Statewatch article: RefNo# 36216
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.3.16)
Statewatch News Online, March 2016
- European Commission: New reports 16 March 2016 prior to the EU-Turkey Summit on 18-19 March:

Health warning the titles of the reports are quite misleading: eg: Annex 3: "First report on relocation and resettlement" is in fact a State of Play report on Greece. Helpful titles given below:

- Six Principles for further developing EU-Turkey Cooperation in tackling the Migration Crisis - Brussels, 16 March 2016 (Press release, pdf)

- First report on relocation and resettlement (COM 165-16, pdf)

- Next operational steps in EU-Turkey cooperation in the field of migration (COM 166-16, pdf): "The return of all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey"

HOTSPOTS TO BE "ADAPTED" to "implement returns to Turkey" and to exclude "relocation" to EU states of those in need of international proteaction: Hotspots to be turned from registration and refferal for trhose in need of international protection and: "adapted – with the current focus on registration and screening before swift transfer to the mainland replaced by the objective of implementing returns to Turkey. For instance, the infrastructure in the hotspots would need to be reconfigured to accommodate the readmission and asylum offices."

And: the building of secure detention centres on the Greek islands: "Another important element would be a substantial increase in reception capacity in the islands. This could include separate facilities for irregular migrants and those undergoing the longer procedure of an asylum request, and would require sufficient detention capacity to be put in place for individuals who present a risk of absconding."

Finally the legality of the mass return of refugees and migrants from Greece to Turkey (p3-4) is uttelry dependent on the Commission's assertoin that legality is ensured: "Provided these safeguards are respected by Greece and Turkey, this scheme will be in accordance with European and international law" (see for example: Why Turkey is Not a “Safe Country” (pdf)

- Annex 1: Relocations from Greece (pdf) Out of the planned commitments for 63,302 relocation places in Member States only 2,250 have been offered and only 569 refugees relocated.

- Annex 2: Relocations from Italy (pdf) Out of the planned commitements of 34 953 places in Member Statews only 1,473 have been offered and only 368 refugees have been relocated.

- Annex 3: Greece – State of Play Report (pdf) includes:p3; Tranportation directly to: "detention facilities needs to be established", p9: Forced return programme to be implemented by the Hellenic police and p11 "timely pre-removal detention".Still no mention of the need to provide access to legal advice.

- Annex 4: Italy – State of Play (pdf)

- Annex 5: Chart on relocation process (pdf)

- Annex 6: Resettlement State of Play (pdf)

- Annex 7: Plans for Resettlement after 15 March 2016 (pdf)

- Relocations from Greece and Italy (pdf)

NB: "Relocation" means within EU of refugees in need of international protection. "Resettlement" means of refugees from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and other states to EU Member States.

- EU-TURKEY SUMMIT: Council President Tusk:
EU-Turkey 18/3/16 - NON-Paper
(pdf)

The "agreement will be in the form of an EU-Turkey statement"

- "returns will be temporary... restore public order"
- refugees not applying for asylum or whose application is found to be unfounded or "inadmissible" will be "returned to Turkey"
- "Migrants having beenreturned to Turkey will be protected"against refoulement" Comment: How will tjhis be guarranteed?

- EU-TURKEY: The draft EU/Turkey deal on migration and refugees: is it legal? (EU Law Analysis, link) by Steve Peers

"The key legal question will therefore be how these commitments are implemented in practice.

The main legal route to challenging what happens should be by asylum-seekers through the Greek courts. Those courts could refer questions to the CJEU about EU asylum law (the CJEU could fast-track its replies). Alternatively if the asylum-seekers have gone through the entire Greek court system, they could complain to the European Court of Human Rights.

What about the ‘deal’ itself? As I said at the outset, it is not binding so cannot be challenged as such. Its individual elements are binding and so their legality (or the implementation of them) can be challenged separately. On this point, it would be possible for the European Parliament or a Member State to challenge in the CJEU one particular legally binding element: the decision on the EU’s position on the EU/Turkey readmission treaty. That won’t directly affect the Greece/Turkey readmission deal, which is the key element in returns to Turkey in practice; but any ruling the CJEU might make would obviously be relevant to that latter deal by analogy."


- REFUGEES: PETITION: Sign up: STOP EU-TURKEY DEAL - SAFE PASSAGE NOW (European march for Refugee Rights, link): 52,444 already signed:

"Heads of EU Member States
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

On 27 February 2016, citizens in 32 countries and over 120 cities from Europe and the rest of the world raised their voices for refugee rights under the slogan #safepassage. We demanded legal and safe routes and high standards of reception and asylum. On 7 March 2016, EU leaders met with Turkey and designed a plan that should be agreed upon at the next European council meeting on 17-18 March. We call on European leaders ahead of this summit to live up to the European values of human dignity and human rights, to respect international law and above all, to bring us humane policies for a humane Europe."


- GREECE: Rule of law in Greece buckles under institutionalised ill-treatment by law enforcement agents (verfassungsblog.de, link):

"The latest report on Greece by the Council of Europe anti-torture Committee (CPT), issued on 1 March, rang, once again, the alarm concerning decades-old, institutionalised, unlawful violence by law enforcement agents. In its press release CPT highlighted the need for Greece to fully acknowledge the phenomenon of police ill-treatment and to adopt a “comprehensive strategy and determined action” to address it.

The issue is compounded by the fact that this deeply ingrained violence is combined with institutionalised racism inside parts of the Greek law enforcement forces, thus targeting in particular migrants. In its 2015 report the Greek Racist Violence Recording Network noted that in 21 out of the 81 racist incidents that were recorded in 2014 the perpetrators were either only law enforcement officials or law enforcement officials along with other perpetrators. Out of these, 13 took place in public places, six in police stations or detention centres, and two in an abandoned private place."


- News (16.3.16)

EU-Turkey deal: 6 countries that could derail the EU-Turkey migration deal (politico, link): "The list of complaints is long — and growing."

Macedonia forcibly returns thousands of refugees to Greece (Guardian, link): "Desperate scenes on border as authorities send exhausted men, women and children back to Greek camps they fled a day earlier"

EU leaders push migrant plan ahead of Turkey summit (ekathimerini.com, link): "there has been a growing pushback against the deal, with both France and the Czech Republic warning against attempts by Turkey to “blackmail” Europe. Cyprus has expressed reservations, not least because longtime adversary Turkey expects the accord to further its EU membership bid and ease visa requirements in the passport-free Schengen area. Top United Nations officials on refugees and human rights have also questioned whether the plan would be legal."

Greece: Tsipras to meet Kammenos over Mouzalas issue (ekathimerini.com, link): "Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was expected to meet Defense Minister and junior coalition partner Panos Kammenos on Thursday, after the latter demanded the resignation of Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas late Tuesday, sources indicated on Wednesday. The demand came after Mouzalas referred to Greece’s neighbor, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), simply as “Macedonia” in an interview with Skai TV."

MEPs insist Turkish accession process should be decoupled from refugee deal (euractiv, link): "EU-Turkey cooperation on migration should be decoupled from the EU accession negotiating process, say Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs in a report voted on Wednesday."

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