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over de grens - verwijdering van vluchtelingen en migranten uit Nederland

autonoom centrum, maart 2004

# The expulsion of illegal aliens: the European way

Trade in 'illegal aliens'. > Electronic security net  > Asylum-procedures in the region  > Global Strategy

The way in which the member countries of the European Union are trying to synchronize their ayllumseekers-policies, is not yet very successful or spectacular. But these countries are moving forward and are creating - step by step - a policy framework which will allow them to cooperate better. 'Europe' also hopes - in the near future - to be able to tranfer the responsibility for asylum-seekers to other regions in the world.These regions are usually more poor than the member states of the European Union.

Experts from several member countries of the EU are now writing a handbook. The authors of this handbook will describe several procedures on how to remove illegal people and asylum-seekers. These member countries want to cooperate and want to use charter flight together, for removing 'illegal aliens'.

The handbook will also describe the following matters: which national organisations have the task to remove 'illegal aliens' people, what rules these organisations have to follow, what kind of identity documents can be used, in what way airline carriers are responsible, what security measures are necessary, and several other 'rules' and 'facts' that government bureaucrats might need when they have to remove 'illegal aliens'.

The handbook is tan initiative of the Italian government and it is a result of an action programme devised by the member states of the EU at the end of 2002. Italy also proposed to make it possible to transfer 'illegal aliens' by car or bus - accompanied by members of the police force - and transport them through several European countries until they have reached their point of destination. At the moment most 'illegal aliens' are removed by plane or boat. So the point of the Italian initiative is to make it possible to use other means of transportation.

Both proposals make it clear that a common European expulsion policy of illegal aliens people is still at a premature stage. The member states are busy removing several administrative, legal and organisational obstacles that hinder a common policy on 'illegal aliens'. Sometimes no airline carrier in a certain member state flies directly from this state to the point of origin of a certain asyllumseeker. In this case 'illegal aliens' must be brought to another European airport to be put there on a plane.

This looks like a simple operation but it isn't. Government officials of the country who are trying to put the illegal aliens man/woman on a plane encounter many problems. Examples of these problems are: which country is paying all the bills?,Which country is responsible for medical care and general assistance? Which organizations will prevent the illegal aliens man/woman from being transported to a country where he or she will be prosecuted and or mistreated. What kind of a transit-visa will be used? These matters keep lots of government bureaucrats in different EU member countries occupied. These problems must be solved.

The individual EU member countries are primarily responsible for removing 'illegal aliens themselves and this situation will not radically change in the near future. The asylum procedures of the EU member states are national matters; the same can be said about the process of removing 'illegal aliens'. At present, there is no general European expulsion policy. The main results of the European drive for cooperation on this matter are initiatives for more mutual support, for streamlining procedures, for removing legal obstacles, and for organising meetings to talk about best practices concerning the removal of 'illegal aliens'.

EU member countries have agreed to acknowledge each others decisions to remove 'illegal aliens', this is the most clear example today of a drive towards a common policy. If policemen in Holland arrest an Algerian man - and if it is clear that the French authorities have already decided to remove this man - then the Dutch authorities are responsbile for transporting this man back to Algeria. In such a situation problems can always arise because it is not clear which country is then responsible for the financial consequences of the removal of the illegal aliens Algerian.

The above suggests that the European Unionstill hasa long way to go before it will reach at the goal of a common expulsion policy. But is is also true that the European Union is rather active and focuses its activity on three main points of concern related to the expulsion of 'illegal aliens'.

Affiche tegen betrokkenheid van Lufthansa bij uitzettingen

# Trade in 'illegal aliens'.

The first focal point is the area of agreements about taking an illegal alien back. One of the biggest problems encountered by bureaucrats of the European Union is the fact that many home-countries of refugees and asyllumsseekers refuse to take them back. This refusal is in contradiction with international rules that state that a country has to allow their own nationals to return. The international rules imply that in principlea country must always cooperate with the country that is sending them their own nationals back tothem But it happens often that these rules are violated.

A considerable number of countries is delaying the return of their own people. The Netherlands and Germany have tried for a long time to change this practice and were willing to use the strongest weapon that the European Union has today : economic strength. The suggestion is that the member states of the EU must sign trade agreements only if a certain country outside the EU agrees to allow the return of theirown people. 'A request to return certain people to certain countries will be more easily granted if such a request is supported by many EU member states or by several like-minded countries' states the Dutch minister Verdonk in a recent publication called the 'terugkeernotitie'.

In the past few years the European Union has achieved a few goals. The socalled ACP-countries (77 countries in Africa, the Caribian area and the Pacific area) - while negotiating with the EU about a new LomÈ treaty - have shown a cooperative approach and have accepted to oblige themselves to allow their nationals to return. This obligation concerns both their own nationals and foreigners who travelled via the ACP countries to Europe. The obligation also concerns people who do not possess travel or identity documents and who chose the Acp countries as a starting point for their trip to Europe. The ACP-countries were not very enthusiastic about their new obligation(s) but had to take into account that the Eurean Union would possibly refuse to sign a new Lome-treaty. This treaty has an estimated value of approximately 20 milliard euros. It is clear that the ACP countries did not want to let such a great opportunity for economic recove! ry go to waste.

Not a single drop of ink is spent on describing certain guarantees for 'illegal aliens' in the new treaty. According to the Dutch government this is a logical procedure. Because a Dutch judge has decided to expel the asylumseeker, this persons will thus not be endangered when he his home-country. It is not neccessary to pay attention to this topic in the return-agreements, according to the Dutch government. What will happen upon the return of the 'illegal aliens' person is no longer a responsibility of the Dutch government. Is it possible for the 'illegal aliens person' to apply for asylum status in the ACP countries? Is het asylum-procedure in the ACP-countries compatible with international norms? Will the asylumseeker be transported to yet another country? Do these 'illegal aliens' perhaps have to stay forever in the refugee camps in the region? Nobody knows, nobody cares!

The EU has decided not to pay a lot of attention to these questions. One could say (taking the cynical approach) that these return-agreements are a form of commerce. Your government wants to export tomatoes to the European Union? Then you will first have to allow 'nonwanteds' to return to your country.

In this manner the European Union is trying to create a "cordon sanitaire'. More and more countries situated at the borders of Europe have to refuse refugees frpermission to enter their countries - and they have to allow refugees from EU member states to return to these countries, if these refugees have been able to slip throught the securit net.

# Electronic security net

A second focal point of the EU-bureaucrats is the construction of a data-base that will be used to gather and save information on 'illegal aliens'. This database can be compared to an electronic security net. The net is used to catch fish; the 'illegal aliens' people. The database will also be used to identify 'illegal aliens'; this being a central problem area of the expulsion policy.

Al the files and data considering asylum-seekers and captured illegals will be recorded in the 'Eurodacs-system.' The Eurodacs-system can conveniently be used during the asylum-procedure, during the final expulsion process, and for identification purposes. The data on 'illegal aliens' will also be put in the Schengen central computer system. Policemen and other bureaucrats can see on their computerscreens if the person in front of them is an illegal or not. In a similar way, the border guards can see if a stranger, whom they have arrested, may enter Europe. The newest defence mechanism againts 'illegal aliens' will be the socalled VISA system, which will be operational in the near future. The VISA system uses biometrical characteristics to identify a certain human being. The VISA sytem will make it more easy to expel 'illegal aliens'

# Asylum-procedures in the region

The third European focal point has a more strategic nature and could become very important in the future. This is a plan about the creation of refugee camps in the region. The main idea is that refugees have to applyfor asyllum in regional centres located outside of Europe. The UNCHR will be responsible in these camps for handling the asyllum requests. The asyllum-seeker can only get asylum status in Europe if the UNHCR grants an asylum status beforehand. It is also possible that an asylumseeker will be asked to go to another part of the globe.

This plan has several flaws. It is not clear how refugees can get adequate legal help in these centres outside Europe. It is not clear if there will be enough translators. It is not clear how the refugees can appeal - if their first request is refused. It is not clear if these centres will be safe. It is not clear how the general living standards will be, if there will be good medical care, and if there will be educational opportunities.There is another important aspect: refugees will be more easily ignored by the media if these centres are located in places that can not easily be reached. The civil society in European countries (social workers, municipalities,churches and action groups ) cannot easily go to these centres .Twice every year some journalist will try to do some reporting in these centres, a documentary will be shown - and that's it. It is a crucial component of this plan that asylum-seekers will no longer be permitted to ask for asylum in Europe. If they do arrive at our borders, they will be transported straight back to the refugee camps in their country of origin. They will be told: please ask for asylum there. It is clear that the responsibility for the problem of 'illegal aliens' will be transferred to the UNHCR and the countries in the regions. The Dutch government is a strong advocate of this plan and is working together with the United Kingdom, Austria and Denmark in an experiment that could start in 2004.These countries hope that if this experiment succeeds, the European Union will become enthusiastic. They hope that this experiment will become the offcial European policy.

# Global Strategy

It is difficult to judge the precise effect of the different European plans considering 'expulsion policies'. For several years the expulsion of 'illegal aliens' in the Netherlands has been problematic and 'Europe' will surely not be able to solve these problems at once. Moreover, many European agreements will not be put in effect immediately, they will be put in a drawer somewhere and stay ina cupboard. 'Paper is patient' is a dutch expression, and this can surely be said about these European arrangements. Minister Verdonk refers to this problem in a recent paper, 'The European policy at present offers offers no clear solutions for the problem of returning ˙nwanteds'to their home-countries', she states.

But is is clear that slowly but surely, the European Union bureaucrats are progressing. When a solution is found for several legal, organizational and bureaucratic obstacles, then EU member countries will work together more closely, especially in the area of expulsion 'illegal aliens'. Because of European pressure on countries of origin, the expulsion of 'illegal aliens' will become more easy. Because in the European mainland people will be more thoroughly investigated, it will become more easy to put asylum-seekers, illegal people, and other 'illegal aliens' in special detention centres. The European countries do not give much though to the fate of all these people who are forced to leave Europe. How these people fare in their country of origin - or how they cope with the situation in the transit-country - is not important.

This system will be truly efficient and horrible, if the plan for creating refugee-centres in the diverse global areas outside of Europe will be realized. The European policy towards refugees will then become a truly global political and strategic instrument. The control of migration movements wil become the centrepiece of the legislation, in order to protect the European mainland from people who are born in the very poor and unsafe areas of our planet.

Minister Verdonk states in a recent paper:'There are negative effects in the European countries as a consequence of irregular migration. People in many countries of origin think that the netto effects of migration in general are positive'.

Action-groups and other groups from the civil society community are confronted with a difficult dilemma. Solidarity with 'illegal aliens' exists and arises often in daily life on the streets of our cities where people meet. The political strategy and decision making takes place in several European fora, where the normal rules of national democracies are not applicable.

More cooperation in Europe- between various action groups - and more attention for European decicison making is essential. The global strategy of European member countries must be answered with a counterstrategy, devised by the action groups and other groups of the civil society in Europe. A closer cooperation between the groups who traditionally support refugees, illegals and other 'illegal aliens', and the so called anti-globalisation groups is absolutely necessary in order to formulate a global counterstrategy.

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