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Refugees and Migrants

    May 01, 2014

    An agreement between Cambodia and Australia to forcibly transfer asylum seekers to the Southeast Asian country should be scrapped, Amnesty International said today.

    The call comes amid media reports that Cambodia has agreed a deal “in principle” to receive refugees and asylum seekers from Australia. These may include some of those held at Australian-run detention facilities in Nauru and on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

    “Australia should be ending its offshore processing and detention of asylum seekers, not looking to outsource its refugee responsibilities to another, much poorer country,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. 

    “Cambodia should be aware of the serious risks around this arrangement and must consider whether it really is ready to participate. The country has only limited capacity to process asylum seeker claims and is still struggling to respect and protect the rights of its own citizens.”

    Australia’s unlawful offshore detention centres

    April 29, 2014

    Nauru’s refusal to grant Amnesty International access to its Australian-run asylum seeker detention centre appears to be the latest attempt to avoid public scrutiny of the treatment of asylum seekers there.

    The Nauru government has declined Amnesty International’s request to visit the detention centre, based on "the current circumstances and incredibly busy time," despite the organization’s suggestion of alternative dates.

    This latest obstruction follows Nauru reneging earlier this month on allowing a team of UN human rights observers to access the centre, citing "practical difficulties."

    In February 2014, the cost of visas for journalists visiting Nauru was increased from AUD $200 to $8,000.

    "Nauru’s refusals to allow an independent review of the conditions in the detention centre are another damning development in Australia’s offshore asylum processing system," said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    April 28, 2014

    The European Union (EU) must sanction Greece for its failure to eradicate the routine and widespread practice of pushing back refugees and migrants arriving at its borders in search of protection, safety, and better futures in Europe, said an Amnesty International report published today.

    Amnesty International’s report Greece: Frontier of hope and fear contains new evidence of the ongoing, persistent and shameful treatment by the Greek authorities of people risking their lives to find refuge in Europe. This is in direct violation of Greece’s international human rights obligations. The report calls on the EU to use its power to start legal proceedings against Greece for failing to uphold its obligations.

    “The treatment of refugees and migrants at Greece’s borders is deplorable. Too often, instead of finding sanctuary, they are met with violence and intimidation. There are cases where they have been stripped naked, had their possessions stolen, and even held at gunpoint before being pushed back across the border to Turkey,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    April 27, 2014

    .Today an international petition with over 100,000 signatures was delivered to the Government of Hong Kong calling for an end to the exploitation of migrant domestic workers. The petition, coming just days before the start of the high profile trial of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih’s employer was signed by 103,307 individuals from over 160 countries.

    In response to the petition Erwiana said, “I don’t want anyone else to experience the abuse I did. That is why I support this call for the government of Hong Kong to end exploitation of migrant domestic workers. I hope that in the future women can come here and work without fear of abuse, with fair pay and equaltreatment. ”

    Organized by Amnesty International, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, International Domestic Workers Federation and Walk Free, the petition calls on the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, to take urgent steps to enhance the protection of migrant domestic workers in the territory. These steps include:

    April 25, 2014

    The lives of three Syrian men will be put at grave risk if the Egyptian authorities follow through with plans to forcibly send them back to Syria, said Amnesty International.

    The three are among more than 140 refugees and asylum seekers, including 68 children – most of whom are from Syria – unlawfully detained at Rosetta Police Station in Beheira Governorate. They have been held at the police station since 14 April 2014, when Egyptian security forces arrested them after they abandoned a treacherous Mediterranean Sea crossing in an attempt to reach Europe.

    “Forcibly sending back refugees and asylum seekers who have sought safety in Egypt is a cruel betrayal of the authorities’ international obligation to offer protection to refugees. If any of them are returned to Syria their lives could be in grave danger,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    April 11, 2014

    Somali refugees and asylum-seekers living in Kenya are being trapped in a catch-22 situation by the government’s counter-terrorism crackdown, Amnesty International said as thousands of Somalis continued to be rounded up by security forces in Nairobi.

    Registration of Somali refugees in Kenya has been largely halted since December 2011, preventing many who should qualify for refugee status from obtaining papers. Without these they could be returned to Somalia, where they may be at risk of human rights abuses.

    “Thousands of unregistered Somali refugees and asylum-seekers are in an impossible situation: they face arrest and deportation because they are not registered, but it is extremely difficult for them to register,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.

    April 07, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 8 April 2014

    European states are failing to curb and in some cases even fuelling discrimination, intimidation and violence against Roma, Amnesty International said on International Roma Day on 8 April.

    “There has been a marked rise in the frequency of anti-Roma violence in Europe in the last few years. The response to this alarming phenomenon has been woefully inadequate. It is unacceptable that in modern-day Europe some Roma communities live under the constant threat of violence and pogrom-like attacks,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director.

    “All too often European leaders have pandered to the prejudices fuelling anti-Roma violence by branding Roma as anti-social and unwelcome. While generally condemning the most blatant examples of anti-Roma violence, authorities have been reluctant to acknowledge its extent and slow to combat it. For its part, the European Union has been reluctant to challenge member states on the systemic discrimination of Roma that is all too evident.”

    March 31, 2014

    European countries must not transfer any asylum seekers to Bulgaria until the country truly improves its appalling reception conditions and addresses its deeply flawed asylum procedures, said Amnesty International.

    On 1 April, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is due to announce its position on the issue after it called for a suspension of all transfers of asylum seekers to Bulgaria in January. It cited poor conditions in reception facilities and problems with the overall treatment of refugees.

    “Bulgaria is still widely ‘missing the mark’ when it comes to its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. EU member states must halt all transfers and take responsibility for the thousands of men, women and children in desperate need of help,” said Jezerca Tigani, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    Under EU regulation, asylum seekers can be routinely returned to Bulgaria if it is the first country through which they have entered the EU.

    March 20, 2014

    (Brussels 20 March 2014) The lives and rights of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees are being threatened by European Union (EU) member states’ restrictive border control policies, Amnesty International said today at a protest outside the offices of the European Council in Brussels. Supporters and activists will dump four tonnes of sand on the concourse (freedom of expression zone) to create a reconstructed beach, and call on European leaders to end member states’ deplorable migration and asylum policies and practices.

    “The member states are failing miserably to meet their EU and international obligations to protect migrants and asylum-seekers fleeing poverty, conflict and human rights abuses,” said Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

    “As Europe raises its barriers, many have no safe or legal ways to access Fortress Europe. That is why we are outside the European Summit today, to urge EU government leaders to take a hard look at the impact of their “fight against irregular migration” on the lives of men, women and children.”

    March 18, 2014

    •        Hundreds detained every year in prison-like conditions
    •        People who have committed no crime are routinely held for up to18 months or longer
    •        Asylum-seekers, including Syrian refugees, are among those detained
    •        Two women were forcibly separated from their pre-school aged children

    Cypriot immigration authorities routinely detain hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers in prison-like conditions for extended periods while awaiting deportation, said Amnesty International. Those detained include Syrian refugees and women separated from their young children.

    Evidence gathered by researchers during a recent visit to Cyprus indicates that the authorities are exploiting European Union (EU) laws – imposing automatic detention of migrants and asylum-seekers without implementing the required safeguards, which make detention a last resort. The practice is also a breach of international law.

    March 09, 2014

    Posted at 0001 GMT 10 March 2014

    A new report by Amnesty International reveals that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been carried out on Palestinian and Syrian civilians in Yarmouk, on the outskirts of Damascus, which is under brutal siege by Syrian government forces.

    The report, Squeezing the life out of Yarmouk: War crimes against besieged civilians, published ahead of the third anniversary of the crisis in Syria, highlights the deaths of nearly 200 individuals since the siege was tightened in July 2013 and access to crucial food and medical supplies was cut off. According to Amnesty International’s research, 128 of those who have died starved to death in the catastrophic humanitarian crisis that has emerged.

    “Life in Yarmouk has grown increasingly unbearable for desperate civilians who find themselves starving and trapped in a downward cycle of suffering with no means of escape,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “Civilians of Yarmouk are being treated like pawns in a deadly game in which they have no control.”

    March 05, 2014

    Thousands of people forced to flee the violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) are now facing another humanitarian catastrophe in neighbouring Chad, said Amnesty International. The rainy season is due to start shortly and unless shelter, food and medical facilities are urgently made available their already desperate situation will quickly deteriorate.

    A delegation from Amnesty International has spent the last two weeks interviewing survivors of violence in CAR and visiting the sites where they are staying along the Chad / CAR border and in the capital N’Djamena. The delegates found thousands of people who had been neglected by the authorities and humanitarian agencies, many suffering from severe malnutrition and with no shelter other than the shade of trees. Among them were a large number of children, many separated from their families in the chaos, and in urgent need of assistance.

    February 19, 2014

    Spain must refrain from forcibly returning Aleksandr Pavlov to Kazakhstan, Amnesty International said today, shortly after learning of the Spanish government’s decision to authorize his extradition.

    “The Spanish government has decided to extradite Aleksandr Pavlov to Kazakhstan despite credible evidence that he would risk torture upon his return. If they send Aleksandr Pavlov back, they will violate Spain’s international legal obligations,” said Julia Hall, criminal justice expert at Amnesty International.

    “The government must do the right thing and reverse this decision.”

    Aleksandr Pavlov, a 37-year-old asylum seeker in Spain and Kazakhstani national, is currently in detention in the capital city of Madrid.

    According to information received by Amnesty International from different sources, a decision authorising the extradition was taken by the Council of Ministers on 14 February. The decision has not yet been made public.

    February 18, 2014

    Released Midnight GMT 18 February 2014

    Widespread intimidation, the abuse of human rights and the withdrawal of services are forcing Somali refugees out of Kenya said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    “The environment in Kenya is now so hostile that some refugees feel they have no option but to return to Somalia where the ongoing conflict in parts of the country continues to destroy lives. This is tantamount to forced return” said Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director at Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International’s report “No Place Like Home” reveals how life for Somali refugees has been made unbearable. People are denied access to registration, meaning they are illegally staying in Kenya, and are actively targeted by the police with indiscriminate arrests.

    Abdi, 28, said “Here, in Kenya, it’s like a prison. At night we can’t leave the house, in the day we might be arrested. It is not currently safe in Somalia, we hear of killings and murder, but the situation here is very desperate… so instead of being here, let me go back.”

    February 14, 2014

    The French authorities must ensure the protection of a Ukrainian political refugee who sustained a horrific attack in his home in Strasbourg earlier this week, said Amnesty International.

    Andrei Fedosov, a human rights activist reported that he was attacked on Monday night by an unknown Russian native speaker.  He told Amnesty International that the masked assailant bound his hands and feet with tape and stabbed him in the stomach and the leg with a Stanley knife and a razor.  

    The attacker interrogated Andrei about his human rights activities and stole the hard disc from his computer.

    “This is an extremely worrying development. During the EuroMaydan anti-government protests activists have been abducted and tortured by unknown assailants in Ukraine, and at least four protestors have died. This is the first time that someone has been targeted across international borders,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s expert on Ukraine.

    “There is a real perceived risk to Andrei Fedosov’s life and the French authorities must do everything in their power to protect him.”

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