roma children in education
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MNS Summary December 2007
Legal issues again make up a substantial part of developments on the EU level covered in the December issue, such as the first series of questions for a preliminary ruling concerning the so-called qualification directive on protection put to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the latter’s rulings that Belgium and Spain had failed in their obligations to transpose the Directive concerning expulsions and the one concerning third-country nationals who are long-term residents, respectively.
Another ruling by a European instance of much importance, in this case by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), is the finding by its Grand Chamber of 17 judges that the Czech Republic had discriminated against Roma children by putting them in special schools. An extensive article covering this case provides the arguments of both the majority of 13 judges and those of the four dissenting judges whose opposition was expressed in rather strong terms.
Included in the December issue is also the decision of the Acting President of the ECHR to urge at least two Contracting States to refrain from ordering the expulsion of rejected Tamil asylum-seekers. In view of the current instability and insecurity in their home country, the ECHR feels oblige to systematically grant applications for injunctions.
Regarding migration policies on the EU level, there is news coverage on:
- the first EU Council meeting that discussed the European Commission’s “Blue Card” proposal on recruiting highly skilled third-country nationals;
- the on-going negotiations between the EU and Bern on extending free movement to Romanian and Bulgarian workers;
- Ottawa’s decision to grant visa-free travel to two more EU Member States and the controversial consequences in Italy of the murder of an Italian woman allegedly by a Romanian of Roma origin. The consequences include remarks made by the Italian EU Commissioner in support of his Government’s emergency decree authorising the expulsion of EU nationals on public policy grounds and a European Parliament resolution condemning the stand taken by this Commissioner.
National news items in this section include:
- statistical data suggesting an exponential increase in the number of suspected cases of fraudulent marriage in Belgium;
- the new Aliens Act in the Czech Republic;
- the approval of the new Aliens Bill in France by its Constitutional Council whose only major objection is the collection of statistics indicating ethnic origin; details of France’s new immigration strategy;
- complaints by doctors in France that they are coming under pressure to be more reticent to favour the continued stay of sick irregular migrants; DNA testing in Germany where such a practice is not imposed by law;
- difficulties faced by German firms in recruiting skilled workers;
- continuing influx of East Europeans, especially Poles, into the Netherlands;
- Romanians becoming largest foreign community in Spain within less than a year;
- Swiss plan to prevent possible influx of Romanians;
- human rights obligations and EU law prevent the British Home Office from expelling three persons convicted of manslaughter, drug trafficking and serial rape, respectively; record numbers of British nationals leaving the country.
As for irregular migration, drowning tragedies continue in appalling numbers in spite of all the warnings of the dangers in making the sea journey, especially to the Canary Islands. At least 47 died after leaving Mauritania and another 20 perished after departing from Gambia. In the Strait of Gibraltar, three bodies were recovered from the sea off the coast of Almeria, in an area where already four other bodies were found last October, all believed to have been on board the same vessel which capsized last September and resulted in an unknown number of deaths.
Elsewhere, in the Aegean Sea, irregular migration to Greece is putting strain on Athens’ relations with Ankara and the two sides have agreed to step up their co-operation in this area.
Two other items of interest in this section is the step taken by Switzerland to create a new post of special attaché on immigration at two of embassies in the African continent and the introduction of tough measures in the UK to render employers more responsible for verifying whether their employees are entitled to work.
News items on protection issues include:
- the end to one more hunger-strike action in Belgium after protesters are offered at least a temporary residence permit;
- ruling of a German court granting at least temporary protection to Iraqi Sunnites;
- evaluation of limited regularisation programme for long-stay asylum-seekers in Germany;
- insufficient attention paid in Italy to protection needs specific to women;
- doctor’s testimony of degrading treatment of asylum-seekers in a detention centre in Malta;
- debate in Switzerland on the use of a taser gun to carry out forced expulsions of asylum-seekers and the experience of a Federal Minister to have this gun tested on himself;
- UK House of Lords ruling authorising the repatriation of Sudanese asylum-seekers originating from Dafur;
- more criticisms against UK authorities for reluctance to protect their former Iraqi staff members.
The section on racism and discrimination contains several articles, apparently of a local and anecdotal nature but have other significance, such as:
- the decision of a South Korean car manufacture to withdraw its sponsorship of a Belgian football club whose Chairman racially insulted one of its black players;
- the complaint for racism lodged by a Belgian woman against her own father for regularly insulting her husband, of Rwandan origin;
- the conviction of a French comedian for anti-Semitism after comparing Jews with slave traders;
- the resignation of a German police chief who manipulated crime statistics to reduce the responsibility of the far-right; and
- the refusal of a Spanish judge to maintain in preventive custody the youth whose gratuitous attack against an Ecuadorian woman was filmed and very widely distributed.
This section also contains coverage on a report by Amnesty International denouncing lower social welfare payments (start help) to certain groups of foreigners; discrimination on the Dutch labour market and the alarming situation of racist murders in Russia.
“Other issues” include coverage of a new report by the Swiss Senator, Dick MARTY, who has already strongly criticised and condemned the practice of “extraordinary renditions”. His latest report criticises the UN blacklist of “suspected terrorists”, a practice which has resulted in a number of foreign residents being, de facto, sanctioned for offences of which they have been accused but not been granted the opportunity to defend themselves.
Other articles cover:
- the “demise” of the far-right group in the European Parliament;
- the election of two Muslim women to the Danish Parliament;
- the decision of a third Belgian city to ban its employees from wearing “religious symbols” at the workplace when in contact with the public;
- youth riots in France;
- announcement by the new Dutch Minister of Integration that she has distanced herself from the policies of her predecessor;
- first case of genital mutilation before a Swiss Court;
- the publicising of the report of the UK’s Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), 18 months after it was completed, accusing the London Metropolitan Police of having made 19 catastrophic errors that led to the execution of an innocent Brazilian youth in July 2005.