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efms Migration Report

February 2009

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UN present new report on human trafficking

On 12 September 2009, the Office on Drugs and Crime of the United Nations (UNODC) published the so far most comprehensive report on the issue of "modern slavery", which is titled "Human trafficking - a crime that shames us all". The core finding of the survey was that the total number of victims of human trafficking cannot be estimated. Concrete figures are only available for officially registered and/or legally prosecuted cases of human trafficking. For 2006, 111 member states of the United Nations reported a total of 21,400 of such cases. According to UNODC Director Antonio Maria Costa, this figure was merely the tip of the iceberg, however. The report is widely based on information provided by 155 governments cooperating with the UNODC. But also information from international non-governmental organisations have been taken into account. The investigation for the survey started in December 2003; that time, the adopted "Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children" supplementing the "UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime" provided for the first time a generally accepted definition of human trafficking. The main results from the analysis of the incomplete data material: amounting to 79 per cent, the most frequent purpose of human trafficking is the sexual exploitation of women and children, followed by forced labour in households or as child soldier (8 per cent). Minor victims under 14 years make up 20 per cent of all cases. In geographic terms human trafficking is taking place above all within one region or a country and only in exceptional cases it is cross-continental, according to the report. To implement its convention against human trafficking adopted in 2008, the Council of Europe recently set up the expert group Greta, above all in order to take actions against the sexual exploitation of people.
taz 13.02.09 // NZZ 13.02.09

Swiss vote in favour of EU freedom of movement of persons

On 8 February 2009, the Swiss population voted in a referendum in favour of the agreement on the freedom of movement of persons with the EU, which was entered into within the framework of the accession of Switzerland to the Schengen area. With a clear majority of 59.6 per cent, the Swiss opted thus also for the extension of the freedom of movement to the new EU Member States of Romania and Bulgaria, which had been harshly debated in the country. Workers from throughout the EU having an employment in Switzerland are now entitled to a secure resident status in Switzerland.
FAZ 09.02.09

EJC strengthens protection of refugees

With a judgement of 17 February 2009, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has strengthened the protection of refugees in the EU: refugees who have applied for subsidiary protection under the European Convention on Human Rights, do not necessarily have to provide evidence that they are facing individual threats when being deported to the country of origin. If there is a high degree of "indiscriminate violence" in a country, refugees do not need to provide evidence for being individually threatened. Irrespective of their specific situation, violence could in such case effect these persons, according to the reasons given for the judgement. If there is vice versa a low degree of indiscriminate violence, providing evidence of being threatened due to personal circumstance would be sufficient for being granted subsidiary protection. Subsidiary protection is granted in the EU according to the European Convention on Human Rights if there are threats of being tortured, sentenced to death or subjected to indiscriminate violence.
Press release of ECJ of 19.02.09 // FR 18.02.09

Federal Government to facilitate the recognition of foreign qualifications

In cooperation with the Federal Employment Agency (BA), Federal Integration Commissioner Maria Böhmer (CDU) wants to achieve a quicker recognition of training qualifications of migrants acquired abroad. Currently, 500,000 of the 15 million immigrants living in Germany possessed qualifications that are not recognised, said Böhmer. At the same time, about 18 per cent of them were unemployed in 2008. According to Böhmer, a denial or slowed recognition of qualifications would not only complicate the access to gainful employment but also was the reason that qualified workers needed to take unqualified jobs. Against the backdrop of the current lack of qualified workers in Germany, this constituted a "massive waist of resources". In order to better integrate qualified migrants into the labour market, already existing recognition procedures are to be handled in a more efficient way, on the one hand; on the other hand also a legal right to get foreign qualifications examined should be established. Meanwhile, a pilot project in the federal state of Brandenburg aimed at reducing the high unemployment rates among qualified immigrants and at tackling the lack of physicians in Brandenburg was successfully finished: Within the framework of a 6-month training course, 20 physicians who came as late German repatriates to Germany and had been not allowed to practice, could take an "equivalency test". After passing the test, 17 of them are now allowed to work as assistant doctors in Brandenburg.
dpa 09.02.09 // BZ 11.02.09 // Berliner Morgenpost online 21.02.09

Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning: migrants increasingly living in isolated areas

In a report based on different studies, the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR in its German abbreviation) warns of an increasing segregation of neighbourhoods for migrants and socially disadvantaged persons. As the Pisa study had shown, a segregation in education and in social areas leads to the setting up of severe education and integration barriers, according to the BBR report. Even though the Federal Government and the federal states had been trying to fight the problem within the framework of the programme "Social City", established in 1999, the reach out of this programme was too limited, said the BBR staff member in charge of it, Martina Kocks. So far, only 330 of the 550 municipalities participated with a least one quarter in the programme. As reason for this situation, Kocks has identified the large amount of funds participating municipalities had to invest. In many cases, even the cities themselves contributed to an aggravation of segregation tendencies, said Lutz Freitag, president of the GdW federal association of German housing and real estate companies. The fact that Employment Agencies forced receivers of Hartz IV welfare assistance to move to cheaper dwellings turned the problem of ethnic segregation increasingly into a social problem, said Freitag.
Die Welt online 03.02.09

Bundesrat adopts introduction of electronic identity card

On 13 February 2009, the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, has paved the way for the introduction of the new electronic identity card. From November 2010, the digitalised document in credit card format will be available. In contrast to the electronic passport introduced in 2005, the new identity card is equipped with an integrated chip that allows to voluntarily store two finger prints besides the compulsory biometric picture. Moreover, the identity card will contain an electronic signature that can be used to verify the holder"s identity when dealing with authorities or for doing internet transactions.
Spiegel online 13.02.09 // Die Welt 14.02.09

No extenuating circumstances granted for claimed "honour killing"

The Regional Court of Hamburg sentenced on 13 February 2009 a 24-year old man of Afghan origin to a lifelong prison term for killing his 16-year old sister. The judges considered it proved that the defendant planned and insidiously carried out the murder of his sister on 15 May 2008. With this decision, the judges considered the declaration that the defendant wanted to restore the family"s honour, which he considered to be "spoiled" by his sister"s western way of life, as inappropriate pretext. The presiding judge, Wolfgang Backen, considered the family of the defendant, living in Hamburg for many years, to be also responsible for the crime. It could be blamed with a high moral guilt. The son had been under a high pressure as a result of the family"s expectation, said Backen. Following the delivery of the judgement, the family and family members of the victim and the defendant reacted with commotions. The Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) welcomed the judgement. The 24-year old defendant put forward religious reasons as a pretext to be granted extenuating circumstances, said ZMD secretary general, Aiman Mazyek. In Islam, however, there would be no clues justifying murders for honour or any other reasons, he added. At the beginning of the trial the women"s rights organisation Terre de Femmes organised a demonstration. More than 50 women claimed in front of the Regional Court more protection for persons affected by forced marriages, honour killings and violence.
NDR online 16.12.08 // NN 14.02.09 // Die Welt online 16.02.08 // SZ 17.02.08

Berlin: Initiative achieves plebiscite on religious instruction classes

By collecting signatures, the initiative "Pro Reli" achieved its goal of holding a plebiscite to clarify the dispute among the citizens of Berlin regarding the right to chose between religious instruction classes and classes in ethics. So far, all school students were obliged to take ethics classes whereas the attendance of religious instruction classes was voluntary. The supporters of the currently employed model argue that classes in ethics would embrace all students irrespective of their ethic, religious or ideological origins and thus facilitated the mutual understanding for each other. Moreover, they added, the freedom to chose favoured by "Pro Reli" lead to an "obligation to chose". The current model offered students the opportunity to attend both subjects instead of having to take one of the two only. In contrast, "Pro Reli" is of the opinion that students first needed to get familiar with their own culture and religion before being able to discuss with others of the same age about other cultures and religions. Moreover they criticise the state would claim a monopoly on defining values by obliging students to attend ethics classes. The Berlin Senate decided to hold the plebiscite on 26 April 2009.
FAZ 15.02.09 // SZ 12.02.09 // FAZ 18.02.09

Cologne: New concept to support illegals

The head of the department for social affairs of the city of Cologne, Marlis Bredehorst, has developed a comprehensive concept to support the about 15,000 to 20,000 immigrants living illegally in Cologne. Due to their illegal residence status, such migrants often would be subject to economic exploitation and not granted basic human rights, said Bredehorst. The concept titled "Menschen ohne Papiere" (People without Documentation), which was jointly developed with the "round table for refugee issues", is to show lawful ways of dealing with illegals. On the one hand, the concept comprises counselling services, such as information about how to legalise persons" stays, on the other hand it is also meant to provide practical help: in cooperation with the German Association of Trade Unions (DGB), illegals are to be offered for instance counselling services on "labour related issues"; moreover, the medical outpatient care service previously offered is to be changed to include also inpatient services ("beds for the poor"). Moreover, the enrolment procedure at schools in Cologne had been changed in a way that no school headmaster has to refuse children without residence permit, said Bredehorst. The head of the department for social affairs considered the concept as unique in Germany due to the comprehensive cooperation of a wide range of institutions.
Kölner Stadtanzeiger online 04.02.09

Dortmund: First Turkish carnival association established

On 11 February 2009, the first Turkish carnival association throughout Germany was established in Dortmund under the name of "1. Türkische Narrenzunft Dortmund 09" (1st Turkish fools guild Dortmund 09). At the beginning, it was just "a crazy idea", said Aytac Arman, spokesman of the association. A TV satire about Turkish citizens who had no understanding for carnival then had been the decisive factor for establishing the association, which so far has seven members. The association does not pursue any political or Muslim objectives, said Arman. It rather wanted to encourage also other nationalities living in Germany to celebrate carnival and make jokes about themselves - this goal is to be also expressed by the association"s coat of arms showing a doner spit and a fool"s cap.
NN 16.02.09

Asylum statistics

In February 2009, a total of 1,936 persons submitted an application for political asylum in Germany, a decrease of 17.3 per cent (-406 persons) over the month before. Compared to February 2008, the number of asylum applicants increased by 6.5 per cent (+118 persons). The main countries of origin in February were Iraq (533), Afghanistan (208), Vietnam (101) and Kosovo (95) followed by Turkey (87). In this month, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 2,261 asylum applications. A total of 705 persons (31.2 per cent) were recognised as refugees under the Geneva Refugee Convention. These included 23 persons (1 per cent) who were recognised as entitled to asylum under Art. 16a of the German Basic Law, and 682 persons (30.2 per cent) protected under § 3 of the Asylum Procedure Act in conjunction with § 60 (1) of the Residence Act. The applications of 872 persons (38.6 per cent) were rejected. The cases of a further 592 persons (26.2 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. due to suspensions of asylum procedures because persons have withdrawn their applications).
Press release of the BMI 17.03.09

February 2009

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