There has been much focus on the role of the European Court of Human Rights over the last number of days (see, here and here). A less well known body, the European Committee on Social Rights, is responsible for assessing Ireland’s compliance with the European Social Charter (Revised). The European Social Charter protects a number of social and economic rights, such as employment rights, right to health care, social security, an adequate standard of living etc. Ireland has freely accepted to abide by a large number of obligations (but not all) under the European Social Charter. As my summary of the Committee’s conclusions below show, this report is somewhat of a mixed bag. It is important to note that the Committee on Social Rights examined Ireland’s compliance with the European Social Charter from 2008 to 2011, so a number of important issues that arose since 2011 are not considered, including the attacks on youth right to full rate unemployment benefit/assistance; maternity benefit cuts; the cumulative impact of successive regressive budgets on those who are already poor and marginalised. In addition, it was somewhat disappointing that the Committee did not mention or consider the social and economic rights of asylum seekers (as it has done in collective complaints).
The European Committee on Social Rights has released its Conclusions on Ireland for 2013 on a number of different rights protected by the European Social Charter, including:
The Immigrant Council of Ireland recently briefed delegates from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) during their recent ‘periodic visit’ toDublin. You can find the Irish reports and responses from 2002 and 2006 here. The ICI says in its latest newsletter that :
At the meeting, the ICI highlighted existing legislative provisions for immigration-related detention in a wide range of circumstances, as well as the proposed provisions in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008. The ICI also highlighted the ongoing difficulties in monitoring the welfare and conditions of migrants in detention due to the lack of official data recorded by the Irish Prison Service or other agencies…In addition, the ICI raised concerns about victims of trafficking being kept in detention and charged with immigration related offences, concerns which were also expressly highlighted by the US Trafficking In Persons Report (2009)
Continue reading “Recent Issues in Immigration policy: Criminalisation, Detention and Socio-Economic Rights”
From the Guardian comes the news that George Papandreou’s newly elected Pasok (Socialist) government have begun to overhaul Greece’s much-criticised immigration policy (I blogged about the Greek connection to the Calais ‘Jungle’ affair here last month and you can read about Greece’s examination by UNCERD in August here). In particular, citizenship will be granted to the Greek-born children of migrants who have legally settled in Greece. At present, the State does not provide such children either with a birth certificate or with a long-term residence permit. Since December, some such children have been able to apply for long-term residence. Prior to that change in the law, they were obliged to apply for a permit – on the same terms as a new migrant – upon reaching the age of 18. The Guardian reports:
“Absurd is too light a word to describe the lot of these kids,” said Petros Papaconstantinou, a prominent anti-racism spokesman. “Even if born in Greece, even if they attend Greek schools and speak only Greek, which invariably is the case, on paper they don’t exist at all.”
Without official documentation the children were often subject to abuse, arrest and deportation at the age of 18, he said. “There are children whose parents are from Africa, Asia and countries like Albania who are enrolled at schools across Greece but who have no papers whatsoever. In Europe this is unique.”
The Greek developments raise the spectre of the the family rights wing of Ireland’s immigration regime, the flagship initiative of which became the Twenty-Seventh Amendment to the Irish Constitution – famous enough at this point, even to be considered in Seyla Benhabib and Judith Resnik’s new book.
Continue reading “Migrants and Child Citizens: Ireland and Greece”
The Immigrant Council, together with Focus Ireland, has just published ‘Making a Home in Ireland’.The report investigates the housing experiences of Nigerian, Chinese, Lithuanian and Indian immigrants in Blanchardstown, Dublin and follows last year’s Getting On: From Migration to Integration. I was taken by this section from the introduction to the report, written by Focus Ireland’s President Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy. Sr. Stan notes that successful migration policy means much more than bare infrastructure (though as Liam has noted on this blog, we have a long way to go on that front too):
‘Making a Home in Ireland’ highlights the fact that feeling at home means far more than having accommodation. Feeling at home for migrants means developing a sense of belonging and a sense of being acknowledged as a member of the diverse Irish community. Now that Ireland is facing a recession, it is time to work our way out of recession together. Some of the recent rhetoric in public discourse which has, at times, blamed migrants for our economic predicament, will not help foster the notion of being ‘at home’ for all members of our society.
Continue reading “The Immigrant Council of Ireland on Housing and the Migrant Vote”
The Immigrant Council of Ireland yesterday urged that Ireland should remain committed to the project of migrant integration in spite of the economic downturn. The ICI’s founder, Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, said on Monday that:
“Despite newly released Central Statistics Officer (CSO) figures showing Ireland has, sadly, once again become a country of net emigration, it would be very misguided to think this means we no longer need to care about social inclusion…Our communities have changed forever and we are now a diverse society. That will not change. We must ensure that we continue to remove barriers to social inclusion so that no group or individual must overcome unnecessary hurdles to achieve their potential. That includes language barriers, educational barriers, recognition of qualifications, employment barriers and attitudinal barriers that lead to exclusion and racism.”
On Wednesday, the Irish Times reported that, for the first time since 1995, more people were leaving Ireland than were coming here. However, the Times adds, significant numbers of immigrants continue to arrive: some 57,000 immigrants came to Ireland in the year to April and the outflow of migrants leaving Ireland has not been as large as expected. These facts trouble the assumption that public expenditure in the area of migrant integration (the McCarthy Report recommended reductions in language support teachers and the abolition of the Ministry for Integration) should be cut. The ICI has also criticised the anti-immigration rhetoric which has been a feature of the Lisbon referendum campaign, with its chairman John Cunningham forcefully arguing that ‘this recession must not be used as a ‘wedge’ to divide those who are perceived as ‘us’ and ‘them’.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) has recently published a new report entitled No Home from Home: Homelessness for People with No or Limited Access to Public Funds. The authors, Roisin Devlin and Sorcha McKenna, conducted an investigation into homelessness amongst migrants, who are not entitled to access public funds. The lengthy report makes a number of recommendations and findings which suggest that current practice may violate international and human rights standards.
I will post a commentary of this report on the blog in the coming weeks.