Publications

2016

The Practice of Shared Responsibility in relation to Refoulement

Maarten den Heijer

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

2016

The Practice of Shared Responsibility in relation to Private Actor Involvement in Migration Management

Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

2016

The Practice of Shared Responsibility in relation to Human Rights and Human Trafficking

Anne Gallagher

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

2016

The Practice of Shared Responsibility in relation to Extraterritorial Refugee Protection

Niels Frenzen

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

2012

Expert Seminar Report – Shared Responsibility in International Refugee Law

This report summarizes the presentations and following discussions from the Expert Seminar on Shared Responsibility in International Refugee Law held in Amsterdam in May 2011. The overall aim of this Expert Seminar was to map and examine principles of collective … Read more

Events

7 October 2014

Presentation: Ties that Bind (or Not): Legal Relevance of Refugee Ties in the Context of Allocation of Responsibility, by Isabelle Swerissen

PhD researcher Isabelle Swerissen will give a presentation entitled ‘Ties that Bind (or Not): Legal Relevance of Refugee Ties in the Context of Allocation of Responsibility’ at the International Migration Law Symposium in Lund on 7 October 2014.

The International Migration Law Symposium will be held on 6-7 October 2014. For more information see here.

Members of the SHARES team regularly present their research on a variety of issues of shared responsibility.

15 September 2014

Presentation: Responsibility Allocation Arrangements and Protection of Refugees: A Modest Contribution, by Isabelle Swerissen

PhD researcher Isabelle Swerissen will deliver a lecture entitled ‘Responsibility Allocation Arrangements and Protection of Refugees: A Modest Contribution’ at Lund University in Lund on 15 September 2014.

For more information see here.

Members of the SHARES team regularly present their research on a variety of issues of shared responsibility.

10 December 2013

Presentation: Protection Without Allocation: The Gap in International Refugee Law, by Isabelle Swerissen

PhD researcher Isabelle Swerissen will deliver a lecture entitled ‘Protection Without Allocation: The Gap in International Refugee Law’ at the Danish Institute for Human Rights in Copenhagen on 10 December 2013.

This lecture is part of a GLOTHRO workshop on Human Rights and the Dark Side of Globalisation Transnational Law Enforcement and Migration Control. For more information see here.

Members of the SHARES team regularly present their research on a variety of issues of shared responsibility.

16 May 2013

SHARES Seminar: Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Refugee Law

This SHARES Seminar will discuss papers reviewing the practice of shared responsibility in the field of international refugee law. (more…)

3 December 2012

SHARES Debate: External Processing of Asylum Seekers outside the EU: Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

On Monday 3 December, the second SHARES Debate is organized in cooperation with SPUI25, the academic centre of the University of Amsterdam.

SHARES Debates are organized throughout the year to provide a platform for discussions with a broader audience on questions of shared responsibility.

This debate, entitled External Processing of Asylym Seekers outside the EU: Out of Sight, Out of Mind? will address the possibility of external processing of asylum seekers outside the territory of the European Union, and whether the policy proposals on external processing of asylum seekers provide a basis for the ‘sharing’ or ‘shifting’ of responsibility. (more…)

15 March 2012

SHARES Lecture: ‘Burden sharing in international refugee law’, by Professor Chimni

Professor Bhupinder S. Chimni will provide a lecture on ‘burden sharing in international refugee law’ as part of the SHARES lecture series. The principle of burden sharing requires states to cooperate in dealing with the global refugee problem. In his book International Refugee Law: A Reader he argues that it is not merely a moral but a legal principle. (more…)

30 May 2011

Expert Seminar: Shared Responsibility in International Refugee Protection

The Expert Seminar addressed the allocation of responsibility in respect of refugee protection. Collective or shared responsibility for refugees is highly topical. The regime is based on the recognition that problems of refugees (both the causes of refugee flows and the protection of refugees) are international problems that require international cooperation.

The meeting focused on three aspects of the refugee regime that are of particular interest from the perspective of SHARES: (1) collective responsibility (obligations) of states for the protection of refugees; (2) shared responsibilities arising out of extra-territorial refugee policies; and (3) shared responsibilities arising out of the practice of refoulement. The aim of the seminar was to examine and discuss what principles of collective and shared responsibility have emerged in the area of refugee protection.

On the basis of the presentations and discussions during the meeting, a report is currently being prepared on issues of shared responsibility in the context of refugee law that will be made publicly available on this website.

Blogposts

12 September 2013

How We Can Do Something: Sharing the Responsibility to Protect Syrian Refugees

Cross posted on the website of the ESIL Interest Group on Migration and Refugee Law

With breath bated, the world has been waiting to see what will happen next in Syria. On Tuesday 10 September 2013, President Barack Obama said he would pursue a Russian proposal which has “the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force”. It’s too early to tell whether this diplomatic attempt will succeed, so in the meantime, the option of military action remains on the table. Without a Security Council mandate, any form of military engagement in Syria would violate international law on the use of force. And yet, this may not stop the United States and its allies from moving forward with military intervention. It is all but clear whether intervening will improve matters on the ground. In fact, it could easily make things worse, but that doesn’t seem to matter. What matters is that “we need to do something”. (more…)

1 June 2013

Transfer of vulnerable asylum seeker to Italy not in violation of ECHR

The European Court of Human Rights declared inadmissible a complaint brought against Italy and the Netherlands of an asylum seeker whose transfer to Italy was ordered by the Dutch authorities pursuant to the EU Dublin Regulation (Mohammed Hussein a.o. v the Netherlands and Italy). The Court’s rigorous scrutiny of the treatment of asylum seekers in Italy suggests that it aimed to set a standard for similar cases.

After the European Court had declared the intra-EU transfer of an asylum seeker to Greece in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights in January 2011 (the case of M.S.S., see also here), litigation in several Member States shifted to other allegedly unsafe countries for asylum seekers, in particular Italy. Some NGOs highlighted failures in the Italian protection system and advised to refrain from deporting asylum seekers to Italy (see here and here). (more…)

19 March 2013

Prisoner transfer agreements – reverse refoulement?

Refoulement describes the act of removing a person to a country where he or she is in danger of being subjected to serious human rights violations. It is a well-established legal concept in refugee law as well as extradition law and codified in a range of treaties. As transpires from the recent case of Willcox and Hurford v the United Kingdom before the European Court of Human Rights, the reverse scenario may also be possible: the removal of a person from one country to another one, where the receiving country’s responsibility may be engaged on account of previous wrongful conduct in the transferring State.

The Court’s inadmissibility decision sets a human rights standard for the implementation of prisoner transfer agreements. On a more fundamental note, it raises the question whether and in what way the absolute character of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights should allow for taking into account the generally beneficial purpose of Prisoner Transfer Agreements (or PTAs). (more…)

12 December 2012

Syrian Refugees, Allocation of Responsibility and the Right to Choose: Beggars Can’t Be Choosers (or Can They?)

On 11 December 2012, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that there are more than half a million registered Syrian refugees. That number is climbing by the day, as more refugees flood into neighboring countries. In Turkey, for example, 136,319 refugees are living in 14 government-run camps. From there, many of them try to make it into Greece, the gateway to Europe, only to be returned to Turkey. (more…)

30 October 2011

Dublin and Beyond: ‘Each According to Its Abilities’?

Refugees are legally and morally entitled to some form of protection. This is generally undisputed. The disagreement begins when we ask the question which state will be called upon to provide that protection? (more…)

7 July 2011

Expert Seminar on Shared Responsibility in International Refugee Law – In Search for a Legal Basis of Burden-Sharing

Do States – and other subjects of international law – have a collective obligation to protect refugees? And if this is the case, does a breach of this obligation lead to shared international responsibility? At a time when the burdens and responsibilities that flow from massive displacement of people have been distributed so unevenly among the world’s regions and countries (see UNHCR Global Trends 2010), these two questions have attracted growing interest and were discussed at the Expert Seminar on Shared Responsibility in International Refugee Law that the SHARES Project organized on 30 May 2011 (see Programme). (more…)

4 April 2011

The MSS Case: Shifting Burdens and Evading Responsibilities?

The European Court of Human Rights issued a landmark ruling in the case of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece on 21 January 2011. The case concerned the expulsion of an asylum seeker to Greece by the Belgian authorities in application of European asylum law. Not only is this judgment extraordinarily rich, it also exposes serious flaws in the current European asylum regime.

(more…)

News

3 October 2013

UN High Commissioner for Refugees: share burden of Syrian refugees

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said regarding Syrian refugees that found refuge in neighbouring states that it is his ‘duty to ask the international community to realize that this burden is far too heavy to be borne by only the neighbouring countries, and to put in place more – and more robust – measures of sharing this burden.’

He said that ‘more international solidarity with host countries and communities is now a must’, meaning not only ‘assistance through humanitarian organizations. It must also mean emergency development support – structural assistance – to neighbouring States, most importantly in health, education, housing, water, and energy supply.’

Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme, added that ‘the challenge now is to ensure that our collective response to this complex crisis is both humanitarian and developmental in approach. The humanitarian needs are very stark, but the developmental challenges exacerbated by the crisis in the sub-region cannot be ignored.’

Source: UNHCR | UNHCR head says international community must share burden of Syrian refugees
Source: UNDP | Helen Clark: Speech at UNHCR Executive Committee High Level Segment on “Solidarity with Syrian refugees and host countries”

29 July 2013

UNHCR: Australia has shared responsibility with PNG to ensure legal standards

The UN Refugee Agency expressed concerns over Australia’s Regional Resettlement Agreement (RRA) with Papua New Guinea in a written statement citing the absence of adequate protection standards for asylum seekers and refugees in Papua New Guinea.

According to UNHCR, Australia maintains a shared responsibility with its developing neighbour to ensure appropriate legal standards for asylum seekers, which includes access to sustainable solutions within Australia. The agency said the RRA raises serious protection questions as there are significant shortcomings in the legal framework in Papua New Guinea for receiving and processing asylum seekers. These include lacking national capacity and poor physical conditions within open-ended and arbitrary detention settings.

Source: UNHCR News & Media | UNHCR: Australia-Papua New Guinea asylum agreement presents protection challenges

26 July 2013

UN official urges European states to help share the refugee burden

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres addressed gaps in the protection of Syrian refugees who are fleeing to Europe, and urged European states to burden-share and maintain a more generous and consistent approach.

Mr. Guterres said it should be a priority for every EU member state to ensure adequate standards of treatment for Syrian refugees who seek safety in Europe. He observed that only two European states, Sweden and Germany, have received almost two-thirds of the Syrians who are seeking protection in the entire European Union, and highlighted Turkey, which has received more than ten times as many Syrians as have claimed asylum in other countries in Europe.

In order to ‘demonstrate concretely the European commitment to responsibility-sharing with Turkey and other host countries’, it is crucial to find means to ensure that those who seek protection at the borders of the EU have access to procedures, safety and territory, according to Guterres.

He urged that the ‘EU must engage in more burden-sharing initiatives so as to help mitigate the crushing impact which the refugee crisis is having on Syria’s immediate neighbours’.

Source: UN News Centre | As Syrian exodus continues, UN official urges Europe to help shoulder refugee burden
Source: UNHCR News | UN's High Commissioner for Refugees urges Europe to do more for Syrian asylum-seekers

22 July 2013

Australia intercepts boat with Iranian asylum seekers, violent riots in Nauru detention camp

A boat carrying 89, mainly Iranian, asylum-seekers was intercepted off the coast of northern Australia. This occurred a day after the country announced that asylum seekers arriving by boat can no longer be resettled in Australia as refugees. The Australian Immigration Minister Tony Burke stated that the group can either press an asylum claim in Papua New Guinea, or be transferred to a third state.

The announcement of the new immigration policy was reportedly followed by violent riots in an Australian-run immigration detention camp in Nauru over the weekend where hundreds of asylum seekers escaped detention.

Source: Al Jazeera | Australia intercepts boat with asylum-seekers

19 July 2013

Australia sends asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea in attempt to curb influx

Australia and Papua New Guinea have signed an agreement that allows Australia to send all asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat to a refugee processing centre in its developing neighbour Papua New Guinea.

The policy was immediately condemned by refugee and human rights advocates as disregarding legal and moral obligations towards asylum seekers, the New York Times reports. The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, while admitting the move was ‘very hard line’, insisted it met Australia’s obligations under the UN Refugee Convention. Under the arrangement, those who are found to be genuine refugees would be resettled in Papua New Guinea or in another state, while forfeiting any right to asylum in Australia.

Source: The New York Times | Australia Adopts Tough Measures to Curb Asylum Seekers
Source: AP | Australia to sent refugees to Papua New Guinea

15 July 2013

UNHCR: Australia’s off-shore asylum processing centre violates international standards

According to UNHCR, Australia’s off-shore asylum processing centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea does not meet international standards. Harsh living conditions, a restricted legal regime, slow processing and restrictions on the freedom of movement amounting to open-ended and arbitrary detention were cited by the UN refugee agency as continued and worrying shortcomings.

The report released in Canberra on Friday also notes positive developments including progress towards the establishment of a legal framework for processing, but according to a UNHCR spokesperson, the existing conditions still do not meet international standards nor the terms of the bilateral agreement between Australia and Papua New Guinea concerning the processing of asylum-seekers.

Source: UN News Centre | Despite progress, UN finds faults with Australia's off-shore asylum processing centre

11 June 2013

Israel and unidentified state reach agreement for transfer of migrants

According to a court document that surfaced on 3 June 2013, Israel has reached an agreement to send thousands of African migrants to an unidentified country. It was also disclosed that Israel is holding talks with two other countries to secure similar agreements.

Most of the migrants have come from Eritrea or Sudan. Some “infiltrators”, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls them, have fled oppressive regimes. Others are looking for work. Critics of the agreement said it reflects “an abdication of responsibility” and that Israel may not be able to monitor the migrants’ conditions once they are transferred.

Source: The Washington Post | Court document: Israel makes deal to send thousands of African migrants to unidentified state

11 June 2013

Unaccompanied children with no family in the EU may not be sent to another Member State under the Dublin system

On 6 June 2013, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that unaccompanied children who have applied for asylum in more than one EU Member State, and who do not have relatives legally residing in the EU, shall remain in the country where their most recent asylum application was lodged.

The CJEU concluded that it was in the best interest of the child that the country where their most recent asylum application was lodged takes responsibility for the examination of their claim. Therefore, unaccompanied children should not be sent back under the Dublin regulation to the country where they filed the first asylum application.

Source: Court of Justice of the European Union | Case C‑648/11 | Judgment | 6 June 2013

11 June 2013

Austria condemned for not providing effective remedy to challenge Dublin transfers

On 6 June 2013, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that Austria violated an asylum seeker’s right to an effective remedy (Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights) against the decision to be sent back to Hungary under the Dublin regulation.

The applicant, a Sudanese asylum seeker, had also presented a claim of possible ill-treatment and refoulement (Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights) in Hungary if returned under the Dublin regulation. The ECtHR held that his transfer would not violate Article 3.

Source: European Court of Human Rights | Case of Mohammed v. Austria | Application no. 2283/12 | Judgment | 6 June 2013

31 May 2013

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants: “insufficient responsibility sharing” in and around Europe

On 28 May 2013, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, presented his report on the management of the external borders of the European Union (EU) and the impact on the human rights of migrants to the UN Human Rights Council.

In his report, he warned that the increasing competence of the European Union in the field of migration has not always been accompanied by a corresponding guarantee of rights for migrants themselves, and in particular irregular migrants.

Mr. Crépeau also stressed there has been an ‘externalization’ of border control, through which countries of departure or transit bear all the responsibility for preventing irregular migration, and underlined that the EU must share this responsibility among its member states.

Source: United Nations Human Rights | News | EU border management: “More attention must be given to the human rights of migrants” - UN expert

17 May 2013

Australian mainland excised from the migration zone

On 16 May 2013, legislation passed the Australian Senate to excise the entire Australian mainland from the migration zone. All asylum seekers who arrive anywhere in Australia by boat are now eligible to be sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea for ‘regional processing’.

With the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issuing scratching reports on the processing centers on Nauru and Papua New Guinea, there was a failed attempt by the Greens, an opposition party in the Australian Parliament, to strike down the legislation.

The Australian Government, which is dealing with an increasing number of boats arrivals, says the legislation is a deterrence measure. The idea was one of 25 recommendations that was put forward by an expert panel on asylum seekers and introduced to the Parliament by the Government last year.

Source: ABC News | Parliament excises mainland from migration zone

25 March 2013

German Government to take in 5,000 refugees from Syria

The German Federal Ministry of the Interior has announced that it will receive some 5,000 refugees from Syria. The first refugees should arrive in Germany by June. According to the official statement, the German Ministry of Interior intends to promote a coordinated European response together with UNHCR to protect refugees from Syria. The Minister will meet the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres in April, when he will launch a resettlement appeal to the EU.

Source: Bundesministerium des Innern | Nachrichten | Flüchtlinge aus Syrien (in German only)

23 November 2012

Amnesty International condemns Australia’s offshore processing of refugees in Nauru

In a report published on 23 November 2012, Amnesty International condemns Australia’s newly reinstated policy of offshore processing of asylum seekers in Nauru. During a three-day inspection of the facility, it found a toxic mix of uncertainty, unlawful detention and inhumane conditions creating an increasingly volatile situation on Nauru, amounting to breaches of international human rights law by both the Australian and Nauruan government. According to Amnesty, the dire circumstances that the asylum seekers are facing further highlights why a developed country with a functioning refugee processing system should never send asylum seekers to a country without existing capacity to care for, process and protect them.

Source: Amnesty International | Nauru Camp A Human Rights Catastrophe With No End In Sight
Source: BBC | Australia asylum camp in Nauru 'cruel and degrading'

14 September 2012

Europe must take responsibility to prevent migrant deaths in the Mediterranean

A briefing paper from Human Rights Watch (HRW) entitled ‘Hidden Emergency – Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean’ argues that the EU needs to take urgent action to address the tragic deaths of thousands of boat migrants on its shores. According to UNHCR, an estimated 1500 migrants died in the Mediterranean in 2011 making it ‘the deadliest year on record’.

HRW recommends establishing a framework for cooperation in rescue at sea and standard operating procedures for shipmasters as well as amending the draft legislation creating EUROSUR – a surveillance system to monitor the Mediterranean and North Africa – in order to include the duty to assist migrants at sea. Furthermore, it is advised that resettlement programs for recognized refugees rescued at sea should be put in place.

Source: HRW | Hidden Emergency - Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean

14 September 2012

Swiss Refugee Council: Stop sending asylum seekers back to Hungary

The Swiss Refugee Council (OSAR) has called for an immediate halt of all returns of asylum seekers to Hungary. OSAR notes with concern the numerous reports by human rights organizations highlighting serious deficiencies in the Hungarian asylum and reception system. In particular, it is emphasized that asylum seekers returned to Hungary are systematically imprisoned, abused and are likely to be given tranquillizers while in prison, as reported by the most recent report published in April 2012 by UNHCR.

Switzerland returned 99 people in 2011 and 2012 (until end of July) to Hungary under the Dublin Regulation. According to OSAR, in view of the conditions for asylum seekers in Hungary, these returns may under certain circumstances violate the international obligation of non-refoulement (see Article 33 of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees) as well as Swiss law on asylum.

Source: OSAR | Stop aux renvois en Hongrie

3 September 2012

Turkish Request for Refugee Camps in Syria divides UN Security Council

Turkey’s foreign minister has requested the UN Security Council (SC) to set up refugee camps in Syria, stating that Turkey will soon not be able to cope with the large number of refugees crossing its borders. Setting up safe zones in Syria would require military intervention and installing no-fly zones. Russia and China remain opposed to such measures, blocking SC action. During an emergency session of the SC, France and the United Kingdom nevertheless indicated that they would not rule out following up on Turkey’s request. This has caused media to speculate that they may intervene even without a SC mandate, already comparing the situation with the intervention in Kosovo in the 1990s.

Source: New York Times | Threat to Syrian Civilians Is Growing, Officials Say
Source: BBC | 'Difficult' demand for refugee camps in Syria vexes UN

14 August 2012

Australia to deport asylum seekers to Pacific islands

Asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat will be sent to the Pacific island of Nauru or to Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island for processing, the prime minister Julia Gillard announced on 13 August. The proposal to reopen the detention centres is part of a new plan to prevent overcrowded boats sinking en route and to deter refugees from reaching Australia. The proposal is the result of recommendations of an expert panel convened six weeks ago to find a political solution.

The announcement drew immediate condemnation from human rights groups, who say that ‘sending asylum seekers to places like … Nauru and Papua New Guinea is unacceptable and a complete outsourcing of Australia’s human rights obligations’. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said it would study the proposal in more detail.

Source: International Herald Tribune | Premier of Australia Backs Plan on Refugees
Source: BBC | Australia asylum: MPs debate Nauru and PNG centres
Source: The Guardian | Australia to deport boat asylum seekers to Pacific islands

24 June 2012

Italian agreement with Libya on cooperation to curb irregular migration

The Italian paper La Stampa has made public the text of the agreement, signed between Libya and Italy in April 2012 to prevent undocumented migrants from leaving Libya. The agreement states that Libya should reinforce its land and maritime borders in order to counter the departure of migrants from its territory.

Various forms of collaboration between Italy and Libya are foreseen in the agreement, for instance, training of Libyan police and border personnel by Italy and Italian assistance in strengthening controls of Libya’s borders and coastal patrols, through providing technical means and equipment. Libya’s borders will be manned and operated by the Libyan authorities. Furthermore, according to the agreement, procedures facilitating voluntary return of irregular migrants would be coordinated with the International Organisation for Migration.

Source: Amnesty International | Italy must sink agreements with Libya on migration control

10 June 2012

Turkey and FRONTEX sign deal on border management

Turkey has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the EU border agency Frontex.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry stated that the MoU envisages sharing experience and information with Frontex to conduct joint assessments regarding mixed migration flows. Also, Frontex and the Turkish authorities agreed to cooperate in the areas of risk analysis, training as well as research and development.

Furthermore, both parties foresee the possibility of deployment of Turkish officers to selected border crossing points at the EU’s external borders.

Source: Turkish Weekly | Turkey Signs MoU with EU for Cooperation in Border Security

29 March 2012

‘Left to die’ boat disaster: those responsible ‘could face legal action’

The European rapporteur charged with investigating the case of 63 African migrants who were “left to die” in the Mediterranean last year has warned those responsible could end up in court. On Wednesday, the Guardian revealed the findings of a damning official report into the fateful voyage, which saw the sub-Saharan refugees drifting in the sea for two weeks while dying of thirst and starvation, even though their boat had been located by European authorities and emergency distress calls had been issued to all other ships in the area. The report blamed a collective set of “human, institutional and legal” failures for the inaction, labelling it a “dark day for Europe” and concluding that large loss of life could have been avoided if the various agencies in the area – NATO, its warships, the Italian coastguard and individual European states – had fulfilled their basic obligations.

Source: The Guardian | Migrant boat disaster: those responsible 'could face legal action'

16 March 2012

European Ombudsman opens inquiry into Frontex’s respect for human rights

The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has opened an inquiry into how Frontex implements its fundamental rights obligations. Frontex is an EU agency based in Warsaw that assists EU Member States in the field of border security. The inquiry follows concerns voiced by civil society that Frontex would be ‘complicit’ in the violation of human rights, in particular because of its cooperation with Greece, where migrants are, according to the European Court of Human Rights, systematically treated in violation of human rights. One of the questions asked by the Ombudsman to Frontex is which party, Frontex and/or the Member State, is responsible for possible failures to respect fundamental rights in joint operations of border control. Further, the Ombudsman wants to know whether Frontex envisages the establishment of a mechanism by which migrants may complain to Frontex about possible human rights violations. The Ombudsman has asked Frontex to submit an opinion by 31 May 2012. The letter which opens the inquiry can be found here.

Source: European Ombudsman | Ombudsman investigates Frontex’s fundamental rights implementation

2 March 2012

EU Ministers will approve resettlement pilot scheme and designate EU resettlement priority groups

Ministers for Home Affairs of European Union countries will next week approve an increase in the compensation Member States receive from the EU budget for allowing refugees from outside the Union to settle in their territory. They will also endorse a pilot scheme under which each Member State is to indicate by 1 May how many refugees it plans to resettle in 2013, and from which groups designated by the EU as priorities. The ministers will meet in Brussels on Thursday 8 March.

Source: European Voice | EU member states to get more money for receiving refugees

22 December 2011

ECJ Judgment on Dublin II

On 21 December 2011, the European Court of Justice delivered its judgment in the joint cases of N.S. v Secretary of State for the Home Department and M.E. and others v. Refugee Applications Commissioner under the preliminary ruling procedure. (more…)

5 December 2011

European Commission publishes Communication on intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum

On 2 December 2011, the European Commission presented a communication on enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum proposing to improve responsibility-sharing and improve mutual trust through legislation, practical cooperation, and a better use of EU funding mechanisms. According to the European Commission, the improvement of solidarity mechanisms should be reached by making the supportive role of the newly established European Asylum Support Office more effective and by increasing the amount of funds available to Member States. The Commission also proposes to encourage the relocation of beneficiaries of international protection amongst EU Member States, through financial assistance.

Source: http://europa.eu/

7 November 2011

Germany pays foreign officials to help with deportations of asylum seekers without identity documents

Germany paid officials of other States such as Sierra Leone to issue identity documents for asylum seekers that arrive in Germany without any indication of their countries of origin. The lack of identity documents is a very frequent phenomenon among persons that flee from places of persecution.

Source: www.sueddeutsche.de

22 September 2011

Opinions of the ECJ-AG concerning the Interpretation of the Dublin II Regulation

In her Opinions in joined cases C-411/10 N.S. v Secretary of State for the Home Department and C-493/10 M.E. and Others v Refugee Applications Commissioner and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform concerning the interpretation of the Dublin II Regulation, Advocate General Verica Trstenjak of the European Court of Justice has established that asylum seekers may not be transferred to other Member States where they could face a risk of serious breach of the fundamental rights which they are guaranteed under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

22 September 2011

Frontex complicit in Greek abuse of migrants

Human Rights Watch has released a new report on the Involvement of Frontex in Ill-Treatment of Migrant Detainees in Greece, titled ‘The EU’s Dirty Hands’. The report assesses Frontex’s role in and responsibility for exposing migrants to inhuman and degrading detention conditions during four months beginning late in 2010 when its first rapid border intervention team (RABIT) was apprehending migrants and taking them to police stations and migrant detention centers in Greece’s Evros region. The RABIT deployment has been replaced by a permanent Frontex presence. The report is based on interviews with 65 migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Greece in November and December 2010 and February 2011, as well as with Frontex and Greek police officials.

Source: http://www.hrw.org

1 September 2011

Australian High Court rejects refugee swap deal

The High Court of Australia has ruled that the Malaysian refugee swap is unlawful, dealing a huge blow to the Gillard government for which the handling of border protection has become an important political issue. Under the deal, Australia was to send 800 asylum-seekers to Malaysia, in return accepting 4000 refugees from Malaysia over four years. However, in a six-to-one decision, the court found the minister could not validly process asylum-seekers in a third country unless that country was bound under law to provide effective protection for them while their refugee status was determined. That protection must be enshrined either in domestic law or in the form of international instruments, such as the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which Malaysia has not signed.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au

20 June 2011

World Refugee Day: UNHCR report finds 80 per cent of world’s refugees in developing countries

UNHCR’s 2010 Global Trends report, released on World Refugee Day, reveals that there are deep imbalances in international refugee protection. Four-fifths of the world refugee population is being hosted by developing countries. In a reaction, High Commissioner Guterres said that “[d]eveloping counties cannot continue to bare this burden alone and the industrialized world must address the imbalance”, for example by increased resettlement qoutas.

Source: http://www.unhcr.org

26 April 2011

French and Italian Leaders Seek Tighter Controls on Migration

France and Italy have jointly called for changes in the Schengen Agreement in the face of a wave of immigrants arriving in Europe from Libya. Free passage among the European Union should temporarily be denied in case of exceptional circumstances. They also called on the European Union to broaden the role of its border agency Frontex.

Source: www.nytimes.com

15 April 2011

Council of Europe call for collective assistance to North Africa “boat people”

On 14 April 2011, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe issued a Resolution on “The large-scale arrival of irregular migrants, asylum seekers and refugees on Europe’s southern shores”. This Resolution calls for wide-ranging solidarity and cooperation by all member States in providing support for the “boat people” from North Africa, but also for the countries of origin.

Source: Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe News

11 April 2011

Italy Seeks to Pass Problem on to EU Partners

The recent upheaval in North Africa has caused a massive wave of immigration, with thousands landing on the Italian island of Lampedusa in recent months. The government in Rome wants to move the immigrants on to other EU member states, but other countries don’t want them.

Source: www.spiegel.de

24 February 2011

Italy Call for EU Help with Refugees Rebuffed

Italy has asked for solidarity in dealing with massive outflows of people, most notably from Libya. Many European Union governments have, however, criticized Italy for exaggerating the threat of asylum seekers. The disagreement underscores divisions in Europe on how to tackle immigration and share responsibility for the protection of refugees.

Source: http://af.reuters.com


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