Friday

23rd Jul 2021

Opinion

Crime reported, victim deported

The European Parliament is currently discussing the EU victim’s rights directive. This directive aims to ensure that victims of crime have the same level of protection, support and access to justice in all EU countries and improves many areas of victim protection.

But the proposed text misses the vital opportunity to put in place specific safeguards that would make protection and legal remedies practically accessible for migrants without residence permits and to address their specific vulnerability.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Irregular migrants are often left defenceless, unprotected and unable to seek justice. (Photo: Human Rights Watch)

In Europe today there are victims of rape, torture, domestic violence, physical assault and injury, and child abuse who are forced to suffer in silence and are left without the ability to seek protection and safety. Unfortunately, for many of the estimated 3.8 million undocumented migrants living in Europe, this is a reality.

Unauthorised migration status not only makes them disproportionately vulnerable to abuse and assaults but also leaves them at risk of arrest and deportation if they report a crime to the police.

Because of the fear of being arrested and deported, Lisa, who is 33 and lives in the UK with her daughter Mary (names have been changed), suffered violence from her husband for years.

“He hasn’t made me legal […] because mentally he likes to control me. He hit and, really, everything, from pushing against the wall, putting his hands on my neck […] He was very violent and it got worse and worse. He would call me a whore in front of my child. I was always scared of police, because he told me that, if you go to the police they will deport you. It was emotional blackmail, that they would take Mary away from me, because Mary is British and I would never see her again.”

Victims who are forced to suffer in silence are not only migrants in an irregular migration situation but also include those whose residence permit is dependent on a third person, such as an employer, spouse or another family member.

Dependency on the third person means irregular migrants are defenceless, unprotected and unable to seek justice. This is especially the case for female migrants. This dependency factor puts migrant women in an especially vulnerable position, creating a power imbalance that very often results in violence.

Victim support services are often not available for undocumented migrants. In some EU Member States, support structures, such as women’s shelters, may deny access to those with an irregular migration status and exclude a particularly vulnerable group of women from essential protection and support.

It is important to guarantee that funding for generalised or specific support services operated by NGOs, state or local authorities, does not specifically exclude certain groups of victims, such as migrants in an irregular situation.

The police should first and foremost be responsible for the safety and protection of persons and consequently, prevention, investigation and sanctioning of crime should take precedence over any proceedings concerning the migration status of the victim. Undocumented migrants are not only more likely to become victims of crime but they are highly vulnerable to further victimisation and intimidation, due to their irregular status.

In order to tackle this group’s vulnerability, and uphold the right to the security of a person recognised in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, safeguards, such as giving a temporary residence permit and closing of a deportation file, are essential. This would prevent irregular migrants from becoming a “zero risk victim” and help combating impunity.

The right to access to justice and to report a crime without fear of being arrested or deported must be guaranteed by law to all persons regardless of their status. Denying this right would mean turning a blind eye to the human rights of millions of migrants living and working in Europe and permit unscrupulous people to continue taking advantage of their vulnerability.

The writer is Advocacy Officer at the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM)

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Asylum seekers flock to EU safe haven

Fewer than 10,000 asylum seekers registered in Greece last year, but its handling of the EU border with Turkey has come under fire from fellow member states.

Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?

The EU deploys thousands of advisers to its missions abroad. Without addressing reform as a profoundly political struggle, however, the EU will remain successful only in operational advisory and trainings.

Column

The Polish government wants EU money - but not EU law

The concern of Germany's Constitutional Court was that the European Court of Justice did not sufficiently check the action of other EU branches of power. The Polish situation is the exact reverse: the government is taking control of the courts.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

Ukraine - Zelensky's authoritarian turn?

President Volodymyr Zelensky has begun his third year mired in mid-term unpopularity with a poll showing only 21.8 percent of Ukrainians would vote to re-elect him. More than half would prefer him not even to run for a second term.

Why the EU delay on supply chains? Corporate lobbying

EU legislation to clean up supply chains and corporate governance has been delayed after fierce industry lobbying. Voluntary commitments have repeatedly failed, now it is time for decisive regulatory action.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us