|Sex trafficking, racism and immigrant rights must be priorities for Ireland's new MEPs||26 May 2014|
|Grandfather reunited with his family||23 May 2014|
|Stateless man wins rights with support of Immigrant Council of Ireland||21 May 2014|
|Gardaí must follow PSNI lead and establish anti-racism hotline||20 May 2014|
|Racism, Citizenship fees and political tokenism preventing integration||16 May 2014|
|A horrific Incident of racism reported to us recently||16 May 2014|
|Election literature allowed in Direct Provision Centres a welcome development||15 May 2014|
|Dáil questions on racism answered||15 May 2014|
|Voters in Direct Provision being denied election information||13 May 2014|
|Minister Fitzgerald must not delay on reforms||08 May 2014|
Newly elected MEPs must ensure EU is a force for good which protects the vulnerable
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
Standing up to human traffickers, racists and those who seek to undermine the rights of immigrants must be a priority for Ireland’s eleven newly elected MEPs, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Council says that as our democratically elected voices in Europe the new MEPs must ensure that the rise of extremist politics on both the far right and far left does not lead to the most vulnerable people being targeted or wrongly blamed for continuing economic problems.
In its reaction to the election results the Immigrant Council says that MEPs must also not shirk away from their responsibility to confront the crimes of racism and sex trafficking which are on the rise in every part of the Union.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council, added:
“The EU has been a force for good and in the past has been key in delivering Ireland’s economic success by allowing us to tap into the skills of workers from abroad – today an estimated 17% of our people were born in another country.
Our MEPs have a duty to ensure that the rights of everyone who calls Ireland home and has made a commitment to our economic recovery are protected against parties who want to see a return to the politics of the extreme where sections of society are subjected to second class treatment.
By example Europe has shown us that allowing freedom of movement, ensuring family rights for all and lifting borders can work and our MEPs must ensure those rights are protected and not watered down.”
Nusha Yonkova, Anti Trafficking Coordinator with the Immigrant Council, warned that the European Parliament also has a role to protect the vulnerable:
“Sex trafficking is a modern day scourge across Europe, it is estimated that 300,000 people are being forced into prostitution as it has now surpassed drugs as the most profitable form of crime.
The European Parliament earlier this year did take a stand on this issue and voted in favour of measures to curb this crime by targeting demand – in other wards the buyers of sex. Our new MEPs must not give up on this fight and ensure Ireland follows that lead and stands up to pimps and traffickers.
The Parliament must also be vigilant to the dangers of racism. It is on the rise not just in the countries of the East but even in our own communities. Last year the Immigrant Council reported an 85% increase in cases.
In the years ahead we look forward to working with the new MEPs and ensuring the EU remains committed to delivering policies which are fair and just for all.”
Grandfather reunited with his family
GREAT NEWS…….We have reunited a Granddad with his family!
An Egyptian grandfather has been given the go-ahead to live with his son and Romanian Daughter in law in Co Dublin after a successful appeal by our legal team to the immigration service.
Mr Samy Toma was finding it very difficult to get by in the political and economic turmoil in Egypt and came to Ireland to be with his family, however an application to settle here was turned down.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland took on the case as an Independent Law Centre and successfully argued that as his son and daughter in law were working and contributing to the Irish economic recovery, and that Mr Toma was a member of their household.
We have now secured his right to stay as a family member of an EU national.
A 5-year residency has been granted and we wish them every happiness for the future.
Pictured Katie Mannion of our legal team, Mr Samy Toma and his son Mr Michael Toma at our offices today.
Stateless man wins rights with support of Immigrant Council of Ireland
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has secured a declaration of statelessness for a man who has been living in limbo for more than six years.
Natig Sadygov was left stranded in Ireland without documentation or right to a passport after a bureaucratic dispute unexpectedly arose over whether he was a citizen of Lithuania or the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Legal action seeking to reinstate his Lithuanian citizenship failed to resolve the situation and it was established that he was also not entitled to the citizenship of Azerbaijan. Since then Natig has been campaigning to have his rights as a stateless person recognised in Ireland.
Hilkka Becker, Senior Solicitor with the Immigrant Council of Ireland welcomed the decision in the case.
“Being a citizen of a country guarantees us some of our most basic rights and entitlements – it is our access to social services, our right to work and travel, the right to a passport and the right to vote.
When people find themselves with no citizenship – or in the case of Natig Sadygov have that citizenship removed without warning – they have no security, protections or certainty.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 has led to statelessness of hundreds of thousands of persons in the Baltic states and in Eastern Europe.
In Natig’s situation, he had travelled to Ireland as a citizen of Lithuania but, almost three years after arriving in Ireland, was suddenly informed that his citizenship was being revoked in the mistaken belief that he was a citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a country which did not exist as an independent state when he was born in the old USSR in 1966 and when he left his hometown to move to the Lithuanian part of the USSR in the 80s.
When legal proceedings in Lithuania failed to resolve the issue, the Irish immigration service did grant Natig a residence permit. However, the decision to now issue a declaration of statetlessness gives him more certainty and increased rights.
Natig now hopes that his pending application for Irish citizenship will be processed swiftly and that he will again have access to the most basic right, the right to a nationality.
This case again raises a number of issues. On paper Ireland has ratified the United Nation's Conventions on Stateless Persons. However, the rights and protections involved are not a reality at national level. Clear, transparent and accessible determination procedures must be introduced which would allow the swift identification of stateless persons followed by a clear pathway for them to regularise their position and to access citizenship.
At EU level we are a member of the European Network on Statelessness working side by side with 50 other organisations to ensure the rights of an estimated 600,000 stateless persons and will be actively taking part in a major campaign on this issue in the coming weeks.”
‘It is time to end complacency and wipe out racism’
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
The establishment of a new anti-racism hotline in Northern Ireland is a lead which must be followed by Gardaí to reassure victims that their complaints will be taken seriously when they come forward, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Council says the hotline is an extension of the PSNI’s reporting service which allows incidents to be reported on a 24/7 basis.
The Immigrant Council says that latest racism figures from the PSNI again raise serious questions about the systems in place in the South.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland:
“We have long believed that racism in our communities is under reported with victims frightened that if they come forward they will not be taken seriously or that they will be perceived as trouble makers.
We have lagged behind Northern Ireland in tackling racism for too long, the establishment of the special 101 telephone number is in addition to an online reporting system which victims in the North can access on a 24/7 basis.
The latest hate crime figures from the PSNI again show a discrepancy when compared to the levels being reported to the authorities here. Over the past 12 months 982 racist incidents (up 232) and 691 racist crimes (up 221) were reported in the North. In previous years the discrepancy between the figures in both jurisdictions has been as great as 700%.
The Immigrant Council’s own independent reporting system, firstname.lastname@example.org
It is not acceptable that victims are suffering in silence – often lying awake in bed at night fearing a brick through the window, graffiti or avoiding trips to the local shop because of the fear of abuse being shouted at them. This is something we should not be tolerated.”
Immigrant Council of Ireland publishes submission to Government
Immigrants should be involved in every part of Irish life
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
Racism, the citizenship fees and tokenism by political parties towards immigrants have been identified as major barriers to integration in a submission to Government by the Immigrant Council of Ireland published today (Friday 16th May 2014).
The document, in response to a call from the Department of Justice for submissions on integration, makes recommendations across eleven areas of public policy.
The Immigrant Council says its goal is to ensure that the participation of migrants is reflected in every part of Irish life.
Some of the key recommendations include:
• Establish a public reporting system similar to the 24/7 system operated by Police in Northern Ireland
• Ratify two international conventions on cyber-crime to tackle online racism
• Develop a new National Action Plan to ensure a co-ordinated response to racism
• Review of Citizenship fees (€950 for adults with additional €175 application fee) in particular for families with numerous applications
• Recognise the right to citizenship to migrants who satisfy clear, detailed criteria
• Introduce an independent appeals system for those who are refused citizenship
• Commitment to ratify Council of Europe Convention on participation of foreigners at local level
• Tokenism to be replaced by genuine actions to get immigrants involved in democratic process, including political parties
Publishing the submission, Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“This process by the Government is a welcome opportunity to identify remaining barriers which are preventing integration in all aspects of daily life. Through our submission we have highlighted 11 action points which we would like to see acted upon.
One of the areas of greatest concern for us remains racism, following extensive public awareness campaigns we have seen an 85% increase in reports over the past 12 months – with 144 cases in 2012. This is unacceptable, in Ireland 2014 no-one should have to lie awake in bed at night fearing a brick through the window.
Our document sets out changes we could make a real difference both in terms of encouraging victims to come forward and ensuring that racism does not remain an unwelcome feature of life in Ireland.
While there has been much progress to promote integration there remains areas which require attention. Asking people to pay up over €1,100 to become an Irish citizen does place a burden especially in the case of families where there maybe multiple applicants and this should be re-assessed.
In terms of political participation, while our local elections are amongst the most open in Europe we have failed to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on this while our political parties must do more to ensure immigrants are encouraged to take part in the democratic process and not resort to tokenism during election time.”
A horrific Incident of racism reported to us recently
Florence is a young mother of two who is originally from Africa but has been living in Ireland for a number of years. She and her 2 young children were on their way home from church when they were approached by a group of teenagers.
The group racially abused both Florence and the children telling them to "go back to where you come from". Florence pleaded with the group to leave them alone and the teens began to throw eggs at her and the children.
Despite a number of people walking by, no one came to her aid.
This is unacceptable in our society
Report racist incidents to email@example.com
Disappointing that canvassing ban remains
Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland
A decision to allow local election candidates to drop leaflets with contact details at Direct Provision Centres is a welcome first step in ensuring that residents can play a full part in local democracy, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
Centres have been informed in a Department circular that leaflets can be left in the reception or lobby area.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland added:
“The new instruction from the Department to the centres is welcome and will help ensure that people who are entitled to vote can access some information and be provided with the contact details of candidates.
This is an important first step – however the situation remains that this group of voters, who have limited if any access to media, are still being treated differently to everyone else in that they cannot be canvassed or engage with politicians in their residence.
Since we raised this issue there has been strong public and political support for lifting the canvassing ban.
Looking beyond the elections we will also be asking that elected local councillors would have regular access to the residents of Direct Provision which they are supposed to represent.”
Dáil questions on racism answered
151. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views on a national action plan on racism following the 85% increase in reports of racism to the Immigrant Council of Ireland during 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
163. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to combat racism in view of an 85% increase in reports to the Immigrant Council of Ireland in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 163 together.
The Government is firmly committed to combating and challenging any and all manifestations of racism and welcomes the contribution which the Immigrant Council of Ireland and others are making to this work.
I understand that the reports to which the Deputies' questions refer are preliminary figures released by the Immigrant Council on 7 December 2013 which indicated that 142 racist incidents had been reported to the Council between January and 7 December 2013. That figure compared with 77 racist incidents reported to the Council in the corresponding period in 2012. The report also indicated that the majority of incidents involved verbal harassment (35%), written harassment (17%), non-verbal harassment e.g offensive look or gesture (7%), discrimination and social inclusion (24%), property damage and racist graffiti (7%). Nine per cent of incidents involved physical violence.
Ireland was one of the first states in the EU and, indeed, in the world in developing a National Action Plan Against Racism. When the National Action Plan Against Racism was launched in 2005, it was conceived as a four-year programme to run until the end of 2008. It was designed to provide strategic direction towards developing a more intercultural and inclusive society in Ireland and was also integration driven. Under the Plan, support was provided towards the development of a number of national and local strategies promoting greater integration in our workplaces, in An Garda Síochána, the health service, in our education system, in the arts and sports sectors and within our local authorities. The National Action Plan therefore continues to inform ongoing work.
The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in my Department maintains the Government's commitment and focus on anti-racism as a key aspect of integration, diversity management and broader national social policy. The Office continues to work with all the relevant sectors to further progress the integration and diversity management agenda. Many of the initiatives which were instigated through the National Action Plan against Racism 2005-2008 continue to be developed and progressed through the support and work of the Office.
A review of our approach to the integration of migrants was recently launched. This review is intended to provide the basis for a new and updated integration strategy in keeping with the Government’s commitment to the integration of migrants and will embrace the issue of racism. A consultation process was also commenced on 28 March 2014. A considerable number of submissions have already been received from stakeholders, a number of whom will be invited to engage directly with the Cross-Departmental Group on Integration charged with updating the integration strategy. I expect that the Draft Integration Strategy, when developed, will include a strong anti-racism component.
Canvassing ban could prevent residents from making informed decision
Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland
A ban on political canvassing in Direct Provision Centres could prevent residents with a right to vote in the local elections from making informed decisions, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Council is calling for an immediate review of the policy to ensure that voters in Direct Provision are given every possible opportunity to be informed about the policies of individual candidates and parties.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“The local election has the potential to be one of the most inclusive in Europe, with everyone above voting age entitled to take part. However, after being approached by a number of candidates we have now been informed that not all voters are being treated equally.
A ban on candidates canvassing in Direct Provision Centres is denying residents an opportunity to become informed of policies and make an informed decision on May 23rd.
We believe this is wrong.
Canvassing is an opportunity to inform residents, who in many cases have limited or no access to the web and other media to find out what each candidate stands for. For some asylum seekers the local poll could be their first opportunity to take part in fair and free elections.
As a matter of urgency we are asking for a review of this ban to allow opportunities for candidates and parties to engage with all voters on an equal basis.”
Minister Fitzgerald must not delay on reforms on immigration, racism and sex trafficking
Immigrant Council of Ireland welcomes appointment
Early meeting sought with Minister Fitzgerald
New Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald TD, must end a five year delay on key reforms of the immigration system and ensure a robust response to rising levels of racism as well as sex trafficking, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Council says despite increased demands on Minister Fitzgerald there must be no loss of momentum in delivering reforms which would positively impact on tens of thousands of people who call Ireland home.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland added:
"We welcome the appointment of Minister Fitzgerald and look forward to positive engagement in the months ahead as we enter a key period in terms of Immigration Reform in Ireland.
The Government had committed to publishing a new bill which would address many shortfalls in the immigration system before the end of the year and we are looking for an early re-assurance that Minister Fitzgerald will deliver on this and end five-years of delay and disappointment which has left too many people living in limbo.
Whether it is families torn apart by red tape, people lost in a bureaucratic system where discretion is prioritised over clear rules and guidelines or individuals forced by the lack of an Independent Appeals Mechanism to undergo the stress of High Court action to assert their rights the current system is not working.
The Immigrant Council has already engaged with all political parties and groupings on this issue and will today write to the new Minister seeking an early meeting.
In addition we will be asking Minister Fitzgerald to closely examine the disturbing rise in reports of racism over the past 12-months. We have recorded an 85% increase with 144 cases and would like to see a National Action Plan adopted.
The trafficking of people for sexual exploitation is now the biggest crime in Europe and it is vital that there is no further delay in acting on the unanimous recommendations of the Oireachtas Justice Committee to curb this by targeting the buyers of sex. The recommendations were issued 11-months ago and we are anxious to see the Minister act on this without further delay.
We look forward to positive and constructive engagement with Minister Fitzgerald in the months ahead and delivering on these issues for the benefit of immigrants, Irish citizens and Ireland."