Friday, 20 March 2009

Spring Conference and migration

Over this weekend, Jean is attending Green Party Spring Conference, which is being held in Blackpool. Among other things, she has been on the main stage leading the call to action for the European elections, taking part in a panel on the relevance of the green agenda to work on poverty, and highlighting our work on migration issues on the European level.

On a policy level, Conference voted on Friday to adopt the most recent European Green Party migration statement as official policy. While it is too long to repeat in its entirety here, a few 'tasters' should give you an impression of the human rights and social justice orientated approach of Green Parties across Europe on this issue:

"All migrants are entitled to fundamental human rights. Family reunification is one of those rights: we fully honour everyone's right to live with his or her family, as stated in the European Convention on Human Rights. There is a tendency of EU Member States to restrain people from exercising this right, making unreasonable demands to migrants who want to reunify their family in the European Union. Barriers such as having to pass a language test in their home country or requiring that they earn much more than the minimum wage are prejudicial. We Greens reject these requirements and guarantee the right to live in family."

"Every person who needs shelter according to the Geneva Conventions must have the possibility to get access to a fair asylum procedure in Europe. The Greens demand that access to a fair asylum procedure is always granted to those who need it, in a language the asylum seeker understands or with the help of translator and with free legal assistance at all stages of the procedure. In each case an individual assessment is needed, based on objective information of the human rights situation in the home country. Agencies should never use lists of “safe third countries” which rarely reflect the harsh living conditions in some countries. The agency responsible for processing the claim should be independent from the government."

"Gender reasons to escape the country of origin like genital mutilation, oppression and religious persecution because of gender, ‘honour crimes’, rape, forced abortion or sterilisation must be accepted as reasons to get asylum in all EU countries, as well as persecution on grounds of sexual orientation."

"There are now migrants, displaced persons and their families, who must leave their land because of environmental disaster that results from both incremental and rapid ecological and climatic change that includes sea level rise, coastal erosion, desertification, collapsing ecosystems, water contamination and weather events that are more frequent and unpredictable. As a result, inhabitants are unable to live safe or sustainable lives in their immediate environment. Some island nations may cease to exist. The word refugee has been used with strong moral connotations of societal protection in most world cultures, and it must now be extended to those who are forced to migrate because of climatic change."

"The European Greens oppose the principle of detaining persons not found guilty of any crime but who just violated an administrative rule (i.e. entering or staying without proper documentation in the European Union). Detention is a juridical paradox."

"The best way to attack the smugglers networks is to deprive them of their profits. There are policies that have indirect effects on the profitability of the trafficking business. Regularization campaigns, amnesties for illegal migrants, job training reduce the expected profits of traffickers as they reduce the enforceability of debt contracts between intermediates and migrants. In the legal sector trafficking agreements are harder to enforce, the migrant defaults and can turn to the police for protection once he or she receives legal status. In order to fight against to human trafficking, the victims of human trafficking who have been forced (or are meant to be forced) to work in the sex industry or in diplomatic or other households, who have been or are meant to be forced into marriage, etc. in the EU against their will should get the right to stay and get a regular working permit."

And if you want to hear Jean speaking directly on this issue - your wish is our command!

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