Tag Archives: Mobility & Immigration Rights

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.

 

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

Global Feature | Atheists & Secularists

The Global Effort to Rescue Persecuted Atheists


Source: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science/YouTube (September 2016)

With more than a dozen countries criminalizing atheistic expression and anti-atheist sentiment widespread even in purportedly secular countries, organizations have popped up around the globe to rescue persecuted atheists, lobby for civil rights, and promote community and security for atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers. Secular Rescue was launched by the Center for Inquiry in 2016 in response to the recent spate of murders of secularist Bangladeshi writers and intellectuals, and its efforts have drawn attention to the plight of freethinkers living in the Global South in need of asylum. The Atlantic recently profiled the organization as well as the conditions contributing to the greater visibility of atheists in regions conventionally assumed to be inhospitable to the growth of secularism and freethought.

Read

The ‘Underground Railroad’ To Save Atheists” (The Atlantic | January 2018)

Center for Inquiry Launches ‘Secular Rescue’ to Save Lives of Threatened Activists” (The Center for Inquiry | September 2016)

Connect

Secular Rescue

Atheist Asylum Program

 

U.A.E. News | Tunisian Women

U.A.E. airline issues travel ban on Tunisian women
  • Emirates, the U.A.E.’s national airline, barred Tunisian women from its flights, necessitating Tunisian government intervention to help stranded passengers.
  • A presidential spokesperson indicated that the Emirati government had issued the directive in response to information indicating women with a Tunisian passport would attempt a terrorist attack.
  • In response, Tunisia banned Emirates from landing in its capital, Tunis.
Read

Attack fears prompted UAE-Tunisia female passenger row” (BBC News | December 2017)

UAE has information Tunisian women may commit ‘terrorist acts’, Tunisia says” (Reuters | December 2017)

Tunisia suspends Emirates flights over security measures targeting women” (Agence France-Presse, via The Guardian | December 2017)

U.S. News | Somali Immigrants

Deported Somali immigrants file suit against U.S. for inhumane conditions during removal flight
  • The 92 deported individuals were reportedly subjected to physical and psychological abuse during a 48-hour trip intended for Mogadishu, including physical shackling, medication withholding, and lack of restroom access.
  • After landing in Dakar, Senegal, the flight was held for nearly 24 hours before eventually returning to the U.S., with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials denying incident.
  • The lawsuit seeks to reopen their deportation cases and ensure the future treatment and security of the plaintiffs, with some having lived in the U.S. for decades and fearing retribution by the militant group al-Shabaab given the publicity surrounding the flight.
Read

Somalis were shackled for nearly 48 hours on failed US deportation flight” (The Guardian | December 2017)

Somalis faced ‘inhumane’ abuse on US deportation flight” (Al Jazeera | December 2017)

Somalis faced ‘slave ship conditions’ on failed deportation flight” (Public Radio Internationalvia USA Today | December 2017)

Lebanon Feature | Syrian Refugees

The Administrative Precarity of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Syrians who have fled to Lebanon to escape the violence that has embroiled their home nation have begun putting down new roots while waiting for the conflict to end. However, cultural and administrative differences have left many Syrians in limbo as practices surrounding institutions like marriage remain unrecognized in their new, if temporary, home. Lebanon’s complex and financially taxing requirements of civil registration (including residency, marriage, and births) has disenfranchised many Syrians, leaving them in legally precarious situations even as the government works to lessen the burdens.

Undocumented children are denied access to IDs and passports, and parents and other couples lacking official work permits find themselves trapped in exploitative labor conditions to support their families. The financial vulnerability of Syrian families is driving intergenerational insecurity, particularly as it has led to an increase in child marriage rates in the country. Reuters examines the complex bureaucratic and cultural conditions shaping the marginalization of Syrian families in Lebanon.

Read

As Syrian couples say ‘I do,’ Lebanon says ‘No, not quite’” (Reuters | December 2017)

Additional

For Syrian refugees, child marriage robs a generation of its future” (The Globe and Mail | March 2017)