Criminalisation of undocumented migrants, and the Victims of Crime Directive – PICUM

In June Erika, our Human Rights Officer, participated in the workshop ‘Ending the criminalisation of undocumented migrants’ organised by the Platform for International Cooperation of Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), an independent human rights platform dedicated to the advancement of protection of rights of undocumented migrants worldwide.

The theme was selected due to the tendency to view undocumented migrants as criminals, as seen in the terms and discourse used and also the 2015 EU proposal of ‘bombing boats’. The workshop included two plenary sessions, during which Erika gave examples of criminalisation of migrants in Malta using our photo ‘Red carpet to detention!’.

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These sessions were followed by thematic working groups. In view of our own priorities, Erika attended the ‘Borders and Detention’ group where she discussed key issues with NGO representatives from Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The second day was dedicated to PICUM’s Annual General Assembly. The agenda and financial management documents were presented along with the list of new PICUM Members and its new Membership Structure. Following the Assembly, Members were given the opportunity to exchange information and ideas in relation to their work and two short working groups were held on the transposition of the Victims of Crime Directive and related Member legal strategies (see here for our own work on this important Directive).

The final plenary session was dedicated to an exchange of good practices, where some Members shared successful campaigns and the process of reaching their objectives.

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PICUM brings together NGOs working with undocumented migrants. As a platform it encourages organisations to build their capacity, network and exchange good practices.

aditus foundation has been an active PICUM member since 2011.


Workshop on monitoring immigration detention

As part of our on-going efforts to increase our capacity, on 26 and 27 March Claire (Legal Officer) was in Brussels to attend a two-day workshop on monitoring immigration detention organised by the Flemish Refugee Action and the International Detention Coalition (aditus foundation is one of IDC’s Malta members).

The aim of the workshop was to strengthen civil society monitoring of immigration by sharing experiences, challenges and positive practices. The agenda was structured around the publication of ‘Monitoring Immigration Detention: A Practical Manual published last year by Association for the Prevention of Torture, UNHCR and IDC.

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Participants

The workshop was open exclusively to NGOs who have access to and regularly visit places of immigration detention to conduct monitoring. Around 30 participants. Among the NGOs attending : Estonian Human Rights Centre, France Terre d’Asile, Caritas International, JRS, Hungarian Helsinki Committee…

Summary

The workshop focused on three elements:

  • How to develop a monitoring strategy
  • How to conduct a monitoring visit
  • How to do the follow-up of a monitoring visit
Developing a monitoring strategy

A former member of the Swiss National Commission for the Prevention of Torture introduced the practical manual and shared the experiences of the Swiss NPM’s monitoring of immigration detention.

Conducting a monitoring visit

The coordinator for IDC introduced the different methodologies to prepare and conduct a visit. Participants also worked in groups focusing on three challenges when conducting a visit: how to balance monitoring with individual case work, how to effectively monitor with volunteers and how to respect confidentiality).

Four NGOs (Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Defence for Children, Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Belgian Visitors Group) also presented their own monitoring programmes and tools, in order to share and exchange very practical experiences.

Following-up on a monitoring visit

The IDC coordinator introduced the theoretical overview of an internal follow-up (debriefings in team, internal reports, analysis of data, etc.). Participants then divided into groups to work on different subjects, including how to make effective recommendations, how to coordinate with other monitoring bodies and how to analyse data collected during monitoring. Four NGOs (France Terre d’Asile, JRS Romania, Menedek, ASGI) also presented their own advocacy strategies and tools.

This workshop was a very instructive and participatory event and a great opportunity to share experiences with other NGOs. Workshop outcomes will be presented in an online briefing paper with tips and advice for NGOs conducting monitoring of immigration detention.


Announcing Two New Projects!

aditus is pleased to announce two exciting new projects we’ve taken on, in cooperation with four esteemed partner organisations.

Project Integrated is an undertaking shared by aditus, JRS Malta and Integra Foundation, with the support of UNHCR Malta. The three Maltese NGOs will integrate their best efforts, until the end of 2015, for the sake of better integrating beneficiaries of international protection in the local context – to help them profit fully from their human rights and to restore their pride as independent and successful contributors to society.

In anticipation of the integration policy which Malta is meant to publish this year, Project Integrated will work to help beneficiaries see some of the everyday benefits that come directly, in theory, from their protected status. In education, healthcare and employment, for example, many obstacles remain, even as beneficiaries have the right to all three: We intend to advance integration through counselling, facilitating access to services, monitoring the practical lapses in integration and ongoing advocacy with the Maltese authorities and the press.

In particular, aditus will offer its legal expertise to Project Integrated through the further mobilisation of its Pro Bono Unit. aditus will also build on the insights gained in our earlier projects, especially the Stakeholder Information Sessions, to organise capacity-building activities with its partners.

Next, as a member of the European Network on Statelessness, aditus will be the Maltese focal point for the project Protecting Stateless Persons from Arbitrary DetentionThe European Network on Statelessness is a group of NGOs, academic initiatives and individual experts with over 90 members in 30 European countries. The Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion will be an expert partner on the project; and in March, American photojournalist Greg Constantine will be in Malta to document the problem. Nowhere People, the website featuring his work on statelessness, is here.

Protecting Stateless Persons from Arbitrary Detention, a three-year project, will address the increase in Europe of immigration detention, including as a form of punishment, and the state criminalisation of irregular migration, the lack of protection for the stateless and the gulf between the rights afforded to the stateless on paper, according to legal standards, and the actual realisation of those rights. The gulf, in fact, leaves many stateless persons vulnerable to arbitrary detention in Europe.

Protecting Stateless Persons will study each national reality of statelessness, offer region- and country-specific tools to protect the stateless, train lawyers, NGOs and others to use those tools and advocate for protection.


How to implement detention alternatives in Malta?

On Friday, 6th February, our Director participated in the Final Conference in the MADE REAL Project where the project’s Final Report was presented and discussed.

As explained on the project’s site:

“This report is an integral part of the project MADE REAL ‘Making Alternatives to Detention in Europe a Reality by Exchanges, Advocacy and Learning’ which was co-financed by the European Commission and implemented by the Odysseus Academic Network together with 13 national partners.

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It constitutes a significant pooling of knowledge on the law and practice on detention decision-making and alternatives to detention in 6 EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Lithuania, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom). In addition, it includes legal research on the scope of Member States’ obligations to implement alternatives to immigration detention under international, European (i.e. Council of Europe) and EU law.

It advances an understanding of what alternatives to immigration detention are, bearing in mind the above-mentioned legal frameworks and in particular the precisions that were brought about by the Return Directive and the Recast Reception Conditions Directive.

The critical analysis of the legal frameworks as well as of the significant mass of information on national law and practice has led to the identification of underlying principles and good practices for fair decision-making on, and effective implementation of, alternatives to detention. However, the research also reveals defective practices, which contravene the legal obligations of Member States and are ineffective in achieving Member States’ objectives.

It is hoped that the present study will contribute to factual-based and legally sound advocacy and will act as guide for policy and decision-makers throughout the EU.”

We are confident that this projects’ findings will further strenghten our advocacy efforts on the need to introduce detention alternatives in Malta’s law and practice regarding asylum-seekers and other migrants.