Against Hungarian and Slovakian resistance, ECJ upholds EU redistribution plan

By: Sara Adams
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Europe

A police officer stands guard near the border between Serbia and Hungary. Image courtesy of of AP.

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg – The European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) ruled September 7th in favor of the European Union’s migrant redistribution scheme.

The case was brought by Hungary and Slovakia, two members of the European Union that have refused to take their share of the migrants flooding into the European continent.

The two countries have been at odds with the governing body of the EU since September 2015, when the relocation plan passed. EU member countries have since been required to take their portion of refugees and migrants from Greece and Italy.

Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Poland all voted against the relocation plan. Among the four countries, only Slovakia accepted any refugees, but not enough to meet their quota.

Migrant and refugee concerns have grown to become a largely divisive issue within the European Union.

Since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, far-right politics has spread through the European mainland, mostly revolving around anti-immigration, isolationist policy points.

Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, criticized the decision by the ECJ, saying that it is a way of taking away state “right[s] to self-determination and decision-making when it comes to receiving [asylum-seekers].”

Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto took harsher words to describe the binding decision by the court, stating that “politics has raped European law and values.”

But the EU Migration Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, stands by the ECJ’s ruling. He called for unity on Twitter, saying it is “time to work in unity and implement solidarity in full.”

If the countries fail to comply with the binding order of the ECJ, the threat of further legal action hovers. The European Commission, the EU’s executive, has already brought action against Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic for their failure to comply with the mandatory relocation program.

They may face heavy fines if they do not comport with the new decision.

The fate of the asylum-seekers also rests in the hands of the five European Union member states who have resisted compliance.

Since August 30th, only 27,412 asylum seekers in Greece and Italy have been transferred to 24 other countries. The relocation scheme called for relocating 120,000.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has specifically called out Brussels, the center of the EU government, for actions he believe violate state sovereignty.

“[The question is raised] of principles: Whether we are an alliance of European free nations with the commission representing our interests, or a European empire which has its center in Brussels and which can issue such orders,” Mr. Orban said in a statement. “The real battle is just beginning.”

For more information, please see:

The Washington Post – Hungary and Slovakia challenged Europe’s refugee scheme. They just lots badly. – 8 September 2017

Al-Jazeera – Hungary to fight EU migrant quotas despite setback – 8 September 2017

Reuters – Austria’s Freedom Party Criticizes ECJ Ruling on Migrant Quotas – 7 September 2017

BBC News – Europe migrant crisis: EU court rejects quota challenge – 6 September 2017

The Guardian – EU court dismisses complaints by Hungary and Slovakia over refugee quotas – 6 September 2017

The New York Times – E.U. Countries Must Accept Their Share of Migrants, Court Rules – 6 September 2017

CNN – Top EU court rejects Hungary and Slovakia migrant relocation case – 6 September 2017

Attack on Refugee Boat in Yemen Characterized as a War Crime

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

SANA’A, Yemen — Human Rights Watch released a statement on Sunday, March 26th, in which it indicated that an attack on a boat carrying Somali civilians allegedly carried out by the Saudi-led coalition amounts to a war crime.

Human Rights Watch called the attack on the refugee boat a “war crime” (Photo courtesy of CNN)

Witnesses reported that on March 16th, an Apache helicopter, and potentially a military naval vessel, opened fire on the boat at approximately 9 p.m. A female Somali refugee who was wounded in the incident reported seeing a helicopter above the boat, followed by an attack that happened “abruptly”. She stated that the helicopter “kept firing at [them]” and anyone on the boat who spoke Arabic started screaming “we are Somalis!” The head of the fishing port at which the boat docked after the attack stated that they had to put the bodies in the area reserved for “stor[ing] the fish” because they could not “find a place to put the bodies[.]” Photographs of the attack showed “damage consistent with gunfire from an aerial attack” and depicted “a boat strewn with bodies[.]”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”) stated that the attack killed a minimum of forty-two individuals, including women and children, at least thirty-two of which were Somali refugees. Eighty individuals who survived the attack were subsequently rescued and transported to a hospital for treatment. The International Organization for Migration indicated that the victims had been carrying UNHCR identification documents, however it was not clear where in Somalia they had originated from and where the boat was traveling to and from. UNHCR officials reported that the boat could have been traveling towards Sudan or other northern countries.

International organizations responded with outrage to the attack on the refugee boat. The Foreign Ministry of Somalia stated that “target[ing] a boat carrying Somali migrants” was “very sad[.]” The UNHCR indicated that it was “appalled by the deaths of refugees[,]” and further added that “Yemenis, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants continue to suffer and disproportionately bear the brunt of the conflict in Yemen[.]” Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) called for an urgent “need for accountability” on the Yemen war’s second anniversary.

Based on the laws of war, deliberate or reckless attacks on civilians are war crimes. HRW stated that although all parties to the conflict refused to claim responsibility for the attack, the only party that has military aircraft is the Saudi-led coalition. Ms. Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East Director for HRW cited the Saudi-led coalition’s “reckless disregard” for civilian life when characterizing the attack on the refugee boat as a war crime.

For more information, please see:

Human Rights Watch—Yemen: Attack on Refugee Boat Likely War Crime—26 March 2017

RT—Likely war crime: Alleged Saudi coalition strike on refugee boat condemned by HRW—26 March 2017

CNN—In Yemen, urgent support for survivors of deadly boat attack—18 March 2017

Time—31 Killed When Airstrike Hits Refugee Boat Near Yemen’s Coast–17 March 2017

BBC News—Yemen migrant boat attack kills at least 42—17 March 2017

Xenophobia Threatens Peace in Germany

By Sarah Lafen

Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe

BERLIN, Germany —  A federal government report released by the German government warns of unrest in Eastern Germany due to far-right violence as the product of “xenophobia and racist attacks.”  The report warns that the line between protests and violence is becoming too blurred, and that the increasing violence tarnishes the reputation of East Germany as a place to do business.  Through the report, the German government urges civil society to take a stronger stand against anti-migrant demonstrations.

Activists in Leipzig, Germany protest the German government’s migrant policy (Photo Courtesy of VOA News)

Within the past year, attacks on refugees residing in East Germany have increased dramatically, including riots and arson attacks on refugee shelters.  Far right-motivated violence was far more prevalent in Eastern Germany last year, at a rate of 58.7 average occurrences per one million inhabitants.  This figure was significantly higher than the rate of 10.5 average occurrences per one million inhabitants in Western Germany.  The attacks are most commonly carried out in the Eastern German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

In 2015, Germany accepted over 1 million refugees into the country.  This movement increased support for the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is represented in all of the eastern federal states.  AfD is also known for their criticisms of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “open-door policy” toward asylum-seeking refugees.

Iris Gleicke, the federal government’s Commissioner for Eastern German Affairs, considers right-wing extremism to pose a “very seirous threat” to the social and economic development of new German states.  Gelicke, who grew up in Eastern Germany, stated that “Society should not look away when people are attacked or refugee shelters are set on fire. A lot is on the line for east Germany.”  On recent trips to Japan and California in attempt to draw investments into Eastern Germany, Gleicke claims that there was concern about whether their staff would be welcome in the Eastern German states, and whether or not their investments would be safe there.

Merkel recently expressed her regret for losing control over the refugee situation in Germany, stating that she wishes she could “turn back time” to better prepare the country for the influx of migrants.  Merkel’s statements come in the wake of her conservative’s party second electoral defeat within the last two weeks, as voters rejected her open-door policy towards refugees.

 

For more information, please see:

The Huffington Post — German Government Fears Xenophobia Will do Economic Harm — 21 September 2016

Independent — Angela Merkel Admits she Lost Control of Refugee Crisis in Germany and Would ‘Turn Back Time’ if she Could — 21 September 2016

Newsweek — Far-Right Violence ‘Threatens East German Economy — 21 September 2016

VOA News — German Government Warns Against Rising Xenophobia — 21 September 2016

Kenya Pushes to Close Dadaab Camp

By: Samantha Netzband

Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

 

NAIROBI, Kenya –  Two weeks ago Kenya announced that they plan to close the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, citing fears of terrorism as one of the reasons for the camp’s closure.  Dadaab has been open since 1991 and mainly hosts refugees from Kenya’s neighbor Somalia.  The Kenyan government has formed a task force aimed at disbanding the refugee camps and has said that they are committing $10 million towards the effort.

Kenya

Somali refugee girls attend a Koran class at the Dabaab Camp.  (Photo Courtesy of Reuters and Washington Post)

Other countries were quick to criticize Kenya’s decision, because the countries where many of the refugees are from are still unstable.  Kenya’s refugee camps mainly contain Somalia refugees, but there are also refugees from South Sudan and Burundi.  Some of these countries are not completely safe for the refugees to return to – and some of the refugees in the camps have never lived outside of Kenya.  Returning to their native countries will require assimilation into unfamiliar living situations that are still riddled with conflict.

Kenyan government officials countered that the nations that criticize them are not doing their part given the current refugee crisis in Europe.  Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, is up for reelection and has tried to use the call for the removal of refugees to his political advantage.

With 350,000 people estimated living in the camps the closure of the camps will require a very organized and coordinated closure plan from the Kenyan government.  UN and other countries have suggested that the camps close slowly to ensure that a new humanitarian crisis doesn’t happen.

For further information please see:

All Africa – Kenya: Ban Ki-Moon Urges Uhuru to Go Slow on Refugee Repatriation – 19 May 2016

The Star – Don’t Return Refugees Home Without Guarantees Of Safety – 14 May 2016

Wall Street Journal – Kenya’s Push to Close World’s Largest Refugee Camp Fuels a Sense of Displacement – May 14 2016

The World Post – Why Kenya Announced An Unrealistic But Alarming Plan To Rid The Country Of Refugees – 13 May 2016

Washington Post – Why Kenya’s threat to close its refugee camps is even worse than you think – 11 May 2016

All Africa – Kenya: UN Criticises Kenya for Plan on Refugees – 9 May 2016

Syrian Revolution Digest – Thursday 26 June 2012

THE COMMENTARY IN THIS PIECE DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF IMPUNITY WATCH.  

*WARNING VIDEOS MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES*

Solution Or Collusion?

A “solution” that keeps Assad in play and the Revolutionaries at bay when it comes to managing the transitional period is not a solution. It’s a collusion. The Revolutionaries get it, and will oppose it.

Thursday July 26, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 200. The Breakdown: 48 in Aleppo, 46 in Damascus and suburbs, 30 in Daraa (including 22 in Wadi Al-Ajami), 27 in Idlib, 21 in Homs, 14 in Deir Ezzor, 6 in Hama, 4 in Raqqah, 2 in Lattakia, 1 in Hassakeh and 1 in Qunaitra.

Cities & Towns Under Shelling: Harasta, Arbeen, Moadamiah, Harran Al-Awameed, Zabadani, Madaya, Eltal, Dmeir, Hameh, Yelda, Rankous, Qarrah(Damascus Suburbs), Sit Zeinab, Al-Qadam, Modan, Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, Yarmouk, Kafar Sousseh, Mazzeh, Qaboun, Barzeh (Damascus City), Daraa City, Khirbet Al-Ghazaleh, Tafas, Bostra Al-Sham, Na’eemah, Mseifrah, Jimreen, Hraak (Daraa), Rastan, Talbisseh, Houla, Tal Kalakh, Al-Qusayr, Al-Hosn, Al-Ghanto, Al-Bouaydah, Old Homs (Homs Province), Hreitan, Elbab, Eizaz, Marei, Bayanoun (Aleppo Province), Haffeh, Jabal Al-Akrad (Lattakia), Deir Ezzor City, Mouhassan, Albou Kamal (Deir Ezzor Province), Kafar Zeiteh, Hawash, Shahshabo, Hama City (Hama Province), Jabal Al-Zawiyeh, Ma’rrat Al-Nouman, Saraqib, Maar Shoureen, Ariha, Kafroumah, Al-Rami, Khan Shaikhoon (Idlib).

News

Op-Eds & Special Reports

Russia and Syria’s Assad: The End of the Affair? It has become clear to many officials in Moscow that the Assad regime cannot restore the pre-rebellion status quo in Syria, forcing them to consider backing away from a longtime client.

Al Qaeda’s War for Syria Now is the time to begin moving against the terror group’s Syrian assets.

Insight: Cautious on Syria, Obama moves to help rebels One of the most telling signs that the administration sees few good options in Syria is the apparent lack of major policy disagreement among Obama’s advisers. “There was more on Egypt and Libya,” a senior administration official said.

As Syrian Troops Pour Into Aleppo, Rebels Warn of Drawn-Out War The Syrian Army is trying to prevent the country’s commercial capital from becoming a base for a rebel offensive against Damascus. Damien McElroy, Adrian Blomfield, and Magdy Samaan report.

After Assad: What’s Next for the Future of Syria? If Syria is allowed to fracture, each ethnic group hunkering down, says Ammar Abdulhamid, an exiled Syria opposition leader in Washington, “it won’t be easy to put humpty dumpty back together again. It would take decades of instability and violence to sort itself out. And that is what we’re most worried about.”

Video Highlights

The following video purport to show clashes between the Syrian and Jordanian armies near Tal Shihab http://youtu.be/HueiEPXCEJ0 The clashes came at the heel of a cross-border shooting by the Syrian army that left a 3-yerl0ld Syrian refugee boy dead. The clashes were confirmed by Al-Jazeerah, but the Jordanian government refuted the report saying the Syrian army fired at refugees who were crossing into Jordan, but no clashes took place.

The pounding of Kafroumah, Idlib province, leaves several dead and wounded, including many children http://youtu.be/r3T4xKxSWoY Trying to rescue the wounded http://youtu.be/ECwHyOv2Geo , http://youtu.be/GXfI9dXFdXA Funeral for four of the dead http://youtu.be/zeiF2vZTsk4

The call for general mobilization made by the Commander of the Military Council of Aleppo, affiliated with FSA, with English subtitleshttp://youtu.be/nZmg0e4kaCo

A video surfaces of Assad celebrating the birthday of his wife’s brother back in August 2011 when his troops were busy committing massacreshttp://youtu.be/lhbYI9WO0zY

Mhardeh, Hama Province: the judge appointed for investigating the Massacre of Qoubair defects and accuses the regime of the massacrehttp://youtu.be/4UcTPQfdMlc

People in the Damascene suburb of Yelda rush to pull bodies from underneath the rubble after the suburb was shelled by helicopter gunshipshttp://youtu.be/CvfhLHljy7Q The dead and wounded include many childrenhttp://youtu.be/NbkaTPcPdRA , http://youtu.be/kX0tEvJi1Bg

The pounding of the town of Dmeir to the North leaves many buildings and shops on fire http://youtu.be/AqhtDOnXJrs

The suburb of Daraya was also heavily pounded by helicoptershttp://youtu.be/dIsaqojh6cM , http://youtu.be/dIsaqojh6cM

In Damascus City, the regime bulldozed parts of Qaboun Neighborhood as a form of collective punishment destroying many homes and shops in the processhttp://youtu.be/AKZFVOm80bo , http://youtu.be/iK5Q3WDrrU0

MIGs still taking part in the pounding in Aleppo Province. This video is from the town of Manbej http://youtu.be/gDzdtaskTh0

A little boy takes his last breaths in Albou Kamal, Deir Ezzor Provincehttp://youtu.be/1mrgx9Sru0Q

In Aleppo City, preparing for battle is not just about establishment checkpoints and barricades, in Sakhour, it’s about collecting garbage and cleaning the neighborhoods: and the fighters are doing the job http://youtu.be/1u9wLwhkdxc ,http://youtu.be/9u1-CbG2mJI

The pounding of Deir Ezor City continues http://youtu.be/k0jLXiJSMVc