No. 4

July 2000

 

 

ECRE DOCUMENTATION SERVICE

 

 

 

 

 

Policy developments

UNHCR p2

Reach-Out p2

Publications p2

Forthcoming Meetings p3

Refugee Studies Programme p3

Country Developments p4

 

Policy Developments - Integration

News from the Secretariat p4

General Developments p4

Resettlement p5

Country Developments p5

Research News p6

Publications p6

Conferences p7

Legal developments

ELENA news p8

Council of Europe p8

United Nations p9

European Committee for

the Prevention of Torture p10

Country up-dates p10

Conferences p23

Other News p23

 

Central & Eastern Europe developments

Central Europe

CEFRAN p24

Fundraising Toolkit p24

ECRE Website Review p24

News from the Secretariat p24

International Fundraising Group p25

United p25

Review p25

Eastern Europe

Recent events p25

Up-coming Activities p27

 

 

Annexes

List of annexes p28

 

The 1999 ECRE Country report has now been published. Copies can be purchased at a cost of 15 plus postage from Katy Fletcher, the Information Officer (kfletcher@ecre.org). The country report on France for 1999 is attached in word format to this mailing, as it was not possible to include this in the publication. The synthesis of the country report is also available on-line at the ECRE web-site (http://www.ecre.org).

ECRE is grateful to member agencies for their valuable contributions and to Aidan Eardley, information and documentation intern, for his hard work on the publication.

No. 4

July 2000

 

 

ECRE DOCUMENTATION SERVICE

 

 

 

 

 

Policy developments

UNHCR

18th Standing Committee Meeting, Geneva 5-7 July

The summer meeting is traditionally devoted to international protection. This year, the meeting discussed the Note on International Protection, which focused on putting protection into operation, interception and complementary forms of protection. There were also discussions on the regions of Asia & Pacific, the Americas, Europe and South-East Europe.

ECRE sent out a lobbying advisory on the Standing Committee in advance of the meeting. This is annexed to this document service. The ECRE policy officer made statements on behalf of NGOs on the issues of complementary forms of protection and on Europe. The NGO statement on South-East Europe was made by Rob Posnett of ICVA Sarajevo. All these statements are annexed to this document service.

The Director of the Department of International Protection, Erika Feller, outlined a process of consultations UNHCR intends to commence around the time of the next Executive Committee meeting in October. The consultations will be based on an idea that there are three concentric circles in refugee protection: the inner circle consists of non-negotiable principles, the second circle consists of questions of interpretation or matters which are outside the Refugee Convention, the outer circle consists of gaps in refugee protection. The aim of these consultations is to identify gaps in refugee protection caused either by restrictive interpretation of the Convention or by deficiencies in the Convention itself and to draw up a Protocol or a Declaration to the Convention which would extend protection to those in need. A copy of her speech is attached to this document service.

The process of consultation has not been settled yet. Clearly, ECRE is well-placed to contribute to these consultations as we should have adopted our position papers on the Refugee Convention definition and on complementary forms of protection by the time the consultations begin (the 2nd drafts of these papers are annexed to this document service). However, the process must be designed to allow for NGO contribution. There would be no value added in these consultations if ECRE had to fight to be heard, as we have already fought for and won a voice in EU refugee policy developments.

 

REACH-OUT

The Reach-Out Steering Committee met in Geneva, 10 July, to discuss the future of the Steering Committee and to consider reports from the working groups. A full report of the meeting will be available shortly from the ECRE policy officer.

 

PUBLICATIONS

Amnesty International has published its annual report for 2000, covering events in 1999. For further information or copies visit the AI website at www.amnesty.org.

UNHCR has published a major new report on the subject of trafficking and smuggling by John Morrison. Entitled "The trafficking and smuggling of refugees: the end game in European asylum policy?", it was published July 2000, UNHCR, Geneva. Available at www.unhcr.ch.

The London Review of Books has published an interesting and profound account of trafficking by Jeremy Harding. Entitled "The Uninvited. Refugees at the Rich Man’s Gate", it was published recently and is available from www.lrb.co.uk .

UNHCR has published it Global Report 1999. Entitled "Achievements and Impact" it is available from UNHCR.

The Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge has published a report into detention practice with asylum-seekers in the UK. Entitled "Deciding to detain: how discretion to detain asylum seekers is exercised at ports of entry". For further information contact www.law.cam.ac.uk/crim/iochpg.htm .

 

FORTHCOMING MEETINGS

UNHCR

UNHCR and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have begun consultations on selected issues in international protection. The next round of consultations will be on 20 July, Geneva, covering the four areas of 1) membership of a particular social group, 2) family reunification, 3) the cessation clauses and 4) access to asylum procedures. ECRE has been invited to join these consultations. The aim is to agree guidance to supplement the Handbook.

The 51st Session of the Executive Committee will take place in Geneva, 2-6 October. In the week prior to the Session, the Pre-ExCom consultations with NGOs will take place, 27-29 September. Further information will be available shortly from the website www.unhcr.ch/prexcom and an ECRE lobbying advisory will be issued nearer the time. The ECRE Autumn BGM will take place 30 September-1 October. An agenda will be circulated in due course.

 

 

 

 

COUNCIL OF EUROPE

The Sub-Committee on Refugees will visit Kosovo, 11-13 September. There will be a colloquy of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography on population displacement in South-East Europe at Ohrid, 14-16 September. The Committee will meet in Paris, 20 October. There will be a colloquy on integration policies for immigrants held by the Committee in The Hague, 16-18 November. The Committee will meet again in Paris, 15 December.

 

NGOs

CARITAS Europe will be holding a conference on the reception of refugees in Zagreb, 14-16 September. Contact your local office of CARITAS for more information.

Radda Barnen will be hosting a meeting on Separated Children in Europe, based on the findings of an UNHCR/SCE project about the needs of separated children coming to Europe, which was published at the beginning of July. The meeting will take place in Stockholm, 21-22 September. For information, contact Laijla Sjolander on +46-8-968-9111.

The third European conference against immigration detention will be held at Ruskin College, Oxford University on 15-17 September. For further information and registration contact Bill MacKeith on +44 (0)1865 558145 or Email on ConfAgstImmDetn@aol.com .

 

OSCE

The OSCE will be holding a meeting in Vienna, 18 September on IDPs. For further information, visit the OSCE website at www.osce.org.

 

REFUGEE STUDIES PROGRAMME

Jim Hathaway course

Professor Hathaway conducted a course at Oxford University, 20-21 May, on the rights of refugees in international law. His course looks at the rights guaranteed in the Refugee Convention from a perspective of levels of attachment to the asylum state. He focuses in particular on the right to non-refoulement.

 

COUNTRY DEVELOPMENTS

Germany

Minister of Interior plans to appoint an expert commission

Minister of Interior Otto Schily plans to appoint an expert commission on immigration and asylum, according to his declarations in an interview given to the German weekly magazine "Spiegel" (24/2000). The Commission is supposed to come up with concrete proposals on new legislation on immigration and asylum which would enable Germany to control immigration in accordance with Germany's humanitarian obligations and at the same time corresponding to Germany's economic and political interests. Schily stated that there is no parliamentary majority in sight necessary to amend the constitutionally guaranteed right to asylum (Art 16 a of the German Basic Law), as the CDU/CSU have proposed. As regards the problem of asylum seekers persecuted by non-state agents, Schily said that including grounds based on non-state agent persecution would multiply the numbers of asylum proceedings infinitely. However, he conceded that he would be in favor of some flexibility in these matters. He took the example of civil war countries Afghanistan and Somalia whose refugees cannot be forcibly returned as an improvement of the countries' situation is not be expected in the foreseeable future. He suggested that due consideration should be given to allow an improvement to the status of residence in these cases. Regarding the prohibition of employment for asylum seekers, Schily expressed understanding for the question why asylum seekers should not be allowed to take over work that others (Germans?) are not willing to do, but pointed out that no incentive be given to delay asylum proceedings in order to obtain a work permit.

 

IRELAND

Liaison officers and readmission agreements to prepare for deportations

In mid-May Ireland signed its first readmission agreement with Romania, readmission procedures have been initiated with Poland while negotiations for a 'repatriation' agreement with Nigeria are under way. Civil rights groups have expressed concern about the rights of refugees' and migrants' because the agreements will mean the stationing of Nigerian and Romanian liaison officers in Ireland "to help gardaí combat trafficking in illegals and overcome the deportation obstacles". The Irish Minister for Justice, John O'Donoghue, has also announced plans to introduce a special immigration police unit the Gardaí National Immigration Bureau which will have liaison officers based in Paris and London and have powers to arrest and detain deportees. (Sources: RNC Agency 22.2.97, 5.8.97; Irish Times 11.5.2000, 25.5.00, 26.5.00; Agence France Press 11.5.00, 22.6.00; Irish Independent 19.5.00; Reuters 4.4.00.)

 

policy Developments — social integration

News from the Secretariat

In cooperation with the EU Networks on Integration, ECRE co-organised two seminars on Refugee Participation in Local Policy Making and Political Life, held in Nürnberg, Germany on 26-28 May 2000 and on Gender Sensitive Integration Practice, Brussels, 13 July 2000. Both seminars aimed to bring together expert practitioners involved in relevant activities to exchange information and develop good practice guidelines. For further information, contact the Integration Policy Officer.

The ECRE Policy Position on Refugee Family Reunification has now been finalised. A copy is included together with this mailing. ECRE plans to present it to contacts in the EU institutions over the summer. A copy is also available on the ECRE website: http://www.ecre.org

 

General Developments

As part of the EU Commission's preparation of an initiative of Community legal instruments in the field of asylum, PLS Rambøll Management has been commissioned to undertake a study on the legal framework and administrative practices regarding reception conditions for asylum seekers in the EU Member States by the Directorate General for Justice and Home Affairs. The purpose of the study is to map out and compare the national legislations and the administrative arrangements in force regarding: a) the arrangements immediately on arrival; b) how accommodation is arranged, and for how long asylum seekers are accommodated in different kinds of housing; c) the infrastructure and the standard for the reception centers; d) means of subsistence offered during the asylum procedure; e) rules on access to education, the labour market and medical treatment; f) provisions for children and g) rules on detention and restriction of movement. Further information can be obtained from Amanda Fossat, PLS Rambøll Management, email: xafo@pls.dk, tel: +45 33 97 82 00.

 

Resettlement

The 2000 Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement were held in Geneva on 3-4 July. The following agenda items were considered by the meeting: a) emergency resettlement needs; b) the changing nature of resettlement and the impact upon the operational environment; c) use of government and NGO deployments to enhance resettlement activities; and d) progress report on new resettlement countries. ECRE made an intervention on the changing nature of resettlement a copy of which is included with this mailing. For further information, contact the Integration Policy Officer at the Secretariat.

Preceding the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement, a meeting was held on July 2 to discuss arrangements for the International Conference on the Reception and Integration of Resettled Refugees. This will be held in Stockholm, Sweden on 25-27 April 2001. A number of ECRE member agencies are involved in the preparatory work for this conference including the Danish, Dutch and Swedish Refugee Councils, and the Finnish Red Cross. ECRE is a member of the Executive Committee for the conference. For further information, contact the Integration Policy Officer.

 

Country Developments

Denmark

Denmark has amended legal provisions relating to family reunification banning the entry of elderly relatives beyond their working years and changing the minimum age from 18 to 25 for foreigner partners applying to marry refugees already settled in Denmark. The age limit was raised to discourage arranged marriages between foreigners settled in Denmark and foreigners abroad.

 

GERMANY

The German government plans to partially lift the ban on employment placed on asylum seekers and those granted tolerated status. Under the proposal, asylum applicants in Germany will be allowed to work after a certain waiting period which could be from three to 24 months- the time period is not yet set. They will need to find a German employer willing to hire them who would then submit an application for a work permit to the German Employment Service (ES). There is presently no law which places an outright prohibition on asylum seekers to work. In principle, they are allowed to accept a post which cannot be filled by other workers registered in the German labour market. Since 1997 however, a decree by the Federal Ministry of Employment has instructed all employment offices to systematically turn down all applications for a work permit made by asylum seekers arriving after 15 May 1997 without examining the reasons.

In a ruling handed down on 18 May, the Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) held that a provision in the Federal Law on Social Welfare (BSHG) is contrary to the 1953 European Convention on Social and Medical Assistance to the extent that it authorises the discriminatory payment of lower amounts of social welfare benefits to refugees who do not reside in the same land or municipality as the one which issued them with a residence permit. The provision affects those granted status under the terms of Article 51(1) of the Aliens Act - which is Germany's more or less equivalent of the refugee status within the meaning of the 1951 Convention - and holding an Aufenthaltsbefungis residence permit without a territorial limitation. Under the BSHG provision, persons holding this type of permit are not entitled to the full amount of social allowances if they reside in a Land other than the one which issued them with their residence permit. In this case, they are entitled to only the very minimum of social assistance. In its ruling the BVerwG held that the provisions of the European Convention on Social and Medical Assistance take precedence over the clause of BSHG. The Convention contains the obligation of equal treatment of Convention refugees and one's own nationals in social and medical assistance.

 

FRANCE

The French Assembly in May 2000 approved a Green party motion to allow non-European foreign residents to vote in local elections in 2001. EU nationals in France may vote in local elections, but the proposal to allow non-EU nationals similar voting rights is not likely to become law because the Senate is not expected to approve it.

 

IRELAND

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) are asking for changes in the law to allow asylum-seekers to work after three months from applying for asylum. At present, only asylum-seekers who applied for refugee status before July 1999 and have been waiting for a year for a decision are entitled to look for work. By next month - the 12 month cut-off point for the scheme - a total of 4,100 asylum-seekers will be permitted to work. ISME has proposed that a skills register is drawn up, and those asylum-seekers dispersed around the State should be sent to areas where their skills were in demand. There are however no plans by the Ministry for Justice for changing the work scheme for asylum-seekers be changed.

 

Research News

The HURIDOCS-AAAS Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Violations Project

This project seeks to develop improved methods and resources for NGOs to monitor economic, social and cultural rights. It is a joint activity of the Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems International (HURIDOCS) and the Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The project started in 1996, and has produced a number of specific resources, including a Handbook on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by Allan McChesney and a Thesaurus of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Terminology and Potential Violations, by Stephen A. Hansen. HURIDOCS and AAAS have now started work on the second phase of the project involving training and capacity-building for monitoring economic, social and cultural rights. It consists of several interrelated activities to develop and promote the use of tools and resources for monitoring violations of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights. These tools are intended primarily for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) world-wide, and especially in developing countries. For inquiries, contact: Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International (HURIDOCS), 48 ch. du Grand-Montfleury, 1290 Versoix, SWITZERLAND, tel. 41 22 755 5252, fax. 41 22 755 5260, e-mail: huridocs@comlink.org, website: http://www.huridocs.org

 

Publications

United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2000, published June 29; This edition focuses on "human rights and human development." The report is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Russian. The 1999 edition is also online at http://www.undp.org/hdro/99.htm.

World Refugee Survey 2000 (U.S. Committee for Refugees) -http://www.refugees.org/world/worldmain.htm - Published June 13; the "annual assessment of country conditions" and "statistics" are made available online, along with selected articles.

E. Bisogno, G. Gallo, The acquisition of citizenship: instrument or result of the integration process: A comparison among some European Countries, Studi Emigrazione, Issue no. 137, March 2000, http://www.scalabrini.org/~cser/cseritse.htm

Sophie Body-Gendrot and Marco Martiniello,(eds), Minorities in European Cities: The Dynamics of Social Integration and Social Exclusion at the Neighbourhood Level (Migration, Minorities and Citizens series), St. Martin's Press, 2000, ISBN: 0312231326. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312231326/centerforimmigra/002-1199164-3779033

The Danish Refugee Council has recently published the fourth edition of its report "Legal and Social Conditions for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Western European Countries". The report, funded by the European Commission, has been produced in co-operation with various refugee assisting NGOs in the countries covered, i.e. the 15 EU Member States plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Malta. The publication includes detailed and comparative information on both the legal aspects of asylum (legal basis, refugee status, complementary forms of protection, temporary protection, determination procedure, legal aid and interpretation, unaccompanied minors, female asylum seekers, detention, rejected asylum seekers, statistics, etc.) and the social rights granted to asylum seekers, recognised refugees and persons under temporary protection (accommodation, financial assistance, access to education, language tuition, health care, repatriation, etc.).

The report may be requested from the Danish Refugee Council at drc@drc.dk. It will also be soon available at the DRC’s home page (www.drc.dk) and ECRE’s home page (www.ecre.org)

 

Conferences

International Migration: New Patterns and New Theories, A Multidisciplinary Conference, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK, 11-13 September 2000. The conference aims: a) to provide a forum for exchanges between specialists from a number of disciplines undertaking research on migration; b)to advance and evaluate work on migration issues and link this with general developments in economic and socio-cultural theorisations; and c) to encourage constructive dialogue between academics and practitioners in the field. Conference information and an on-line registration form is available on the following web-site http://human.ntu.ac.uk/im/. Please direct inquiries to: Dr Caroline Nagel, Dept of International Studies, Nottingham Trent University, e-mail: caroline.nagel@ntu.ac.uk, tel: +44 (0)115 848 3451

The Refugee Studies Centre of the University of Oxford is organising a short course on "The Psychosocial Experiences and Needs of Refugees" to be held in Oxford on September 5-8 2000. The course will explore the issues and interventions that currently characterise psychosocial refugee work. For further information, contact, Dominique Attala, Refugee Studies Centre, Queen Elizabeth House, 21 St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LA, tel: + 44 1865 270272, e-mail: rscedu@qeh.ox.ac.uk.

 

 

 

 

No. 4

July 2000

 

 

ECRE DOCUMENTATION SERVICE

 

 

 

 

 

Legal developments

ELENA News

 

The ELENA Course on Failure of State Protection (Non-State-Agent Persecution and the concept of Internal Flight Alternative) will take place 8-10 December 2000 in Berlin. More information to come.

Working group for alien and asylum law within the German Anwaltsverein established

At the end of May 2000, a working group for alien and asylum law was established within the German Anwaltsverein (German Lawyer’s Association), the biggest national representation of lawyers in Germany, with the aim to provide training to German lawyers and to take part and intervene in the political discussion on alien and asylum law in German.

 

Council of Europe

EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

S.C.C. v. Sweden, 15 February 2000: Zambian infected with HIV, no violation of art 2, 3 and 8.

The applicant, a Zambian national, applied unsuccessfully several times for a residence permit with the Swedish National Immigration Board claiming that on account of her infection with HIV, she should be granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds as the necessary medical care was not available in Zambia. The applicant had already commenced an anti-HIV treatment. The Aliens Appeals Board rejected her applications. The applicant claimed that her expulsion to Zambia would impair her health and lower her life expectancy in violation of Art 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition, the applicant asserted that expulsion would violate her right to respect for her family life under Art 8 of the Convention, as she would be separated from F.R, a Somali citizen with whom she had been cohabiting since 1996. F.R. has suffered from HIV for 10 years, thus his state of health would prevent him from travelling to Africa.

The Court dismissed the applicant’s application in relation to Art 2 and 3 as being manifestly ill founded in the light of the Court’s judgement in D. v UK and the Commission’s finding in B.B v France (decision from 9 March 1998: case subsequently struck out by the Court on 7 September 1998). In these cases, the Court (and, respectively, the Commission) found in favour of the applicants, both HIV infected, whose infection had already reached an advanced stage. In D v UK, the Court stressed that " aliens who are subject to expulsion cannot in principle claim any entitlement to remain in the territory of a Contracting State in order to continue to benefit from medical, social or other forms of assistance provided by the expelling state". However, in "exceptional circumstances (…) owing to compelling humanitarian considerations", deportation may result in a violation of Article 3. However, in this case, the Court concluded that the applicant’s situation is not such that her deportation would amount to a treatment proscribed by Art 3. In relation to Art 8, the Court concluded by referring to the margin of appreciation that the Swedish authorities had struck a fair balance between the applicant’s rights and the legitimate interests of Sweden. Consequently, the Court dismissed the application as ill founded.

It is noteworthy to state that the Court has added one further criterion: cases of people who complain of violations of Article 3 are subject to close scrutiny when the source of the risk of proscribed treatment in the receiving country stems from factors which cannot engage either directly or indirectly the responsibility of the public authorities of that country, or which, taken alone, do not in themselves infringe the standards of this Article. The Court stated that when assessing the humanitarian aspects of a case like this, an overall evaluation of the infected alien’s state of health should be made rather than letting the HIV diagnosis in itself be decisive.

Note: In Tatete v Switzerland, 19 November 1999 (see Documentation Service May 2000) the Court declared the application of a Congolese applicant who had contracted the AIDS virus admissible under Arts 2 and 3. In the light of the decision in S.C.C. v Sweden it remains doubtful whether the Court will rule in favour of Ms Tatete’s complaint given that her family lived in Congo and the Swiss authorities have offered to provide her with necessary medication and therapeutic advice.

Dougoz v Greece, 8 February 2000; length and conditions of detention pending expulsion

The applicant, a Syrian national, was allegedly sentenced to death in absentia in Syria. He had fled to Greece, where he was arrested and sentenced to imprisonment on several occasions, notably for drug-related offences. While in Greece, he was granted refugee status by the UNHCR. In June 1997, while serving a prison sentence, he asked to be sent back to Syria and claimed that he had been granted a reprieve there. In July 1997 following a decision ordering his release on licence and his expulsion to Syria, he was released and placed in police detention pending his expulsion. He claimed that the conditions of his detention pending expulsion were appalling; referring to, inter alia, overcrowding, poor hygiene and lack of room for physical exercise. He then applied for the expulsion order to be lifted and complained about his continued detention. In April 1998 he was transferred to the police headquarters where the conditions of detention remained very bad, as confirmed by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment in a recent report. The courts refused to lift the expulsion order, on the ground that the applicant had previously claimed that he was no longer subject to persecution in Syria, but no express ruling was made concerning the lawfulness of his continued detention. In December 1998, the applicant was eventually expelled to Syria where he was reportedly placed in detention upon arrival. The Court declared the case admissible under Articles 3, 5 (1)(f) and (4).

 

United Nations

UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE

Concluding Observations on Poland, Portugal, the United States, the Netherlands and Slovenia

Full text of the summaries below can be obtained at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf


On 19 May 2000 the Committee against Torture concluded its twenty-fourth session following three weeks of meetings at the Palais des Nations in Geneva where it considered the reports of Poland, Portugal, the
United States, the Netherlands and Slovenia (and others).

With regard to the report of Slovenia, the Committee welcomed the establishment of the special institution of the Ombudsman for the protection of human rights and noted with interest its effective and responsible work. The Committee expressed its concern with regard to allegations about instances of police ill-treatment and excessive use of force by police against members of the Roma population, which had reportedly resulted in severe injuries in some instances; and it urged Slovenia to take all necessary measures, as a matter of priority, to ensure that asylum-seekers were housed in conditions that complied with the requirements of the Convention.

Communication No 121/1998: Norway. 18/04/2000.CAT/C/23/D/121/1998

Available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/MasterFrameView/0393c861153fa544802568f80056fa8d?Opendocument

The Committee against Torture decided that the communication of an Ethiopian citizen of Amhara origin was not admissible on the grounds that not all available and effective remedies had been exhausted. However, the Committee noted in the context of the Norwegian legal aid scheme that enables asylum-seekers to bring their case before the courts for judicial review, that: "…in the light of other similar cases brought to its [the Committee’s] attention and in view of the limited hours of free legal assistance available for asylum-seekers for administrative proceedings, the Committee recommends to the State Party to undertake measures to ensure that asylum-seekers are duly informed about all domestic remedies available to them, in particular the possibility of judicial review before the courts and of being granted legal aid for such recourse."

 

EUROPEAN COMMITTEE FOR THE PREVENTION OF TORTURE AND INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT

Irish Follow Up Report

(available at http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/reports/inf2000-08en.htm)

The Irish Government submitted its follow-up report, published on 18 May 2000, in response to the report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) on its visit to Ireland from 31 August to 9 September 1998,. The CPT Report and the Interim Response of Ireland were made public on 17 December 1999 (see Documentation Service as of March 2000). In relation to the treatment of foreign nationals under aliens legislation, the Irish Government noted that Ireland does not have a policy of detaining asylum seekers generally. Detention provisions are laid out in sections 9 and 10 of the Refugee Act. Regulations to cover the very small number detained under these sections are scheduled to come into force in May 2000. The Regulations for persons detained in Garda stations will be modelled closely on the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 (Treatment of Persons in Custody in Garda Siochana Stations) and Regulations, 1997 but with appropriate adaptations to take account of the special position and requirements of asylum seekers. Detention in a garda station shall not be for a period greater than 48 hours when, if necessary, the detainee will be moved to more suitable longer term accommodation in the prison service. In relation to those asylum seekers detained in prison, it is intended to apply the existing and any future prison rules applicable to prisoners generally. It is further intended-under a review of the prison rules-to make special provision in relation to foreign nationals generally and to asylum seekers in particular, in recognition of the difficulties which may be experienced by these categories in prison.

(See also the Country Update for Ireland)

 

COUNTRY UPDATES

AUSTRALIA

High Court of Australia, Chen Shi Hai v The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, 13 April 2000: membership in a particular social group, "black children" (children born in contravention of China’s one child policy)

(available at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/high_ct/2000/19.html)

The case involved a 3 _ year old child, a Chinese national, who was born out of wedlock in a detention centre in Australia to Chinese parents. The parents had been denied refugee status and had already exhausted all remedies. It was accepted that his parents’ fears on his behalf are sufficient. Unchallenged already in the lower instances was the well-foundedness of the child’s fear of suffering disadvantages amounting to persecution. Because of the child’s being a "black child" (children born in contravention of China’s One-Child policy), he would be denied access to food, shelter, medical treatment and denial of an opportunity to obtain education on account of the parents’ contravention of China’s "one-child" policy.

The issue before the High Court turned around the question whether "black children" were members of a social group in the meaning of Art 1 (2) Refugee Convention, and whether the causal link between "persecution" and "for reasons of membership of a particular social group" was satisfactorily established to be entitled to refugee status, whether the phrase "for reasons of" (membership of a particular social group) imported the consideration of the subjective motivations of enmity or malignity, and whether the child cannot claim refugee status because the parents have not succeeded in a claim for refugee status.

The High Court dealt also with the applicability of the principle in Applicant A. In Applicant A v Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (1997) 190 CLR 225, it was held that persecutory conduct itself is not sufficient to establish membership of a particular social group. Based on this consideration, it was held that persons who opposed China’s "one-child policy" and feared enforced sterilisation did not, on account, constitute "a particular social group" for the purposes of the Convention. In Applicant A, it was pointed out that "where a persecutory law or practice applies to all members of society it cannot create a particular social group consisting of all those who bring themselves within its terms."

However, the Court found this case to be different from Applicant A and found that "black children" constituted a particular social group: "In this case, the question is whether children, who did not contravene that [China’s one-child] policy but were born in contravention of it, can constitute a group of its kind. To put the matter in that way indicates that the group constituted by children born in those circumstances is defined other than by reference to the discriminatory treatment or persecution that they fear." The High Court found that the nexus between persecution and on account of membership in a particular social group was sufficiently established and consequently decided in favour of the appellant.

Refugee Review Tribunal

For summaries of the Refugee Review Tribunal decisions in relation to certain countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka) see Refugee Review Tribunal RRT Bulletin, Issue No. 6/2000 as of 5 June 2000 is available at http://www.rrt.gov.au/bul00.html.

 

 

AUSTRIA

Austrian Constitutional Court repeals Section 28 (2) Aliens Act 1997

(full text at http://www.vfgh.gv.at/vfgh/volltext.html)

The Austrian Constitutional Court in its decision of 8 March 2000 declared null and void section 28 (2) of the Aliens Act. The provision, which was repealed by the Court, concerned the right to reside in Austria for children of third country nationals. The residence status of a child is, according to the contested provision, derived solely from the mother’s right to residence. The Court held that this provision was not in conformity with the principle of equality (among aliens). The Court is to examine the constitutionality of Section 21 (3) Aliens Act 1997. This provision stipulated that the age limit for family reunification for immigrants who arrived before 1998 was 14 years (The Aliens Act as of 1997 instituted completely different procedures for immigrants entering Austria after 1 January 1998). In its ruling on judicial review (B 2269/99) the Court doubted the conformity of this provision with the principle of equality among aliens.

Austrian Administrative Court on essential change of circumstances in Kosovo

In an interesting ruling of 10 May 2000, the Austrian Administrative Court ruled on the question whether and when an essential change of circumstances on account of the international security forces and the international administration in Kosovo has occurred leading to the conclusion that there is no longer any risk of being persecuted on account of the five relevant grounds as set out in the Refugee Convention. The Court ruled that it is improbable that persons of Albanian origin in Kosovo face such persecution as to be relevant for the granting of asylum in the light of the complete withdrawal of the Serbian troops coupled with the military presence of KFOR from the 20 June 1999. The Court basically drew this conclusion from its finding that the FRY as the former persecutor has no effective control over Kosovo. The Court referred to the German Federal Administrative (NVwZ-RR 1995, 54[55] and Federal Constitutional Court’s opinion (NVzw 1990, 151) that persecution has to emanate from the state or be attributable to the state. With regard to the question whether the claimant can rely on Art 1 C (5) (refusal to return because of compelling reasons arising out of previous persecution), the Court found that because previous persecutor (FRY) and ruler now in control of Kosovo are not identical, the claimant cannot benefit from Art 1 C (5).

Note the substantial difference to the French Appeals Commission’s decision below on this issue.

Austrian Administrative Court on the interpretation of Section 21 (2)

The Austrian Administrative Court in its decision of 26 May 2000 (99/02/0376, 0377, 0378, 0379-5) ruled on the applicability of Section 21 (2) in conjunction with section 55 of Asylum Act 1997 dealing with the question of refoulement. The complainants, Iraqi citizens, who complained about their expulsion to Slovakia (third country from which they arrived to Austria), argued that the wording in Section 21 (2) of the Act prohibited refoulement in any event. Section 21 (2) of the Act stipulates that an asylum seeker shall not be expelled to his/her country of origin (..). Section 21 (3) of the Act allows for expulsion when the asylum authority has decided with legal force that expulsion is admissible according to Section 57 Aliens Act. The Court rejected the complainants’ argument that Section 21 (2) prohibited expulsion in any event as it cannot be assumed that the legislator intended to stipulate a provision without any meaning. The Court considered that Section 21 (2) of the Act read in conjunction with Section 21 (1) of the Act would be applicable to asylum seekers who cannot benefit from the protection of Section 21 (1) of the Act. Thus, Section 21 (2) applies to asylum seekers who have not been granted a temporary residence permit and protects them from being expelled to their country of origin. The Court ruled that section 55 of the Act (dealing with expulsion) is applicable to asylum seekers to whom a provisional residence permit has not been granted. As Section 21 (2) provides only protection to asylum seekers without provisional residence permit from being refouled to their country of origin, the complainants cannot make out a case, as they were to be expelled to Slovakia (which is not their country of origin).

 

 

 

 

BELGIUM

Arret of 17 May 2000 of the Cour d'Arbitrage (Constitutional Court) concerning social aid for asylum seekers.

According to the decision of the Belgian Cour d’ Arbitrage, the provisions of Article 57 (2) of the Law of 8 July 1976 on Public Centres of Social Aid, modified by Article 65 of the Law of 15 July 1996, do not violate Articles 10 and 11 of the Belgian Constitution, nor Articles 23 and 191 in conjunction with Articles 10 and 11 of the Constitution. Article 57 (2) of the Law of 8 July 1976, modified by Article 65 of the Law of 15 July 1996, limits the right to social aid to urgent medical aid for aliens whose asylum claim has been rejected by the Minister of Interior by virtue of Art 51 (5) of the Aliens Act 1980 and by virtue of Article 8 of the Dublin Convention.

New legislation

According to an Arrêté royal of 20 December 1999 concerning the determination of conditions for obtaining free legal aid, in force since 1 September 1999, the following aliens do not need to show their lack of financial resources: 1) an alien who files an application for regularisation of residence or an appeal against an expulsion order, on presentation of valid documents and

2) an asylum seeker or a person who files an application for status of displaced person, on presentation of valid documents.

An Arrêté ministériel of 20 December 1999, in force since 14 April 2000, regulating the conditions of transport on board of a private airline of passengers who pose particular security risks sets out the procedure to be followed for persons removed from the Belgian territory. According to the Minister of Transport, the Arrete seeks to affirm two principles: that of transparency and that of the primacy of the flight commander on board who can authorise to take preventive measures of constraint excluding the use of cushions and the use of tranquillizers. If more than 4 persons are to be removed with constraint on the same flight, an independent observer ought to be present during the flight.

A Constitutional amendment of 23 March 2000 inserted a new Article 22bis, which stipulates that every child has the right to respect of its moral, psychological, physical and sexual integrity. The Article provides that any law, decree or regulation will guarantee the protection of this right.

 

CANADA

New Bill on immigration and asylum discussed

A new Bill is being discussed in Canada. The first reading was held on 6 April 2000. The Bill C-31: An Act respecting immigration to Canada and the granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or in danger can be obtained in full text at http://www.irb.gc.ca/new/index_e.stm

 

DENMARK

Proposal to Parliament to revoke the provisions of the special Kosovo Act

In May 2000, in the light of UNHCR recommendations regarding Kosovo, the Minister of the Interior submitted a proposal to Parliament in order to revoke the provisions of the special Kosovo Act from last year. The proposal has been passed by the parliament. Therefore, Kosovars will be encouraged to leave Denmark voluntarily, or will have the possibility to file applications for asylum, which have been suspended according to the special act. For those Kosovars who are in need of continued temporary protection, an amendment to the Aliens Act gives the possibility of extending their legal residence in Denmark.

Draft law amending the actual Aliens Act’s provisions on family reunion.

In February 2000, the government submitted a draft law amending the actual Aliens Act’s provisions on family reunion. The main proposals are as follows:

- persons between 18 and 25 years of age would no longer have an automatic right to family reunion with their spouse. The authorisation would only be granted "if the marriage or the cohabitation can be considered, without any doubt, to have been contracted with the person’s own will, or if special individual circumstances speak for it". The aim of this provision is to avoid so-called "forced marriages". In principle, this would apply to family reunion with refugees as with other foreigners or Danish citizens. However, it is expected that family reunion with a recognised refugee will be granted as a rule when the marriage has been contracted before the refugee came to Denmark;

- family reunion with a foreigner living in Denmark would be conditioned on the requirement that "the spouses’ total connection to Denmark is at least as strong as the spouses’ total connection to another country". Refugees would be covered by this provision, whereas family reunion with a Danish citizen would be excluded;

- family reunion with spouses, parents over 60 years of age and other close family members would be conditional on the foreigner living in Denmark having housing of a sufficient size. Refugees would be, in principle, subject to this requirement as are any other foreigners, but it is expected that, as far as they are concerned, family reunion with spouse/partner and minor children would be accepted as a rule.

It is expected that the amendments to the Aliens Act will be passed before summer 2000. Further information on this issue will be available from the Danish Refugee Council.

 

FINLAND

Amendments to the Finnish Aliens Act

The amended law of the Aliens Act entered into force 10 July 2000. The main feature of the new accelerated procedure in Finland is that it will be applied in four different kinds of decisions:

1) Where the applicant has made a new asylum application after having received a negative decision

2) Dublin cases

3) Where the applicant has arrived from a safe country of origin or asylum (the decision of the Directorate of Immigration has to be made within 7 days in these cases)

4) Manifestly unfounded applications (abuse of the system, or no serious human right violations presented and also safe country cases if the Directorate has not been able to make the decision within 7 days)

In cases 1) and 2) there is a right to appeal to the Helsinki Administrative Court after the decision of the Directorate of Immigration but this does not have any suspensive effect. The applicant can be expelled immediately after having been given the decision.

In cases 3) and 4) there is also a right to appeal to the Helsinki Administrative Court after the decision of the Directorate of Immigration within 8 days (of which five have to be working days) of the notification of the decision. There is a possibility that the Helsinki Administrative Court can suspend the execution of the expulsion but this decision has to be made within the same 8 days within the appeal is made.

There will not be any lists of safe countries, decisions will in theory be made on an individual basis. The law will enter into force probably on the 10 or 15 July 2000.

 

FRANCE

Commission Des Recours des Réfugiés (Appeals Commission)

Decision of 29 February 2000 (No. 351328) Russia, Moldavia, Jewish origin, voluntary tolerance of the authorities:

A Russian citizen of Jewish descent, from Krasnodar was recognized as a refugee on grounds of religious beliefs. The Commission considered that it could be deduced from the attitude of the Russian authorities that they voluntarily tolerated the persecution and harassment that the applicant was subjected to. On the same grounds a Moldavian of Jewish origin was recognized as a refugee on 20 March 2000 (No 348890).

Decision of 3 April 2000, No. 347330: Romania, homosexual, social group:

A Romanian national who was persecuted by the Romanian authorities because of his being homosexual, was recognized as a refugee on grounds of his membership in a particular social group. The Commission noted that in the light of the prevailing conditions in Romania whereby persons who overtly manifest their homosexuality are likely to be subject to legal proceedings on the basis of the penal code as well as exposed to measures of police surveillance and harassment, the claimant has a well founded fear of being persecuted on account of his membership in a particular social group upon his return to his home country.

Decision of 13 March 2000, No. 351765, 351788:Yugoslavia, Mitrovica not safe for Roms even after installation of international security forces and international administration

Two Yugoslavian nationals, of Roma origin, were recognized as refugees on account their ethnic origin. After the withdrawal of the military and police forces of the FRY, the claimants were persecuted by the Albanian population and members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The Commission found that despite the international presence and the security forces of KFOR in control of Kosovo, the security of Roma in the region of Mitrovica is not assured and the repatriation of displaced Roma has not yet been organized. The Commission found that the appellants have a well-founded fear of being persecuted on account of their ethnic origin upon return to their country of origin without being able, in the particular circumstances, to avail themselves of the protection of the authorities vested with power and a mandate of the UN in Kosovo.

(Note the substantial difference to the German High Administrative Court of Baden Wuertenberg ruling of 29 May 2000.)

Decision of 13 March 2000, No 349492: Yugoslavia, Muslim, conscientious objector

A Yugoslav national of Muslim origin who refused to participate in the operations of the Yugoslav army against Muslims because of his own origins, was recognized as a refugee.

(Note the decision of the UK Immigration Appeal Tribunal on partial objection)

Decision of 23 February 2000, No. 341179 and No. 341180: Kosovo Albanians, recognition because of exceptional gravity of the persecutions suffered despite international presence

The Commission confirmed its new doctrine on granting refugee status to people originating from Kosovo (see Documentation Service May/00). The Commission recognized as refugees two Kosovo-Albanians and found that under the circumstances of the case in light of the exceptional gravity of persecution suffered, the refusal of the appellants to avail themselves of the protection of the authorities now in control in Kosovo was justified.

(Note the substantial difference to the Austrian Administrative Court ruling of 10 May 2000.)

 

GEORGIA

On 16 February 2000 Georgia signed the Council of Europe Convention for the Prevention of Torture and its Two Protocols.

 

GERMANY

Amendments to Section 19 of the German Aliens Act entered into force 1 June 2000:

Section 19 Aliens Act has been changed to the effect that a foreign spouse (married to a German national) will be able to obtain an autonomous residence permit after two years of residence in Germany instead of the previous four years. The wording of this provision has been amended to allow more foreign women to leave their violent husbands.

Criticism of this new provision has been raised with regards to the limitation of the autonomous residence permits. According to the amended provision, an autonomous residence permit shall only be granted if return to the country of origin poses special hardship ("besondere Haerte") for the person concerned. Special hardship, in particular, can exist, if the obligation to return to his/her country of origin on account of the dissolution of the marriage would prejudice considerably any of his/her interests deserving protection ("Beeintraechtigung schutzwuerdiger Belange"); or if the continuance of the marriage was unbearable for the foreign spouse because of a considerable prejudice to these same interests. An autonomous residence permit would not be refused, for instance, to a single parent if the well being of the child is to be protected.

"Small asylum status" protection granted to Yugoslav deserters and war resisters

On 11 May 2000, Minister of Interior Schily confirmed that Yugoslav asylum seekers who fled their country during the Kosovo conflict because they refused to do their military service or take part in the war would be granted the so-called "small asylum status" pursuant to Art 51 (1) of Germany’s Aliens Act. These asylum seekers are entitled to a temporary residence permit and protection against expulsion.

Federal Administrative Court decision BVerwG 9 C 20.99 und 9 C 34.99, decision of 24 May 2000: No Protection from Expulsion for Members of the Ahmadiyya Religious community

The Federal Court considered that in the case of expulsion of foreigners to non-Member States of the Council of Europe, Article 3 of the ECHR is relevant only if there is a threat of gross violations of those human rights which are recognized to be the fundamental ones. Where religion is concerned, the right of asylum has been upheld by both the Federal Constitutional Court and the Federal Administrative Court in cases where even minimum standards, or the so-called minimum level of existence of religious practice ("religioeses Existenzminimum") have been violated. According to information provided to the High Administrative Court in Weimar (the court below the BverwG), members of the Ahmadiyya sect in Pakistan are able to practise their religion in private places and the religious minimum of existence is thus still guaranteed.

Federal Administrative Court (BverwG) 5 C 29.98 und 5 C 2.00 — Decision of 18 May 2000

Unlimited Social Aid for Refugees pursuant to the Geneva Convention. See for full text www.bverwg.de (Pressemitteilungen).

Federal Administrative Court (BverwG) 1 C 23.99 — Decision of 21 March 2000

Claimant entitled to being tolerated in Germany ("Duldungsanspruch bei ungeklärter Identität eines Ausländers") if his/her identity cannot be verified. See for full text www.bverwg.de (Pressemitteilungen).

Federal Constitutional Court (BverfG) B.v. 15.02.2000 - 2 BvR 752/97: Distinguishing between political persecution and combating terrorism, PKK

Measures of a state to combat terrorism are not political persecution, if they are aimed at the active terrorist, the participant or supporter of terrorist activities. However, even in those cases, there can be political persecution, if the state beyond prosecuting for criminal acts, persecutes a person on account of one of the five elements listed in the Refugee Convention. These state measures may amount to persecution relevant for an asylum claim. It is not justified, according to the Court, to subject the civil population to brutal state violence in the name of combating terrorism. The existence of far-reaching human rights violations in a certain region may give rise to the question whether a certain intransigent state policy of combating terrorism assumes that only members of certain ethnic origin generally sympathize with terrorist activities. If that is the case (that the state assumes that members of a certain ethnic group sympathise with terrorist activities), it cannot be excluded, from the start that these state measures aim at a certain ethnic group.

High Administrative Court of Baden-Wuertemberg, 29 May: Albanian, Roma and Ashkali have no claim to political asylum

In rulings (A 14 S 1167/98 and A 14 S 2559/98) made public on 29 May 2000, the High Administrative Court of Baden-Wuertemberg concluded that members of the Albanian, Roma and Ashkali community had no claim to political asylum in Germany based on the evaluation of the situation in Yugoslavia where, according to them, the state organ no longer has any grasp of power over the people in Kosovo.

(Note the substantial difference to the French ruling above.)

Bavarian High Administrative Court, April 2000: Rejected Iranian women asylum seekers may be compelled to wear a headscarf to be photographed

The Bavarian High Administrative Court made public in early April its decision to allow use of constraint by the Aliens Department in Nuernberg to force two Iranian women whose asylum claims had been rejected to be photographed with a headscarf. Under Iranian law, women must be photographed with a headscarf. Without such a photograph, the authorities cannot obtain re-admission documents to enable their repatriation.

 

IRELAND

At the end of March 2000 the Supreme Court overruled a High Court decision, which refused applications for judicial review presented by seven rejected Romanians asylum seekers. In a related development, almost 50 other rejected asylum seekers have successfully appealed to the High Court against their deportation orders, claiming that the Minster of Justice, J. O’ Donoghue, had not examined, on an individual basis, their request to be allowed to remain in Ireland for humanitarian reasons. On 19 April, yet another ruling was handed down, which could make it rather difficult to deport rejected asylum seekers with children attending school. A High Court judge, Justice O. Caoihh gave a couple with two children permission to seek a judicial review of their deportation order.

Amendments to the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill

On 30 May 2000 the Minister of Justice, John D. Donoghue, published amendments to the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill aimed at ensuring the departure of rejected asylum seekers. Rejected asylum seekers who have been issued a deportation order will be obliged to remain in a particular district and to report to the police (gardai) at specified times. In addition, a new immigration bureau of the police will be set up. The Minister of Justice added that there were no immediate proposals to set up a detention centre for rejected asylum seekers and assumed since the detention period would be very short, these persons would "probably" be detained in cells in police stations. General Secretary of the Police Union, P.J. Stone, criticized the plan for being "short on specifics" and "not practical". He pointed out that police stations would be unsuitable for holding families awaiting deportation.

 

THE NETHERLANDS

No return to third country without individual examination of deportation risks

On 4 May 2000, the Chamber on the Standardisation of Aliens Law (REK) in The Hague ruled that the Ministry of Justice could not simply send an Afghan asylum seeker back to a third country without first examining the consequences of such a decision. This ruling will affect the current policy of the Ministry of Justice who wants to send back all Afghan asylum seekers to Pakistan if they have stayed there longer than two weeks. Pakistan is considered to be an alternative safe country for Afghan asylum seekers. In the case concerned, Pakistan refused to re-admit one of three Afghan asylum seekers who were in a third country before arriving in the Netherlands. According to the Ministry of Justice, the refusal of a country to re-admit a person is a risk to be assumed by the asylum seeker. However, the REK ruled that the Ministry couldn’t simply ignore this aspect and had to verify whether the asylum seeker can, in fact, return safely to the country through which s/he has transited.

New Dutch asylum Act

The New Aliens Act 2000 has come one step closer after the Dutch Parliament approved - with some amendments - the Government's proposal. The proposal now lies with the Dutch Senate for approval. The proposal will be discussed by September 2000.

The Act breaks rather abruptly with the system of the current Act. It provides for one type of asylum status, irrespective of the grounds for protection. This means that Convention refugees, humanitarian cases and de-facto refugees fleeing general violence or oppression, will be given the same status, and thus will be granted the same rights. After three years, this temporary status will be transferred into a permanent status, provided that the need for protection still exists at that moment. This means that there are possibly two or more crucial moments in each application: the first being the initial decision on granting protection for three years, the second being the final decision on a permanent status. In addition, the Act provides for a ‘moratorium’, which allows the Dutch authorities to postpone a first decision for a period of one year in cases of a mass influx. The final outcome in asylum cases will therefore be uncertain for a longer period. The amendment concerning "safe countries of origin", which was approved by the Dutch Parliament, would require special scrutiny. According to the text of the paragraph, an application may be rejected if the country of origin has signed the Geneva Convention and either one of the other treaties mentioned in paragraph 30: these treaties are the ECHR, the Convention against Torture, but also -according to some interpretations - the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. According to this, it would follow that countries like Sierra Leone and Azerbaijan are considered as safe countries of origin. The asylum seeker will then have to demonstrate that in his/her specific case the country of origin will not observe the obligations under these treaties (including, strangely enough, the 1951 Convention).

No decisions in appeals

The Dutch authorities have openly admitted that no decisions are being made in administrative review procedures, the reason being that the immigration authorities are preparing the new asylum procedure under the Aliens Act 2000. This means that thousands of asylum seekers will have to wait for a decision until the immigration authorities resume the decision process. A special program will be set up for these cases, however, only after the Aliens Act has come into force, presumably January 2001 or later. Whether the authorities will then be capable of dealing with the vast amount of cases, which are still piling up, remains to be seen.

Draft evasion and desertion (Turkish Kurds)

In a decision dated 25 May 2000 (AWB 99/5598), the District Court Zwolle held that a draft evader and deserter, belonging to an ethnic group, can be considered a refugee, when participating in a conflict would be contrary to his genuine political, religious or moral convictions, or to valid reasons of conscience (par. 170 Handbook). It is not necessary that, in addition, the asylum seeker would suffer disproportionately severe punishment, as was the view of the Dutch State. The court deemed it sufficient for the asylum seeker to objectively show his ties with the ethnic (Kurdish) population; not only political activities, but also other actions could be sufficient indication for this.

SPAIN

Proposal to amend the Spanish Constitutional Law of 11 January on the Rights and Freedoms of Foreigners in Spain and their Social Integration

The full text (in Spanish) is attached. See also www.reicaz.es/extranjeria .The main amendments are:

In the First Title, the Government attempted to fulfil it constitutional mandate in accordance with Art 13 of the Spanish Constitution, its international obligations as member of the EU, as well as in accordance with the conclusions of Tampere (equal exercise of rights for legal aliens). The Second Title is aimed at adapting to the Schengen Accord. The Third Title is aimed at introducing measures for the combating of illegal immigration and for the improvement of mechanisms to avoid illegal immigration, in accordance with Spain’s obligation as a member of the Schengen Accord. It also introduces penalties for not complying with the Act’s provisions, such as expulsion from Spanish territory. These penalties are, according to the text of the Proposal, in line with other member states of the EU, as reflected in the Conclusions of Tampere. The Fourth Title revises the definition of the Forum for the integration of immigrants.

Note that section 62 (4), in the Proposal, stipulates that no formal expulsion procedure to transfer an asylum seeker whose application has been deemed inadmissible on the ground that another state is responsible for the examining of the application in accordance with international agreements of which Spain is a member, when the transfer takes place within the period in which the responsible state is obliged to process the application. Under the new proposed provision there will be no right to appeal, in fact, no procedure at all, for Dublin cases.

 

SWEDEN

No political asylum to Kosovars

By early May 2000 the Swedish Immigration Board (SIV) had already rejected some 50 applications for political asylum submitted by Kosovars who were granted a temporary residence permit for being in a mass flight situation. On the other hand, the SIV granted asylum on humanitarian grounds to a Kosovo family who have been living outside Kosovo for the last nine years and had spent some time in another European country before going to Sweden. The SIV also granted asylum to mixed marriage couples and minority communities.

Appeals by Jewish asylum seekers

In considering eight cases of appeal by Jewish asylum seekers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, the Aliens Appeals Board has pointed out that the general conditions for persons of Jewish origin are not of the kind that would constitute grounds for granting asylum. However, circumstances in individual cases may be considered as systematic persecution. (Note the difference to the French Appeals Commission cases)

 

SWITZERLAND

Committee on Asylum Appeals supports refusal of the Federal Refugee Office to examine the merits of a case by an asylum seeker who arrived late

On 2 May 2000, the Committee on Asylum Appeals (ARK) decided to support, in principle, the refusal of the Federal Refugee Office (BFF) to examine the merits of a case presented by an African asylum seeker who arrived late, on two occasions, for his interview in the canton of Fribourg. Subsequently with the rejection of his claim he was ordered to be deported to Liberia. The new law, which came into force in October 1999, enables the authorities to refuse to examine a case on the grounds that an asylum seeker refuses to cooperate. For such a refusal of the BFF only negligence without a valid reason on the part of the asylum seeker needs to be established. The ARK considered that the new law was applicable to this case even though the criticised behaviour of the asylum seeker related to a time before the new law came into force. The retroactive effect was, according to the ARK, justified here because the new law is, in principle, applicable to cases which were still pending when it came into force, and because the new law was amended in order to combat abuses committed within the framework of the asylum procedure.

Anti-Racism Information Service

The Anti-Racism Information Service (ARIS) based in Geneva, Switzerland is a non-sectarian, non-profit organization whose aim is to make the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination more "user friendly" to local, national and international non-governmental organizations. Part of this project involves lobbying the members of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on behalf of organizations who are unable to represent themselves at the twice-yearly meetings of the Committee. At the sessions, ARIS makes available to the experts recent NGO publications and documentation concerning racism and xenophobia in the countries, which are being discussed that day. The next session of the CERD is due to take place from 31 July to 25 August 2000. In order to prepare the files, ARIS is searching for relevant information on the countries which will be discussed, i.e. Argentina, Czech Republic, Finland, Ghana, the Holy See, Iceland, Mauritius, Nepal, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan. The information submitted to ARIS can be of any length, from an article in a newsletter to entire books, case-studies or statistics: documents should discuss racial discrimination in any from, in the workplace, in schools, in government, in literature and in society in general. Information on ARIS documentation and publications can be found at www.antiracism-info.org. For further information contact: Anki Flores aris@antiracism-info.org

 

TURKEY

Turkish Network for Dissemination of Refugee Law and Policy Studies

If you would like to learn more about the refugee-law group, please visit http://www.egroups.com/group/refugee-law and enter the following sign-in information: refugee-law-subscribe@egroups.com

UNITED KINGDOM

Accelerated procedure for asylum seekers begging

On 4 April 2000, the Minster for Immigration, Barbara Roche, announced that asylum seekers caught begging would have their claims examined as soon as possible. Any foreigner caught begging will have his personal details transmitted immediately to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office. If this person proves to be an asylum seeker, his/her dossier will be rapidly processed. The Home Office has not yet indicated how long this accelerated procedure will take.

House of Lords

Horvath v SSHD, 7 July 2000: Interpretation of "persecution", non-state agents of persecution, failure of state protection

For full text see http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld199900/ldjudgmt/jd000706/horv-1.htm

The issues before the House of Lords were whether the failure of state protection is central to the interpretation of all elements of the refugee definition, in particular whether the term "persecution" denotes sufficiently severe ill-treatment against which the state failed to afford protection. The court decided that in the context of an allegation of persecution by non-state agents, the word "persecution" implied a failure by the state to make protection available against the ill-treatment or violence which the person suffered at hands of his/her persecutors. On the question of when failure of state protection can be assumed, the Court ruled that complete protection against ill-treatment is not to be expected from the home state. The standard applied to the "protection test" was therefore "not that which would eliminate all risk and would thus amount to a guarantee of protection of the home state." Rather it was a practical standard, which took proper account of the duty which the state owed to all its own nationals. Lord Lloyd, dissenting on the meaning of "persecution" said it is not the absence of state protection that turned discrimination into persecution, rather the severity and the persistence of the means adopted.

Many thanks to the Refugee Legal Centre for the information below

Court of Appeal

SSHD v Rehman (C/99/1266), Court of Appeal 23 May 2000, Master of the Rolls: interpretation of "national security"

Rehman is a Pakistani national who was granted entry clearance to come to the UK to work as a minister of religion at the Jamait Ahele-e-Hadith in Oldham. Following four years as a minister, he made an out of time application for indefinite leave to remain. After having gone on a holiday to Pakistan upon return to the UK in Dec 1997, Rehman was detained and interviewed at Manchester Airport by special branch officers and an officer of the security service. His application for indefinite leave to remain was refused in December 1998. It was alleged that Rehman was the UK point of contact for an extremist Islamic organisation called Markaz Dawa Al Irshad (MDI) attached to a Mujahedin organisation known as Lashkar Taiyyaba (LT). It was further alleged that Rehman had been involved in the recruitment of British Muslims to undergo military training on behalf of MDI, and in fund-raising for LT. Rehman denied all of these allegations. The Secretary of State issued a deportation order on the ground of national security reasons. Rehman’s subsequent appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) was allowed. On appeal by the Secretary of State against SIAC’s decision, the Court of Appeal held that the term "national security" was to be construed widely, as questions of national security were not limited to situations in which the interest of the UK or its citizens where threatened directly. The Court found that the UK had a direct interest in combating terrorism and securing and maintaining co-operation with other states for reasons of reciprocity and in the light of numerous alliances on the international level, thus the threat to the security of another state could also be said to be within the ambit of the national security of the UK. In determining what constituted an issue of national security weight should be given to the views of the Executive. It found that it was necessary to look at all of the evidence globally, and not only at each of the individual allegations. Although the individual might not have performed a single act that threatened national security, there might be a case for that individual, because of all of the evidence in the round, being treated as a danger to national security. The Master of the Rolls overturned SIAC’s decision and the matter was remitted for reconsideration by SIAC.

Nabil Ahmed Salim v SSHD IATRF 1999/0993/C 14 April 2000, on the applicability of the principle in Arif v SSHD

In this case, the Court of Appeals had to define the scope of the principle in Arif v SSHD (1999) INLR 327, that past persecution or ill treatment is an important indicator of future risks. The facts were that the appellant, a citizen of Kenya, arriving in the UK, claimed asylum on grounds of ill treatment (severely beaten and detained overnight) by the Kenyan police because he belonged to the Islamic Party of Kenya. Both the special adjudicator and the Tribunal accepted the fact that he had been ill treated by the police on two occasions, but they did not accept that he suffered any mistreatment on the three following incidents that the appellant referred to at the asylum interview; and did not accept that he had a well founded fear of persecution upon return to Kenya. Concerning the question whether past persecution would entitle the appellant to asylum according to the principle established in Arif v SSHD, the Court found this case to be different from the circumstances in Arif. The Court clearly stated the limitations to the applicability of Arif: the evidentiary burden of proof only shifts to SSHD where firstly, the appellant has already established a well founded fear of persecution for a Convention reason, i.e. had been entitled to recognition as a refugee at some stage following departure from his own state and secondly, it was now argued that a change of circumstances in his/her home country no longer allowed him/her to refuse to avail her/himself of the protection of the home state.

 

The Immigration Appeal Tribunal (IAT)

Yasin Sepet Erdem Bulbul (00/TH/01266, 6-7 April 2000: conscientious objection; radical departure from other case law with its formulation of "absolute" and "partial" objection to military service.

In the case of Turkish nationals who evaded military service in Turkey on account of their objection to kill their fellow Kurds, the IAT held that there are two sorts of objection: absolute (objection against any form of military service) and partial objection (objection to fighting against a particular race, party or religion). As regards the sustainability of an absolute objector’s claim, the IAT referred to Zaitz v SSHD (Court of Appeal), 28 January 2000 (see Documentation Service March 2000).

In relation to partial objection the court held that some types of objection, although they might be strongly held views, were not sufficient. Where it was asserted that the objection to military service was solely based on discrimination, such as an unwillingness to kill people of a particular ethnicity, this was not a justifiable basis for refusing to perform military service. "It is unacceptable to say that one would not kill people of a particular race, party or religion as to say that one would kill people of another race, party or religion." On the other hand a partial objector might succeed on basis of an aversion to killing non-combatants, children or prisoners. In considering whether a conflict was to be considered to be regarded as "internationally condemned" (per para. 171 of the UNHCR Handbook) formal international condemnation was not necessary. It could be inferred from egregious breaches (i.e. violation of basic human rights, breaches of humanitarian law and non-defensive incursions into foreign territory) by those involved in the conflict. In such situations, and on the basis of a genuine objection, an applicant could qualify as a refugee, if he were to suffer a significant penalty on refusal, or if he were to be forced to become involved in such military action, even if there were no such penalty. Furthermore, the applicant would need to show a proximity to participation in such actions, as he cannot be expected to be placed in a situation in which he would be forced to commit actions that would lead to his exclusion from the [Refugee] Convention, according to the terms of Article 1 F.

On the facts, the appeals failed, as the objections of the appellants to performing military service were not "valid". Secondly, despite the fact that the IAT found some evidence to support a degree of international condemnation of the conflict [in South East Turkey] it was, applying a "common sense" approach to the evidence unlikely that the appellants would in any event be forced to participate in abuses against their fellow Kurds: "(…) it was hard to believe that Turkish commanders would send Kurdish conscripts of dubious allegiance to fight the PKK or assign them to missions among Kurdish villages (…)". An application for leave to challenge the decision in the Court of Appeal has been made. Note that this case is a radical departure from other case law, with its formulation of "absolute" and "partial" objection to military service. In its judgement in Danian (1999) INLR 533, the Court of Appeal rejected as impermissible attempts to imply limitations or exceptions on a claim that otherwise came within Article 1 A (2) when such limitations do not exist in the Article 1 definition. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights do not contain such a reservation or such a qualification as to why and for what reason (whether discriminatory or not) a certain opinion, belief or conscience is held.

Pylyugin (00/TH/01346), Ukrainian who investigated fraud among high officials

The appeal of a Ukrainian national who had been politically active, and involved in investigating and disclosing fraud among high ranking individuals, was allowed. The Tribunal adopted a passage from the judgement of Hill J in the Federal Court of Australia in Voitenko v Minister of State for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (1999) FCA 428. If the corruption is itself directed from the highest levels of society or endemic in the political fabric of society such that it either enjoys political protection, or the government of that society is unable to afford protection to those who campaign against it, the risk of persecution can be said to be for a reason of political opinion.

Balog (00/TH/01492, 18 May 2000): Roma in Slovakia

In this case, the Tribunal allowed the appeal of a Roma appellant from Slovakia who had been attacked by skinheads. The Tribunal accepted that the police had proven unwilling to take action to provide him with protection. The Court did not find that there was a change of circumstances in Slovakia such as to ensure that there was effective protection or that the climate had changed sufficiently so that there would be no repetition of the appellant’s past experiences.

Human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Two IAT decisions on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo acknowledged that "there is clear evidence that those arrested and detained by governmental security forces may be under the risk of severe ill-treatment during detention" (in Munuma Mukidi, 00/TH/00447, 5 April 2000); and "that those associated with UDPS remain in a position of potential danger in the DRC…". In Mbuta Zola Ndonga, the IAT found that "deteriorations in the government’s already poor human rights record" took place and "it is said that the abuses for which the security forces are responsible include numerous rapes." In addition, the Tribunal extended the principle in Iftikhar Ahmed, 5 November 1999 (IATRF 1999/0490/C) -there in the context of future religious persecution — to future political persecution upon return to the country of origin. The Tribunal duly located the protection of the refugee convention, in accordance with the preamble, within the general scheme of human rights.

 

Turkey, internal flight alternative for Kurds

In Suleyman Okur (00/TH/00436, 27 March 2000, the Tribunal set a positive precedent to be followed in Kurdish cases where there is actual or suspected political involvement particularly with the PKK. The Tribunal disposed of the internal flight argument that Kurdish relocation to the big cities was a viable option.

Colombia, membership in a particular social group

In Albeyro Jaramillo-Aponte, Nubia Escobar Ayala (00/TH/00428, 30 March 2000), the Tribunal acknowledged that the appellants were being persecuted as members of the Escobar family and thus on account of membership in a particular social group (following the Court of Appeal’s decision in Quijano (1997) Imm AR 227). The Tribunal found that there was not a sufficiency of protection in Colombia (relying on Court of Appeal decision in Horvath, 3 December 1999: "law and order has broken down so that the State can no longer control the activities of criminals perpetrating violence.").

Russia, Protestants

The Tribunal allowed the appeal of a Russian appellant claiming religious persecution on account of his being a member of Protestantism. It held that the latest country reports showed that the persecution of Protestant minorities continued and that the federal law circumscribing the rights of minority religious sects in Russia had ushered in even greater religious intolerance. The Tribunal applied the principle in Arif (1999, Imm AR 271) given that the adjudicator’s finding that the appellant had a well-founded fear in 1994, the burden of proof would rest upon the respondent.

Special Adjudicator (SA)

SA recommends to reconsider certificate on Kosovo

In the case Kadri Krasniqi CC/10444/00, promulgated 17 April 2000, the Special Adjudicator allowed the appeal and did not uphold the certificate. The appellant, an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, a supporter of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), who also assisted the KLA, fled Kosovo as a result of the persecutions he experienced therein. The adjudicator accepted the evidence of the appellant in its entirety. The Secretary of State of the Home Office (SSHD) had argued that since the Peace Accord of June 1999 and the re-entry of more than 600,000 refugees, the appellant’s fear of persecution was no longer well founded. The adjudicator relying on several reports on the situation in Kosovo recommended that the Home Office reconsider its position as set out in its letter of 17 September 1999. The adjudicator concluded that: "The situation has deteriorated seriously since then. To deny the appellants and his family in these circumstances would be a serious denial of our duties as a signatory of the Refugee Convention and our humanitarian duty in general".

Note the difference to the Austrian Administrative Court’s decision of 10 May 2000 and the German High Administrative Court of Baden-Wuertenberg’s ruling of 29 May 2000 on Kosovo. See as well the French Appeals Commission’s doctrine on Kosovo since the Peace Accords of June 1999.

 

USA

For useful Practice Pointers in gender-related cases by Pamela Goldberg, Associate Professor of Law, City University of New York School of Law see http://www.uchastings.edu/cgrs/documents/legal/practice.htm

Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), in Matter of S-A-, Interims Decision 3433, 27 June 2000: domestic violence, religious beliefs

(full text available at http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir/efoia/bia/biaindx.htm)

On 4 May 2000, the INS requested the BIA to publish the decision in Matter of S-A- as a BIA precedent.

A woman with liberal Muslim beliefs established by credible evidence that she had suffered past persecution (repeated physical assaults, imposed isolation, deprivation of education) and has a well founded fear of future persecution at the hands of her father on account of her religious beliefs, which differ from her father’s orthodox Muslim views concerning the proper role of women in Moroccan society.

The Court found that because of the religious element in the case the domestic abuse suffered by the respondent differed from that described in Matter of R-A, Interim Decision 3403 (BIA 1999). In addition, because the persecution suffered was on account of her religious beliefs, the Board found her case distinguishable on the facts from circuit court decision holding that persecution on account of gender does not constitute persecution on account of membership in a particular social group.

In Matter of R-A (setting an precedent for domestic violence cases), the Board dealt with the case of a Guatemalan woman who suffered persecution at the hands of her husband. The Board ruled that Ms. R-A- failed to prove that the claimed social group is "a recognized segment of the population, within Guatemala."  The Board also decided that Ms. Alvarado had not proved that her husband had harmed her because of her membership in that social group.  The Board majority also decided that the persecution was not inflicted on account of political opinion.  The Ninth Circuit has held that a woman's resistance to violent domination by her male partner can be an expression of political opinion. Lazo-Majano v. INS, 813 F.2d 1432 (9th Cir. 1987).  Nevertheless, the Board determined there was no evidence that Ms. Alvarado's husband persecuted her for any political opinion that she had, or that he thought she had.

Note that in the High Court of Australia decision in Chen Shi Hai v The Minister of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Kirby J. states that "the group is not a club or necessarily cohesive and identified to the public or to all persons affected by the same persecution." (at para 67).

For more on Matter of R-A- see the R-A-website at http://www.uchastings.edu/cgrs/campaigns/alvarado/alvarado.htm

 

Conferences

Barbed Wire Europe: Conference Against Immigration Detention.

15th-17th September at Ruskin College Oxford. Organised by the Campaign to Close Campsfield. Further details from Bill MacKeith, 60 Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6AX, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1865 558145;

e-mail: ConfAgstImmDetn@aol.com

 

other developments

asylumlaw.org has enhanced its website with a database of human rights information on countries of origin:

(http://asylumlaw.org/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/webinator/metanew4 ); and a bulletin board for practitioners:

(http://www.asylumlaw.org/cgi-bin/bb/Ultimate.cgi )

No.4

July 2000

 

ECRE DOCUMENTATION SERVICE

 

 

 

 

 

Central & Eastern Europe developments

Central Europe

CEFRAN

Following a period of consultations with many agencies in Central Europe, ECRE is now recommending that as a result of several developments in recent years the CEFRAN structure needed to be reviewed. During the recent ECRE Executive Meeting in Rome it was finally decided that a more integrated approach was now necessary, which encourages previous CEFRAN agencies to participate more fully in ECRE, and the ECRE Networks, rather than remain as a separate regional forum. This decision was taken in light of many more Central European agencies having joined ECRE, focal point agencies having been designated for most of the ECRE networks and a recognition that the CEFRAN country structure was no longer serving the purposes that were originally envisaged. CEFRAN agencies were generally clear that country lead agencies were not a model which best served their needs, and that activity based coordination, across the ECRE network, was more useful to their individual needs. During this meeting it was also acknowledged that CEFRAN had provided an extremely useful platform for the developments that have succeeded it, but that it was the moment to recognise that Central European agencies were now prepared, and ready, to play a fuller and more active role in the wider ECRE.

 

FUNDRAISING TOOLKIT

Work on the production of the fundraising toolkit is in its final stages. The first part of the publication is concerned with the creation of a fundraising strategy, the process of writing an application and preparing a budget. This will be followed by profiles of funders, whose interests are in the Central Europe region and/or in the areas of refugees/migration/development of civil society and/or human rights. The structure of the profile is divided into several parts, detailing who the charity/organisation/foundation is, who is eligible to apply, the types of activities funded, deadlines for applications and the relevant contacts. We have also included a small space to be devoted to notes and updates, the idea being that there can be feedback regarding a successful application for funding, a change in the criteria for funding, or alternative or new sources of funding. If it proves to be a useful resource, feedback will mean the potential for revisions in the future. The current aim is to have the toolkit completed and sent out to the agencies in September.

 

ECRE WEBSITE REVIEW

Work is to soon begin on developing a questionnaire with the purpose of reviewing Central European agency use of the ECRE website and the Internet in general. It will try to uncover what is liked and disliked about its present form and the frequency with which it is used. It will also encourage suggestions for its improvement and ways in which it could be made more relevant for the region, for example, in the kinds of links available.

 

NEWS FROM THE SECRETARIAT

Clementina Cantoni left ECRE on 14th July to take up a great opportunity with the International Rescue Committee in Pristina. All at ECRE are terribly disappointed to see her go, but we recognise that she will be bringing her valued skills and commitment to a part of the world where they will be much welcomed.

 

INTERNATIONAL FUND RAISING GROUP

A non-profit organisation based in London, its aim is to enable the voluntary/non-governmental sector mobilise resources through domestic means. One of the ways in which it does this is through regional fundraising conferences. In 1999 the conference was held in Bratislava, at which over 100 delegates attended from 21 countries in the region. This year the 8th Central and Eastern European Fundraising Conference will be held in Moscow on 14-17 September 2000. For further information, contact: "Focus", e-mail: npfocus@cityline.ru.

Source: http://www.ifrg.org.uk/ (Regional Fundraising Conferences Link), e-mail: contact@ifrg.org.uk

 

UNITED FOR INTERCULTURAL ACTION EUROPEAN NETWORK AGAINST NATIONALISM, RACISM, FASCISM AND IN SUPPORT OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES

Calendar of Internationalism: A bi-monthly informational source available on the Internet. It gives details of 100 - 130 announcements of activities concerning anti-racism, inter-culturalism, migrants, refugees, minorities, anti-fascism, etc. Europe wide. They take the form of conferences, seminars, workshops and training. The calendar may be accessed at http://www.united.non-profit.nl/pages/2000.htm.

 

 

REVIEW

Questioning the need for a new approach to migration was highlighted (Central European Review, vol. 2, no. 25, 26 June 2000. http://www.ce-review.org) by the incident with the 58 Chinese illegal immigrants at Dover. It begs the question as to whether the increasing clandestine and illegal immigration continues to take place as a result of the unavailability of other legal routes of entry. What the Western European countries fear, particularly in preparation for the process of enlargement into Central Europe, is that excessive movement from the East will flood European labour markets. However according to the Migration News Sheet/June 2000, a study carried out at the request of the European Commission estimates that although an initial surge may occur, in the first year 335,800 from the candidate countries are predicted to leave. The Economic Institute DIW who undertook the study advises against the postponement of free movement rights for the candidate countries, but instead proposes a system of quotas for a limited period of time.

 

Eastern Europe

RECENT EVENTS

Paris Biannual General Meeting, May 12-14 2000

The MATRA programme for Eastern Europe funded the participation of eight representatives from NGOs in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to attend May’s Biannual General Meeting in Paris. Evaluation of the meeting by the participants was positive. They had a chance before the meeting began to meet with Tanya Valchanova from the Bulgarian Red Cross, as well as with Secretariat staff, to discuss the aims and structure of the BGM. The themes of working with the media and campaigning were relevant to all the Eastern European NGOs involved, as were many of the legal issues covered on the Sunday morning. Participants were also impressed with the democratic and fair way in which topics were discussed at the BGM, and the interactive approach taken in many of the workshops.

"Integration of Refugees: International Perspectives": Seminar in Minsk, May 23-24 2000

This seminar was held jointly with UNHCR LO Minsk and was designed as a general exploration of European practice in the field of refugee integration, to try to highlight which examples of best practice might be most feasible in the Belarusian context. The meeting involved around 60 representatives of NGOs and government authorities.

Belarus now has around 300 recognised refugees but, in the present harsh economic climate, the government and NGOs are looking for affordable, durable solutions to the problems of integration. ECRE was represented by Areti Sianni, Integration Policy Officer, Bill Seary, Consultant, and Daniel Drake, Project Officer for Eastern Europe. ECRE also invited speakers from a Slovenian and a Ukrainian NGO, who shared their practical experience of working on integration issues. The Ukrainian representative gave a well-received presentation on a refugee community centre in Kyiv for Afghan women and children, run by ADRA Ukraine.

CIS Conference on Migration NGO Working Group on Refugee Legislation and Protection meeting, Tbilisi, May 25-27 2000

ECRE has been involved with the CIS Conference on Migration (CISCONF) process since its inception in 1996, and this meeting was the latest to be held by the NGO Working Group on Legislation and Protection, formed under the auspices of CISCONF. The meeting involved around 20 NGO participants from the entire CIS region, and was kindly organised by the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and the lead agency of the working group, the Danish Refugee Council.

The meeting was intended to identify a three-year strategy for the working group, and to lay the foundations for a funding application to the Danish Foreign Ministry. There was also discussion of the future of the group in the context of the end of the CISCONF process (see below), and the identification of a new lead agency for the group when the DRC gives up the role in a couple of years’ time. While no final decisions were taken, a basic framework was created which will hopefully enable the group in the future to utilise the skills of its members as fully as possible.

"Legal reasoning in assessing claims for asylum: the experience of Ukraine and other countries": Seminar in Kyiv, May 31 2000

This ECRE seminar was held with the co-operation of UNHCR BO Kyiv and the kind assistance of Edelweiss, a leading Ukrainian NGO working with refugees and asylum-seekers. During earlier discussions with UNHCR and NGOs in Ukraine it was clear that one of the barriers to a fair and efficient asylum procedure was the lack of a clearly reasoned decision, which in turn created difficulties for lawyers representing asylum-seekers in the appeals procedure. Clara Odofin, head of ECRE’s Policy & Advocacy Department, attended the meeting together with Bill Seary and Daniel Drake from the ECRE Secretariat. ECRE also invited Evelien Grosheide, a judge with the IARLJ, and Eugenia Crangariu, a lawyer from Romania, to speak on producing well-reasoned decisions and what a lawyer needs to know. The meeting also brought together around 35 government officials, NGO representatives and lawyers from throughout Ukraine.

The seminar raised a number of issues on the substance of asylum decisions, on the application of the ‘Safe Third Country’ clause, and on the particular case of Chechens arriving in Ukraine, and it was important to address these topics as well as focusing on the actual delivery of the decision. The seminar led to constructive dialogue between government officials, NGOs and lawyers, but several objective factors, in particular the fact that at the time of the seminar the central government authority responsible for refugee affairs was in a state of dissolution, meant that it was difficult to make concrete recommendations for reform.

A full report on this seminar is available from the ECRE Secretariat.

Twinning visit to the UK

From July 2nd to 9th 2000 Oxana Kharitonova, director of the NGO "Equilibre-Solidarnost" in Moscow, and Alexandra Ishchenko, deputy director of the NGO "Edelweiss" in Ukraine, visited London under ECRE’s Twinnings Programme. The visit was co-ordinated by the UK NGO Refugee Action (RA), with the purpose of showing the two visitors more of RA’s work and exploring the possibilities of future co-operation. During the visit the two Eastern Europeans visited a number of community groups in London and Cambridge, the Refugee Council’s One-Stop Service in Brixton, South London, as well as all of RA’s offices in London and the ECRE Secretariat office. Reports on both visits under the exchange have now been produced, which recommend that joint funding proposals be developed, possibly to the British Know How Fund for projects on public awareness work and/or community development.

A second twinning, between the Refugee Counselling Service in Belarus and SOZE in the Czech Republic, has been set up and the first visit under this arrangement is expected to take place in mid-August.

CIS Conference on Migration Steering Group meeting, Geneva, July 11-14 2000

The final meeting of the steering group for the CIS Conference on Migration (CISCONF) involved around 150 NGOs from the entire CIS region, international NGOs including ECRE, intergovernmental organisations and government officials from the CIS and other parts of the world.

The main steering group meeting was preceded by a two-day NGO pre-meeting, at which NGOs praised the profile that CISCONF had given to them, and expressed their concern that NGOs would not be given sufficient attention in the follow-up process. In particular, the proposal to divide the steering group into a series of ‘expert working groups’ focusing on specific issues of concern did not make explicit enough the role that NGOs would play. Also, some NGOs were concerned with the heavy focus on combating illegal migration, as they felt this underplayed the right to international protection that should be the cornerstone of any discussion on migration. The main Steering Group approved the creation of the expert working groups, and agreed that these structures, together with the existing thematic NGO working groups, should form the basis for a continuation of CISCONF for another five years.

For more information on CISCONF please contact the ECRE Secretariat.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES

Rachel Bugler, Co-ordinator for the Eastern Europe programme, is in the process of completing the final report for the project to the Dutch Foreign Ministry. This will form the conclusion of the present stage of the project in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. A funding application to extend the project for another year has been submitted to the same funder, and we are waiting for an answer from them. If the project is funded for the next year then we expect to run activities which will build on those which we ran over the last two years, focusing on national and regional legal and NGO development workshops, fundraising consultancy, twinnings and bursaries to relevant international meetings. ECRE staff are also expected to visit the region frequently to attend relevant conferences and meet with partner organisations and UNHCR regional offices. We also hope to continue to involve other Secretariat staff and member agencies in planning and implementing activities in the region.

For more information on ECRE’s work in Eastern Europe, please contact Rachel Bugler or Daniel Drake at the ECRE Secretariat on rbugler@ecre.org or ddrake@ecre.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIST OF ANNEXES —

C040100: ECRE Country Report for France

P040100: ECRE Lobbying Strategy for UNHCR meetings in 2000; Paper no.4: the July Standing Committee

P040200: NGO Statement on Complementary Protection

P040300: NGO Statement on Europe

P040400: Position on the Interpretation of Article 1of The Refugee Convention (2nd Draft)

P040500: Position on Complementary Protection (2nd Draft)

I040100: Reflection on the Changing Nature of Resettlement and the Impact upon the Operational Environment: Speech given at the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement, Geneva, 3- 4 July 2000

I040200: Position on Refugee Family Reunification

L040100: Proposal to amend the Spanish Constitutional Law of 11 January on the Rights and Freedoms of Foreigners in Spain and their Social Integration (in Spanish)