No. 3

May 2000








Policy developments


Publications p2

Forthcoming meetings p2

Policy papers p3

Policy Developments - Integration

ECRE developments p3

European Union development s p3


Country developments p5

Other news p6

Publications p6

Relevant Articles p7

Events General p8

Legal developments

ELENA news p9

Council of Europe p9

United Nations p10

European Union p12

Dublin Convention p12


Country up-dates p13


Central & Eastern Europe developments

Central Europe

Fundraising toolkit p25

Central Europe Programme Intern p25

ECRE Twinning Programme p25

UNHCR background papers p25

National lottery up-date p25

Eastern Europe

Recent events p26

Up-coming events p27

Staffing p27




List of annexes p28



Please note that the Tampere Dossier will be published by the ECRE Brussels office in May 2000. Copies of this document, outlining the key messages from the European Council Tampere summit and ECRE EU Tampere Summit Parallel Meeting, will be available from the ECRE Brussels office: 32 rue de Commerce, 1040 Brussels, Belgium. 00 32 2 514 5939; 00 32 2 514 5922.


No. 3

May 2000








Policy developments


ECRE strategic meeting with UNHCR Bureau for Europe

As reported in the last document service, a joint ECRE-UNHCR meeting was held in Brussels, 21-22 February, to discuss mainly strategies for the anniversaries of the UNHCR and the Refugee Convention and opportunities for a more enlightened debate about asylum. A report on the meeting is now available from the policy officer and is attached to this document service.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

Mme Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, made a rare intervention at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, 12 April. Her speech focussed on IDPs and the complementarity of mandates between UNHCR, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Emergency Relief Co-ordinator (ERC). Her speech was interesting as there had been some belief that UNHCR wanted to take on the responsibility for IDP assistance. This speech ended that speculation. UNHCR has set out its position on IDP assistance in a paper, now available from the policy officer.

Trafficking in people and people smuggling

The issue of trafficking and smuggling featured large in the discussions of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, week of 10 April. There have been various initiatives, particularly on the issue of trafficking in women. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Special Rapporteur on Women, has produced a new report on trafficking of women, outlining the problem and providing a definition. This is now available from the policy officer.

The issue of trafficking is one on which ECRE will shortly be conducting some research.



Amnesty International published, March 2000, its "Concerns in Europe" for the six-month period July-December 1999. The highly detailed report records many instances of alleged human rights violations against refugees and asylum-seekers across Europe, including deaths in custody and during forcible deportation. The report is available from the AI website at:


Dr Nicholas Sitaropoulos has published an article on the legal definition of a refugee in the Revue Hellenique de Droit International, published by L’Institut Hellenique de Droit International et Etranger, Athens.



The ECRE/ICVA Reference Group on Former Yugoslavia is holding a meeting on refugee returns in Montenegro, 7-9 June. Details from Mike Young/ Beba Parker on or fax +44 20 8820 3107.




The draft ECRE Position Papers on Interpretation of Article 1 of the Refugee Convention and on Complementary Protection have now been sent out to member agencies and others for the first round of consultation. These papers are attached to this document service (P03/01/00, P03/02/00 and P03/03/00). For further information, contact the policy officer.


Integration Policy developments

ECRE Developments

The final draft of the ECRE Position on Refugee Family Reunification has now been circulated to the ECRE membership. The deadline for comments is Wednesday, 17 May 2000. The Executive Committee plans to adopt the position by the end of May.

In April 2000, ECRE finalised a Comments Paper on the European Commission's Proposal for a Council Directive on the right to family reunification. This aims to provide input to discussions on family reunification currently held by EU Member States and the European Parliament and highlight specific issues of concern. A copy of this document is included with this Documentation Service (P03/05/00).

Within the context of discussions on the European Refugee Fund, ECRE together with the EU Networks on Integration recently prepared an Informal Note to the European Commission: Options for EU Level Activities in the Reception, Integration and Return of Refugees. This note highlights some key objectives in the areas of refugee reception, integration and return which Community-level activities could seek to support during a period of five years. A copy of this document is included with this Documentation Service.

ECRE is presently undertaking a research project on systems of refugee participation in local decision making processes in the fifteen EU Member States. Research findings will be used at a Seminar on Refugee Participation in Local Policy Making and Political Life organised in conjunction with the EU Networks on Integration on 26-28 May 2000 in Nürnburg, Germany. For further information, please contact the Integration Policy Officer.

ECRE together with UNHCR are currently in the process of organising a seminar titled "Integration of Refugees in Belarus: International Perspectives". This will be held in Minsk on 23-24 May. It will aim to address the practical issues related to the challenges and opportunities for integration of recognised refugees in Belarus. For further information, please contact the Integration Policy Officer or the Eastern Europe Project Team.

European Union Developments

In March 2000, the European Union developed a "Scoreboard" to track member countries' adoption of the legislation needed to achieve a common approach to immigration, asylum and cross-border crime. The EU plans to have a unified set of asylum and immigration policies by 2004. From a social dimension perspective, of particular importance are plans regarding: the development of common minimum conditions for reception of asylum seekers, the fight against all discrimination, the implementation of the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of race or ethnic origin and the development of a common visa policy by passing measures on the freedom to travel within the territory of Member States.

With regard to minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers, the European Commission has currently commissioned a preliminary study on reception policies and conditions in the fifteen EU Member States. This is expected to be completed in August 2000. A Commission proposal for a draft directive on the reception of asylum seekers is expected to be published at the beginning of 2001.

On Wednesday 15 March, the European Parliament examined two reports to combat racism within the EU. The report by British Liberal Sarah Ludford on combating racism and xenophobia in the EU invited the Member States to be attentive to the needs of minority communities and to encourage their community structures. This report also encouraged Member States that have not done so to sign and ratify the Council of Europe's Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages. The fight against racism and xenophobia and the promotion of equal opportunity should be placed under the responsibility of a single member of the European Commission and the competences of the European Monitoring Centre should be enlarged to the third pillar (justice and home affairs). The media should draw up a code of ethics and monitor compliance therewith.

A report by Baastian Belder (EDD, Netherlands) emphasised the issues of racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism in applicant countries. The report also criticized the Commission for not having proposed specific actions to fight discrimination against asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants in the applicant countries.

Family reunification

The EU Group Migration completed its first reading of the Commission proposal for a Directive on admission for the purposes of family reunion during its meeting of 30 March. Member States remain divided over a number of general principles underlying the Commission’s proposal and the Presidency will submit a note to the next meeting of the Strategic Committee (SCIFA) of 10 and 11 May 2000.

The general issues which need further discussion, such as whether the EU can establish a right to family reunion as proposed by the Commission in article or whether the Directive should make provision for the situation of refugees (article 3 (1) (b) and related articles), are of direct interest to ECRE member agencies. A number of Member States (France, Spain) have indicated that they prefer to take the refugee dimension out, arguing that this merits a separate instrument. In addition, a number of Member States have argued that the Directive should not cover persons benefiting from subsidiary forms of protection. The Spanish delegation has submitted a note arguing for the deletion of the references to refugees in the text. The French delegation appears to have an even stronger opposition to the proposal. So far, the Commission has insisted on maintaining the references to refugees in the text. It is expected that the forthcoming French Presidency of the EU will seek to remove all references to refugees from the text.


International Conference on the Reception and Integration of Resettled Refugees - Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement

UNHCR is facilitating the organisation of an International Conference on the Reception and Integration of Resettled Refugees. This will be hosted by the Swedish National Integration Office and be held on 25-27 April 2001 in Stockholm. The conference will aim to bring together government and NGO representatives from all the countries involved in the UNHCR resettlement programme to exchange ideas and good practice and develop key policy recommendations on the issue. A number of events at national level are also being planned in advance of the conference. A Steering Group has been set up to oversee arrangements involving ECRE among its members. For further information, please contact the Integration Policy Officer.

The next Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement will be held on 3-4 July in Geneva.

Database of Refugee Contributions

In the framework of the celebration for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the 50th Anniversary Unit of UNHCR is creating a database of refugees of international, national or regional stature. Many of these refugees have made significant contributions to their home country or country of residence in politics, science, sports, music, arts, literature, business and other fields. With the help of this database UNHCR will launch a Gallery of Prominent Refugees, which will tell the stories of these persons, the famous and not-so-famous. It is the hope of UNHCR that this project will help change the perception of refugees as being a burden, by presenting them as valuable and sometimes outstanding members of society. In order to suggest or indicate prominent refugees please contact: UNHCR, PO BOX 2500, CH- 1202, Geneva depot 2; fax: +41 22 7397394; email:





Country Developments


More than 25,000 people became Austrian citizens last year, up 38.7 % from 1998. Nearly half were of Turkish origin, some 27 percent were from the former Yugoslavia and equal numbers were from the ex-communist states of Eastern Europe and from developing countries. Austrian laws demand a claimant has lived for 30 years in Austria before citizenship becomes a right. Claimants can apply after living in Austria for 4 years and their applications are judged on the basis of employment, knowledge of German and the nationality of their spouse. Some 84 % of the new citizens in 1999 had lived in Austria for less than 30 years.


At a first reading on 3 May 2000, France's National Assembly voted through a bill to allow non-European immigrants to vote in local elections. All the parties of the ruling coalition voted for the measure, which was proposed by the Green Party, while opposition parties voted against. The bill has little chance of becoming law, because it must be ratified by the upper house and then would require a national referendum to amend the constitution. The measure would grant foreigners from countries outside the European Union the same right to vote in municipal elections that EU nationals were given in 1998.


Asylum applications in Ireland are running at around 1,000 a month - up from just 429 in the whole of 1995. With around 8,000 places needed this year, the Irish Government, at the beginning of April, unveiled plans to shelter new arrivals in floating hotels. Permanent shelter will be built for around 4,000 asylum seekers, and a further 2,000 will be accommodated in hotels, hostels and guesthouses. Officials from Ireland's Office of Public Works recently visited Norway and the Netherlands in order to verify the models implemented in these two countries. The government's program for asylum seekers is to provide housing, three meals a day and approximately IŁ15 per week for each adult.

Ireland has created an agency to deal with a growing number of refugees. The new agency will deal with the reception of asylum seekers and the integration of refugees.


The 39 Convention refugees hosted by Lithuania started on an integration programme within the framework of the Order for Social Integration approved by the government in February 1998. Under this regulation, refugees receive specific support and assistance for one year following their settlement in Lithuanian communities. This includes free accommodation and Lithuanian language courses, material assistance for settlement, monthly benefits, health insurance and assistance in finding jobs. Municipalities receiving refugees sign an agreement with the Ministry of Social Security and Labour specifying their obligations in terms of services provided to refugees. The Lithuanian Government pays for the cost.

In April 1999 the Lithuanian Red Cross (LRC) and the Ministry of Social Security and Labour signed an agreement for the implementation of the social integration programme. Only three refugees have been employed so far and are self sufficient, many others have experienced difficulties in finding jobs due to language problems or Lithuania’s labour market situation.


The Dutch government has lifted its prohibition of asylum seekers getting work while they wait for authorities to decide on their applications.


The Norwegian Government has decided to create a working group to evaluate accommodation of refugees and to give suggestions on how to facilitate the process of refugees moving out from reception centres to municipalities. The group will also investigate how to adjust the governmental financial support to the municipalities so they achieve a successful integration. The working group will consist of representatives from the Municipalities Central Organization, the Ministry of Local Government and regional development, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Church, Education and Research, Ministry for Children and family and the Prime Minister's Office.


Sweden is changing its immigration law to allow battered immigrant wives of Swedish men to access independent legal status.


In March 2000, the residents of a suburb of Lucerne were asked to vote on individual citizenship applications upon the basis of a report describing the background and the everyday life of the 56 applicants and details of their taxable income and assets. An interview was also conducted in order to test language ability and "degree of integration and assimilation". A decision was made to accept only eight requests - all Italians who were born in the area or have lived there for more than 40 years. The 48 rejections included 16 families from former Yugoslavia, a Polish-Dutch family and an Armenian family from Turkey.

United Kingdom

On March 7 2000 the British Government postponed a key part of its asylum reforms after running into difficulties with local authorities over plans to disperse thousands of refugees around the country. Instead, only those who apply for asylum at ports and airports will be dispersed to housing in the regions on a "no choice" basis. They will be provided with vouchers to be exchanged at shops for food and clothing. People who claim asylum after entering Britain - 60 per cent of all claimants - will continue to be cared for by local councils. The full dispersal scheme will not come into force until the autumn at the earliest. Ministers have been forced to postpone the scheme's full implementation because they have failed to secure enough accommodation from councils and private landlords around the country.

The United Kingdom will not opt into the family re-unification directive and have informed the Commission of their stance. It plans though to take an active part in discussions on the text.

Other news

On March 21 2000 the U.N. Population Division released a study on the need for more immigrants in Europe in order to keep the region competitive and to be able to care for its rapidly aging population. The report entitled Replacement Migration: Is it a Solution to Declining and Ageing Populations? could have serious implications for governments facing increasingly vocal immigration debates but also questions on how to support their surging number of retired persons. The report examines demographics in eight countries — France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Britain and the United States — the European Union and wider Europe. Among other scenarios, it looks at what level of migration would be required to maintain the ratio of the working-age population to the retired-age population.

The report makes no specific recommendations, but merely concludes that the demographic changes in store in the next 50 years will require a thorough reassessment of "many established economic, social and political policies and programs." For further information please check the following web site:



European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) Reports: Bulgaria, Belgium, Hungary, and Switzerland. The aim of these country reports is to analyse the situation as regards racism and intolerance in each of the Member States of the Council of Europe and make proposals on how to address identified problems. For further information please contact: Secretariat of ECRI, Directorate General of Human Rights — DG II — Council of Europe, F — 67075 Strasbourg Cedex; tel: +33 (0) 3 88 41 29 64; fax: +33 (0) 3 88 41 39 87; email:

From Bosnia to Ireland’s Private Rented Sector: A study of Bosnian housing needs in Ireland. S. Bradley & N. Humphries, Clann Housing Association, December 1999. The purpose of this report is to guide the work of Clann Housing Association in responding to the housing needs of refugees. The study aims to improve awareness and understanding among other service providers and policy makers of the specific needs of refugees in Ireland. To order a copy please contact: Clann Housing Association Floor 3, 18 Dame Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, tel: +353 1 6775010; fax: +353 1 6775025.

The demographic characteristic of national minorities in certain European states, Vol. 2 by W. Haug, P. Compton, Y. Courbage, ISBN 92-871-4159-2. This book investigates the national minorities in Estonia and Finland, the linguistic-religious community in Switzerland and the Roma in a number of European countries. To order a copy please contact: Council of Europe Publishing, F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex; tel: +33 3 88 41 2581; fax: +33 3 88 41 3910; e-mail;; website:

Tools for change. National Committee for Development Education. This directory highlights materials for those offering training and education around the issues of asylum and refugees. It offers comprehensive listings of education materials and organisations involved in the work. To order a copy please contact: National Committee for Development Education, 16-20 South Cumberland Street, Dublin 2, Ireland tel: +353 1 662 0866; fax: +353 1 662 0808; email:; web site:

Journal of International Migration and Integration: Metropolis Research and Policy Review. This is a new quarterly publication. It investigates international migration and the integration of immigrants and ethnic minorities into the fabric of city life and aims to strengthen policy development and highlight best practice in the settlement of migrants and diverse groups. For more information, including submission guidelines, visit the journal’s web site at: or contact

Immigrants at the Polls: Immigrant and Refugee Participation in Danish Local Elections, by Lise Togeby a chapter in: Elites, Parties and Democracy edited by Erik Beukel, Kurt Klaudi Klausen and Poul Erik Mouritzen Odense University Press, 1999, 341 pp., ISBN 87-7838-506-7. To order a copy please check the following web site:

"Migration in the New Millennium: calling for the harmonization of immigration, asylum, and refugee policies in Europe and North America", Transatlantic Learning Community (TLC). This report is based on two years of travel and research in the United States, Mexico, Europe, and North Africa to identify best practices. The study is on line at:

Immigrant business: the economic, political and social environment. ed. By Jan Rath, Migration, Minorities and Citizenship series, Hundmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press, 2000, ISBN 0-312-22775-2. For further information please check the following web site:

Workers without frontiers: the impact of globalisation on international migration. International Labour Organization, (ILO), Geneva, March 2000. Recent ILO studies in a number of Western European countries have highlighted that "overall discrimination rates of up to 35 percent were not uncommon", resulting in at least one in every three job applications by migrant/ethnic minority candidates being met with discrimination. To address this problem, the ILO plans to hold a four-day high-level meeting in Geneva to examine the human rights and political challenges of reducing and eliminating widespread barriers to employment of migrants and minorities in Europe and throughout the industrialized world. The ILO report can be found online at:

The report analyses the difficulties that immigrant workers and their family face in obtaining jobs. The report can be found at the following web site:


Relevant Articles

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Volume 26, Number 1, January 2000

- Negative and positive racialisation: re-examining ethnic minority political representation in the UK by Shamit Saggar & Andrew Geddes;

- National identity and the attitude towards foreigners in multi-national

states: the case of Belgium by Bart Maddens, Jaak Billiet & Roeland Beerten;

- Refugee settlement in Britain: the impact of policy on participation by Alice Bloch.

Events - General

"2nd colloquy on the European Convention of Human Rights and the protection of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people", 19-20 May Strasbourg, France.

For further information please contact: Directorate General of Legal Affairs, Council of Europe, F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex; tel: +33 3 88 41 3479; fax: +33 3 88 41 2764; e-mail:

"The rights of refugees under international law", 20-21 May, Oxford, UK.

International conference organised in the framework of the Refugee Studies programme of the Queen Elizabeth House. For further information please contact: University of Oxford, 21 St. Giles, GB-Oxford OX1 3LA; tel: +44 1865 27 0272; fax: +44 171 1865 27 0721; e-mail:; website:

UNITED Conference: Ready! Steady! Go. 28 May - 4 June 2000, Strasbourg

In order to prepare the United Nations (UN) Conference against Racism (2001) together with delegates representing the European youth movement, UNITED is organising a Conference in Strasbourg, in the European Youth Centre of the Council of Europe. For further information please check the following website:

"Practices of exclusion: xenophobic movements and the State", 14-18 August, Bergen, Norway. For further information please contact: University of Bergen, Sydnesplassen 7, N-5007 Bergen; tel: +47 55 58 8943; fax: +1 416 924 4992; email:

International Migration: new patterns, new theories: A Multidisciplinary Conference, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK 11-13 September 2000

For further information please contact: Dr Caroline Nagel, Dept of International Studies, Nottingham Trent University, email:; tel: +44 (0)115 848 3451

"The intergovernmental conference 2000: the European Union at the crossroad of institutional reform in the face of enlargement" Maastricht (Netherlands) 17-20 July

For further information please contact: EIPA, PO Box 1229, NL-6201 BE Maastricht; tel: +31 43 329 6222; fax: +31 43 329 6296; email:; website:

Self-Employment, Gender and Migration, San Feliu de Guixols, Spain, October 28 November 2, 2000. For more information, please contact Maria Kontos:




No. 3

May 2000








Legal developments


We welcome Jon Zabala Otegui as the new ELENA National Coordinator for Spain, and Holger Hoffman as the Coordinator for Germany. We also welcome back Stefan Kok as Co-ordinator for the Netherlands and Silvia Cristovao as Coordinator for Portugal. The ELENA Index 2000 will shortly be published with all the updated contact details.


Council of Europe


Tatete v Switzerland, European Court of Human Rights, 18 November 1999: illegal immigrant suffering from AIDS sent back to her own country.

The applicant, who was born in the Congo, entered Switzerland illegally in February 1997 and made an application for asylum, which was refused. Her application for judicial review of that decision was dismissed and she was ordered to leave Swiss territory. Approximately a month before the date by which she was required to leave she went into hospital and learnt that she had contracted AIDS, and was suffering from pneumonia. Her time limit for leaving Switzerland was extended by one and a half months. A further extension was granted on her subsequent readmission to hospital. In January 1998 the applicant asked the authorities to reconsider her position, producing a medical certificate in support of her request which certified that as a result of contamination by the AIDS virus she was suffering from serious infections that were likely to be fatal in the mid-term unless she received appropriate treatment and that any abrupt end to the treatment would have dramatic consequences on her condition. That request was dismissed in February 1998 on the grounds that the infectious diseases from which she was suffering could be treated in her country of origin, and that there was no cure for AIDS, whether in the Congo or in Switzerland. The Swiss authorities also considered that returning to her family would have beneficial psychological effects and offered to provide her with the necessary medication and therapeutic advice. The Court unanimously declared the case admissible under Articles 2 and 3. It is interesting to note its ruling on a similar case (D v U.K., 2 May 1997), where it found in favour of a national of St. Kitts who was terminally ill with the AIDS virus, and had argued that his repatriation would constitute a violation of Article 3 since he would hardly receive any medical treatment at all in his home country.

The European Court of Human Rights convicted Turkey on three counts for the violations of prohibition of torture, right to life, freedom of expression, and right to an effective remedy. These cases are enclosed as annex L05/01/00 and are interesting in terms of human rights violations against journalists and those involved in human rights in Turkey. They are also interesting as to the Court’s reasoning regarding what can be reasonably expected from the state in terms of protection against persecution or harm.



Another interesting case is that of T.I. v U.K., ECHR, 7 March 2000.

The case concerned a Sri Lankan national who had been subjected to inhuman treatment at the hands of the LTTE, the Army, ENDLF (a pro-government Tamil group) and the police. He eventually fled Sri Lanka to Germany, where he claimed asylum. His claim was rejected however on the grounds that the evidence he produced was of no relevance, due to the fact that it could not be imputed to the Sri Lankan State. His appeal in 1997 was also rejected, on similar grounds, and a deportation order was issued.

Consequently, the applicant clandestinely fled to the UK, where he was discovered by immigration officers and then claimed asylum. In 1998, the UK requested that Germany accept responsibility for the application under the Dublin Convention. The applicant appealed to the Court of Appeal, complaining that the German standard of proof was too high. He also challenged the certification of Germany as a safe third country as, inter alia, Germany failed to recognise persons as refugees where the persecution emanated from non-state agents. The Secretary of State informed the applicant in August 1998 that Germany was a safe third country and his appeal was refused. He then took his case to the ECtHR, claiming a violation of Articles 2, 3, 8, and 13 of the Convention, as the German authorities would not take into account any risk of persecution or ill-treatment that is not directly linked to the Sri Lankan State.

The Court found that the UK could not rely on the Dublin Convention, especially when differing approaches to the scope of protection existed between the member states. It indicated the responsibility of the UK to ensure that the applicant would not, as a result of the decision to send him back to Germany, face exposure to treatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention. The fact that Germany excludes non-state agents when considering the scope of protection was not considered to be the main issue; the Court’s concern was whether there were procedural safeguards of any kind protecting the applicant from removal to Sri Lanka. Its conclusion was that Article 53(6) of the German Aliens Act would meet the gap in protection left by Germany’s exclusion of non-state agents of persecution and which Germany promised would be applied to the applicant — despite the fact that no rejected asylum-seeker had been awarded such status previously. The Court found that none of the Articles of the ECHR had been breached, and declared the case inadmissible.

Erika Feller of UNHCR stated that the decision would hopefully contribute to a further harmonization among states of the application of both the 1951 Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which is essential in the context of the needs of persons facing risk to their life or liberty from non-state agents. "The decision provides a number of important clarifications on issues of international law which can assist governments in improving existing protection mechanisms for asylum-seekers in Europe…For the first time, an international human rights court confirmed that the principle of non-refoulement also covers the indirect removal to a situation of danger. This reflects the position the UNHCR has taken in regard to the non-refoulement provision of the 1951 Refugee Convention."

A copy of the case is enclosed as annex L05/02/00.

United Nations


In March 2000 the UNHCR released the guidelines "Kosovo Albanians in Asylum Countries: UNHCR Recommendations as Regards Return" in the run-up to the returns process envisaged for Kosovo by several European states this summer. See annex L05/03/00.


The following are summaries of some of the decisions reached by the UN Committee against Torture in May 1999 and January 2000; for the actual documents please see annex L05/04/00.

Communication No. 104/1998: Sweden

This case involved an Iranian national seeking asylum in Sweden and claiming that he risked torture and even execution if returned to Iran. The Committee decided that Sweden’s decision to send him back did not constitute a violation of Article 3.

The applicant was a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who went to Sweden (where his mother was resident) on a three-month visa after refusing to continue performing certain tasks for them, including spying and administering inhuman and degrading treatment. He applied for asylum well after his arrival in Sweden, and converted to Christianity the same year, a factor that he claimed increased the threat against his safety even further. However, both the Swedish Board of Immigration and the Aliens Appeal Board denied his application on the grounds of credibility. The Committee too found sufficient disparities between the version of events provided by the applicant to them, and those given to the Swedish authorities, and neither could produce conclusive evidence that he risked endangerment if returned to Iran.

Communication No 120/1998: Australia

The applicant was a Somali national from the Shikal clan, residing in Australia where he had applied for asylum but was at risk of expulsion on the grounds that his circumstances did not raise a "serious question to be tried". He claimed that his expulsion would constitute a violation by Australia of Article 3 of the Convention, because his background and clan membership made him personally at risk of torture upon his return.

According to the applicant, members of the Shikal clan are identifiable by their lighter coloured skin and discernable accent. Whilst not being directly involved in the fighting, the clan had been targeted by other clans owing to its wealth and its refusal to join or support the Hawiye militia. Due to their refusal to become involved in the conflict, the applicant’s father and brother were murdered, and his sister was raped by the militia. The applicant went to Australia in 1997, where he had been detained ever since; his application for a protection visa was denied 1998, as were all appeals to the relevant bodies.

Australia claimed that the application was inadmissible on the grounds that it did not believe that the kinds of acts that the applicant believed he would be subjected to on return to Somalia fell under Article 1 of the Convention, as the alleged acts would be carried out by members of armed Somali clans who, in terms of the Article are not "public officials" and do not act in an "official capacity".

However, the Committee felt that this argument should have been dealt with at the merits stage and hence declared the application admissible. It noted that for a number of years Somalia had been without a central government, and thus that the members of the factions can fall, for the purposes of the Convention within the phrase "public officials or other persons acting in an official capacity" of Article 1. It also noted that Mogadishu, where the applicant would be likely to reside if he ever reached it, is under the effective control of the Hawiye clan, and there is no public or informal agreement of protection between the Hawiye and Shikal clans, the latter remaining at the mercy of the armed factions. In conclusion, the Committee accordingly decided that Australia would be in breach of Article 3 of the Convention if it were to forcibly send the applicant back to Somalia.

Communication No 96/1997: Netherlands

The case involved a Sri-Lankan national of Sinhalese origin, whose claim for asylum in the Netherlands had been rejected; the appellant claimed that his threatened deportation to Sri Lanka constituted a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

The appellant, from Colombo, has been a free-lance photographer since 1974. From 1990 onwards, he began to photograph victims of human rights violations. Initially, the photographs were just kept private, but they then began to be made public in newspapers and magazines. In 1992, the appellant says he was visited by eight masked men, who asked him who he was working for and destroyed his photographic equipment. A few days after this visit, he was abducted and subjected to torture, including beatings, needles placed under his fingernails and fake executions by hanging. Fifteen days later, the appellant was released. He went to the Netherlands in May 1993, and applied for asylum that September. His application was rejected on the grounds that he had not undertaken any political activities and did not qualify as a refugee under the 1951 Convention. He appealed against this decision, but his appeal was also rejected.

According to the Netherlands, the political situation in Sri Lanka had changed by the time the appellant sought asylum, and consequently the risk was judged to no longer exist. Moreover, the State claimed that the appellant’s story contained inconsistencies, which further go to show that his claim was not valid. However, the veracity of the claim was not disputed.

The Committee asserted that a direct link existed between the harassment and torture experienced by the appellant and his exposure of human rights violations through his photography. However, given the shift in political authority in Sri Lanka — including the ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture in 1994 - and the present circumstances, the Committee found that the appellant had not substantiated his claim that he was personally at risk of being subjected to torture if returned to Sri Lanka. It therefore concluded that the Netherlands’ decision was not in breach of Article 3 of the Convention.


European Union


In a judgement on 6 April 2000, the ECJ annulled the Council of the European Union’s decision to refuse the applicant access to certain documents relating to asylum, on the grounds that the Council had failed to indicate that it had given proper consideration to each of the documents individually. Mr. Aldo Kuijer, a lawyer and university lecturer and researcher in asylum and immigration matters, had requested access to certain reports, analyses or evaluations drawn up by or in connection with the Centre for Information, Discussion and Exchange on Asylum ("CIREA") concerning the situation in countries or regions from which many asylum-seekers originated.

The case is attached as annex L05/05/00.



In a case which is currently pending in the U.K., the asylum applicant applied for asylum in the U.K., having already applied for asylum in Germany. The applicant claimed that he fled Germany because he feared that his life was endangered by opposition political groups in the German reception centre where he was accommodated and the police would not provide protection. In a request for information on the situation in Germany Informationsverbund Asyl stated that: "In general German police are willing to protect foreigners against harassment and attacks of other foreigners. If there are problems in accommodation centres because the occupants belong to different political groups of one country, a person who feels threatened by other occupants has the possibility to demand alternative housing, if s/he can prove to the authorities that there are serious problems."


The following is a statement from UNHCR Athens on transfers to Greece under the Dublin Convention.

"1. UNHCR normally does not object to transfers of asylum seekers within the framework of the Dublin Convention. The transfer mechanism established by the Dublin Convention contains a number of elements, which generally provide sufficient guarantees for an application of the ‘safe third country’ principle in accordance with the standards outlined by UNHCR.

2. Exceptionally, there may be circumstances in a specific individual case, which would warrant UNHCR to advocate a non-transfer within the Dublin area, in particular as regards vulnerable individuals in need of special attention or treatment.

3. Although we therefore do not object against the transfer of asylum-seekers to Greece, UNHCR considers reception conditions (including accommodation, social assistance etc.) for asylum seekers in Greece, including returnees under the Dublin Convention, still unsatisfactory. While there is a reception centre for asylum seekers known as Lavrio, its capacity is clearly insufficient and there is no guarantee that an asylum-seeker will be actually referred to that centre. In the absence of state assistance, UNHCR, through its implementing partners, does provide limited assistance to needy/vulnerable refugees, and in certain (exceptional) cases to asylum seekers or persons granted humanitarian status. Therefore, asylum-seekers who are returned to Greece under the provision of the Dublin Convention may face some difficulties in obtaining the necessary assistance from the Greek government in terms of accommodation and their daily subsistence needs."

The Netherlands

The recent European Court decision T.I. against United Kingdom (March 7, 2000 — see section on European Court of Human Rights above) has been invoked in some Dublin cases. On behalf of the Dutch State it has been argued that the relevance of the European Court Decision for Dutch practice is little. The Aliens Act already provides for a clause (art. 15b (1) sub b), under which 'protection gaps' in other Dublin countries can be taken into account. Besides, the T.I. case was so specific that it cannot serve as a precedent in most cases.

The District Court Zwolle (April 21, 2000, AWB 99/8170) largely follows the State in its arguments. According to the Court Zwolle only in very special situations does a return to another Dublin country (in this case Germany) need to be re-examined. The asylum seeker has to show that there are special circumstances, new facts or new evidence, which make a review of the claim necessary. Further, the asylum seeker has to show that he/she will face immediate expulsion from Germany.

The Turkish asylum seeker in this case had been rejected in Germany. He claimed that a movement having close links with the Turkish authorities had killed his brother; Germany would consider this movement a non-state agent. The Court Zwolle, however, concluded that Germany did investigate the death of the brother, but questioned the credibility of the asylum seeker's story. The Court considered the German case law regarding semi-government agents compatible with ECHR jurisprudence. It further holds that even if Germany would not consider the inhuman treatment as relevant, Article 53 (6) AuslG is sufficient to fill the 'protection gap'; German case law would demonstrate that there is no discretion as to the application of this paragraph when the requirements are met.





In response to questioning by the Danish MEP on Denmark’s possible future participation in EURODAC, Commissioner Vitorino replied on 29 February that efforts were continuing to find a way in which Denmark would be able to take part without prejudice to its position outlined in a Protocol to the Amsterdam Treaty and relevant provisions of the EC Treaty. The Council has drawn up a draft declaration to the EURODAC regulation to the effect that it would be interested in the conclusion of an agreement between the Community and Denmark, allowing the latter to be associated with the operation of the EURODAC system whilst respecting the protocol on the position of Denmark

Conversely, the European Commission has doubts as to whether a mechanism for Danish participation based on an agreement between the Community and Denmark would be fully consistent with the provisions of the Treaties.




The Danish Appeals Board has rejected all asylum applications lodged by ethnic Serbs from Eastern Slavonia after reviewing their cases in the light of the results of a fact-finding mission carried out in September 1999 by the Danish Immigration Service and the Danish Refugee Council. The report had concluded that the security situation had improved since 1998.


The Finnish Parliament is discussing a Government Bill that will change the Aliens Act in order to introduce new accelerated procedures, and also to re-introduce the concept of safe country of origin into the asylum procedure.

Three different procedures have been suggested: the fastest would concern applicants arriving from a safe country of origin or a safe third country. The Directorate of Immigration makes a decision within a week of the applicant being interviewed, which is then confirmed during the following week by the Helsinki Administrative Court. However, there are no sanctions if either or both fail to make their decisions within the allotted time limit, so the procedure does not in fact guarantee a speedier procedure, which was the main argument for introducing it. In addition the asylum-seekers do not have the right to give a rejoinder (written statement) after the first instance decision, which is contrary to the Finnish legislation concerning procedures in Administrative Courts. The expulsion order could be implemented after the confirmation of the Administrative Court with no possibility to appeal.

In other ‘normal’ manifestly unfounded cases the system would be the same as in the safe third country procedure but without the time limits.

The third accelerated procedure is concerned with Dublin Convention cases. Any applicant arriving from another EU country could be expelled immediately after the decision given by the Directorate of Immigration. There is a right to appeal against the Directorate’s decision but it does not have suspensive effect, so the expulsion can be implemented immediately, even if the applicant appeals.

In addition the Bill also proposes in the normal asylum procedure that the second appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court - after the appeal decision of the Helsinki Administrative Court — should no longer have automatic suspensive effect.


In a case brought by several French NGOs, the Conseil D’Etat (French Higher Administrative Court) cancelled several provisions in the Decree on Territorial Asylum (25 May 1998). The Court decided that the Decree was too restrictive on certain issues. Firstly, the Ministry of the Interior cannot demand that its application is reserved solely for threats emanating from non-state agents. This restriction had for the last 18 months allowed the Ministry to exclude nationals coming from countries such as Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, and Turkey when they referred to threats coming from the state authorities. Secondly, the Court has removed the possibility of conducting an immediate hearing of the applicants summoned by the Prefecture. For asylum seekers placed in detention centres, the hearing cannot be carried out by the employee in charge of the detention centre but by an official of the Prefecture. Finally, the Court has decided that there was no reason why the emergency procedure should be enforced for nationals from countries where the Geneva Convention’s cessation clause is applied.

Three decrees from the Commission Des Recours Des Refugies (Appeal Commission), delivered in plenary session, changed the doctrine on granting refugee status to people originating from Kosovo. The Commission considered that as an international security force as well as an international administration are now in place in Kosovo, people belonging to the Albanian community can no longer be regarded in general as having a well-founded fear of persecution by the forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and as being unable to avail themselves of the protection of the state. However the Commission made it clear that this general rule still has exceptions, namely the exceptional seriousness of persecutions suffered by some Kosovar Albanians.

Harelimana v CRR, Commission Des Recours Des Refugies (Appeal), 8 October 1999; scope of application of Article 1 of 1948 Geneva Convention (in regard to complicity in genocide)

The appellant had appealed against a decision by the O.F.P.R.A. to deny him refugee status on the basis of the exclusion clause of Article 1(f) of the Geneva Convention, (which stipulates that the Convention’s provisions are not applicable to those persons for whom there are serious grounds to believe bear responsibility for war crimes or crimes against humanity, including genocide).

The appellant had held positions of responsibility at the highest level of the Rwandan Interior Ministry, at the time when the systematic massacres - which came to be internationally recognised as constituting genocide - were being prepared by the central administration. Despite the appellant’s claim that in 1992 his nomination to the post of ‘Director of Political Affairs’ constituted a demotion from the position he had previously occupied and that from that point on, he lost confidence in the government, the Commission found that there was no evidence to support this claim. Moreover, there was no evidence to support his additional claim that he had ceased to belong to the Christian Democrat Party or that he was opposed to the policy employed by the NRMD (National Revolutionary Movement for Development). In particular, he was unable to explain his regular participation in broadcasts by Radio Rwanda, the state radio that was one of the principal elements of the government’s extremist propaganda.

Having left Kigali in April 1994, the appellant had placed himself at the disposition of the interim government and was positioned within it at a time when the amplitude of the massacres perpetrated against Tutsis and moderate Hutus was at such a level that he could not have failed not to have known about them, and at a time when they were not only tolerated but openly encouraged by the aforementioned interim government.

Unable to provide proof that he was not complicit in the genocide of 1994, the appellant’s application of appeal was denied.

Gasarabwe v CRR, Commission Des Recours Des Refugies (Appeal), 8 October 1999; scope of application of Article 1 (f) of the Geneva Convention in regard to complicity in genocide.

This again involved a Rwandan national, who claimed asylum on the basis that he had a well-founded fear of persecution if returned to Rwanda due to his Hutu origins, his membership of the NMRD and positions held under the government of President Habyarimana, notably that of Head of the Ministry of Youth and Association.

In contrast to the previous case, the Commission could find no evidence to disprove the appellant’s assertion that after the death of President Habyrimana and up until the point when he left Rwanda, he remained totally estranged from the massacres committed during this period. It was found that even if the appellant had held the position of Head of the Ministry of Youth from 1992, he left it several months prior to April 6 1994, and could not therefore be indicated as one who had necessarily participated in the preparation of the genocide. Moreover, no evidence could be found from his other activities that suggested that he had in any way facilitated, or even known about, the preparation of the genocide. The Commission accordingly found that he should not fall under the category of those excluded form the provisions of Article 1 (f)(a) of the Geneva Convention, and awarded him refugee status.

Galouchko v CRR, Commission Des Recours Des Refugies (Appeal), 6 October 1999; voluntary tolerance on the part of the State

The appellant, of Ukranian nationality, had constantly been harassed and had on occasions been victim to racketeering by certain individuals on account of her father’s Jewish origins. In this context, she had had to take refuge in Bosnia for three years from 1991 — 1993. On return to the Ukraine, she was once again a victim of racketeering, and was as such subjected to bad treatment and used for sexual services. She brought a complaint to the Home Affairs Service, who then alerted her aggressor to this fact. Consequently, the following July, she was again taken and raped. Due to this sequence of events, and having been unable to avail herself of the protection of the Ukrainian public authorities - who, the Commission asserted, should in this circumstance be regarded as having voluntarily tolerated the actions of which she was victim - the appellant had no other option but to flee the country. The Commission therefore granted her refugee status.

Madera v CRR, Conseil d’Etat, 29 September 1999; membership of a social group

The appellant, a Rwandan national of Hutu origin, claimed to have fled the country for fear of persecution on the basis of his ethnic origin. The Commission had held that there was no evidence to certify the claims and fears of the appellant. In its decision the Commission had also declared that the Hutu clan did not constitute a social group, but an ethnicity, in the sense of the provisions of the Geneva Convention — that stipulate that persecutions stemming from membership of an ethnicity are sufficient to justify the awarding of refugee status, (in the same way that membership of a social group is also sufficient). However, in both cases, the membership of such groups is subordinated to evidence of an existing fear of personal persecution. In this case, the appellant was claiming asylum purely on the basis of belonging to the Hutu clan, and appealing against the Commission’s decision not to grant it also on this basis. Consequently the Court found no grounds to overturn the Commission’s decision.

Terentjev v CRR, Commission Des Recours Des Refugies (Appeal), 14 January 2000; Agents of persecution

The Refugee Appeal Commission overturned a decision by the French Office of Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (O.F.P.R.A.) to deny refugee status to Mr. Terentjev, of Albanian and Russian descent, who, having lived in the country all his life, fled Albania through fear of persecution, but had then been unable to settle in Russia, due to the Russian authorities’ refusal to allow him do so because he had never lived in Russia and he lacked any family or professional links with that country. Under the Communist regime in Albania, Mr Terentjev had suffered discrimination due to his family origins and his marriage to the daughter of a political prisoner persecuted by the Enver Xoxjha regime. In 1988, he was himself sentenced to 12 years for having publicly denounced the conditions in the camps.

Amnestied in 1991 by the new regime, Mr Terentjev became actively involved on the side of the Democratic Party, and in 1992 assumed a role at the heart of an independent trade union in his hometown of Elbasan. His activities here, in particular his responsibilities at the centre of a watchdog commission of public markets from 1996, led him to denounce the misappropriation of funds he was witnessing in the spheres of power. As he continued his denouncements, he was in succession the victim of threats from the secret police, of an attack on his family home in November 1996, of an attempt to abduct his daughter in February 1997 and of an attempt on his own life on 14 March 1997. These circumstances duly led him and his family to flee Albania on 19 March 1997.

Despite the subsequent political changes in Albania, Mr. Terentjev still fears for his safety and freedom if he were to return to Albania, where local power continues to remain in the hands of those responsible for persecuting him, and where his brother was murdered in 1998. Moreover, despite holding Russian nationality since 1995, he is unable to benefit from protection from the Russian authorities, which have refused to accept his case.

The Commission duly found that due to his past political activities as well as his trade union involvement he should be given refugee status due to his action in support of liberty in the sense of the provisions of Article 2 of the amended law of July 1952.

Poudy v CRR, 27 January 2000; Agents of persecution

The Appeal Commission overturned a decision by O.F.P.R.A. denying refugee status to an Ukrainian woman who had been ostracised by her community and victim to threats and attacks by individual members of the mafia due to her relationship, from 1993, with a Congolese student (who became her husband in 1998). Mrs. Poudy had lost her job after her employer discovered that she had a mixed-race child. She was unable to go to the police for protection as she had also suffered aggression from some police officers. She has had no news of her husband since he was arrested by the police in the course of 1998 and then deported from the Ukraine. After being threatened with the abduction of her child if she did not pay a large sum of money to the mafia, she decided to flee her country.

The Commission decided that she was right to fear persecution - tolerated by the public authorities of that country - if she was to return to the Ukraine, and, moreover, that she was unable to seek refuge in the Congo since she had no idea what had become of her husband. Refugee status was duly granted.

Velickovic v CRR, 3 February 2000; desertion/conscientious objection

The appellant, Mr Velickovic, of Yugoslav nationality and Serbian descent, had been a nurse in the Yugoslav Army from January 1993. In June 1998, he was posted to Kosovo, charged with looking after Serbian front-line casualties. However, he also went to the aid of Albanian civilians, where he witnessed atrocities that affected him so much that he took six weeks leave. Upon being recalled to return to Kosovo on 2 October 1998 he found himself unable to continue serving in the Serbian army and be party to such violations against the Albanian people — a sentiment compounded by the fact that several members of his family had their origins in this people. He chose to flee his country, where he is now wanted by the authorities and faces a sentence of 5 to 20 years’ imprisonment for desertion.

The Commission found that Mr Velickovic faced heavy punishment for being compelled to flee for reasons of conscience, and should as such be seen as in danger of persecution in the sense of the provisions of the Geneva Convention, and was therefore granted refugee status.


On 28 January 2000, the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced its decision to suspend decisions on asylum applications by Chechens in view of the continuing war situation in their Republic. Those whose asylum applications have already been rejected will not be deported for the time being. No duration has been set for the suspension of deportations and asylum decisions. The measure applies to all asylum seekers from Chechnya, even those who fled from their Republic during the first war, 1994-1996.

The Informationsverbund has published a survey 3 March 2000 providing an overview of German jurisprudence concerning Iraqi Kurds.

Although there is no general suspension of expulsion orders against Iraqi Kurds for legal reasons, they are not in expelled in practice due to the impossibility for them to reach the safe parts of the country. Political opponents and draft evaders are presumed to be in danger of political persecution by the Iraqi state. Several courts hold the view that the act of applying for political asylum in another country is in itself reason enough for the Iraqi State to persecute an asylum-seeker. They assume that the Iraqi State takes an application for asylum as an expression of political opposition.

German Higher Administrative Courts assume that no state power exists in Northern Iraq. They hold the opinion that Kurds are not persecuted as a group in Iraq and that generally there exists an internal flight alternative in Northern Iraq. Whether the asylum-seekers will be entitled to enjoy asylum or granted refugee status depends on whether it is accepted that they could have found an alternative escape route in Northern Iraq or not. Two suppositions have to be filled in order for the courts to accept part of a country as an alternative escape route: firstly, it must be ascertained that the asylum-seeker will not become a victim of persecution and secondly that the subsistence level there is guaranteed.

In the case of Northern Iraq as an internal flight alternative for Kurds, it must be differentiated between Kurds who lived in Central Iraq before leaving the country and those who originate from Northern Iraq.

The Courts’ decisions as to whether an Iraqi Kurd is to be granted asylum or refugee status depends on the grounds that the asylum-seekers bases his application on; the jurisprudence differs between Kurds persecuted because of exposed political activities and those who refer only to group persecution or persecution due to lodging an asylum application. For the first category, Northern Iraq is not considered to be an alternative escape route. Although the courts hold that Iraqi authorities have no state power in Northern Iraq, they concede that Iraqi security services have the possibility to persecute persons whom they are highly interested in. German courts admit that the Iraqi State infiltrated agents and informers in Northern Iraq. Members of the following groups are regarded as dangerous adversaries by the Iraqi State: exposed members of Kurd groups and organisations, high-ranking functionaries and or/ militaries, Kurd staff of Western aid organisations or the UN. However some Administrative Courts have conceded that Kurds regarded as disloyal because of having lodged asylum applications are not safe from persecution by Iraqi authorities in Northern Iraq.

For Kurds who come originally from Central Iraq and do not belong to the above-mentioned group of persons, Northern Iraq is agreed to be a region where they are not threatened by persecution by Iraqi security services. Nonetheless most courts assume that they cannot be sent back as their subsistence level is not guaranteed.

Kurds who lived in Northern Iraq before they left the country and who are not regarded as endangered due to exposed political activities are considered as persons for whom Northern Iraq is considered an alternative escape route by most of the Administrative Courts. However some do make an exception in the case of asylum-seekers who can make credible cases that they have no relatives or other connections there that could help them to retain the required level of subsistence.

The overall recognition rate for Iraqis in Germany is 40%, much higher than any other national group. In 1999, 4.68% of Iraqis received refugee status under Article 51 of the Article 16a of the German Constitution; 35% received refugee status under Article 51 of the Aliens Act.

Many thanks to Theresia Wolff for providing this information.


The new Aliens Bill is due to be presented to parliament. The Bill makes no mention of a second chance of legalisation for undocumented immigrants Around 160,000 people who completed the first stage of the legalisation process in 1998 but who failed to meet the requirements to enable them to apply for a Green Card are once again considered as illegal immigrants and face deportation if stopped by the police in an identity check operation. The Bill focuses mainly on seasonal workers and outlines a procedure that will allow foreigners to apply for entry into Greece in order to take up employment on a temporary basis. Immigration associations have warned that the Bill contains a number of "disturbing" provisions, including the right for the Greek authorities to deny entry to foreigners with a visa without providing an explanation and the placing of strict limits on the right of family union, which can only be enjoyed by foreigners who have lived in Greece for at least five years.

On 26 March Greece officially became part of the Schengen Area.


On 10 February, the government published the amendments to its new Immigration Bill, including one aimed at tightening up the procedure of appeal for asylum-seekers rejected in the first instance. According to the Ministry of Justice, courts were being used to make applications that were "vexatious" or served to delay.

The amendments propose that asylum-seekers be given 10 working days to submit to the High Court an application for judicial review against a negative decision. The High Court would be able to extend this period if there are good reasons. Up to now, rejected asylum-seekers have had between 3 to 6 months to lodge an application for judicial review.

The amendments also propose that leave to appeal to the Supreme Court only be granted by the High Court on grounds of public importance of constitutional grounds related to the validity of the law.

On 28 March the Irish Minister of Justice, John O’Donoghue, announced that he would put forward a Bill to facilitate deportations and ensure that they are actually carried out. Since the Immigration Act came into force in 1999 the Minister has issued more that 300 deportation orders and only 19 have been carried out. The new Bill is expected to grant the police extra powers to detain rejected asylum-seekers who are trying to evade a deportation order.


The District Court Den Haag (Rechtseenheidskamer, February 1, 2000, AWB 99/9184) held that the decision on several occasions not to give temporary protection to Sierra Leonian applicants was insufficiently motivated. For Dutch practice this is an important decision; there are apparently some limitations to the discretion of the Secretary of State in this respect. According to the Rechtseenheidskamer, a deportation suspension is in itself acceptable to allow the Dutch authorities to assess the situation in the country of origin. This is especially so in cases where this situation has been extremely volatile. If, however, this situation of uncertainty seems to last for a longer period, the granting of a conditional status is to be considered. The Dutch authorities cannot therefore hide behind the absence of an official country report, when it can be concluded from different independent and reliable sources (such as NGOs but also national and international newspapers), that the situation in the country of origin has (again) turned to one of widespread random violence.

Further, when relative peace seems to be restored after a period of instability, the conditional status (or the deportation suspension) cannot be immediately revoked. The authorities should give themselves 'a reasonable amount of time', before concluding there is a (more structural) improvement. The Court does not specify what constitutes a ‘reasonable amount of time’. Normally, the longer the period of instability, the longer this period should be. According to the Rechtseenheidskamer, between 1 December 1997 and 14 July 1999 all Sierra Leonian applicants should at least have been granted a conditional status. The Secretary of State has followed the Court's decision and has extended this period to 3 January 2000 (the end of the period of suspension for deportation orders).

In another important decision, the District Court Den Haag (Rechtseenheidskamer, 20 March 2000, AWB 99/11794) decided once more (after its decision of 13 September 1999) under what terms northern Iraq can be considered an internal flight alternative for asylum seekers from (central) Iraq. It should be mentioned that this case law concerns rejected asylum seekers. Nevertheless, the concept of the internal flight alternative applies here in the same way as it would in the refugee determination procedure. On 13 September 1999 the Rechtseenheidskamer had already held that the UNHCR Position Paper (9 February 1999) concerning the internal flight alternative should be taken into account. While following a UNHCR position of 15 June 1999, the Court concluded that Iraqi asylum seekers from the central part of the country, can only be returned if they have sufficient ties with northern Iraq; in the assessment of the existence of such ties, the Dutch authorities will also have to consider personal circumstances, such as education, age, health, profession - i.e. the 'personal profile' as mentioned under paragraph 16 of UNHCR's aforementioned Position Paper.

In its decision of 20 March 2000 the Rechtseenheidskamer upheld its decision of 13 September 1999. The State's arguments that only health and age have to be taken into account were deemed insufficient. The State had concluded from a country report dated 12 January 2000 that the economic and social situation in the north of Iraq had improved to the extent that ties with Northern Iraq were no longer required, except in very specific humanitarian cases. The Rechtseenheidkamer does not accept this argument, as the very country report still mentions ties with family and tribe as significant for the integration of persons from central Iraq. The Rechtseenheidskamer also refers in this respect to the conclusions of the Deutsches Orient-Institut, 21 May 1999.

The Rechtseenheidkamer further specifies that an internal flight alternative can apply when the asylum seeker will be able to live under circumstances that, from a local perspective, are not abnormal. Although this concept is taken from the 'country of former residence' paragraph in the Dutch Aliens Act, the Rechtseenheidskamer must also have had in mind the 'Michigan Guidelines' (9 April 1999, Hathaway c.s.) under paragraph 22: '…Thus, internal protection requires not only protection against the risk of persecution, but also the assimilation of the asylum-seeker with others in the site of internal protection for purposes of access to, for example, employment, public welfare, and education…'

Due to recent developments in Sri Lanka, more specifically in and around Colombo, both the Court Zwolle (AWB 00/3564, 13 April 2000) and the Court Haarlem (24 March 2000, AWB 00/2410) have concluded that new information is necessary in order to assess individual cases of Tamils. The case law in Tamil cases has been rather 'on and off'. The debate regarding the Immigrants and Emigrants Act seems to have come to an end with a decision by the Court Den Haag, (AWB 98/9431,31 January 2000). The Court held that the Immigrants and Emigrants Act is in itself not relevant for the assessment of the individual risks that Tamils face in government territory.


The most important recent amendments to the Aliens Act and the Aliens Decree are in regard to:

Norway's inclusion in the Schengen co-operation.

The establishment of an Appeals Board to replace the Ministry of Justice for second instance treatment of asylum claims from January 1, 2001 (see below).

Norway is currently negotiating a parallel agreement to the Dublin Convention.

The Appeals Board will become an independent body beneath the Ministry for Communal and Regional Affairs.

It will be more akin to the court system. Each Board will consist of a Board leader and four members, one member being suggested by each of the following four groups:

The Ministry for Communal and Regional Affairs

The Foreign Ministry

The Norwegian Bar Association / The Norwegian Legal Association

Humanitarian organisations working within the asylum field

The total number of Board members will be decided yearly by the Ministry for Communal and Regional Affairs, depending on increases and decreases in the number of cases brought before the Board. The estimated number is 600.

There will be a Secretariat to prepare the cases for the Board. The Secretariat will also decide in cases where it is not deemed necessary for the case to be presented to the Board.

The Board leader will decide whether the case should be brought before the Board, or whether it falls within his/her capacity to reach a decision, or, in case of the latter, whether it could be referred to the secretariat.

It falls within the capacity of the Board leader to make a decision in the case when there are no serious doubts pertaining to the case in question, i.e. where the decision of the Board can be predicted.

The Board leader will decide whether the applicant should be allowed to meet before the Board in person. In cases involving asylum or family reunification, this should mostly be the case.

In cases where the vote leads to a tie, a decision will be made in favour of the applicant. If for instance two Board members vote to uphold the negative decision reached by the Directorate of Immigration, while two members vote for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds and one member votes for refugee status in accordance with the 1951Convention, a residence permit on humanitarian grounds would be granted.


Another opportunity for undocumented immigrants to legalise their stay in Portugal next year is under discussion, and left-wing parties have been proposing projects. However as there are still many cases pending from the legalisation of 1996, it might be preferable to amend the current Portuguese Foreigners Law rather than introduce another legalisation process.


The new Spanish Act on Rights and Freedoms of Foreigners in Spain and their Social Integration (Ley Orgánica 4/2000, de 11 de enero, sobre derechos y libertades de los extranjeros en España y su integración social).

This new Act substitutes the former 1985 Aliens Act that was passed at the time Spain joined the EC. The 1985 Aliens Act and its two implementing Regulations (of 1986 and 1996) have repeatedly been accused of focusing on control and punishment measures, creating a system in which it was too difficult for foreigners to gain legal residence and too easy to for them to lose it, and forgetting all about the social rights and integration of migrants.

The new Act is the result of merging three different bills regarding the legal status of aliens in Spain and measures aimed to facilitate their social integration in the country, introduced by several non-governing parties (Catalan Nationalist, Socialist, United Left). All groups within the Constitutional Committee of the Congress of Deputies agreed a final draft. This consensus was broken by the Popular Party (in cabinet) under last-minute pressure from the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs, but the bill was eventually passed at a final vote with the support of all other groups sitting in Parliament. It came into force on February 1st, 2000. The Madrid UNHCR unofficial translation is attached L05/06/00.

Main novelties in the Act

The provisions dealing with the rights and freedoms of aliens in Spain:

Some civil and social rights are extended to illegal aliens. All foreigners actually in Spain —regardless of their legal status— are entitled to free legal aid for any procedure that may result in deportation or rejection at the border, and to an effective legal remedy against administrative decisions affecting them. They are also entitled to emergency health care, and if they are registered at any local council (which does not mean they are legal residents in the full sense of this status) they will get the same standard of health care as Spaniards and EU nationals. Foreign women who are pregnant are always entitled to health care before, during and after delivery, and children under 18 will have access to education and health care on a par to Spaniards, regardless of their legal status or that of their parents. Aliens cannot be deprived of whatever identity documents they may have with them unless in those cases specifically provided for by law.

For legal residents, the freedoms of movement, meeting and demonstration, access to the labour market under the provisions of the Act without discrimination, the right to strike and to create or become member of unions and associations, access to education, health care, the welfare system and housing-aid in parity to Spaniards, the right to family reunification under conditions established by the Act; and a certain degree of political participation at the local level are all recognised.

The Act also aims to protect aliens against discrimination based on race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, or religious beliefs and practices, which may result in preventing or hindering the exercise of rights and freedoms. The Spanish Penal Code has been amended to introduce penalties for those acts that discriminate.

Spanish consular authorities are obliged to give reasons for refusing a visa, with very few exceptions.

The right for any foreigner to become a legal resident is accorded under these conditions:

  1. evidence of having stayed in Spain for at least two years;
  2. being registered at any local council at the moment of application;
  3. having a sufficient income, and
  4. not being excluded from legal residence by reason of criminal offence or under the provisions of the Schengen Convention.

An immigration quota to be annually fixed by the Government is established in the Act as a permanent measure (The immigration quota existed after 1993, initially on an ad hoc legal basis and afterwards was included among the provisions of the Aliens Act 1996 Implementing Regulation).

The sanction system becomes more balanced. Expulsion is limited to the most serious offences, and foreigners with special links to Spain cannot be deported. Expulsion implies an entry ban for 3-10 years.

Foreigners who have entered or remain illegally in Spain and are victims of criminal networks can obtain residence and a work permit after their co-operation with the Spanish authorities in the prosecution of the persons involved in such networks.

The Penal Code is amended to harden penalties for illegal trafficking of people.

Provisions affecting asylum seekers and refugees and other persons in need of international protection.

The Asylum Act and its 1995 implementing Regulation have not been changed. The new Aliens Act however includes references to asylum seekers and refugees:

  1. Persons seeking asylum are specifically exempted from all documentary and visa requirements to enter the country.
  2. Asylum seekers cannot be rejected at the border unless the asylum procedure has been fully concluded.
  3. Refugees and displaced persons will have a residence permit, and are therefore entitled to all rights recognised by the new Aliens Act to legal residents.

As a number of grounds on which immigrants without authorisation residing in Spain may be detained for up to 40 days pending their deportation, the six remand centres throughout the country — in Madrid, Malaga, Barcelona, Las Palmas, Murcia and Valencia — are now almost empty.

Stateless persons will be issued identification documents under Section 27 of the 1956 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons.

Risk of death, torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (in the sense of ECHR and CAT) is not specifically listed among the reasons that legally exclude expulsion of a foreigner to a certain country.

The regularisation process

The new Aliens Act provides for an 'amnesty' or 'regularisation process' after its entry into force, in order to help those foreigners unlawfully staying in Spain to become legal residents. The process will be open from March 21st to July 31st, 2000. There is no quota, so everyone who can a) prove that they have been resident in Spain before June 1st 1999, b) has ever applied for asylum or a residence permit c) has all the documents required and d) is not excluded from residence by an expulsion for serious reasons, will obtain in principle a residence permit. The applicant can also obtain a work permit linked to the residence simply declaring the intended activity.

Measures aimed at the social integration of foreigners.

These are so far limited to the formal recognition of the above-mentioned rights and the establishment of certain administrative bodies with co-ordination and advisory tasks. No affirmative action policies have been envisaged, neither have been any financial provisions included in the 2000 State Budget.

The future of the new Aliens Act

The promulgation of this new Aliens Act has been considered by NGOs and Unions as a good achievement in order to improve the conditions of foreigners in Spain. The Partido Popular (conservative) obtained an absolute majority at the general elections held on March 12th, and has already announced its intention to amend the new Aliens Act. The reason given is the need to align it with European legislation, the legislation of EU partners and to comply with the obligations acquired after the Tampere summit. It is also to "address technical faults", that is, problems that have incurred due to the hasty procedure by which it was passed. The drawback with this is that in trying to address the technical faults of the Act, it is highly likely that the Government will also try to change its progressive spirit, and the result will be a different piece of legislation.

On 23 March the highest administrative court in the region of Catalonia (TSJC) made public two rulings applying the new Aliens Act retrospectively. The rulings quash the expulsion orders issued against two women living illegally in Spain. The precedent set by this ruling limits considerably the power of the authorities to order the expulsion of an illegal immigrant, even more so as the TSJC has ruled that the new Aliens Act obliges courts to review expulsion orders issued on the basis of the former law.


In a leading decision of 11 February 2000, the Commission Suisse de Recours en Matiere d’asile (Swiss Refugee Appeals Commission) announced that Bosnian asylum-seekers who left Bosnia after the date of the signing of the Dayton Agreement (14 December 1995) would not be granted asylum in Switzerland despite acknowledging the trauma experienced as a consequence of the war. This new decision follows on from earlier decisions regarding survivors of the Srebenica massacre, who were granted refugee status (despite the fact that the situation had greatly improved there by the time they made their application) due to the likelihood that they were suffering heavier long-term traumatisation, making it impossible to return them to their country. The CRA asserted that from the moment of their departure, these claimants were no longer in principle exposed to persecution as they could have fled to the Bosnian part of the country, or to areas where their ethnicity was in majority. The decision sets new limits on applications of this kind; it is firstly verified whether the applicant was a refugee at the time s/he left the country. As the CRA accepts persecution by quasi-states, it must equally accept protection by quasi-states, leading to the conclusion that a person who had the protection or could have had the protection of a quasi-state by fleeing internally was not at the time of departure a refugee.

On 29 February, the Swiss Federal Minister of Justice and Police signed a readmission agreement with Albania dealing with not only the nationals of both countries but also Kosovars who may now be repatriated by transiting through Albania under police escort.

The agreement, which is, in principle, based on reciprocity, stipulates first and foremost the obligation of the two signatory states to readmit their own nationals. In order to facilitate readmission, Bern and Tirana have agreed to closely cooperate in establishing the identity of the persons concerned.

On 1 March the Federal Government announced its decision that almost 13,000 asylum-seekers who entered Switzerland before 31 December 1992 would be granted exceptional leave to remain temporarily in the country within the framework of a measure called "humanitarian action 2000". They will receive an "F permit" which ought to enable them to obtain a residence permit in the future. The decision will essentially benefit those asylum-seekers whose applications are still pending in the first instance or who have been rejected but their deportation has not yet been carried out. Exclusions may include those failing to integrate and those threatening public security and order.

United Kingdom

More provisions of the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act have now come into force. Of particular note are the following:

Sections 1 and 2 — leave to enter and leave to remain (in force 14 February 2000)

Section 1 gives the Secretary of State for the Home Office the power to make further provisions regarding the giving, refusing or varying of leave to enter the U.K. Furthermore he may by an order allow himself to give or refuse leave to enter and to perform other such functions previously limited to immigration officers.

Section 2 gives the Secretary of State the power to, by order, make further provisions with regards to the giving, refusing or varying of leave to remain in the U.K. In particular, such an order may provide for a person’s leave to remain not to lapse on his leaving the common travel area.

Section 8 — persons excluded from the United Kingdom under international obligations (in force 1 March 2000)

This section requires that ‘an excluded person’ — in short, someone named in as such in an order, or directly in a resolution of the UN Security Council or an instrument of the EU - must be refused leave to enter or remain in the U.K. Presumably this will in the main be used against indicted war criminals.

Section 14 — escorts for persons removed from the U.K. under directions (in force 1 March 2000)

Under this section, directions for a person’s removal from the U.K. may include provisions for him/her to be accompanied by an escort consisting of one or more persons.

Sections 28 and 29(1), (2) and (4) — offences (in force, 14 February 2000)

This section makes it an offence for a non-British citizen to attempt by deception to either obtain leave to enter or remain in the U.K. or to secure or seek the avoidance, postponement of revocation enforcement action against him (both deportation and removal). The maximum penalty for those convicted of being "knowingly concerned in making or carrying out arrangements for securing or facilitating" the entry of illegal entrants or asylum claimants into the U.K. is increased to ten years imprisonment.

Moreover, the above offence is extended to things done outside of the U.K. (as well as inside of it) to assist asylum claimants (as well as illegal entrants) in entering the U.K., if British citizens, subjects or protected persons, committed it.

Sections 128 to 139 — powers to arrest and search (in force 14 February 2000)

These sections provide for greater and more detailed powers of arrest, entry to premises, search of both premises and persons and seizure of materials to police and more particularly to immigration officers when acting in relation to immigration matters.

The Immigration (Regularisation Period for Overstayers) Regulations 2000 (in force 8 February 2000)

These regulations provide for the making of applications by those who have overstayed their original leave to enter or remain in the U.K. to regularise their position. The information required in such applications includes circumstances to be taken into account by the Home Office, such as length of residence in the U.K., strength of connections with the U.K., personal history and any compassionate circumstances. The prescribed period is from 8 February to 1 October 2000. It is important to note that these regulations have got nothing to do with any kind of ‘amnesty’, nor are they akin to the ‘backlog clearance’ policy of a few years ago. Rather they allow people to apply to regularise their stay in the U.K. with the important provision being that if such regularisation is refused, a decision to deport will be made with a right of appeal. People who overstay their leave without making an application will, after 2 October 2000, be subject to removal, and their appeal right (other than on asylum or human rights grounds) will be limited to an out-of-country power in law issue under section 66 of the 1999 Act.

There may be some people who have been in the U.K. for so long and/or have strong connections here who will succeed in their applications for regularisation of their stay. For others, however, the only benefit in an application under these Regulations will be that on refusal of their application they will get a decision to deport with the ‘better’ appeal right than would be the case with removal directions. Fro persons who were last given their limited leave to enter or remain less than 7 years before a decision on their application regularisation is taken, the only benefit of making an application under these Regulations will be that they can exercise their right of appeal on ‘power in law’ grounds while remaining in the U.K. In either case persons who argue that their deportation or removal would be contrary to the Refugee and/or Human Rights Conventions will have the much more effective appeal rights under sections 65 and 69 of the 1999 Act.

On 18 March 2000 the Home Secretary announced the introduction of a new accelerated procedure for asylum-seekers guilty of offences, including working without authorisation and begging in the streets (a punishable offence in the U.K.). Offences committed by asylum-seekers will be taken into account by the authorities when deciding on their asylum claims. Courts will inform the authorities dealing with asylum applications of those asylum-seekers convicted of offences. Such applicants will then be put in the accelerated procedure and their cases will be decided within 7 days. If the decision is negative and their appeal is rejected, they will be repatriated as soon as possible.


Yusuf Shiek Omar v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Federal Court of Australia, 23 December 1999

The applicant, a Somali national, sought judicial review of a decision of the Tribunal that he was not a person to whom Australia had protection obligations.

He claimed he would be targeted as a member of the minority Shikal clan, and as a writer who distributed anti-clan poems and articles. The Tribunal had found that the Shikal were not a repressed minority, and was not satisfied the applicant had a well-founded fear of persecution for reason for reason of his clan membership. It accepted the applicant had written poetry and articles but did not accept that his views had been disseminated in Somalia or that he had developed a political profile there.

The Federal Court, deciding that the Tribunal had not failed to deal with the risk of persecution on the basis of strongly held political views on the clan system, refused the application. The Court also decided that the definition of the 1951 Convention did not cover the clan system. The Court stated that the definition of refugee in the 1951 Convention "does not extend to asylum seekers who at the time of application have no foundation for fear, only fear that if they are returned to their country of nationality, and if they do something else, will suffer persecution. A fear of persecution based only on what may be the unspecified reaction of others to unspecified future conduct of the asylum seeker is no more than conjecture or surmise."


May 2000







Central & Eastern Europe developments

Central Europe

Fundraising Toolkit

Work has begun on the production of a fundraising toolkit for refugee-assisting NGOs in Central Europe. Following a comprehensive survey on the fundraising needs of our member organisations sent out last year, it was suggested that information should be gathered on potential donors and produced as a guide for NGOs in the region. Practical advice on writing applications and devising fundraising strategies will also be included. In order to promote good practice, we are keen to include examples of successful applications from agencies in the region. If you would like to contribute to the toolkit by sharing any examples of applications written by your agency, please send them to Clementina Cantoni at the ECRE secretariat (

Central Europe Programme Intern

Geraldine Mckenna will be joining the Central Europe team as a part-time intern from Wednesday 17th of May. Currently finishing an MA in Development Studies at Norwich University, Geraldine has spent one year at the Charles University in Prague learning Czech. She will be helping to compile the fundraising toolkit as well as conducting a survey of how the ECRE website can be expanded to meet the needs of Central European NGOs.

ECRE Twinning Programme

The first visit under the twinning programme has taken place between the Immigration Advisory Service in the UK and the Romanian National Council for Refugees. A recent meeting between the two agencies and ECRE revealed that the partnership was working well and that potential fundraising ideas were currently being explored. New twinnings have been agreed between the Slovak agency Inforoma and the Danish Refugee Council. It is expected that this twinning will focus largely on legal issues, although some work on Roma rights might also be undertaken. Other visits scheduled for early this summer include a visit from the Hungarian Red Cross to the German Red Cross in Berlin and exchanges between Gea 2000 and the Austrian agency Emploii- a member of the ECRE task force on integration, specializing on employment for refugees.

UNHCR Background Papers

Updated background papers on the situation in Bulgaria, Romania and Poland in the context of the return of Asylum seekers are available from UNHCR. Also available is a document entitled "Guidelines relating to the eligibility of Czech Roma Asylum seekers" updated this year. The paper examines Roma access to housing, employment and education as well as evaluating state protection both in theory and practice. The main conclusions drawn in the paper are that while conditions in the Czech Republic do not warrant the recognition of asylum claims on a prima facie basis, all applications should be assessed individually, taking into account the nature of discrimination, it’s persistence and its cumulative aspect. Copies of the papers can be obtained from Shazia Hussain Protection Assistant at UNHCR London (e-mail:GBRL@UNHCR.CH, tel:0207-828-9191, fax: 0207-630-5349).

National Lottery Up-date

ECRE’s application to the National Lottery has passed an initial assessment and is now onto the second stage of the process. This will involve a visit from an Assessor to the ECRE secretariat in order to carry out a detailed evaluation of the proposal against the assessment criteria. The meeting will be held on Wednesday the 10th of May and a final decision will be made towards the end of June.


Eastern Europe

Recent events

In April, Daniel Drake and Bill Seary represented ECRE at a seminar in Moscow jointly run by Caritas Russia and the Russian Federal Migration Service, which focused on "Initial Reception of Migrants: the Future of Co-operation".

One of the main purposes of the seminar was to bring together representatives of Caritas Russia and other NGOs with officials from the Russian Federal Migration Service, to discuss possibilities for co-operation and joint projects in the field of initial reception of migrants. ECRE was asked to help facilitate the meeting and draw up the agenda by Caritas Moscow. The meeting was co-financed by Caritas Germany, the FMS, the Danish Refugee Council and ECRE’s Eastern Europe programme.

The meeting was opened by Yury Arkhipov, Head of the Refugee Department of the Federal Migration Service, and by Antonio Santi, Head of Caritas in the European part of Russia. The meeting involved plenary sessions, base group work and working groups, which looked at specific themes relating to the initial reception of migrants. Speakers included: Bill Seary who gave a presentation on NGO-government co-operation in Western Europe; Anna Johannson and Siobhan Doyle from UNHCR Moscow; Jens Kofod from the Danish Immigration Service and Mette Lassesen from the Danish Refugee Council who spoke on the Danish model of co-operation.

The meeting was particularly interesting because the majority of participants came from regional Migration Services and regional branches of Caritas. Some of these branches already work extensively with refugees and forced migrants whereas others have much less experience but were keen to use the seminar to construct good contacts with government authorities. Follow up from this meeting may take the form of Caritas organising regional seminars focusing on specific issues of relevance to each region.

In April, Daniel Drake also represented ECRE at a meeting of the CISCONF Working Group on Refugee Protection. This meeting was one of the sub-group working on preparation of the Working Group statement to the CISCONF 2000 which will take place in mid-July.

From April 19th to 21st Daniel Drake and Bill Seary attended the Third Congress of the Forum of Migrants’ Organisations in Moscow. The Forum is a partner to ECRE under an EU TACIS funded programme, and the congress brought together over 300 representatives of NGOs which had been set up by forced migrants returning to Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The congress also involved UNHCR, the Russian Federal Migration Service and other NGOs including Memorial, Caritas and the Red Cross.

Under ECRE’s Twinnings Programme, a study visit by a representative of Refugee Action UK took place in April. Wondimu Yohannes visited the NGO Edelweiss in Kyiv and Solidarnost in Moscow. The three organisations are planning their future co-operation and Edelweiss and Solidarnost plan to visit to Refugee Action later this year.

From April 25th to 28th Bill Seary attended a workshop run by Memorial Human Rights Centre as part of the network "Migration and Rights". ECRE arranged for and financed the participation of Professor Walter Kaelin from the University of Berne, who spoke on ensuring the compliance of local legislation with federal and international law. Other topics addressed during the seminar included returns to Chechnya and implementation of favourable court decisions. Around 50 lawyers from the network were present.

From May 3rd to 5th ECRE held a workshop in Moscow entitled "Effective Application-Writing". It brought together representatives of 13 NGOs working with refugees and forced migrants in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The topic had been suggested by NGOs in the region, who felt that it would be useful to have a seminar focusing on the practical and theoretical issues associated with writing funding applications, approaching funders and negotiating once the funds have been awarded. The main body of the meeting was facilitated by Bill Seary, with support provided by Daniel Drake during the meeting, and Rachel Bugler during preparation. Representatives from three funding organisations in Eastern Europe also kindly agreed to take part in the meeting: EIDHR, EurAsia Foundation and the MATRA Small Embassy Project of the Dutch government.

Participating organisations brought with them ideas for real projects, which they worked on during the meeting. General ideas relating to action planning, budget-writing, aims, objectives and report-writing were addressed by Bill Seary in plenary. Participants then had the opportunity to apply these ideas to their project proposals by working in organisational pairs, before discussing them with the donors. Projects ranged from making a video on refugees, to providing psychological support to refugee children. Evaluation of the meeting was very positive, although the real results will depend on the number of projects developed during the workshop which will receive funding. A report on the meeting and the techniques used is available from the ECRE Secretariat.

Upcoming events

In late May ECRE and UNHCR Belarus, will hold a two-day seminar in Minsk entitled "Integration of Refugees in Belarus: International Perspectives". The seminar will explore various aspects relating to the integration of refugees including employment/vocational training; education; community development; refugee participation; public information and accommodation. In addition to speakers from the Migration Service of Belarus, UNHCR Belarus and Belarusian NGOS; Areti Sianni, integration policy officer with ECRE, Felicita Medved of GEA 2000 in Slovenia and Tatyana Goryachaya of ADRA in Ukraine have agreed to share their experiences within the field of refugee integration. Representatives of Belarusian NGOs, migration services and regional authorities will be present.

On 31 May and 1 June ECRE will hold a seminar in Kyiv entitled "Legal Reasoning: Experiences from Ukraine and other European countries". Participants will include representatives from NGOs, lawyers, judges and government officials. Speakers will include Judge Evelein Grosheide from the Netherlands, Eugenia Cringaria, a refugee lawyer from Romania, and Clara Odofin, Legal Officer with ECRE. ECRE will also hold a number of consultations with individual NGOs on how best to support their work with future ECRE activities in the region.

The Matra project will be providing a number of bursaries to participants from Eastern Europe to attend ECRE’s BGM in Paris in May, and representatives from Russian NGOs will facilitate a workshop on working with the media during the war in Chechnya.


Rachel Bugler returned from maternity leave in April to work as part time co-ordinator of the project for ECRE’s capacity-building project in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Daniel Drake will continue to work on the project until the end of June, when it is hoped that a one-year extension to the MATRA Fund of the Dutch Foreign Ministry will be agreed.

For more information on ECRE’s work in Eastern Europe, please contact Rachel Bugler or Daniel Drake at the ECRE Secretariat on or




Policy Developments

P03/01/00 Report of ECRE strategic meeting with UNHCR

P03/02/00 Cover note for draft policy papers.

P03/03/00 Draft Position on the interpretation of article 1 of the refugee convention

P03/04/00 Draft Position on Complementary Protection.

P03/05/00 ECRE comments on the European Commission Proposal for a council directive on the right to family reunification

Legal Developments

L03/01/00 ECHR Judgements - Turkey

L03/02/00 ECHR Decision as to the Admissibility of the application by T.I against the UK

L03/03/00 Kosovo Albanians in Asylum Countries: UNHCR Recommendations as regards Return

L03/03/00B UNHCR’s Background Note on Ethnic Albanians from Kosovo who are in Continued Need of International Protection

L03/04/00 CAT Communication No 103/1998 : Sweden. 11/06/99.

L03/04/00B Attachment above in French

L03/05/00 Transparency Council Decision 93/731/EC on public access to Council documents

L03/06/00 CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (LEY ORGÁNICA) 4 of January 11, 2000 on the rights and freedoms of aliens in Spain and their social integration.