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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.

     
22 March 2019
  
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EDITORIAL

EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENTS

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

BEYOND EUROPE
  

EDITORIAL

Refugee Inclusion - From Capacity Building to a Working Relationship

For the refugee rights sector, inclusion of people with a refugee background remains a challenge. In terms of self-advocacy and representativeness, the sector lags behind others, for example, minority rights and disability rights, where there is a better balance between the “targets” of the work and others within organisations and initiatives. Although hard to measure, elsewhere there is perhaps also a greater acceptance of some of the reasons to push for inclusion: that a right-based approach has to be applied in human rights work (to practice what you preach) and that rights-based approaches have at their core participation and empowerment.

ECRE is no exception; while positive changes have been made they are far from sufficient. Inclusion of refugees in all aspects of ECRE’s work became a strategic priority in 2017 in order to focus attention, to justify the use of resources on the issue, and to create a commitment against which the ECRE Secretariat reports. Inclusion of refugee-led organisations and people with a refugee background has improved at the levels of ECRE membership, ECRE staff, ECRE Board and within ECRE events, communications and other activities. The refugee advocates initiative tentatively aims to improve access to EU policy-making. But it is all a work in progress. A few points of reflection arise from recent years’ experience.

The case has been argued

First, the case has been made (within the NGO sector at least); it is now important to understand and remove the obstacles to greater inclusion. Research commissioned by EPIM to be published next month does this and should be useful. Space for open discussion is then needed– from ECRE’s experience, many of the obstacles are subtle, complex and ingrained.

The capacity-building trap

Second, a capacity-building trap is emerging. An analogy can be drawn with work by INGOs outside of Europe where well-intentioned efforts to apply the principle of local ownership led to many years of rather neo-colonial “capacity-building”. Efforts which often didn’t respond to the needs of local NGOs, saw INGOs trying to “build” capacities that they didn’t themselves possess or that they may have possessed but were not capable of transmitting to others or that were not relevant to the context (e.g. advocacy training based on the Westminster model; capacity building on mobilisation for MENA civil society post-Arab Spring… after civil society had just mobilised to overthrow governments etc etc).

Capacity-building often inhibited the development of genuine partnerships between local and INGOs and, in the end, it became a taboo term in international work, be that in development, peacebuilding or human rights sectors. For the humanitarian sector, the issue is perhaps more contentious and the large presence of humanitarian NGOs in the refugee sector is part of the challenge.

Lessons can be drawn from all of this. There are multiple ways to support refugee-led organisations based on the needs they define and providing the support they request – IF they request it.

For many NGOs, their number one request is core funding to carry on with their work. In the international sphere, for years donors preferred to provide funding to INGOs for capacity-building rather than core funding to local NGOs. Good donors could develop tailored core funding for different types of organisation if a similar issue plays out in Europe. Foundations are best placed to respond (ECRE also advocates for a simplification of EU funding procedures in order to benefit all civil society, but these efforts bear little fruit).

ECRE is sometimes asked to be involved in larger-scale “capacity-building”, for different types of organisations, not just refugee-led organisations. But it would require a change of organisational strategy, objectives, recruitment policies and human resources. When there are specific requests, based on needs identified and directly from the organisations concerned, ECRE tries to respond case by case. For example, requests for training, information and advice on EU or ECHR matters, on geographic issues and on communications including from refugee-led organisations (ECRE members and others).

Us and them

Third, some approaches exacerbate “us and them” dynamics. Clearly, it is crucial to support refugee-led organisations and initiatives, however, diversity within established NGOs is also important (perhaps as important – it is a matter of opinion). Insofar as it is legal, ECRE Secretariat has a preference for people with a refugee background in recruitment, as well as seeking to ensure wider diversity (which includes balance of nationalities, gender and addressing bias in recruitment, for example). It is good to see more refugee-led organisations but the appointment of people with a refugee background to lead two of the major NGOs in the sector is also important. These are not either/or questions – both are needed.

Opting for organisational consolidation?

Fourth, supporting the evolution and consolidation of refugee-led initiatives would be beneficial for the sector and could be a game-changer when it comes to advocacy and influencing the political debate and media coverage. The flourishing of refugee-led activism and initiatives in Europe is a major positive development of recent years. In some political spheres, it would be useful to have permanent presence of refugee-led organisations. For example, within Brussels, many leading refugee advocates participate in events and ECRE supports its members and other refugee advocates to access EU debates and decision-making. Establishing organisational presence – offices or network headquarters – in Brussels would support continued access and influence. The same may be true of Geneva, Den Haag, Addis and other international policy hubs, and possibly even at national level. It would also have the advantage of allowing direct access to avoid the risk that supporting organisations become gatekeepers.

It is also positive to see the range of issues on which refugee-led organisations are active, including as/with broader Diaspora organisations. From a Brussels advocacy perspective, beyond the more obvious inclusion/integration issues, there are other policy areas where greater presence of refugee advocates would be beneficial, including return, EU asylum policies, EU role in countries of origin, especially Syria, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, and EU foreign policy, the latter also going beyond the protection dimension to wider political issues. The Brussels debate is insular – a meeting on Syria is de facto a meeting on “What should the EU do in Syria?” and that leads back to the conclusion that a Brussels presence is important.

Of course, many organisations – refugee-led or not – might decide that influencing the EU or the UN or wider international affairs is not the best use of its time. New initiatives might well decide that their chosen purpose is best served by remaining as an informal network, and not by setting up offices and organisational infrastructure. Similarly, concentrating on particular areas of policy (inclusion, EU asylum law, global protection) or levels of work (local, national, European etc.) is a strategic choice. But it would be nice for the options to be there so that it really is a choice. Sometimes this also comes back to donor strategy – for example, the provision of funding to organisational development not just to events or projects. An added advantage would be to widen the talent brought into the sector, e.g. people with a refugee background whose skills are organisational management.

Overall, while this is an issue, like many, on which action is preferable to words, assessing the obstacles to inclusion is useful. It is already clear that there are choices that can be made: by donors on funding strategies; by NGOs on if and how to support others and on providing access and ceding territory; and from refugee-led initiatives on where and how they want to engage. Positive and negative experiences of rights-based approaches from other sectors and regions are instructive.

 


EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENTS

Mare Jonio Seized by Italian Authorities while Loss of Lives on the Med Continues

Italy proceeds with its crack down on civilian search and rescue operations by seizing the Italian-flagged vessel Mare Jonio of the Italian sea rescue project Mediterranea Saving Humans. In the meanwhile, two more shipwrecks in the Mediterranean have cost the life of an estimated 45 people.

On Tuesday, the civilian rescue boat Mare Jonio was seized by order of the Sicilian prosecutor in the context of an investigation into possible “aiding and abetting illegal immigration” and disobeying orders of a war ship. After initially being denied entry into Italian ports based on a directive issued by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Tuesday morning, the vessel was then escorted by the Guardia di Finanza to the port of Lampedusa, where its passengers were allowed to disembark. The Mare Jonio had rescued 49 persons – including 12 children – off the coast of Libya on Monday, who had been stranded at sea for almost two days.

The captain of the ship, Pietro Marrone, who has been formally put under investigation for helping illegal migration, commented: “I did my duty. Should I have let them die? I would do it all over again to save the people”.

The seizure of the Mare Jonio follows Salvini’s ‘closed ports’-policy, prohibiting civilian search and rescue ships from docking in Italy and attempting to criminalise NGO’s involved in rescue operations. Most recently, the Sea Watch 3, the vessel of Mediterranea’s German partner organisation Sea Watch, was held in port of Catania for a total of three weeks based on “technical irregularities”, after having being cleared of criminal charges within three days.

On Wednesday, the Italian senate blocked a criminal case against Matteo Salvini, who was charged with the kidnapping of 177 asylum seekers he prevented from disembarking in the port of Catania last year.

Italy’s crack down comes amid reports on further loss of lives in the Med. An estimated 45 people drowned last Thursday off the coast of Morocco in the Alboran Sea, according to the Moroccan-based human rights organisation ‘Caminando Fronteras’. The ship with 67 persons aboard reportedly sunk after it hit trouble on its way to Spain. Moroccan authorities said that the Moroccan navy rescued 21 people. After another boat capsized close to the Libyan coast the Red Crescent stated that the body of an infant and of a pregnant woman have washed ashore while at least eight people were reported missing and fifteen were hospitalised in Libya. With these most recent drownings, the total death toll for the Mediterranean has reached 282 fatalities in 2019, according to the Internal Organisation for Migration (IOM).

For further information:
 

 


NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

Germany Steps Up Dublin Transfers Putting Asylum Seekers at Risk

Germany has increased the number of Dublin Transfers, also to countries where people seeking protection may experience human rights violations and deficiencies in asylum procedures.

In a response to a parliamentary question, the German government states that, despite lower numbers of asylum applications, transfers under the Dublin III regulation have steadily increased to 9.209 in 2018, from about 7000 in 2017 and about 4000 in 2016.

MPs from the parliamentary faction of Die Linke, the German left party, filed the question. They raised concern about the recent rise in staff resources of the German Agency for Asylum and Migration (BAMF) dedicated to Dublin transfers compared to those processing asylum claims and the proportion of Dublin transfers actually realised, which rose from 15.1% in 2017 to 24.5% in the first months of 2018.

MP Ulla Jelpke commented, the Dublin system was unjust in principle as it tends to shift the responsibility for processing asylum claims to countries that have suffered from EU austerity measures and treated asylum seekers like tradeable goods. Instead, those seeking protection should be able to choose where they want to claim asylum according to social ties and language skills and states with disproportionate demand should receive a compensation through an EU solidarity mechanism.

Italy received the highest numbers of transfers from Germany. According to a report by the Danish Refugee Council and the Swiss Refugee Council from December 2018 Asylum seekers returned to Italy under the Dublin Regulation face arbitrary access to accommodation, risks of destitution and substandard reception conditions despite Italy’s obligation to provide guarantees of adequate treatment.

In its recent policy note on Dublin Returns, ECRE states: “Member States spend considerable time and resources on initiating procedures which at best leave people in limbo and delay their access to protection, only to end up with no transfer, and at worst expose them to severe violations of basic human rights. These cases are not inevitable – Article 17(1) of the Dublin Regulation permits states to take responsibility for an asylum application at any time, while Article 3(2) prohibits transfers to countries where a risk of inhuman or degrading treatment would ensue”.

MPs fear, the political debate on the numbers of suspended transfers and deportations is spurring racist attack against asylum seekers. In 2018 the German government registered almost 2000 criminal offenses against people seeking asylum in Germany.

For further information:

 


Scotland Leading the Way on UK Resettlement Scheme

Nearly one-fifth of the Syrian refugees who came to the UK as part of Syrian vulnerable person resettlement programme have settled in Scotland, according to official figures. Data obtained from the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre shows that since 2015, 13,818 refugees have arrived in the UK, of those, 2,562, or 18.5%, have settled in Scotland.

Ruth Maguire a Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Scotland’s governing the party, the SNP, stated: “I’m extremely proud that Scotland has risen to its global responsibilities by offering a secure home to refugee families fleeing persecution and conflict. They have been welcomed by communities across our country, bringing with them diverse skills and interests and enriching our society.”

The UK government’s approach to the VPRS scheme as creating a “two-tier” system of providing protection for refugees in Britain. Whereas those who come to Britain through the resettlement route are provided accommodation and receive some level of support to access services and employment, those arriving in the UK to seek asylum outside of the scheme do not receive any such support. This has left many at risk of homelessness and destitution.

The SNP has also said the UK government could and should be doing more to help vulnerable refugees and unaccompanied children. Stating that the UK government is; “Doing as little as they possibly can to help those in need, the Tories are forcing many of those fleeing war, persecution and terror to take dangerous and illegal routes in the search for safety. There is no doubt that the UK can and should do more.”

The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Scheme (VPRS) is the United Kingdom’s resettlement program for Syrian refugees who live in refugee camps in Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. It was introduced in early 2014 with the aim of providing a safe and legal route for certain categories of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees to travel to the UK. People arriving through the VPRS the same rights granted to persons with asylum in the UK and will last for five years. It includes the right of these refugees to work, eligibility for welfare benefits and access to healthcare, among others. Beneficiaries of the VPRS are also allowed to apply for family reunification.

For further information:

 


AIDA 2018 Update: Malta*

The updated AIDA Country Report on Malta provides the latest developments in the country concerning the asylum procedure, reception conditions, detention and content of international protection.

Asylum procedure: In 2018, the debate on asylum was dominated by a number of stand-offs between the Malta and Italy over the disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea, following the decision of the new Italian government to no longer accept disembarkation on its territory of persons rescued within the Maltese territorial waters or by the Maltese Armed Forces. Beyond the fact that the safety and health of migrants and ship’s crew were put at risk, Maltese NGO’s have highlighted several flaws the treatment of the migrants concerned following disembarkation in Malta following ad hoc informal relocation agreements with other EU Member States.

In practice, many asylum seekers were prevented from having access to the asylum procedure in Malta and could not lodge an asylum application. Having no access to the procedure, these potential asylum seekers were systematically detained (at times for prolonged periods of time) and they had limited access to assisting NGOs and lawyers. They also lacked information regarding the rights and obligations of asylum seekers prescribed by Maltese and EU law as well.

Concerns continue to exist with regard to access to an effective remedy following inadmissibility decisions. Recommendation taken by the Refugee Commissioner do not mention the possibility for the applicant to challenge the inadmissibility decision while applicants sometimes receive a rejection within a timeframe that makes an appeal against inadmissibility decision impossible, leading to standard decisions of the Refugee Appeals Board confirming first instance inadmissibility decisions without proper individual assessment. In 2018, a Palestinian asylum seeker challenged the compatibility of Malta’s asylum legislation with the Procedures Directive before the Court because of the lack of an effective remedy against inadmissibility decisions based on the first country of asylum concept.

Detention of asylum seekers: Applicants arriving irregularly by plane or by boat are referred to the Initial Reception Centre (IRC) where they are detained for a period ranging between some days and a couple of weeks. In 2018, the IRC has been converted from an open centre to a closed centre as a matter of administrative practice.

In 2018, according to NGOs’ experiences, vulnerable persons arriving in Malta by boat were detained in the IRC, often for more than 14 days. Alleged minors were mixed with adult asylum seekers upon arrival. In some cases, children were detained in the IRC even after having been found to be minors as a result of the age assessment procedure.

Content of international protection: Access to housing remained an issue for asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection as rental prices have increased greatly over the past few years. Problems such as shortage of space and lack of light are common as the overall quality of the dwellings rented by the migrant population is usually poor and/or their size is not suited for the number of individuals living in them. NGOs working in the social sector have signalled that access to private accommodation is increasingly challenging for several sectors including migrants and protection beneficiaries, resulting in higher numbers of homeless persons or of persons living in squalid conditions in Malta.

*This information was first published by AIDA managed by ECRE

 


AIDA 2018 Update: Spain & France*

The updated AIDA Country Reports on Spain and France document developments in the two countries’ asylum systems, against the backdrop of increasing numbers of asylum applications. A total of 55,570 asylum seekers registered applications in Spain, while 139,330 were registered in France.

Prompt registration and access to the procedure remain key concerns in both countries. In Spain, applicants wait 6 months on average for an appointment to lodge their claim, while some persons in Madrid have received appointments as late as December 2020. In France, asylum seekers continue to face obstacles to accessing an orientation platform (PADA) with a view to obtaining an appointment with the Prefecture single desk (GUDA). A telephone appointment system set up in the Ile-de-France region in 2018 has been criticised as inefficient by NGOs, as well as courts referring to “virtual queues” of asylum seekers.

Key developments in Spain

Access to the territory: In order to respond to the increasing number of arrivals, during 2018 the new Spanish Government started putting in place new resources in order to manage arrivals and to carry out the identification of persons’ vulnerabilities in the first days of arrival. Specific facilities for emergency and referral have been created: these are referred to as Centres for the Temporary Reception of Foreigners (Centros de Acogida Temporal de Extranjeros, CATE) and Centres for Emergency Reception and Referral (Centros de Acogida de Emergencia y Derivación, CAED).

Differential treatment of specific nationalities: At the end of 2018, the number of pending claims by Venezuelan nationals was 28,547. On 5 March 2019, the authorities announced a policy granting one-year renewable residence permits “on humanitarian grounds of international protection” to Venezuelan nationals whose asylum applications have been rejected between January 2014 and February 2019.

Withdrawal of reception conditions: Media reports have referred to at least 20 persons returned under the Dublin Regulation who were excluded from the reception system and were rendered homeless, on the basis that they had renounced their entitlement to accommodation upon leaving Spain. Also during October 2018, media reported that six families of asylum seekers were excluded from the asylum system after being returned from Germany to Spain in the framework of the Dublin Regulation. The families ended up accommodated in emergency shelters of the Municipality of Madrid, generally aimed at the reception of homeless persons. Following a January 2019 judgment of the Superior Court of Madrid, the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security has issued instructions to ensure that asylum seekers returned under the Dublin Regulation are guaranteed access to reception.

Key developments in France

Asylum reform: Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018 brought a significant number of changes to the Ceseda. Asylum procedure

Access to the territory: The practice of systematic refusal of entry of persons arriving at the Italian land border continues, despite widespread criticism and condemnation by Administrative Courts. The Border Police has implemented similar measures of push backs on the Spanish land border in the course of 2018. Following the 2018 reform, the right to a “full day” (jour franc) protecting the person against removal can no longer be claimed at land borders.

Accelerated procedure: Applicants under accelerated procedure on grounds of safe country of origin, subsequent application or threat to public order lose their right to remain on French territory from the moment of notification of a negative decision from OFPRA. They may nevertheless request suspensive effect before the Administrative Court for their appeal before the CNDA.

Freedom of movement: Asylum seekers must report to and remain in the region allocated to them by OFII, even if no housing is granted to them. Asylum seekers will automatically lose their reception conditions in case they do not report to or remain in that region, or if they do not abide by the requests of the authorities.

Duration of detention: A person can remain in administrative detention for a maximum of 90 days, up from 45 days prior to the reform.

*This information was first published by AIDA managed by ECRE

 


AIDA 2018 Update: Cyprus*

The updated AIDA Country Report on Cyprus tracks developments in the areas of asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention of asylum seekers and content of international protection, against the backdrop of a significant increase in the number of people seeking asylum in the country.

The number of asylum applications has significantly increased in recent years with 2,871 in 2016, 4,459 in 2017, and 7,761 in 2018, bringing Cyprus first in the per capita number of applications among the 28 EU Member States. The upward trend has continued in early 2019 with 1,090 persons applying in January 2019 compared to 440 in January 2018.

Asylum procedure: The law on the establishment and operation of the International Protection Administrative Court (IPAC) was enacted in 2018. The new Court is expected to start operating in May 2019 and will take over from the Administrative Court. It has yet to be clarified if the existing backlog of the Administrative Court, which is reported at the end of 2018 to be 555 cases, will be transferred on to the new Court; as had happened in 2016 when the backlog of asylum cases was transferred from the Supreme Court to the Administrative Court, which hampered the speedy examination of asylum cases. If the backlog is indeed transferred it is expected to have similar results.

The Refugee Reviewing Authority remains in operation and continues to receive new cases, with a backlog of 1,490 cases, despite a significantly low number of staff. There is no indication as to when it will cease to receive new cases.

Reception conditions: In 2018, securing private accommodation became even more difficult for asylum seekers the majority of which live in the community. The combination of highly restrictive policy relating to the level of allowance, the sharp increase in rent prices as well as the reluctance on behalf of homeowners to rent properties to refugees has resulted in an alarming homelessness problem as well as asylum seekers living in appalling conditions.

Substantial efforts have been made to improve the conditions in Kofinou, Steps taken so far include mainly infrastructural improvements and repairs, as well as an increase of the number of allocated administrative and support staff, including the appointment by the Ministry of Interior of  a director and an assistant director onsite for the first time. Furthermore, following a long period of temporary arrangements, a private company was selected to provide management and other services in the Centre. Further monitoring is required with regard to coordination between governmental and civil society actors and the effectiveness of social, psychological and medical services.

Toward the end of 2018 access to the labour market for asylum seekers was reduced from 6 months to 1 month. The relevant Ministries, Interior and Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance had also publicly announced that the sectors would also be increase. However, in early 2019 this had yet to materialise. Furthermore, no provisions were made for vulnerable asylum seekers or asylum seekers who are not able to work e.g. due to lack of language skills. As a result, the initially positive development of providing early access to the labour market did not lead to a substantial increase of asylum seekers accessing employment but rather an increase in administrative obstacles to access material assistance as all asylum seekers are now obliged to register at the Labour Office and actively seek employment upon one month, at which time registration of the asylum application is in most cases incomplete.

Detention of asylum seekers: In 2018 there was an increase in the number of asylum seekers detained under the Refugee Law. As detention under the Refugee Law is indefinite, coupled with the suspension of the  fast-track examination of asylum seekers in detention in late 2017, there was a rise in the number of asylum seekers in detention throughout the year, as well as a rise in the duration of detention. By April 2018 the number of detainees in Menogia had reached maximum capacity which eventually led to the release of detainees, however the duration and the criteria upon which asylums seekers are released are still not clear.

*This information was first published by AIDA managed by ECRE

 


AIDA 2018 Update: Croatia*

The updated AIDA Country Report on Croatia details legislative and practice-related developments in asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention of asylum seekers and content of international protection.

Asylum procedure: Reports of refoulement or push backs at the border have continued in 2018. The Ombudswoman requested an investigation but was denied access to data and information. Non-governmental organisations Are you Syrious and the Centre for Peace Studies, as well as attorneys, accused the Ministry of Interior of putting pressure on human rights organisations and lawyers with the aim of diverting public attention from an investigation into the death of a six-year-old Afghan girl, Madina Hosseini, who died in 2017 after her family was pushed back to Serbia from Croatian territory. The case M.H. v. Croatia was brought by the family of Madina Hosseini before the European Court of Human Rights and was communicated on 11 May 2018.

A new Protocol on the treatment of unaccompanied children was adopted. The protocol establishes am Interdepartmental Commission for the protection of unaccompanied children.

Reception conditions: In July 2018, the Ministry of Interior’s Independent Sector for Schengen Coordination and EU Funds decided to allocate funding for the implementation of the project “Establishing Infrastructure and Capacity Building of the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers in Mala Gorica within the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund”. In accordance with this decision, the Government of the Republic of Croatia plans to build a Reception Centre for asylum seekers near Petrinja, in the place of Mala Gorica.

Access to health care remained a persistent issue for asylum seekers. Mental health has also been highlighted as a key concern.

Detention of asylum seekers: Detention of vulnerable persons, including children was observed in 2018. In the case of the Hosseini family, the Constitutional Court rejected the complaints relating to ill-treatment stemming from the conditions in Tovarnik, and to a violation of the right to life in its procedural aspect.

Problems with access and communication with detained asylum seekers in the Reception Centre for Foreigners were reported by attorneys. The Centre for Peace Studies was not allowed to access the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo and the Transit Reception Centre in Tovarnik. Although Transit Reception Centres for Foreigners in Tovarnik and Trilj should be used for detention of irregular migrants for a short period, in 2018, a practice of long-term detention of applicants for international protection was observed. The newly adopted Ordinance of stay in the Reception Centre for Foreigners restricts visits to the Centre for non-governmental organisations, attorneys, and even representatives of institutions such as the Ombudsperson.

*This information was first published by AIDA managed by ECRE

 


BEYOND EUROPE

Kenya: LGBTI Refugees Detained after Delay of Ruling on Decriminalising Homosexuality

20 refugees who arrived to Kenya on February 22, the day of an expected land-mark ruling on decriminalising homosexual conduct by the High Court, have been detained and are suffering severe abuse. The ruling by the High Court was postponed last minute and the group of refugees who had arrived to escape repression and abuse in other African countries were instead arrested on charges of “creating a public nuisance, trespassing, and defecating in public,” near United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) headquarters in Nairobi. Six detainees in the men-only prison identify as trans women. The Washington Post was allowed interviews with five of the detainees who revealed that they were facing sexual abuse and violence from prison guards and other inmates. According to UNHCR spokeswoman Yvonne Ndege, the agency is looking into the allegations and plans to visit the detainees. Following attacks on LGBT refugees in December 2018 in the Kakuma camp injuring 20 people UNHCR relocated victims to safe-houses in Nairobi. According to a UNHCR spokeswoman quoted at the time: "the Kakuma context does not provide a safe environment for LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers". The annual report on State Sponsored Homophobia from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) states on the situation in East Africa: "continued criminalization of private consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex, as well as the outlawing of diverse gender expressions are indicators of States’ interest to entrench discrimination and violence based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity/expression".
 


FEATURED CAMPAIGNS

ECRE European Parliament Campaign: Your Vote Our Future! It is time to oppose the far-right populists and fight for a Europe respecting human dignity and fundamental rights – the European Parliament elections provide this opportunity. Every vote counts!

Choose Respect: Together We Can Tackle Anti-Migrant Hate Speech. Hate speech against migrants and refugees is all too common, both online and in the real world. But it isn’t always easy to know how to react effectively – and it’s even harder to respond in a way which changes attitudes. In the run-up to elections, politics is a frequent topic of debate. But if the discussion turns nasty – either around the dinner table or on your social media feed – here are some tips to help you make a constructive contribution to a more positive discourse.

End Immigration Detention of Children (Belgium): You don't lock up a child. Period. Detention of children violates fundamental rights and can cause irreparable damage to children’s well-being and development. It is unacceptable that in Belgium, in 2018, children are exposed to the trauma's that are caused by detention; alternatives do exist. Sign this petition to ask the Belgian government to stop detaining children, and to enshrine in law a prohibition on child immigration detention. If we speak up together, we can tackle anti-migrant hate speech!


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