Monday

26th Jun 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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)

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.

A positive agreement for Greece

The outcome of the Eurogroup meeting this week leaves a positive footprint, setting the basis for the Greek economy to exit the vicious circle of austerity and debt.

Britain preparing to jump off a cliff

Following the poor performance of Theresa May's Conservatives in the recent UK general election, her prospects of negotiating a good Brexit deal have gone from bad to worse.

Are MEPs too 'free' to be accountable?

The European Parliament is currently fine-tuning its negotiating position on the Commission's proposal from September 2016 for a mandatory transparency register. Sadly, so far it seems to prefer empty statements to bold action.

News in Brief

  1. Berlusconi's party sees comeback in Italian local votes
  2. Low turnout in Albanian election set to mandate EU future
  3. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  4. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  5. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  6. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  7. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  8. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. EU approves rescue of Italian banks
  2. Cohesion policy for a stronger Europe
  3. Cheap meat is a bigger problem for climate and health
  4. Ministers to reject minimum parking spaces for electric cars
  5. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  6. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  7. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  8. EU extends sanctions on Russia