Migration and asylum

In recent years, the international community has faced unprecedented waves of migration, while the situation of persons who are compelled to leave their homes due to armed conflicts, poverty, desertification, or extreme climatic phenomena to be understood and managed efficiently and responsibly. The countries where these people seek shelter urged by the wish and the need to begin a better life have the duty to provide them protection according to the international legislation. While searching for viable strategies, it should be taken into account that these people are vulnerable members of society and their rights can be easily violated.

Migrants may leave their native country for economic or educational reasons, but also as a result of the violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the international documents.
These documents provide protection of the rights of all persons with a high degree of vulnerability , including the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers irrespective of their status.

There is need for creating communication bridges, understanding cultural diversity, combating discrimination, providing access to justice, and especially respecting all the human rights and fundamental freedoms.
 

Instruments
Publications
Events

Instruments


The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is a set of EU laws, finalized in 2005. They are meant to provide the protection by all EU member states of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.
 

 

  • Ordinance No. 194/2002 on the status of aliens in Romania   ro
  • Ordinance No. 44/2004 on the social integration of aliens who have been given a form of protection in Romania
  • Urgency Ordinance No. 102/2005 on free circulation on Romania’s territory of citizens from the Member States of the European Union, the European Economic Area and the citizens of the Swiss Confederation, republished in 2011, Official Gazette of Romania No. 774/2 November 2011
  • Law No. 260/2005 for adopting Government Urgency Ordinance No, 102/2005 on the free circulation on Romania’s territory of the citizens of the European Union and the European Economic Area
  • Law No. 122/2006 on asylum in Romania
  • Urgency Ordinance No. 56/2007 on aliens’ employment and temporary attachment to other workplaces on the territory of Romania
  • Law No. 362/2005 on Romania’s accedence to the Convention on the status of stateless persons adopted in New York on 28 September 1954
  • Law No. 361/2005 on Romania’s accedence to the Convention on the reduction of statelessness adopted in New York on 30 August 1961
  • Law No. 8 of 8 April 2009 on approving Government Urgency Ordinance No. 187/2008 on amending and supplementing Law No. 122/2006 on asylum in Romania
  • Law No. 280/2010 on amending and supplementing Law No. 122/2006 on asylum in Romania
  • Law No. 209 of 27 June 2013 on approving Government Urgency Ordinance No. 16/2013 on amending and supplementing Law No. 122/2006 on asylum in Romania
  • Law No. 137 of 15 October 2014on approving Government Ordinance No. 1/2014 on amending and supplementing Law No. 122/2006 on asylum in Romania and Government Ordinance No. 44/2004 on the social integration of aliens who have been given a form of protection or right of residence in Romania as well as  the citizens of the member states of the European Union and the European Economic Area
  • Law No. 331 of 16 December 2015 on amending and supplementing several normative acts related to aliens
  • Law No. 165 of 24 June 2015 on approving Government Ordinance No. 22/2014 on amending and supplementing Law No. 122/2006 on asylum in Romania
  • Law No. 116 of 26 May 2017 on approving Government Ordinance No. 25/2016 on amending and supplementing several normative acts related to aliens
     

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Publications

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Events

Webinar - Meeting on Migration, Monitoring Visits in the context of COVID-19 pandemic

On July 8, the Romanian Institute for Human Rights participated in the Webinar Meeting on Migration, Monitoring Visits and COVID-19 organized by the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI).

The objectives of the event were: (1) to present the exchange of good practices in the field; (2) to identify challenges regarding the monitoring methodology, the use of personal protective equipment in conducting monitoring visits; (3) to work with other human rights defenders on this issue; (4) to disseminate information to colleagues and organizing interactive discussions; (5) to discuss on existing monitoring guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic and on how to adapt them to the border monitoring process.

The event began with the presentation, by Alexis Comninos, of the document ”Guidance Monitoring Places of Detention through the COVID-19 Pandemic”. This Guidance summarizes the ongoing efforts of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in OSCE member states. The Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) – a structure that provides strategic support to the National Mechanisms for the Prevention of Torture and Detention Monitoring (MNP) – contributed to the document. The publication to provide practical guidance on how National Torture Prevention Mechanisms can continue to exercise their monitoring functions in the context of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guide examines the role of these mechanisms during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as considerations for maintaining on-site monitoring, remote monitoring, with the recommendation that physical distance and the use of communication technologies analysis of additional challenges that need to be considered – detainees should be given a closed and secure area for such communication, without the presence of staff or other persons, to protect the confidentiality and privacy of information exchanged – ;collection of ”first hand information”, requesting advice and expertise from professionals and medical staff; managing new risks and challenges; preventing contamination in places deprived of liberty; addressing overcrowding and physical distancing; facilitating contact with the outside world; taking into consideration the effects of new restrictive measures in response to the pandemic, etc.

The guide concludes that this unprecedented health emergency greatly affects the work of National Prevention Mechanisms. They, as well as other human rights defenders, face many challenges, such as the need to adapt their monitoring methods and the difficulties encountered in carrying out visits to places of detention or deprivation of liberty, without causing harm, as well as facing new problems and risk factors. Prevention mechanisms in the OSCE region and around the world have shown immense adaptability, undoubtedly meeting the challenge of ensuring that all those deprived of their liberty remain protected from torture and ill-treatment. The global nature of this emergency is a unique opportunity for prevention mechanisms around the world to exchange promising practices and learn from each other.

During the discussions, RIHR presented the situation at national level in the field of monitoring of detention centers, formulating the following statement, which was inserted in the minutes of the event. From the RIHR statement, we summarize the following: Regarding the monitoring visits, in our country the People’s Advocate (Ombudsman) has NPM attributes. The Romanian Institute for Human Rights, in accordance with its mandate, is engaged in research, training and advocacy activities. RIHR has a close institutional collaboration with the General Inspectorate for Immigration, with NGOs and international organizations, especially with UNHCR. The local tendency of public opinion towards migrants is positive or neutral in Romania. Discrimination or negative attitudes towards the perception of migrants in society are isolated cases.

 

Webinar – The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on migration

In the context of the pandemic affecting the world, the United Nations Migration Network organized an online conference on April 1, to address the impact of the SARS-CoV 2 virus on the phenomenon of migration, event in which RIHR was invited to participate. The specific aim of the webinar was to discuss the issues related to the effects of the pandemic on migrant communities and the implications it has on both immediate and long-term potential.

The discussion session was intended to be a platform through which participants can exchange experiences, identify emerging trends, and analyze the response efforts of relevant stakeholders and governments. Being an open platform, the exchanges between the participants aimed to channel the efforts collectively on the key issues faced by migrants, to increase the level of information and at the same time to set the priorities of the Network.

By making available this space for discussion, the Migration Network aimed to add critical value, to ensure that migrants are included in both immediate and long-term measures that have an impact on their health and well-being, economic and social rights, as well as human rights. Attempts were also made to highlight the important contributions of migrants as front-line workers, who provide care, transport, health, food production, and other services.

The conference was held in two sessions, at different times, to allow the intervention of participants regardless of their geographical area, and brought together important actors on the world stage, involved either directly or indirectly in the issue of migration. Thus, among those who spoke, we can list: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Detention Coalition (IDC), global union federations, Terres des Hommes Foundation, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants  (PICUM - Europe), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), World Bank, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, Mixed Migration Center (MMC), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), social workers, representatives of border authorities in sensitive areas (e.g. US-Mexico border), The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Save the Children, as well as representatives of other NGOs and public institutions from states on all continents, with concerns and interests in the field of migration.

Among the addressed topics was the need to allocate funds to people in conflict areas who are in a situation of deep crisis, now accentuated by the effects of measures taken to stop the spread of Covid-19. Reference was made in particular to countries such as the one from the Middle East, where refugees without legal documents are harassed, unable to procure food, lack financial resources, and have no access to basic services or medical assistance. Pakistan also reports that in the context of the crisis, the number of those crossing the border illegally has increased, subjecting them to unfavorable situations that could endanger their health and life. On this occasion, it was called upon the goodwill of everyone to donate and help in any way possible to improve the situation of those found in difficulty in these areas. At the same time, it was mentioned that states such as India and the Philippines no longer accept migrants from the Middle East, and at the diplomatic level, transparency is required from Asia regarding deportations from Kuwait and neighboring territories.

Another issue faced by migrants was discussed by representatives of the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants  (PICUM - Europe), who pointed out that women without legal documents encounter difficulties accessing shelters designed for women, homeless centers do not accept migrants without legal documents, and overall the lack of legal documents is a real problem that is getting worse day by day, amid the lack of action of the authorities. Thus, PICUM launches questions aimed at drawing the attention of stakeholders and governments, such as where undocumented migrants will be taken if they are not received in shelters, what solutions can be found in this regard, but at the same time, it is emphasized the funding initiative from civil society and/or local authorities. There was also a harsh reality known globally, namely that undocumented migrants are not included in the protection measures adopted by governments, in particular as regards emergency assistance for finding shelter, or in the case of unemployment benefits, difficulties encountered mainly in Europe and the United States.

A special case is that of stateless persons who, according to those in Asia, face particularly acute vulnerabilities, in this category being included both those who are in a migratory context and stateless persons in situ. Thus, since the vast majority does not appear in national statistics, there is the issue of excluding them from actions involving the distribution of aid or access to basic services.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance drew attention to several phenomena she identified, including attacks on Chinese migrant descendants, structural discrimination – refused access to health services, aggravation of pre-existing inequalities and latent vulnerabilities. At the same time, the Rapporteur calls on UN agencies and civil society not to be complicit in potential human rights violations committed by governments and suggests monitoring worldwide emergency ordinances on restrictions on migrants to detect possible violations of their rights.

Representatives of the World Bank said that the effects of the pandemic caused by Covid-19 have a greater impact on migrants’ rights, especially in terms of remittances, as migrants are unable to access agencies to transfer money. Another important issue highlighted by the World Bank was the implementation of a policy, which involves including money transfer operators in the list of essential services, to mitigate the impact upon migrants. Thus, support is provided to domestic or international migrants through access to remittance transfers and access to services (cash transfer, food procurement), according to the principle of neutrality, regardless of the migration situation.

In which concerns the recommendations, the Terres des Hommes Foundation calls for the release of as many migrants as possible from detention centers and advises the authorities not to arrest migrants for minor offenses.

Save the Children raises the alarm about the impact of the pandemic on children and recommends that state authorities take steps to ensure that children’s access to basic services is not restricted, especially concerning health and protection services for migrant children.

In addition to the obstacles and difficulties faced by migrants globally, there is also an example of good practice provided by Portugal, where the authorities have decided to grant undocumented migrants and asylum seekers residence rights, aiming to reduce exposure to the Covid-19 virus as much as possible.

Thus, the online conference had on its agenda a multitude of issues encountered in reports and statistics on the situation of migrants, forecasts, calls to the authorities, stakeholders and civil society, but also exchanges of good practice, policies to mitigate the impact on migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons, recommendations for action and community involvement. All these topics had a common denominator, promoted by the UN Migration Network in the form of the motto “Covid-19 does not discriminate; nor should our response”, encouraging a human rights-based approach, regardless of the situation.

 

How migrants and refugees are perceived in contemporary society - integration, protection, communication, prejudice

On October 24, Romanian Institute for Human Rights brought together representatives of national institutions and international organizations to launch an information and awareness campaign among the youth, on how refugees and migrants are perceived both in the Romanian society, as well as in other EU member states. The event was organized by Romanian Institute for Human Rights in collaboration with General Inspectorate for Immigration, UNHCR Romania and Romanian National Council for Refugees and was addressed to the students of the „Spiru Haret” National College in Bucharest.

Not coincidentally, the event took place on the occasion of the United Nations International Day, this year marking the 74th anniversary since the United Nation Organisation was created. “Weare pushing for human rights and gender equality -- and saying “no” to hatred of any kind (…). And we are striving to maintain peace – while bringing life-saving aid to millions caught up in armed conflict…” (from the UN Day message of theUN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres).

There are currently 70.8 million people displaced worldwide - 25 people are forced to flee their country every minute. In the spirit of respect for their rights, which are often violated, issues were presented and debated regarding the challenges and opportunities of integration into society of migrants and refugees as well as the activity of protecting and promoting their rights, access to justice, fighting prejudice, but also the importance of their contribution to the life of the community.

The representative of the General Inspectorate for Immigration (IGI) discussed the role and importance of IGI in managing the migration phenomenon, focusing on the integration of foreigners in our country. Afterwards, the UN Agency for Refugees in Romania (UNHCR) provided a brief history of  the establishment of UNHCR after the Second World War, as well as a synthesis of current global trends, the dramatic situation of displaced persons, the prejudices of those in the countries where they come to seek support, and the ways in which they are granted protection.

The Romanian National Council for Refugees (CNRR) briefly described its activity and the types of assistance offered to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, mentioning the main obstacles faced by these categories of persons: lack of documents in the country of origin, limited knowledge of the Romanian language, cultural barriers.

Being a refugee means defying all obstacles and taking on the burden of starting from scratch. IRDO representatives invited the young public to reflect on the idea that these people have the same rights as all of us and evoked prominent personalities from Romania and from all over the world who were, or are currently refugees. There may be a thin border between being a migrant or a refugee, because a person who emigrates from the native country at a certain time in complete freedom, may face the situation that meanwhile the conditions in that country dramatically  changed, freedoms became restricted and even his or her life could be endangered in case of return.

As stated by all speakers, there can be a thin line between being a migrant or a refugee, because a person who emigrates from the native country at a certain time in complete freedom, may face the situation that meanwhile the conditions in that country dramatically  changed, freedoms became restricted and even his or her life could be endangered in case of return.

In conclusion, the students learned that being a refugee means defying all obstacles and taking on the burden of starting from scratch. IRDO representatives invited the young public to reflect on the idea that these people have the same rights as all of us and evoked prominent personalities from Romania and from all over the world who used to be or currently are refugees.

Links/Sources:

https://www.unhcr.org/global-trends-2018-media.html

https://www.agerpres.ro/comunicate/2019/10/24/comunicat-de-presa-institutul-roman-pentru-drepturile-omului--391429


October 4
The Constanța Territorial Inspectorate of Border Police (IGPF) – Coast Guard hosted the last training session of the collaboration project between IRDO, the Anti-Corruption General Directorate, the General Inspectorate for Immigration and the General Inspectorate of the Border Police.

The session was themed ‘Human rights and sea border management’ and it focused on case studies and examples of good practices in managing illegal migration.

The main issues caused by migration by sea were analysed from the human rights perspective (multiple deaths, the difficulty of some states to agree on the jurisdiction, not reporting information obtained through migrants detection systems in a timely manner, prohibiting the entry in ports, refoulements based on bilateral agreements, etc.). Examples from states that have faced major migrant flows were given for each situation.

Moreover, there were discussions on the legal norms that govern migration management at EU borders: the duty to examine international protection applications submitted on the territorial sea, on land or at sea borders, the principle of nonrefoulement, the right to remain pending an examination of the application, the procedural guarantees and the right to effective legal remedy.
 
At the training session organised by IRDO, other participants took the floor on specific issues: representatives of Constanța Inspectorate for Immigration, Police Chief Commissioner Robert Neacșu from the Prevention of the Anti-Corruption General Directorate, and Chief Commissioner Sava Mădălin of the Directorate for Prevention and Combat of Illegal Migration and Cross-border Crime of IGPF. The latter presented an overview of the operations that took place at Romania`s border in the first semester of 2019.

September 26
The second training session for Territorial Inspectorates of Border Police (ITPF) took place at Giurgiu. Officials of ITPF, Police Chief Commissioner Robert Neacșu, from the Prevention of the Anti-Corruption General Directorate, Chief Commissioner Sava Mădălin of the Directorate for Prevention and Combat of Illegal Migration and Cross-border Crime of the General Inspectorate of the Border Police (IGPF), and representatives from the Giurgiu Inspectorate for Immigration attended the training and discussion session.

The target group consisted of 30 law enforcement officials from the Territorial Services of ITPF Giurgiu.

The first part of discussions focused on a short introduction to human rights notions from the police officers point of view. Together with the participants, various concepts were defined and explained, such as values and principles governing human rights, generations of rights, rights holders and duty bearers etc.

The second part of the training consisted of the rights of migrants, as they are reflected in international and regional law. The discussions focused on to the Convention on Refugees, the UN Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants, the Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental rights of the European Union.

September 18
Following the collaboration on the prevention of corruption in the context of illegal migration, started in 2018, between the Anti-Corruption General Directorate (DGA), the General Inspectorate for Immigration and the General Inspectorate of the Border Police (IGPF), on one hand, and the Romanian Institute for Human Rights, on the other hand, three training sessions will take place this year for the personnel of the Territorial Inspectorate of the Border Police (ITPF).
 
The first training session took place at the Territorial Inspectorate in Timișoara, and the participants were from the Territorial Services of the Border Police (Caraș-Severin, Oravița, Nidăș, Socol, Moldova Veche, Berzasca, Moravița, Deta, Jimbolia, Drobeta Turnu-Severin, Mehedinți, Orșova, Sînnicolau Mare, Porțile de Fier etc.)

IRDO representative Silvia Iorgulescu, Police Chief Commissioner Bârlici Mihăiţă, director of the Directorate for Prevention of DGA, and Chief Commissioner Sava Mădălin of the Directorate for Prevention and Combat of Illegal Migration and Cross-border Crime of IGPF were present at the debates.

The discussions focused on ‘Human right in the context of illegal migration’ and analysed the migration phenomenon, not from an administrative view, but especially from the human rights view. Among others, the participants discussed the effects of migration, which create multicultural environments at the community level of destination countries. The participants also brought up issues on the rights of migrants and the obligations of authorities. Participants have given examples from their activity regarding the rights of migrants that were fulfilled by Border Police representatives. It should be noted that at the level of ITPF Timisoara, the law enforcement officials have received human rights training from FRONTEX.

Another important debate point was the differentiation between traffickers and smugglers, which is an important issue when it comes to dealing with persons who need international protection, and victims, or concerning the different reasons behind irregular border-crossing attempts.

The session ended with a case study on identifying human rights breaching in an example of smuggling of irregular migrants, which, between the country of origin and the country of destination, transformed into a case with characteristics of human trafficking.

Additional information: http://www.mai-dga.ro/arhive/46044

Roundtable on “Protection and integration of refugees in society”
In the framework of the Roundtable, the latest UNHCR Report “Global Trends” was presented, Campaign “WeStandWithRefugees” #WorldRefugeeDay was popularized and invitations to the “Refugee Day” with OmFest were launched.

 

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