Author Archives: twentyonemiles

Swiss citizens criminalised for accommodating sans-papiers

More and more Swiss citizens are being condemned for accommodating migrants under their own roofs, reports L’Hebdo.

Accommodating someone without papers is forbidden under article 116 of the federal law on foreigners, punishable with a fine or up to a year in prison. In 2014, 875 people were prosecuted under this law, compared to 582 in 2012.

The stated intention of this law was to punish people traffickers, but since the law came into force in 2008 few traffickers have been punished.

A similar law in France (“délit de solidarité”) was annulled in 2013 after complaints from associations helping migrants in Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

Austria to place 500 of its asylum seekers in Slovakia

Last Tuesday, Austria signed an agreement with Slovakia for the latter to accommodate 500 of Austria’s asylum seekers, reports Tribune de Geneve.

The asylum seekers will be placed in a former campus in Gabcíkovo. Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner is said to be “proud”of this move, which will save Austria money. The UNHCR in Vienna says that Austria must ensure that “high standards” are kept at this new centre. Migrant support groups, including umbrella organisation Asylkoordination, doubt whether this will happen.

Residents of Austrian village resist deportation to Syria

The residents of Austrian village Alberschwende resisted the deportations to Syria, reports On Monday 11th May, 8 police teams searched in the village for a Syrian refugee. They wanted to deport him with others to Hungary. However, they were unable to find him.

8 Syrian refugees live in the village, and 5 of them should be deported to Hungary, according to the Dublin II regulations. Many residents in the village were against this as the refugees are likely to be imprisoned in Hungary. Over 150 residents had signed up for a ‘rescue team’ to form a human chain to protect the refugees from deportation. The police action on Monday was so sudden that the team did not have time to mobilise. However, the police were unable to find the refugee. According to the mayor there is no suspicion of him going into hiding.

Refugees in Austria can apply for asylum after being in the country for more than 6 months. For the 5 aforementioned refugees, they will have been in Austria for 6 months on 22nd June. There is a big chance that they wil get asylum, according to, and so the immigration service wants to deport them before that date.

Calais: recording reveals gendarmes sending away migrants who wanted to file complaints about police violence

French newspaper Libération was recently given a recording showing how the gendarmes snubbed migrants who had come to file a complaint against police violence in Calais.

On 24th June 2014,Clémence Gautier, lawyer at the Calaisien migrant support association Plateforme de services aux migrants, went to gendarmes in Norrent-Fontes (Pas-de-Calais) with Eritrean migrants to file a complaint against the police and a lorry driver for assault and inflicting injuries. She recorded several minutes of dialogue and gave the recording to Libération.

Clémence had been confident of being treated well by the police, but was seriously disappointed. The gendarmes dissuaded the migrants from filing a complaint and alluded to taking the migrants to a detention centre.  One gendarme said that it was “excusable” that the lorry driver had hit the migrants.

In the days following the failed attempt to file a complaint, the gendarmes stepped up their presence in Norrent-Fontes, where the migrants were sleeping next to the motorway.

Demos in Geneva against deportation

On Thursday 26th March, around 30 activists went to Geneva airport to protest against a deportation of migrant Ayop Aziz, reports Demir Sönmez on his blog. The police reacted heavy-handedly, handcuffing activists and removing them from the airport.

Yesterday, Saturday 28th March, more than 200 people gathered in the city centre to protest against the Ayop’s treatment and continued imprisonment.  Following the demo, almost 100 people went to demonstrate in front of the prison where the migrant is being held.

Ayop suffered injuries during a fire at a migrant reception centre in November. You can read more about that (in French) here.

According to latest information, the Swiss government is planning to organise a charter flight to deport Ayop and a number of other migrants to Spain.

05-12: Resistance aboard Air Algérie plane prevents deportation from Brussels

Yesterday, Friday 5th December, Belgian police removed an Algerian man from an Air Algérie flight after he protested and other passengers protested in solidarity, reports TSA.

The man told fellow passengers that he was ill and did not want to return to Algeria. He added that he had been hit by the police. Some of the passengers shouted their support and demanded that he be taken off the flight. After some time the Belgian police decided to take the man off the plane.

Shortly afterwards the police returned to arrest a female passenger who they claimed was behind the protest.

The flight took off two hours later than scheduled.

Armenian asylum seeker commits suicide in Netherlands

A week and a half ago, a 30-year-old Armenian asylum seeker committed suicide in the Netherlands, reports NRC.

He killed himself in the woods near AZC Schalkhaar, the asylum-seeker centre where he was staying.

The man arrived in the Netherlands in mid-December 2013. He has serious psychiatric problems, suffering from delusions,  but had not seen a psychiatrist since he arrived in the country, because the IND wanted to deport him to Germany under the Dublin arrangements.

Before he fled to the Netherlands, the man had crushed his nose as he though that the Armenian secret service had placed a listening device inside it. He had also made a number of suicide threats in the Netherlands before he killed himself, says his lawyer.

The IND had planned to deport him to Germany as he had previously claimed asylum there. According to his lawyer, heleft Germany because his delusions became too strong there, and he had felt calmer in the Netherlands.

The man’s lawyer had appealed against the IND’s decision. The appeal hearing at the end of March agreed with the lawyer,  but the  IND had put in an appeal against this decision.

Opposition parties wants the Dutch Minister for Safety and Justice (sic), Fred Teeven, to answer questions about the suicide in parliament.

Last year Russian Aleksandr Dolmatov, whose asylum claim had been rejected, committed suicide in his cell in a migrant prison in the Netherlands.