In good news for the rule of the law in Europe, this week the European Parliament acted against Hungary for its multiple breaches of European values, with its Resolution on the report prepared by MEP Judith Sargentini. Despite uncertainty in the run-up to the vote, in the end it was decisive: 448 for the motion (65%), 197 against (28%), and 28 abstentions (7%). Sargentini, whose report was thorough and well-substantiated, received a standing ovation.
The duration of asylum procedures is significantly increasing in the Netherlands, despite steady numbers of asylum seekers arriving in the country. According to a brief submitted to the Parliament (Tweede Kamer) by the Dutch Council for Refugees, the waiting time for applicants to start the procedure with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) has risen to 20 weeks, compared to 8 weeks at the beginning of last year.
New legislation (Law n. 2018-778) was published yesterday, outlining France’s latest asylum and immigration reforms. The law amends several articles of the French Code of Entry and the Stay of Foreigners and the Right to Asylum (Ceseda), and although not immediately, it will take effect on a number of aspects of the asylum procedure.
The Spanish Congress of Deputies has approved a legal decree that expands access to health to undocumented migrants. In 2012, the former government of Mariano Rajoy restricted access to health care for this group save in specificly determined cases.
A Court from Cadiz has reopened for the second time the investigation into the death of 14 people who were had tried to cross the border fence at the beach of Tarajal, that separates Ceuta (Spain) and Morocco, in 2014. It has ruled that the judge from Ceuta – who closed the case in January 2018 – did not have the “slightest interest in hearing the witnesses”.
The Portuguese Aliens and Borders Service (SEF) continues to detain groups with special needs, in particular families with children and unaccompanied children, in the Temporary Installation Centre (CIT) of Lisbon Airport.
The new political season in Brussels has opened with the political crisis on disembarkation rumbling on for the crisis-weary migration and asylum sector. While enjoying Putin-esque bare-chested holidays, Italian Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini maintained his policy of preventing rescue ships from docking and disembarking in Italy, culminating in an initial refusal to allow the Italian Coastguard to disembark rescued persons from the Diciotti.
The expectations for the June 2018 European Council meeting were high in the area of migration and asylum. After two years of discussing the asylum package this meeting was announced as the decisive moment for the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The EU leaders meeting was considered the last chance to resolve the deadlock on the solidarity chapter of the Commission’s proposal for a Dublin IV Regulation, and for there to be a chance to have the package adopted before the European elections in May 2019.
A vessel containing rescued migrants has been stuck at the port of Catania, without authorisation to disembark, since Tuesday. After 48 hours of docking, prosecutors opened an investigation into the illegal detention of those on board.
The situation is tightening for Venezuelans crossing borders to escape the crisis in their country. Ecuador and Peru are introducing passport control and Brazil has deployed troops to stop attacks on Venezuelans from local border town residents.
The Hungarian authorities have given up the practice of denying food to asylum seekers whose claims are considered inadmissible. A statement from the ECRE member the Hungarian Helsinki Committee is welcoming the change of practice but underlines that without legislative changes, asylum seekers can still be deprived of food any time.
Horst Seehofer has managed to illustrate the inhumanity and futility of Europe’s return policy with a “joke” about the deportation of 69 people on his 69th birthday. The numbers no longer match: one of the group committed suicide after being returned to Afghanistan. He was a young man who had arrived in Germany as a child and had lived there for eight years, “returned” to a town he’d never been to.
People in need of protection still face substandard living conditions in Regional Centres for Procedures and Accommodation of Asylum Seekers in Bucharest and Giurgiu, Romania. Fact-finding visits conducted between 18 and 22 June 2018 looked at conditions prevailing in the two centres, as well as the situation in the Otopeni Public Custody Centre.
The European Council agreed to explore the idea of “regional disembarkation platforms” with the aim to “break the business model of smugglers” by safely disembarking people rescued at sea in relevant third countries to be processed to distinguish between irregular migrants and those in need of international protection. One version of the idea has been proposed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
At the Summit on 28 June the EU’s Member States have managed to discuss and reach some agreements on migration without the whole of the EU blowing up. Although the first verdicts are that nothing much has been decided reading between the lines of the European Council Conclusions there are some interesting developments – and not all negative.
1) European strategies not whole-of-EU agreements
Delegations will find attached the Council conclusions on the Horn of Africa/Red Sea as adopted at the 3628th meeting of the Council on 25 June 2018.
Council Conclusions on the Horn of Africa/Red Sea
On Monday the Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini announced he intends to geographically limit Italian naval and coast guard search and rescue operations to be closer to Italy’s shores. The announcement precedes last week’s decision to ban the Aquarius search and rescue ship and two further NGO ships this week.
ECRE and the ELENA Network have published a new Legal Note on the right of unaccompanied children who “age out” to family reunification in light of international and EU law.
The stand-off over the Aquarius rescue ship revealed yet again the tragic humanitarian consequences of Europe’s migration policy. But for every action there is a reaction and it also showed that every negative inhumane action will be met with countless positive counter-reactions, in this case from cities, civil society, religious and (some) political leaders.