|Invisible EU Migrants Newsletter, Issue 1||14 May 2013|
|Racism is a reality in Ireland: 3 recent cases||08 May 2013|
|75% of Irish human trafficking investigations involve sexual exploitation||07 May 2013|
|Sex buyers law to be debated||03 May 2013|
|Jiayi Shao to be reunited with parents||01 May 2013|
|Surge in reported racist incidents||29 Apr 2013|
|High Court agrees to hear family reunification case||25 Apr 2013|
|Opportunity to tighten Anti-Trafficking Laws||24 Apr 2013|
|It's time for a clear immigration system, Denise Charlton, Irish Examiner 23/04/2013||23 Apr 2013|
|Updating of trafficking law welcome||16 Apr 2013|
Invisible EU Migrants Newsletter
Issue 1, May 2013:
Welcome to the inaugural newsletter for Invisible EU Migrants; a project aimed at encouraging EU institutions to ensure that vulnerable and marginalised EU migrants are able to enforce their EU law rights. With project partners in London (The AIRE Centre and Migrants Resource Centre), Dublin (the Immigrant Council of Ireland) and Brussels (L’Association pour le droit des etrangers), we hope to build a Europe-wide network to take joint action. For more information about our work, visit our Invisible EU Migrants website or contact Eleanor Sibley , at the AIRE Centre. Comment & Resoures
Rights of jobseekers
This note, written by Sarah Saint Vincent, Skadden Fellow and lawyer at the AIRE Centre, gives a practitioner's viewpoint on the treatment of EU migrant jobseekers in the UK and their rights to claim jobseekers' benefits Download here.
This note, written by Sarah Saint Vincent, Skadden Fellow and lawyer at the AIRE Centre, gives a practitioner's viewpoint on the treatment of EU migrant jobseekers in the UK and their rights to claim jobseekers' benefits.
Special non-contributory benefits
Special non-contributory benefits - a cross between social assistance and social security benefits - should enjoy a special status under EU law. They fall within EU Regulation 883/2004 and should be available to EU migrants in their place of residence, provided that they meet all the same criteria that nationals of those states must meet. However, many EU member states, including the UK and Ireland, Impose additional conditions on EU migrants, requiring them to demonstrate a qualifying right to reside. This report explores the status and future of access to SNCBs in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. Download here.
Our funders - EPIM - have briefed the European Policy Centre to produce quarterly updates on EU-Level policy developments and jurisprudence concerning EPIM's three focus areas (1) asylum seekers, (2) undocumented migrants, and (3) equality, integration and social inclusion of vulnerable migrants. The first edition is available to download here.
Invisible EU migrants Blog
Our Invisible EU Migrants Blog will feature its first post - on rights of EU migrants seeking bail accommodation to secure release from immigration detention - on 21 May 2013. Over the coming months, we'll be posting features on other legal issues affecting vulnerable and marginalised EU migrants in the UK, including residence documentation, family reunification, access to social housing, legal aid, and the right to good administration. If you would like to suggest a topic, or contribute a blog post, please get in touch !
Ministers' Call to Restrict EU Free Movement Rights
Last week, Ministers representing Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom sent a joint letter to the Irish presidency, stating the perceived need to protect free movement rights against 'abuses', in particular where they place a strain on social systems of host states. Read Yves Pascouau of the European Policy Centre's commentary on this letter here.
The AIRE Centre is producing a range of information notes to provide information on the rights of vulnerable and marginalised EEA nationals. Download our first three notes below - and feel free to share them with colleagues and clients:
1. The Right of Permanent Residence
2. National Insurance Numbers
3. Comprehensive Sickness Insurance
Save the date!
On Monday 24th June 2013 from 11am to 16:30pm we will be holding our very first training event for NGOs and others who work with vulnerable and marginalised EU migrants and their family members. This event will be held at the Human Rights Action Centre in London, and will include presentations on EU law rights for vulnerable migrants, as well as training in EU advocacy techniques to help you persuade EU institutions to take action. Further information about this event will be sent out shortly.
Rights of Pregnant Agency Workers
The AIRE Centre is intervening in a case before the Court of Justice of the EU - Jessy Saint Prix v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions - concerning the rights of pregnant EU migrant agency workers when they temporarily leave work to give birth. The main question for the Court is whether, as a matter of EU law, such women remain workers during this period even though (unlike women on maternity leave) they are neither employed nor self-employed. The AIRE Centre will argue that the failure to treat such women a workers constitutes gender discrimination and presents an obstacle to the exercise of their free movement rights; both of which are unlawful as a matter of EU law. You can download a copy of the reference to the CJEU here.
The outcome of Saint Prix, in which the Claimant is represented by CPAG, will have important consequences for the welfare benefits that EEA national agency workers are able to claim just before and after giving birth. In the UK, the main benefit designed for this purpose (Income Support); can only be claimed by people with a qualifying right to reside in the UK. For EEA nationals, this generally means being a worker, self-employed, someone with the right of permanent residence, the family member of another such EEA national, or someone with a derivative right of residence. Many agency workers, especially single women who leave work just before giving birth have difficulty establishing a qualifying right to reside and are refused income support on this basis.
A judgment from the CJEU to the effect that they are workers would enable them to claim crucial benefits just before and after giving birth; just as their UK national counterparts are able to do.
Successful Review Application by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) has successfully overturned a decision to refuse a residence card to the New Zealand national non-marital partner of a dual UK/Irish national, with whom he was in a durable, duly attested, relationship. ICI successfully relied on the argument that, irrespective of whether or not the EU national is an Irish citizen, UK citizen, or both, it is well established that a dual national of two Member States may still rely on their second nationality to obtain rights under EU law in a Member State of which they may also be a national. Read more about the case here.
Copyright © 2013 The AIRE Centre, All rights reserved.
Racism is a reality in Ireland: 3 recent cases
Three recent cases we have responded to:
An African woman was subjected to a physical and verbal assault in a public area while waiting for a friend. During the incident she was kicked in the stomach and subjected to racist taunts. A number of passers-by ignored the attack and walked on before one member of the public came to her aid. The woman has suffered a fractured finger and stomach pains as a result of the attack.
Two Muslim women have reported that they were refused a request to be seen by a woman official when requested by a State agency to remove traditional head-dresses for identification purposes. They were left with no alternative but to remove the head-dresses in front of a man. Both women say they have suffered depression and insomnia as a result.
A South American soccer player in an amateur game was subjected to verbal abuse ‘Get the f**k out of my country’ and ‘you yellow f**ker’. It is reported the referee did not act on the abuse. The Immigrant Council is initiating contact with the FAI on the incident.
Do not suffer in silence, if you have witnessed or been subjected to a racist incident let us know, firstname.lastname@example.org
75% of Irish human trafficking investigations involve sexual exploitation
New figures released by the Government confirm that 75% of human trafficking investigations here are into allegations involving sexual exploitation, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
Over the past 16 months a total of 51 human trafficking investigations have been launched, with 37 for alleged sexual exploitation. Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
"Once again these figures indicate that sexual exploitation is the main form of human trafficking taking place in this country. The numbers of investigations being undertaken for sex-trafficking (31 in 2012 with a further 6 during the first four months of 2013) show pimps and traffickers have brought organised crime to Ireland.
Attempts are being made to try and separate sex trafficking from prostitution, yet these stark figures make clear that most investigations are into allegations that people have been brought here, often under false pretences, to be sexually exploited.
We are now asking the Department of Justice to issue the figures for the number of victims identified as a result of these investigations as well as the number of prosecutions. The most recent figures for victims show that during the 2009-2011 period 134 people were sex trafficked here, of which 32 were children.
In the past Ireland has been criticised by both the OSCE and the annual Trafficking in Persons Report by the US State Department for falling short in this area. It would be important that any discrepancy between the level of investigations and numbers of victims is explained, so that we can ensure our laws are robust enough to respond to this scourge.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland is a frontline agency which supports and assists victims of trafficking and has worked with 50 women who have been brought here under false pretences and then forced into prostitution. We believe that the best way to undermine this evil trade is to tackle demand by introduction laws which target the buyers of sex.
We are one of 68 organisations which make up the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign which is seeking a change in the law and are currently participating in a Government Review of the Laws on Prostitution."
Sex-buyer laws to be debated in Dáil Chamber Important contribution to future of Irish prostitution laws Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland
Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland
Sex buyer laws will be the subject of a special Dáil debate today (Friday 3/4/2013) when the Government is asked a respond to a bill on the issue.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland is welcoming the move as an important contribution to the ongoing review of prostitution laws and says it offers an opportunity to TDs from all sides to take a stand against organised crime.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Denise Charlton Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“Thousands of people right across Ireland have now declared their support for the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign which seeks to end exploitation, abuse and trafficking by targeting the buyers of sex.
We are one of 68 partners in the campaign which include the ICTU, doctors, nurses, Chambers Ireland, Macra Na Feirme, survivors of prostitution, child welfare groups and many many more. In addition 3 of the 4 largest political parties have passed motions of support as have 10 local councils.
While the Private Member’s Bill being put forward by Independent TD Thomas Pringle comes as the Government review on prostitution continues, it does offer us an important opportunity to remind politicians that in the years we have spent debating the issue the pimps and traffickers have continued their trade.
It is our hope that the debate will be used by politicians from all sides to take a stand and say the organised crime which runs Irish prostitution must be put out of business fast.
Together with our partners we look forward to the debate and hope it will give a sense of urgency to the Government review and ensure real action will be taken to end the criminality and human rights abuses which have reached every county.”
Three-year old to be reunited with parents as visa decision is reversed Immigrant Council of Ireland helps secure family reunification
The parents of a three-year old girl denied re-entry into Ireland are to be reunited with their daughter after the Government reversed a decision to deny her a visa.
The visa is to be granted after the family, with the support of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, last week secured a decision from the High Court granting them permission to challenge the visa refusal by way of Judicial Review.
Jiayi Shao was born in Ireland, but her parents had brought her to China for her to live her grand-parents temporarily while they were studying and working in Ireland.
The child’s parents applied for a visa for her to re-enter Ireland in November 2012 after they had both been permitted to work full-time and had secured employment.
Hilkka Becker, Senior Solicitor with the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“We are delighted with the decision to issue a visa and that this family will now be reunited in Ireland once the formalities have been completed and travel arrangements made.
As an Independent Law Centre we have been providing support and legal advice to Meijiao Yu and her husband Xiao Shao and ensured the hearing of the successful High Court application last week.
That support will continue in order that the visa is issued in a timely manner through the Irish Embassy in Beijingand that Jiayi Shao can return home to her parents in Ireland as quickly as possible.”
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland added:
“This is a family which was devastated by a visa refusal which they feared would keep them apart for an indefinite period. We welcome the fact that commonsense has prevailed and that this young family is to be reunited. Everyone at the Immigrant Council shares in their joy.
The fact the visa is to be granted as Jiayi is about to celebrate her fourth birthday on May 8th, will ensure that this will be birthday celebration like no other.”
Of course the fact that the family, like many others, has been put through such an ordeal and had to resort to the High Court raises issues which must be addressed, including the establishment of an independent appeals mechanism.
We continue our campaign for rules on family reunification which are fair and just for all and hope that a current review of Government policy in this area will ensure many more families are reunited without having to resort to legal action.”
Surge in reported racist incidents following information campaign Immigrant Council of Ireland responding to 5 serious incidents a week
A surge in reported racist incidents has been recorded by the Immigrant Council of Ireland following a public information campaign on public transport in Dublin and on social media.
Incidents have included verbal abuse, physical violence and even incidents of discrimination by Government agencies.
Since the start of the “Dublin’s Transport Links. Racism Divides” campaign in late March, 17 serious incidents have been reported by people who either have been subjected to or have witnessed racism.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said:
“The increase in cases from an average of one a week to almost 5 every week underlines that racism in Ireland is under-reported. A preliminary examination of the cases shows that incidents are taking place in a variety of locations, including the public street, on transport, in offices, in local neighbourhoods and on the sports field.
While the use of physical violence is alarming and completely unacceptable it is also worth noting the psychological damage which victims are reporting. Long after an incident people continue to suffer lack of sleep, nightmares and periods of fear.
It is our hope that this campaign with the slogan ‘Dublin’s Transport Links. Racism Divides’ will encourage more people to come forward. Recording incidents is important if we are to get a true picture of what is happening in the country and to ensure our laws are robust enough to deal with this problem.
We want to thank our partners, the National Transport Authority, Dublin Bus, Iarnrod Éireann and Veolia Transport as well as Dublin City Council for their support of our campaign.”
High Court agrees to hear family reunification case Couple seeking reunification with their infant
Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland
The High Court has today (25/4/2013) granted a couple and their infant leave to apply for a judicial review of a refusal to allow the child who was born in Ireland to return to the country from China.
Ms Justice Clarke granted the application by Meijiao Yu and her husband Xiao Shao which was sought with the support of the Immigrant Council of Ireland and its Independent Law Centre.
Speaking after the hearing, Hilkka Becker, Senior Solicitor with the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“We hope that today’s decision will allow for a swift conclusion of this case. This family have been torn apart for over three years, with the infant Jiayi Shao refused a visa to re-enter Ireland after staying temporarily with her grand-parents in China.
Our Independent Law Centre will continue to support the family as it seeks reunification in Ireland and will provide advice and assistance during the judicial review.”
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council added:
“The granting of this judicial review is a step forward in trying to resolve this case and is an important result for this family.
However, we are also conscious that there are many more Irish citizens and migrants legally living in Ireland forced to live apart from their loved ones. The overall solution for these cases is for the introduction of clear rules on family reunification which are fair and just for all.
In addition to our legal work the Immigrant Council will continue to lobby politically for the introduction of such rules.”
Opportunity to tighten Anti-Trafficking Laws
Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland
MIDNIGHT, TUES 23rd APRIL 2013
Politicians at Leinster House will today (Wed 24/4/2013) have an opportunity to tighten Ireland’s anti human-trafficking laws with the introduction of a new bill, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Government is introducing a bill in the Seanad to strengthen and expand our laws on trafficking.
Denise Charlton of the Immigrant Council of Ireland speaking ahead of the debate said:
“We welcome the main trust of the new Anti Human Trafficking Amendment Bill as it extends the scope of our laws to include those who have been brought to Ireland for forced begging and forced criminal activity.
The inclusion of the internationally recognised definition of ‘forced labour’ in the new law is also a step in the right direction and again brings us into line with other European countries.
However, todays debate by Senators also offers an opportunity to address some shortfalls in the provision of assistance and support to victims.
We are asking politicians to look closely at a number of issues:
- Failure to provide safe accommodation for victims
- Shortfalls in our methods of identifying victims
- Lack of supports for traumatised victims as well as those with special needs
- Failure to implement measures to prevent secondary victimisation – whereby people are forced to retell their ordeal over and over
Even if these shortfalls are addressed we must continue to review our laws and ensure they are robust enough to bring traffickers to justice.
This piece of legislation is welcome, but it should by no means mark a pause in our efforts to end this crime.”
It’s time for a clear immigration system: Denise Charlton, Irish Examiner 23/4/2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Analysis by Denise Charlton
THE positive steps in the US senate to bring about genuine immigration reform will be welcomed by families on both sides of the Atlantic who have had to live with the heartache of being torn apart by immigration rules.
For many undocumented Irish, a path has been set out by senators, Democrat and Republican, which could finally see them able to regularise their immigration status and return home for big family events and celebrations.
It is a success not just for Barack Obama, but also for successive Irish governments that have campaigned for change. No doubt some of our own political leaders will try and claim some of the glory. However, before their laps of honour in the Irish clubs, centres, and societies of Hell’s Kitchen, Queens or Brooklyn, as well as Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, they should start looking closer to home.
While our undocumented in the US can see light at the end of the tunnel, for many migrants in Ireland, life remains uncertain as they attempt to negotiate an immigration system which lacks clarity, transparency, and an independent appeals mechanism.
Many undocumented people in Ireland have been attempting to regularise their status for years, in some cases more than 25 years. Even for those living here legally, there are many challenges.
One of the most pressing needs is the denial of the right to family reunification: That is the right to live in Ireland with family or a partner who is from outside Europe.
As a frontline organisation and an independent law centre, the Immigrant Council of Ireland is working on cases of Irish people and migrants split from their partners and spouses or, in the most heartbreaking cases, parents split from their children. In some instances, mothers and fathers are watching their children grow up over Skype.
Research the Immigrant Council has led with partners from across Europe has shown that Ireland comes bottom of the league in this important area when compared to many of our neighbours.
The Government is promising a new policy on family reunification, and we are campaigning to ensure any new measures will have substance and will benefit families.
We are seeking rules on family reunification which are clear, fair, and just for all. We want an end to the current system, where applications are decided on the basis of discretion without adequate guidelines.
US president Barack Obama recently tweeted on his desire for families torn apart to be reunited. It is our hope that our leaders will share his view.
The proposals being advanced in the US will set an estimated 11m undocumented people on a path to citizenship. This is the ultimate recognition of their contribution to American society, albeit in many cases below the radar.
In Ireland, even migrants who have legally contributed to our country for many years and have shown a commitment to our economy face the regular burden of re-registering with the Garda National Immigration Bureau. At €300 per registration, this is not only an administrative burden but also a financial one.
It is time for Ireland to re-examine this process. People who have shown a commitment to Ireland should be allowed to avail of a system which allows permanent residency and removes the uncertainty which exists over their stay in this country.
The denial of the protection of the Office of the Ombudsman to those using our cumbersome immigration service remains a major point of concern. The Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has expressed a willingness to take on this role yet, for thousands of people, her protection is denied.
This is unfair on applicants who are often vulnerable and going through a turbulent period in their life, possibly even risking deportation.
Natural justice should ensure that they can appeal for an outside, independent review of immigration decisions — and not be forced to resort to the costly, long drawn out option of resorting to the courts.
The review of immigration law now underway in the US is being accurately described as the most radical in 25 years. Like all momentous political decisions, there are many theories as to why it is taking place, and to why it is happening now. One of the most prevalent is that it simply makes economic sense and allows America to seek and to keep the workers it needs.
Employers, too, are facing skill shortages in a range of sectors and, while the Government recently announced an increase of 50% in the level of work permits in the ICT sector, that is just part of the solution. Work permit reform will only work if there is immigration reform, as many potential skilled employees may favour other countries if told their family are not allowed to come with them to Ireland.
There is much we can learn from the ongoing political process at the White House and Capitol Hill.
Ireland, its citizens, and its migrants deserve a modern, efficient, and transparent immigration system which is fit for purpose. It should serve not just to protect our interests, but to offer hope to those who have gone out of their way to call Ireland home.
* Denise Charlton is chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland
Updating of trafficking laws welcome Trafficking needs robust response
Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland
The publication of the Criminal Law Human Trafficking Amendment Bill by the Government today (16/4/13) is to be welcomed as it should extend protections to more people, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The bill will cover those brought here for forced begging and criminal activities, in addition to those exploited through sex or labour trafficking and organ removal.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council said:
“While this bill is an exercise in bringing Ireland into line with other European countries it is still welcome as it expands the definition of human trafficking to include those brought here to be forced to beg or to carry out criminality.
It will ensure that Ireland is using the definition of forced labour as set out by the International Labour Organisation and will help prevent us from falling behind other countries in this area.
While the bill is welcome, of course Ireland should also take on board recent criticism that our laws on trafficking have shortfalls which must be addressed, including the identification of victims and a lack of prosecutions.”
Nusha Yonkova, Anti Trafficking Co-ordinator for the Immigrant Council added:
“The criminal gangs behind trafficking are sophisticated, they are continually changing the way they operate in order to avoid capture and prosecution. Therefore it is vital that we continuously review our laws and make sure they are robust enough to cope with the evolving nature of this crime.
This bill is a welcome development but we must keep our laws, policies and regulations under constant review.”