Copy

The ECRE Weekly Bulletin provides information about the latest European developments in the areas of asylum and refugee protection.ECRE is a pan-European alliance of 90 NGOs protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons.If you would like to know more about ECRE’s advocacy work, policy positions, press releases and projects, please visit our website at www.ecre.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

     
30 March 2018
  
Do you want to receive this or other newsletters from ECRE? You can subscribe following this link.

EDITORIAL

OP-ED

COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

REPORTS & NGO ACTIONS

BEYOND EUROPE
  

EDITORIAL

Tactics, compromises and solutions

International human rights NGOs are often called on to compromise or be more pragmatic on migration and asylum. The calls come from those on the sharp end of criticism who simply don’t want to hear it anymore, but it also comes from those who claim that it will lead to better human rights outcomes. In the current context that just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

The idea is that if NGOs compromise or are more pragmatic/ less idealistic, then there will be a better outcome from a human rights perspective than if they remain uncompromising or idealistic. The brave compromisers with their “solutions” are the real defenders of human rights in this scenario.

There are valid criticisms out there. When it comes to method and approach – rather than ideological positioning – NGOs could be more constructive, better at engaging in dialogue, and certainly better at developing and articulating the alternatives that they propose. Communicating with many segments of the public is a major challenge.

In terms of positioning, there are times when compromise is needed. For example, ECRE and others argue for human rights safeguards, and monitoring and oversight for policies that we fundamentally object to. We design and promote mitigating measures to soften actions that are anathema to us. We also have to compromise increasingly on what we say because our staff, our members, and our partner NGOs face security and financial threats – often from governments, including in Europe. We also work with policy-makers and others we don’t agree with, so long as there is some common ground. But we don’t compromise on our end goals.

If there are circumstances in which compromise does better protect human rights, is current migration and asylum policy in Europe one such example? The theory seems to be that policy-makers will themselves be more willing to accept human rights provisions if the critics compromise in the sense of abandoning their too “idealistic” alternatives. Another variant is that policy-makers who would otherwise be uncompromising and more wedded to hard-line approaches then become softer and accept rights-based outcomes because their critics are compromising.

There are too many false assumptions at play here. The idea that policy-makers are going to agree to better policies because we compromise is not borne out by evidence or reason. Why would they do this? The objective of a major constituency of policy-makers is to prevent migration. If that means preventing those who need protection from reaching it, so be it. If that means human rights violations, direct or indirect, so be it. If we compromise, the only difference is that they will do the same objectionable thing they planned but without being criticised – and indeed they are surely more likely to do the objectionable thing because they won't be taken to court, criticised or exposed.

You can argue for compromise for other reasons: it’s more likely to get you attention and meetings – access to policy-makers and media profile. You can help save Europe from the threat of migration by compromising so fewer of those pesky migrants arrive. But don’t argue that it leads to better human rights outcomes. The anti-migration brigade are almost more tolerable: at least they are honest about the objectives of their proposals.

Linked to the compromise argument is the call for “solutions”. In fact, it is well-established in NGO advocacy that you need recommendations, solutions, and alternatives. But what we don’t have are solutions to the “problem of migration”. There is a market for policy solutions that offer ways to prevent arrivals in Europe of migrants and refugees (including through prevention of them departing from elsewhere or sending them back). For example, if someone comes up with a “solution” that allowed EU member states to return people to Eritrea, every door in Europe would be open to them. It is harder to get access when what you’re selling is the idea that Europe should have a functioning asylum system or that there are simple, affordable steps that every country should take to become a country of asylum, or that legal migration is in Europe’s interests, easy to manage, and could be massively scaled up. But we still have to offer the solutions to the problems we see – those caused by oppression, inequality, and denial of rights. There is a confusion between the role of think-tanks, who are ready to step up and offer solutions to whatever problem policy-makers define, and NGOs who focus on tackling the problems they see and that their mission statements oblige them to address.

We are told we’re not pragmatic or reasonable enough. But who are the pragmatic ones? Civil society and ordinary citizens stepped up across Europe when large but manageable numbers of refugees arrived in 2015/2016; policy-makers went into a meltdown. People in other parts of the world think Europe has lost its mind. Policy-makers are now desperately trying to put in place measures that stand in direct contradiction to Europe’s economic interests, driven by the politics of fear. But we are called naïve because we try to promote an evidence-based debate. Doing deals with unstable, corrupt, migrant-smuggling regimes is seen as more reasonable than reaching a compromise within Europe. Who are the pragmatic ones here?

There are many who are willing to compromise, to be pragmatic and offer solutions to the “problem of migration”. Let them go ahead – human rights defenders have enough to do.

By Catherine Woollard, Secretary General of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

 

 


OP-ED

Situation for asylum seekers in Paris remains critical despite promises

Op-ed by Alice Lucas, Programme Manager for Refugee Rights Europe.

Despite promises from the French President Macron to get people “off the streets, out of the woods” by the end of 2017 and the continued eviction of makeshift settlements, new research by Refugee Rights Europe reveals that the situation remains critical for refugees and displaced people* sleeping rough on the streets of Paris.

While organisations on the ground are working tirelessly to provide basic humanitarian aid to refugees and displaced people , including food and clothing, it appears that the state response continues to leave vulnerable individuals in inhumane and substandard conditions, facing freezing temperatures, inadequate shelter and a striking lack of access to information on European asylum law and immigration rules.

An alarming 86% of our respondents were living in destitution on the streets of Paris – often in tents provided by local NGOs or sleeping under bridges on damp mattresses or the floor. We were shocked by the conditions in which many people were forced to live, with little access to appropriate sanitation facilities, and relying on food distribution points by local organisations and civil society.

A few days after the research was conducted, the weather deteriorated in Paris and tents were covered in several inches of snow. We heard that a number of refugees in the area were allowed into emergency accommodation while snow remained but were then returned to the streets shortly thereafter.

It struck us that many of the respondents we spoke to were suffering from health problems at the time of the study; ranging from mental health concerns to physical ailments and general illness. Some 44% told us that they had experienced a health problem since arriving in France, where 37% thought that these problems were caused by the unhealthy living environment on the streets of Paris.

The majority of those living on the streets do not appear to receive necessary health care. A worrying 54% of respondents said they had not accessed medical care in France, citing issues with their status or language barriers stopping them from receiving medical care. One man told us: “My foot was swollen and it was very painful. When I asked in the hospital they said they cannot help me without my paper. They [told me] to go to a clinic that was over an hour away. I had no money for transport and walking hurt so much so I could not go”.

In Paris, we found that 15% of respondents referred to their health concern as a mental health problem. One Sudanese man explained: “The whole process of asking for asylum here, it is pure stress, all the time. So everyone is going mad. It is not good for your sanity, this uncertainty and conditions. It breaks you”. Another man we spoke to had been taken to a mental health centre where he was diagnosed with paranoia. He told us that he was given pills every day for one month and then told to leave the centre, facing no choice but to return to life on the streets.

The lack of information available to displaced people on the streets of Paris is only likely to compound these mental and physical health concerns. A whole 66% of the individuals we spoke to were lacking access to information about their rights and opportunities, while 67% said they were unable to access information about European immigration and asylum rules. The absence of sufficient information for people in displacement risks leading to refugees being trapped in harmful contexts for longer than necessary, putting people at increased risk of falling into the hands of trafficking rings offering a concrete ‘alternative’. The absence of reliable information moreover encourages the spread of rumours regarding EU asylum rules. It is hence clear that much more must be done to ensure effective dissemination of accessible information in languages and formats understood by the beneficiaries.

Our concerns about the living conditions, healthcare and access to information are especially worrying in light of the large number of unaccompanied children living on the streets of Paris. Unaccompanied children are left at increased risk of developing health conditions and be subjected to exploitation and trafficking. Of the children we spoke to 85% were unaccompanied, while a striking 76% were sleeping on the streets and 46% reported that they were currently suffering from a health problem – the large majority had not received any medical care.

Many of the children we interviewed said they had family in Europe, meaning that they may be eligible for family reunification procedures under the Dublin Regulation. By far the largest number said they had family in the UK. Worryingly, 71% did not have access to information about how to change their situation or information about European immigration and asylum rules. This lack of information is likely to exacerbate the unsafe and uncertain situation in which many currently find themselves, and most likely extends the period of time they are living on the streets of Paris.

Despite the promises made by Macron, it is clear that urgent action must still be taken by the French Government. Recent legislation in the form of the draft asylum and immigration bill will do little to address the material conditions in which many of refugees and displaced people live, instead focusing on increased detention periods and the reduction of the time limit for appeals.

Action is urgently needed to address the current human rights situation for refugees and displaced people in Paris. In the first instance, capacity should be increased and delays in accessing reception centres addressed, so that those in Paris do not have to resort to emergency night shelters or living on the street. In order to uphold the human rights of displaced people in Paris, individuals must be informed about their right to healthcare and how to access it, and be provided with information on the French asylum procedure in a language that they understand.
 

*Refugee Rights Europe uses the blanket term 'refugees and displaced people' to broadly signify groups of people seeking sanctuary in Europe, irrespective of legal status.
 
ECRE publishes op-eds by commentators with relevant experience and expertise in the field who want to contribute to the debate on refugee rights in Europe. The views expressed are those of the author and does not necessarily reflect ECRE positions.
 
 
 


COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

Actions brought against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for failing to fulfill relocation obligations

The Court of Justice of the European Union has recently published the actions brought by the European Commission against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for failing to fulfil their obligations under the Council Relocation Decisions (Council Decision (EU) 2015/1523 and Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601). This is the next stage of the infringement procedure against the three Member States launched by the European Commission in June 2017, after the Commission found the answers to its reasoned opinion to be unsatisfactory.

Hungary, contrary to its legal obligations, has not adopted any case of measure under the scheme. Poland has refrained from pledging and relocating asylum seekers since December 2015 and the Czech Republic has not relocated an asylum seeker since August 2016. All three Member States have been vocal about their disapproval of the relocation scheme in general. On 6 September 2017, the Court of Justice of the EU dismissed in its entirety the challenges brought by Hungary and Slovakia against the provisional mechanism of mandatory relocation.

In accordance with the rules governing infringement procedures, if the Court of Justice of the European Union finds that a Member State has failed to fulfil an obligation, the State shall be required to take the necessary measures to comply with the judgment of the Court. If the Commission considers that the Member State concerned has not taken the necessary measures to comply with the judgment, it may bring the case before the Court again, which this time may impose a lump sum or penalty payment on the Member State.


For further information:  
 


REPORTS & NGO ACTIONS

AIDA 2017 Update Turkey*

The updated AIDA Country Report on Turkey track key developments in asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention and content of protection throughout 2017.

The AIDA report refers to unlawful push backs along the Turkey-Syria border, as well as allegations of unlawful returns at other land borders, have continued throughout 2017. Reported incidents include the use of violence and shootings against people entering the territory.

Further to an amendment to the Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP) by Emergency Decree No 676, adopted on 29 October 2016, introduced derogations to the principle of non-refoulement for cases concerning individuals who lead, participate in or support a terrorist organisation or a benefit-oriented criminal group, pose a threat to public order or public health, or have relations with terrorist organisations defined by international institutions and organisations. Persons falling under those categories may be deported even where they have a pending international protection procedure or benefit from international protection or temporary protection. While some Administrative Courts have halted deportations in some cases, the non-refoulement principle is not uniformly applied in Administrative Court reviews. The Constitutional Court has issued interim measures in different to prevent deportations where a risk of refoulement has been identified.

As the joint registration of international protection applications continues to be handled by UNHCR through its implementing partner ASAM in one location in Ankara, long queues of people waiting to access the procedure continued to be reported. The average number of applications processed per days is 500-600. On the other hand, applicants face delays of up to several months before obtaining an interview with the Provincial Directorates of Migration Management (PDMM).

PDMM have taken over the pre-registration phase of temporary protection registration as of November 2017. More recently, however, the province of Hatay has suspended registration of temporary protection beneficiaries due to the high number of persons already registered and challenges in the provision of public services. A similar suspension has been reported in Istanbul, albeit denied by the authorities.

Pre-removal detention is applied inter alia to persons issued a foreign terrorist fighter code (“YTS89”). The code seems be applied widely, with approximately 67,000 persons issued such a code in 2017. At the same time, persons apprehended outside their “satellite city” may be detained in order to be transferred thereto. It nevertheless appears that detention is imposed on applicants who violate residence restrictions with varying rigour, often depending on the profile of the individual.

Magistrates’ Courts seem generally reluctant to review detention orders, with most appeals against detention being rejected in Izmir, Aydın, Hatay, Adana and Erzurum. In addition, the Constitutional Court has delivered several judgments raising concern on the effectiveness of remedies against detention conditions.

The detention infrastructure of Turkey is increasingly expanding, with a total 18 Removal Centres reaching a total capacity of 8,276. According to the observations of lawyers, it seems that different categories of persons are detained in different Removal Centres. For example, Edirne mainly accommodates irregular migrants intercepted while attempting to leave turkey, while Hatay, Erzurum and Gaziantep accommodate migrants identified as foreign terrorist fighters (“YTS89”). However, Removal Centres face capacity issues at the moment. Another 16 Removal Centres totalling 7,400 detention places are planned to be established.

Following an amendment to the Temporary Protection Regulation by Regulation 2018/11208 of 16 March 2018, responsibility for the management of Temporary Accommodation Centres and provision of services such as health care lies with DGMM.

As of 2017, the right to family reunification has been almost entirely suspended in Turkey for both international and temporary protection holders. According to the observations of lawyers, PDMM do not allow beneficiaries to apply for family reunification, unless the sponsor has been accepted for resettlement in another country and the family is to join him or her before departure.

A Regulation on Work Permit of Foreigners under Temporary Protection was adopted on 15 January 2016, regulating the conditions and procedure for obtaining work permits, while a similar Regulation was adopted on 26 April 2016 for applicants and holders of international protection. Beneficiaries may apply for a work permit 6 months after registering for temporary protection, subject to possible sectoral and geographical restrictions defined by the Ministry of Labour as well as quotas in workplaces. Despite this legal framework, Syrians in Turkey continue to face widespread undeclared employment and exploitation, including child labour.


*This information was first published by AIDA.

 
 

AIDA 2017 Update: Greece*

The updated AIDA country report on Greece tracks key developments track key developments in asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention and content of protection throughout 2017.

Cases of alleged push backs have been systematically reported at the Greek-Turkish land border of Evros. According to these allegations, the Greek authorities follow a pattern of arbitrary arrest, de facto detention in police stations close to the borders, and transfer to the border, accompanied by the police, where the push backs occur.

Access to asylum on the mainland continues to be problematic throughout 2017. Following pre-registration through Skype, a registration appointment is scheduled within 81 days on average, although there have been cases where the full registration took place more than 6 months after pre-registration.

A new medical vulnerability template has been adopted as of the end of 2017 and early 2018 for vulnerability screening in reception and identification procedures on the islands. This template makes a problematic distinction between cases of “medium” vulnerability and “high” vulnerability.

The “restriction of freedom” within the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) premises is no longer applied on the islands. Asylum seekers are issued a geographical restriction, ordering them not to leave the respective island until the end of the asylum procedure. Persons arriving in the RIC of Fylakio near the Evros land border remain restricted within the premises of the RIC.

Asylum seekers who are apprehended outside their assigned island are immediately detained in order to be returned to that island. This detention is applied without any individual assessment and without the person’s legal status and any potential vulnerabilities being taken into consideration. In 2017, a total of 1,197 persons have been returned to the Eastern Aegean islands on that basis.

A “pilot project” is implemented on Lesvos, under which newly arrived persons belonging to particular nationalities with low recognition rates were immediately placed in detention upon arrival and remained there for the entire asylum procedure. While the project initially focused on nationals of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, the list of countries has been expanded to 28. More recently, Syrian nationals have also been detained upon arrival on Lesvos and Chios.


*This information was first published by AIDA.

 
 

AIDA 2017 Update Sweden*

The updated AIDA Country Report on Sweden documents developments in the asylum procedure, reception conditions, detention of asylum seekers and content of international protection throughout 2017.

The Quality Assurance Unit of the Migration Agency has issued a standard on the identification of vulnerabilities and special procedural and reception guarantees in September 2017. Migration Agency staff are required to report vulnerabilities, at which stage in the procedures they are observed and what measures has been taken. It is stressed that a vulnerability assessment must always be made in the initial process.

In 2017, a total of 4,379 persons were detained, including: 78 children of which 35 girls and 43 boys; 4,301 adults of which 491 women and 3,810 men. During long periods throughout 2017, all places have been in use in the detention centres, thereby affecting the possibility of issuing detention orders. The number of places is set to increase considerably in 2018. In preparation for the year, capacity for 30 permanent and 30 temporary detention places has been secured, while 40 more temporary detention places have been secured in Flen. There are plans for a new, permanent centre in northern Sweden.

Age assessment remains an area of serious concern. The National Board of Forensic Medicine (Riksmedicinalverket, RMV) has introduced a new medical age assessment method, based on an examination of wisdom teeth and knee joints. Out of 9,617 forensic opinions issued in 2017, 8,007 found the person to be aged 18 or over. The methods of age assessment particularly of females have been heavily criticised as unreliable by the media, the medical community and even by those obliged to carry out the tests. 

A new precedent-setting ruling was handed down by the Migration Appeal Court on 5 March 2018, stating that for refugees and their nuclear family the level of proof of identity can be relaxed because it is unreasonable to expect them to approach their national authorities to obtain a passport and thereby endanger the situation of remaining family members in the country of origin. It is sufficient in such cases for a DNA test to be taken as a first instance measure. This decision does not apply automatically to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection according to the Court and DNA tests are of no help if a couple has no children but are still in a stable relationship.
 

*This information was first published by AIDA.

 
 

AIDA 2017 Update Belgium and the Netherlands*

The updated AIDA Country Reports on Belgium and the Netherlands track reforms and developments in the asylum procedure, reception conditions, detention and content of international protection.

In Belgium, two new laws were adopted in 2017, amending the Aliens Act and the Reception Act, The reform entails a lowering of the Belgian standards, often to the minimum set out in the EU Directives. The 393 page bill brought about a wide range of modifications to the Belgian asylum procedures. The reform transposes the inadmissibility grounds set out in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive. These introduce new concepts such as “safe third country” as inadmissibility grounds in Belgium.

The reform also introduces grounds for detaining asylum seekers during the procedure, as set out by Article 8(3) of the recast Reception Conditions Directive. In line with the clarification brought by the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Al Chodor case, the law lays down objective criteria for the definition of the “risk of absconding”. However, the definition refers to overly broad criteria such as the making of an application more than 8 days after arrival or non-cooperation with the authorities.

In the Netherlands, the Council of State ruled in four cases regarding the criteria for applying the “safe third country” concept. In these cases the Council of State judged that a third country could be considered as safe for asylum seekers only if accepting them. Furthermore, it held that the Secretary of State is allowed to consider a third country as safe on the basis of country of origin information. The Council of State affirmed that the third country does not have to have ratified the Refugee Convention but should abide by the principle of non-refoulement.

Extra surveillance centres (EBTL) were installed as special reception centres for asylum seekers who have caused tension or any form of nuisance at an AZC (Centre for Asylum Seekers), for example by bullying other inhabitants or destroying materials. Two such facilities were opened in the Netherlands at the end of 2017.

The Coalition Agreement of October 2017 has announced restrictions to social assistance for beneficiaries of protection. Beneficiaries will no longer be eligible for the social benefit, rent benefit and health care benefit during the first 2 years of their legal stay in the Netherlands. Instead they will receive services by the municipalities such as housing, a healthcare insurance and assistance in the integration process. In addition, beneficiaries of international protection will receive an allowance. It remains to seen whether this agreement is actually going to be converted into law.


*This information was first published by AIDA.

 
 

Human Rights Watch report: push backs of Syrian refugees by Turkey
 

On March 22 Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported interceptions of large groups of Syrian refugees by Turkish security forces who since Deecember 2017 have “summarily deported them to the war-ravaged Idlib governorate in Syria.” In its reponse the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) in Turkey’s Ministry of Interior denies the allegations and underlined the fact that Turkey offers temporary protection to more than 3.5 million Syrians.

According to HRW Turkish security forces have “routinely intercepted hundreds, and at times thousands, of asylum seekers at the Turkey-Syria border since at least December 2017 and summarily deported them to the war-ravaged Idlib governorate in Syria.” They also reported that Turkish border guards have shot and wounded Syrians trying to enter Turkey through smuggling routes. The DGMM states that a total of 91,866 people have been taken under temporary protection particularly in Hatay, Gaziantep, Kilis and Sanlıurfa in 2018 so far illustrating that: “allegations suggesting that Syrians are not registered are not true.”

HRW urged the EU to raise the issue at the EU-Turkey Summit in Bulgaria on March 26. However, no references were made. President of the European Council, Donald Tusk in his concluding remarks said “On migration and support for refugees, the EU and Turkey remain very close partners. I would like to express our appreciation for the impressive work Turkey has been doing, and to sincerely thank Turkey and the Turkish people for hosting more than 3 million Syrian refugees these past years. The EU has lent substantial support to improve the livelihood of these refugees, and this evening we reaffirmed the European Union's unwavering commitment to continue this support.” While President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker saw the the Facility for Refugees in Turkey as the tangible expression of solidarity between Turkey and the EU.  

Research conducted by Der Spiegel revealed that EU and Member States have contributed 80 million Euros worth of security and surveillance technology, according to the German media “helping Turkey to seal off its borders against refugees (Die EU hilft der Türkei, ihre Grenzen gegen Flüchtlinge abzuschotten).”


For further information:  
 


BEYOND EUROPE

Algeria: mass deportations of African migrants

Algeria has been deporting hundreds of African migrants at a time, in an ongoing crackdown on illegal migration. Algeria, along with other North African countries, refused to sign the protocol on the freedom of movement of people and right of residence attached to the African Union’s African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.

Algeria has repatriated 27,000 sub-Saharan African migrants since 2015, a rare official statistic revealed by the interior minister Nouredine Bedoui last Thursday. He added that repatriations are still ongoing. Algeria is a key destination and transit country for many African migrants, mostly from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso or Chad. People who have been deported from Algeria earlier this month, stated they were detained in makeshift camps for a few days before being taken on trucks and sent across the border at gunpoint. They then had to walk through the desert for hours to reach In Khalil, the first town in Mali. Some migrants also reported being robbed by armed groups along the way.

Niger has repeatedly protested the inhumane treatment suffered by its nationals in Algeria and in February the Minister of the Interior, Mohamed Bazoum, criticised the Algerian authorities actions of expelling West African migrants to Niger and called on Algeria to repatriate them. Last year the Guinean President, Alpha Conde, chose to recall the Guinean Ambassador to Algiers in response to Algerian anti-migrant discrimination and xenophobia. Earlier this month, repatriated Malian’s protested the mistreatment of sub-Saharan migrants by the Algerian government by vandalising the Algerian embassy in Bamako, Mali. The protestors called on the African Union to tell Algeria that membership in the continental union demands that fellow Africans be treated with respect and dignity.

At the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, which took place last week, Algeria, along with Mauritania, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and a number of other countries refused to sign the protocol on the freedom of movement of people and right of residence attached to the African Union’s African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. Reportedly this is due to fears of mass migration to North Africa from sub-Saharan Africa. The Algerian Ambassador to Belgium, Ammar Belani, during meetings with the European Commission at the beginning of March said “Algeria has warned that in light of the changing migration pattern, the diversity of migratory routes and the tightening of European policy towards this phenomenon, the countries of the northern coast of Africa have become the most attractive countries to migrants for residence.”


For further information:  
 

Israel: the government delays plans for mass deportations of African asylum seekers amid mounting pressure

The Israeli government’s controversial plan to initiate the forced deportation of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers has been delayed, while hundreds of those affected remain detained in Israeli prisons over the Passover holiday weekend.

The delay was announced after mass protests last week, during which 25,000 people took to the streets of Tel Aviv to denounce the policy of ordering asylum seekers to leave Israel for unnamed destination in Africa in exchange for €2,800 and a plane ticket. Those who refuse deportation are detained indefinitely in Saharonim prison.

The deportations were due to begin this week, but on 15 March Israel's Supreme Court temporarily issued an injunction blocking the controversial plan after a legal challenge from groups opposed to the deportations. The Israeli government stated it was unable to meet the 26 March deadline as it needed more time to respond to the court’s request for clarification of the policy.

On Tuesday, the High Court of Justice agreed to the government’s request for an extension on the court’s order for a brief outlining the state’s deportation policy and related issues, now due for submission on 9 April. The government also said that it would submit classified documents as part of its filing, which are believed to include information on the African nation that will receive the deported migrants and asylum seekers, widely reported to be Rwanda or Uganda.

In recent weeks, several legal cases have taken aim at Israel’s mass deportation plan. Following a court ruling that desertion from the Eritrean army may constitute grounds for refugee status, those Eritreans currently held in Saharonim Prison whose asylum applications were denied could have their claims reexamined. Another recent ruling could potentially lead to a large number of Sudanese asylum seekers, who fled genocide in the Nuba region, having their claims reexamined.

As criticism of the policy grows both within Israel and beyond, pressure is mounting on the government to come up with an alternative solution. Amnesty International described Israel’s policy on Monday as ‘an abdication of [Israel]’s responsibility to refugees and an example of the vicious political measures feeding the “global refugee crisis”’.


For further information:  
 


EVENTS


VACANCIES


CALLS FOR PAPERS & OPEN CALLS







This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
European Council on Refugees and Exiles · 146 rue Royale · Brussels 1000 · Belgium