Libya Feature | Black African Migrants

The Resurgence of Black Enslavement in Libya


Source: CNN/YouTube (November 2017)

As a byproduct of ongoing trans-Mediterranean mass migration by sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees, human trafficking in Libya has surged as smugglers extort and exploit migrants in search of passage to Europe. Reports of imprisonment, forced labor, human markets, financial extortion, physical abuse, and the denial of access to basic necessities like food and water involving black African migrants tell the tale of lawlessness and extreme vulnerability in the war-torn country.

With the E.U. pushing the largely disempowered Libyan government to crack down on migrants using its coast as a point of departure for Europe, poorly run detention centers have sprung up with little oversight to prevent migrants from attempting the trans-Mediterranean passage (where more than 10,000 have died since 2014). Corruption among detention officials, inertia in the repatriation process, and poor international coordination have resulted in some of the detained being leased out for day labor or sold to work on farms and in businesses instead of returned to their countries of origin. Global outrage has led to emergency meetings in multiple international organizations, but a long-term solution to the crisis remains elusive.

Read

Slavery in Libya: Life inside a container” (Al Jazeera | January 2018)

Migrant slavery in Libya: Nigerians tell of being used as slaves” (BBC News | January 2018)

IOM Learns of ‘Slave Market’ Conditions Endangering Migrants in North Africa” (International Organization for Migration | April 2017)

Watch

Libya slavery scandal overshadows EU-Africa summit (Al Jazeera | November 2017)

‘Slave markets’ in Libya trap migrants heading for Europe (euronewsvia YouTube | April 2017)

Libya’s Migrant Trade (VICE News | September 2015)

Citations | LGBTQ+ Asylum-seekers

Citations
Asylum Claims and the Adjudication of Sexual Identity

In immigration systems around the world, credibility stands as the primary burden of proof and identity indicator for sexual and gender minorities fleeing persecution in their countries of origin. In determining who assesses credibility and how, however, precision has long eluded researchers, lawmakers, and adjudicators as fluidity and multiplicity in identity has come to define sexual- and gender-minority communities. The reliance on expert assessments and interviewer perceptions in legal and administrative decisions has proven problematic from both a scientific and human rights perspective. Testing often involves a combination of physiological and psychological measurement, from arousal responses to personality assessments, and interviews have been based on a range of cultural biases and unrealistic expectations.

Immigration laws across nations have variously granted or denied asylum based on behavior, identity, affiliation, or perception, and the lack of standardization has created a large degree of uncertainty for LGBT individuals fleeing unsafe conditions in their countries of origin. This Citations installment outlines the patchwork of domestic and international laws and guidelines framing the consideration of asylum claims by sexual and gender minorities in popular destination countries, region- and country-specific legal and administrative processes, and recent trends in the assessment of sexual and gender identity and asylum claims.


Global

The U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (also known as the 1951 Refugee Convention) established guidelines determining the status of an individual as a refugee, defined as “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” The “membership of a particular social group” item has become the cornerstone of the expansion of asylum rights to LGBT individuals fleeing persecution, and international organizations have undertaken efforts to outline frameworks for ascertaining such membership.

European Union

In a victory for LGBT asylum-seekers in Europe, the E.U. Court of Justice recently ruled against Hungarian immigration officials’ decision to deny a gay Nigerian’s asylum claim as the result of a sexuality assessment test. In its ruling, the ECJ determined that while such psychological assessments are not prohibited, the results cannot factor into asylum decisions when testing methodology contravenes any of the human rights outlined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The decision comes as the culmination of a series of rulings related to the assessment of sexual identity in asylum decisions in member states amid historic levels of trans-Mediterranean migration.

United States

Since 1994, the U.S. has recognized sexual identity as grounds for granting asylum in the country. The political and legal recognition of LGBT asylum-seekers has co-evolved with that of LGBT citizens, with asylum decision-making processes having liberalized alongside greater scientific research into sexual orientation and expanding legal rights and protections for LGBT citizens. Today, LGBT asylum-seekers submit an application that includes documentation corroborating both individual circumstances as well as the conditions LGBT individuals face in their country of origin and are then selected to participate in an interview with the Department of Homeland Security. With no government data kept regarding the outcome of claims based on sexual orientation, however, transparency and accountability have emerged as central issues for advocates and watchdogs seeking to promote security and rigor in adjudication.

Australia

While Australia has recognized sexual orientation as part of the 1951 Convention’s designation of “membership of a particular social group,” the country has faced significant criticism for its asylum process for LGBT petitioners, which has included low approval rates and offshore detention that has further imperiled asylum-seekers. When asylum-seekers have gone before the Refugee and Migration Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in a final attempt to secure asylum, they have faced arbitrary, invasive, stereotypical, and culturally ignorant lines of questioning and expectations by interviewers and offered private photos and texts by asylum-seekers in desperation to “confirm” their sexual identity.

Canada

As immigration and refugee acceptance have become political hot topics in Europe, the U.S., and Australia, Canada has sought to position itself as a beacon of acceptance for individuals fleeing to the Global North to escape war or persecution. LGBT individuals petitioning for asylum enjoy higher-than-average approval rates in the country, but advocates have noted that Canada’s adjudication process has historically suffered from the same cultural biases and pitfalls in credibility assessment as other popular destination countries. Tight claim deadlines and multiple points of inquiry introduce further precarity in the process, but advocates are hopeful that a new set of guidelines issued in 2017 will improve the adjudication process. 

South Africa

A popular destination for LGBT Africans seeking refuge outside of their countries of origin, South Africa positioned itself as an early global leader in the establishment of LGBT legal rights and protections. Though the most progressive African nation in this respect, the country has nevertheless been criticized for the legal process through which it puts LGBT asylum-seekers, including reliance on temporary permits to defer long-term status provision and intimidation and credibility issues in the interview process.

 

India Feature | African Students

Racism and Anti-African Sentiment in India

As Indo-African economic relations have expanded in recent years, so too have social and cultural relations between India and African nations, particularly via the growth of international student populations across the Indian Ocean. For African communities in India, this cultural exchange has come with a price: incidents of anti-African violence in recent years have both threatened the security of India’s largely university-based black communities and strained relations between India and African countries. Beyond targeted persecution, students also recount instances of everyday ignorance and racism, including references to all black Africans as “Nigerians” regardless of national origin, derogatory name-calling by strangers, and accusations of cannibalism, prostitution, and drug trafficking. Over the last few years, several media outlets have featured the experiences of African immigrants in the country, chronicling instances of discrimination, violence, and disruptions in their education.

Read

African victims of racism in India share their stories” (Al Jazeera | May 2017)

African students hospitalized in roving mob attacks in India” (CNN | March 2017)

The photographer giving Africans in India a voice” (CNN | March 2017)

Being African in India: ‘We are seen as demons’” (Al Jazeera | June 2016)

Their Indian horror: Africans recount everyday racism” (The Hindustan Times | October 2014)

Africans decry ‘discrimination’ in India” (Al Jazeera | December 2013)

Connect

Association of African Students in India (AASI)

India Feature | Colorism

Darkening Beauty in India


Source: Dark is Beautiful Campaign/YouTube (October 2013)

In India, a cultural movement to tackle colorism has taken root, from challenging the pervasive preference for fair skin in romantic partners to reconstructing depictions of Hindu gods and goddesses using dark-skinned models. Skin-whitening practices are pervasive throughout the country and drive a multimillion-dollar industry, but activists and other community members are seeking to reaffirm beauty and value in darker-skinned people.

Read

Dark is divine: What colour are Indian gods and goddesses?” (BBC News | January 2018)

Bleached girls: India and its love for light skin” (The Conversation | July 2017)

India’s unfair obsession with lighter skin” (The Guardian | August 2013)

Watch

A Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty (UnErase Poetry/YouTube | July 2017)

Connect

Dark Is Beautiful

Ghana Research | LGBT

The Ongoing Insecurity of LGBT Ghanaians


Source: Human Rights Watch/YouTube (January 2018)

A relatively stable constitutional democracy, Ghana has seen the beginnings of official outreach to its LGBT citizens in recent years as it has signed on to pro-LGBT international accords and treaties, but new research from Human Rights Watch (HRW) reveals ongoing persecution and gender-based vulnerabilities. Though rarely enforced, a law criminalizing same-sex relations that emerged from the country’s colonial legacy has led to the political and corporal endangerment of LGBT Ghanaians, exposing them to intimidation, violence, fears of public exposure, and little to no recourse to law enforcement protection. Lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men have faced especially high levels of violence and labor precarity, and anti–domestic violence laws have done little to protect them given the lack of trust in the legal system. In response, HRW conducted interviews with LGBT Ghanaians to track insecurity across a range of social, legal, and economic domains and issued a set of recommendations to improve protections for the community.

Study

‘No Choice but to Deny Who I Am’: Violence and Discrimination against LGBT People in Ghana” (Human Rights Watch | January 2018)

Read

‘One guy took a cutlass’: gay women at greater risk of violence in Ghana” (The Guardian | January 2018)

Connect

Solace Initiative

Brazil Feature | Black Women

Afro-Brazilian Women’s Mobilization Moment

The current global push for the redress of epidemic violence against women—from #NiUnaMenos to #MeToo—has long been of national concern in Brazil, with women sharing stories of sexual assault via #MeuPrimeiroAssedio (#MyFirstHarassment) and demonstrations for reproductive rights having sought to counter entrenched conservative religious interests. For Afro-Brazilian women, this is part of decades of mobilization that has attempted to draw attention to both material and ideological disparities threatening their security. High homicide and sexual violence rates, reproductive healthcare limitations, anti-black beauty standards, and lack of positive cultural representation have led activists to demand attention to institutions and cultural practices that they argue have marginalized their welfare. From mass demonstrations to digital organizing, black women have taken the lead in movements for both racial and gender justice, challenging Brazil’s deeply embedded ideology of colorblindness and calling instead for more research into and accountability for persistent economic and cultural disparities.

Read

Beyond #MeToo, Brazilian women rise up against racism and sexism” (The Conversationvia Salon | January 2018)

Afro-Brazilian Feminists and the Fight for Racial and Gender Inclusion” (Black Perspectives | February 2017)

Black Women March Against Violence in Brazil” (teleSUR | November 2015)

Perspectives

Interview with Djamila Ribeiro: Fighting Racism and Sexism in Post-Coup Brazil” (The Council on Hemispheric Affairs | December 2017)

Black Brazilian Feminists Say: ‘Autonomy is the Only Way.’” (For Harriet | July 2015)

Read More

Brazil: Report Exposes High Rates of Rape Among Women, Girls” (teleSUR | January 2018)

The campaigners challenging misogyny and sexism in Brazil” (The Guardian | December 2015)

Connect

Geledés Black Woman Institute

Black Women of Brazil

Israel News | African Asylum-seekers

Israel announces deportation plan for tens of thousands of African asylum-seekers
  • Some 40,000 African asylum-seekers—many activists and other dissidents from Sudan and Eritrea—are facing expulsion or imprisonment in Israel, with fewer than 1% of applicants having been granted refugee status.
  • The Israeli government announced that asylum-seekers will have 90 days to accept $3,500 and a plane ticket to a classified third country (speculated to be Rwanda or Uganda) or face incarceration.
  • In response, a network of more than a hundred rabbis called the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement has formed and pledged to protect asylum-seekers from deportation.
Read

Israel to tell African migrants: leave or face indefinite imprisonment” (The Guardian | January 2018)

Mass expulsion under way as Israel begins deporting 40,000 Africans” (Middle East Eye | January 2018)

Inspired by Anne Frank, Rabbis in Israel Plan to Hide African Asylum Seekers Facing Deportation” (Haaretz | January 2018)

Read More

Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Get Rid of African Refugees” (Foreign Policy | June 2017)

Connect

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants