Europe August News Roundup

Regional: UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants warns that increased detention, xenophobia, and violence won’t solve Europe’s‪ refugee crisis.

Mr. Ambrosi, director of the International Organization for Migration’s regional office in the EU, argues in the Wall Street Journal that Europe can cope with the increased numbers of people seeking protection, and further, that integrating migrants into the EU will provide essential human capital, necessary for Europe to maintain its global economic competitiveness.

New York Times focuses on visually documenting the journeys and experiences of migrants and refugees making their way from Greece, through the Balkans into Hungary.

Concerning reports from Macedonia where riot police and military are called in to respond to asylum seeker arrivals.

Bulgaria: “The laws for the detention of foreigners, on the other hand, are almost non-existent.” A loophole in Bulgaria’s justice system is being used to keep asylum seekers locked up in unregulated immigration detention “closed camps”.

Civil society organisations in Bulgaria have highlighted the urgent need for guarantees of basic safeguards for asylum seekers, including the right to information, the right to be heard, the maximum length of detention, and access to legal aid. These four innovative local projects aim to protect asylum seekers rights after entry into the country.

UK: HM Inspectorate of Prisons highlights “excessive stays”  including 40 men detained for over a year, and one man detained for over 5 years in the Verne Immigration Removal Centre (IRC). The Inspectorate’s new report marks the first inspection of the centre, since its reclassification from a prison to an IRC, in September 2014. During the visit, inspectors found  “levels of violence were too high and some of the violence was serious”, and also observed that detainees struggled to access legal representation to fight their cases from within the IRC.

“Yarl’s Wood is rightly a place of national concern,”  Nick Hardwick, the chief inspector of UK prisons said, after an unannounced inspection found the centre was failing at meeting the  needs of the most vulnerable detained women. Many women at Yarl’s Wood are victims of sexual violence and torture, and while sexual allegations against staff members continue to be made, Hardwick stated that “a strict time limit must now be introduced on the length of time that anyone can be administratively detained.”

Poland: Report from IDC member CPPHN shows that in 2014, 1322 migrants were held in detention facilities, with 364 cases in which alternatives to detention were applied. The report follows the completion of HNLAC project “Safe return: legal aid and monitoring human rights in the context of the return of third-country nationals to their countries of origin”.

europe august news

Finland: New report from the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) includes comments on immigration detention facilities and recommendations for continued efforts to limit detention, and to ensure the rights of those being held whilst their immigration status is being resolved.

Switzerland: New report highlights the need for child migrants, including those in detention, to be mainstreamed in youth participation. The Swiss National Youth Council (SNYC), in the framework of the Speak Out! project, published the study which analyses the participation gaps among children on the move in Switzerland, and looks at the ways in which institutions and civil society actors can meaningfully engage the participation of child migrants in broader youth projects in the country.

Greece: “The arduous odyssey faced by people fleeing conflict does not end on Greece’s shores,” Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia reported after a research team returned from the island of Lesvos. Overloaded, under-resourced authorities are struggling to manage the dramatic increase in the number of asylum seeker arrivals. Gauri van Gulik reiterates that this is not a Greek tragedy, but a Europe-wide crisis, “unfolding before the eyes of short-sighted European leaders who prioritize securing borders over helping survivors of conflict.”

Germany: Smart phone App offers practical assistance to refugees arriving in the eastern German city and comes in response to recent anti-immigrant hostility.

Czech authorities detain refugees behind barbed wire, including children, with no end in sight.