AYS Daily Digest 26/07/17: European Court of Justice ruling regarding the Dublin III Regulation

Refugees required to seek asylum in the first country they reach even in exceptional circumstances, ECJ stated / Sea-Watch is bringing another ship into operation / Defend Europe mission fails / Overcrowded Aegean islands / Watter supply cut in Samos / UNHCR reports 157 collective expulsions from Croatia / French police routinely abuse refugees and migrants in Calais / EC pledges to offer Italy further €100m in funding / And more news…

Art Against

FEATURE

Croatia is responsible for examining applications for international protection by persons who crossed its border en masse during the 2015–2016 migration crisis, the European Court of Justice ruling states, adding that those persons must be regarded as having crossed the external border of Croatia irregularly within the meaning of the Dublin III Regulation, under which refugees must seek asylum in the first European member state they enter. This implies requiring refugees to seek asylum in the first country they reach even in exceptional circumstances.

The judgment is regarding cases of A.S. v Slovenia and the Jafari sisters, two Afghan families and a Syrian who applied for asylum in Austria after crossing Croatia. This ruling could have far-reaching consequences for how the EU deals with migrants in the future, upholding the right of member states to deport asylum-seekers to the first EU country they enter, Telegraph writes.

The ECJ considers the border crossings to Croatia were illegal and didn’t follow the opinion of general advocate Eleanor Sharpston. Even if Croatian authorities let them enter their territory and organized the transfers to Slovenia, this doesn’t mean they are allowed to continue their travel: “The Court points out that such authorisation is valid only in respect of the territory of the Member State concerned, not the territory of the other Member States.” This — in theory — means, that all refugees who crossed Croatia, or any other EU country, before arriving in other countries can be deported under Dublin III to the country of arrivals, even if the authorities organized the transfers and further border crossings.

The court only “recalls that an applicant for international protection must not be transferred to the Member State responsible if, following the arrival of an unusually large number of non-EU nationals seeking international protection, there is a genuine risk that the person concerned may suffer inhumane or degrading treatment if transferred.” But we know what this means in practice — again lower courts or authorities have to decide on single cases. There is no final definition of “inhumane or degrading treatment if transferred”.

The court’s decision was unexpected, after the judges took the unusual step of ignoring the advice of the advocate-general, Telegraph writes. In a written opinion issued last month, they add, Ms Sharpston warned that the Dublin system “was simply not designed to cover such exceptional circumstances”. “If border member states, such as Croatia, are deemed to be responsible for accepting and processing exceptionally high numbers of asylum-seekers, there is a real risk that they will simply be unable to cope with the situation,” she wrote.


A legal opinion presented to the EU’s top court says mandatory quotas for the relocation of refugees across the bloc should stand DW reports. Hungary and Slovakia have challenged the EU measure, claiming it’s illegal. An adviser to the European Court of Justice says the court should dismiss those lawsuits filed by Hungary and Slovakia. Advocate General Yves Bot rejected arguments from Slovakia and Hungary saying it “helps relieve the considerable pressure on the asylum systems of Italy and Greece.” The relocation effort has had only limited success so far, Ekathimerini reports. Bot said the EU did not overreach its competences because EU treaties allow the adoption of measures to address clearly identified emergency situations, they add.


GENERAL

New data released by IOM, the United Nations Migration Agency, reveals a complex evolution of migrant arrivals in Europe via the Eastern Mediterranean Route. The cost of getting into Europe has increased significantly when compared to 2016, the routes have changed, and different countries of destination are being prioritized, IOM reports.

Many migrants are now paying upwards of USD 5,000 to get into the European Union, with those coming from Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan being charged the most. Greece and Bulgaria are being used as transit countries into the Western Balkans, with Northern Europe as the goal destination. While the most popular destination up to June 2016 was overwhelmingly Germany, migrants now seek to get to France, Sweden, Italy, Norway, Austria and Denmark as well.

Full report can be found here.


17,179 people have been resettled to 22 States out of the 22,504 of the agreed resettlements, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship wrote today, adding that June was a record month for relocation with almost 3000 relocated from Greece and Italy.


SEA

Sea-Watch is bringing another ship into operation

The civilian rescue fleet is to be strengthened with an additional much larger and more flexible ship in order to be able to react more effectively to the ongoing humanitarian crisis at Europe’s external borders, Sea Watch announced today.

Sea-Watch is sending another rescue ship in response to the inaction of the EU. Many thousands of people are drowning every year at Europe’s deadly sea border. The European Union, on the other hand, is turning a blind eye to these deaths, leaving Italy alone with the consequences of this humanitarian crisis. The Code of Conduct, which is largely unlawful, is a desperate reaction from Italy. Instead of developing concrete solutions, those who take action where governmental structures fail are attacked: the civilian rescue fleet. However, what are needed in the face of more than 2,000 deaths this year alone are not more rules, but more rescue capacities!

Defend Europe fiasco

Meanwhile, after successfully gathering enough funds in a crowdfunding campaign to hire a boat and a crew with the aim of “protecting Europe”, meaning turning refugees back and disabling them from reaching European ground,the ship C-Star, bought by the European extreme-right group Defend Europe, has been seized by authorities in Magosa port, Cyprus. This is not the first time they were stopped, but this time the captain and his assistant have been arrested on suspicion of arranging false documents and, ironically, people smuggling. The ship is currently being emptied. Part of the boat crew was from Sri Lanka, and now requesting asylum in the EU.


GREECE

Protest of locals in Lesvos

Few people from the villages surrounding Moria refugee camp were protesting today in Mytilini. The situation on the Island and its outcome is affecting them as well, One Happy Family — Community Center, Lesvos wrote. Like the residents in the camps, those people are frustrated as well.

Overcrowded Aegean islands

The number of refugees and migrants waiting to be granted asylum or deported came to 62,407 on Tuesday, according to data released on Wednesday by the Greek Defense Ministry, Ekathimerini reports.

The five Aegean islands hosting facilities are currently home of 15,222 asylum seekers and migrants, the majority of which are on Lesvos: 4,725 at the official state-run facility that has a total capacity for 3,500 and 188 at other centers. Chios is hosting 3,503 individuals, when it has an official capacity for 1,100, Samos’s facilities for 850 people have to cope with 2,414 and Kos is also stretched with 1,830 people living in a camp designed for 1,000, as well another 1,048 people staying at other facilities. Only Leros has manageable numbers, with 865 refugees and migrants staying at a camp for 1,000 people, as well as an additional 160 individuals in other facilities.

Another boat landed on the North shore of Lesvos the morning, second boat of the day, carrying 27 people who were very wet and cold. There was one medical case everyone else was okay. There were 77 new registrations on Lesvos, 35 others making a total of 112 today. Lesvos seems to be getting more crowded again with 1800 arrivals since June. 53 refugees arrived on Chios.

Samos — water supply will be cut off from 7.00 to 11.00 pm

From tomorrow, no one can cook, wash, shower or use the toilets in Samos camp in the mornings due to problems with water supply. The water supply will be cut off from 7.00 to 11.00 pm every day so that the water tanks will be filled for the rest of the day.

The only people that were informed about the water being cut every morning were the NGOs, not the actual people who needed to know. A volunteer told us he walked in the camp to inform everyone to fill up their buckets, jugs, bottles etc.


SERBIA

HelpRefugees reported on their works in Serbia. Last month they began to overhaul the sub-standard water and sanitation system in the Obrenovac camp. 20 portable toilets were installed and a couple of shower containers recommissioned. They are now in the process of repairing, deep cleaning and repurposing the six unusable bathrooms located across the camp.

HelpRefugees

CROATIA

UNHCR reports 157 collective expulsions from Croatia, with many alleging to have been denied access to asylum procedures there, while 59 were recorded regarding Hungary, in the last week only. These numbers apply only to unofficial deportations in the period from 17 to 23 July, that is, expulsions that are not officially registered and which are not based on readmission agreements. The people are most often caught in small groups at border crossings and the Croatian side quickly returns them back to Serbia. Many of them said they were “denied access to asylum seekers’ procedures” in Croatia, according to the report. This is an increase of these types of returns by the Croatian police.


ITALY

The European Commission has pledged to offer Italy a further €100m in funding to manage the migration crisis in the central Mediterranean, and threatened to impose visa restrictions on Bangladesh unless the South Asian nation speeds up the readmission of illegal immigrants from Italy, Financial Times reports. “We will intensify our efforts to reach an effective arrangement with Bangladesh to speed up the readmission of migrants irregularly present in Italy, including by proposing to the Council the use of visa leverage, if appropriate,” Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission said.


Italian Press Agency ANSA presented infomigrants.net today, a news portal in English, Arabic and French, aiming to inform in a complete, balanced and innovative way about migrants and refugees: both the ones in the departure countries intending to leave, the ones transiting and the ones already arrived in Europe. Through its multilingual service for the Mediterranean ‘ANSAmed’, ANSA has been following for years the crucial topic of the migrations, it is partner with France Media Monde and Deutsche Welle, in a project supported by the European Commission facing the migration phenomenon, the most relevant in the last years for the Euro-Mediterranean area.
http://www.infomigrants.net/en/


MSF issued a statement following the meeting at Italian Ministry of Interior regarding Code of Conduct for SAR NGOs which you can read here.

…as the content and potential impact of this code is discussed, we must all remember that so far this year over 2,000 people have lost their lives in the Mediterranean sea, at least 13 this very afternoon, they wrote.

Milan

A maxi blitz was carried out by police today in Piazza Duca d’Aosta, in front of the train station. 200 migrants were checked and 100 were taken to the police station. This blitz was a consequence of a recent event where a migrants stabbed a police officer and was deported afterwards. More here in Italian.


LGBTQ — List or regional contacts if you need support or info:

https://www.ilgrandecolibri.com/en/migranti/


FRANCE

Calais — Like Living in Hell

French police routinely abuse refugees and migrants in Calais, Human Rights Watch stated in a new report issued today, accusing authorities of turning a blind eye to the widespread reports of the abuse, HRW reports.

The report, “‘Like Living in Hell’: Police Abuses Against Child and Adult Migrants in Calais,” states that

police forces in Calais, particularly the French riot police (Compagnies républicaines de sécurité, CRS), routinely use pepper spray on child and adult migrants while they are sleeping or in other circumstances in which they pose no threat. Police also regularly spray or confiscate sleeping bags, blankets, and clothing, and have sometimes used pepper spray on migrants’ food and water, apparently to press them to leave the area. Such acts violate the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment as well as international standards on police conduct, which call for police to use force only when it is unavoidable, and then only with restraint, in proportion to the circumstances, and for a legitimate law enforcement purpose.

The report is based on interviews with more than 60 asylum seekers and other migrants in and around Calais and Dunkerque, including 31 unaccompanied children, in June and July 2017. French authorities have denied the accusations in the report.

Volunteers say police use of excessive force, both towards refugees and volunteers, is recurring and constantly present, even by water distributions, like the one in this video:


DENMARK

Danish Folkeparti, which are supporters of the right winged government, now officially says they want all of Europe surrounded by fences. They want a fence between Denmark and Germany as well, besides boarder control, to stop any migration. They also want the rescuing ships to take people back to the country they sailed from, instead of into Europe. Danish Folkeparti embrace Hungary and USA for their fences and hardline control of their boarders. It’s now new that Danish Folkeparti is demanding control of the boarders, but it’s new that they directly say they want real fences.


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