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Home / Resources / News / Citizens Panels: Migration and Asylum Rights

Citizens Panels: Migration and Asylum Rights

translation: Maëva Kokodoko

interim findings

The introduction focused on the current struggle that migrants are going through in Europe in order to obtain the recognition of their rights. The situation of Tunisian people, which is involving political negotiations between France and Italy and is also used as an excuse to question the Schengen Agreement, was at the Heart of the discussion with Edda Pando.

The consultation was also an opportunity to review fundamental values of acceptance of others (JP Cavalié, Cimade). 
Between multiculturalism and assimilation: new forms of integration
Moderator: Karim Ben Ahmed, “Forum Femmes Méditerranée”.

> Discussion-debate :
For some of the participants of this roundtable, multiculturalism represents the blending of cultures (cultural heritage). This cultural mix allows the sharing of knowledge and thus a mutual enrichment between immigrants and non-immigrants.
For the other participants, the term culture itself is problematic since it is restrictive and refers to the ideas of nation or state. This concept separates people. We should not idealize culture and conceive it in an evolving way. In addition, other terms such as multiculturalism or inter-culturalism, derived from the word “culture” are adding vagueness to this concept. 
The participants believe that each individual has multiple identities, due to the country (region) of birth, different migrations and people met at work and in social life.
All participants have agreed to say that assimilation is linked to colonialism. It is a concept used to divide and frighten. Assimilation is a negation of peoples’ personal experiences before their arrival in a new country, a new region.
> Proposals :

  • Pay attention to the concept of multiculturalism that could lead to a form of cultural relativism, especially regarding the violence inflicted on women.
  • Analyse and rethink the restrictive concept of culture which is related to nations and borders.
  • Rethinking a societal model based on respect for human rights and equality.
  • The economic issue must be addressed in parallel with social issues: promoting employment.
  • The issue of migrant women is important: fight against stereotypes and prejudices, promote their positive role and be wary of cultural relativism.
  • Redefining the concept of citizenship more openly taking into account migrants’ place of residence: active participation in society (right to vote and to sit in assemblies).
  • Promote the double processes of integration in terms of rights and duties (the host society towards migrants and migrants towards the host society)

These proposals should lead to actions in short and long run.

Short run:

  • Governments should grant citizenship of residence  to all migrants, (political participation: right to vote and sit in the assemblies).
  • The European Union and the states should promote and support the  work of associations and organisations  for citizens meeting (local initiatives and outreach work).
  • Governments should conduct campaigns to promote the role and positive contribution of migrants to the host societies.

Long run:

  • Changing mentalities on the issue of a single mode of social organisation, taking into account a diverse society.
  • No longer talking about assimilation when it comes to migrants.

Migrant rights
Moderator : Niccolo Milanese

The right to asylum and the Schengen agreements

> Proposals :

  • Simplification of migration law throughout Europe: the legal complexity of laws relating to migration has become so great in Europe that it is very difficult to give legal aid to migrants, and the procedures are highly opaque. The law should be simplified throughout Europe in order to give a clear set of rights to migrants and responsibilities to member states.
  • Asylum-seekers should be allowed the right to work
  • Citizens’ access to detention centres and legal processes in public: At the moment very few people are able to visit the places where migrants arriving on European shores are detained, whether they be holding-rooms, detention-centres or camps. The situation varies between EU countries as to whether anyone is allowed to visit these spaces. As a bare minimum legal aid should be available to all migrants being detained and a plurality of NGOs should be allowed access to these spaces. Preferably, citizens should have the right to visit detention centres as observers to all legal proceedings (ie. these legal proceedings should take place in public).
  • Promoting mobility : By promoting mobility, the European Union can promote the self-understanding that we are all migrants, and this will build greater solidarity between migrants to Europe and native Europeans.
  • Revision of the Dublin Regulation: The Dublin convention currently obliges asylum seekers arriving in Europe to process their application in the country where they arrived.. This has both caused administrative problems arising from the fact that some countries systematically take the finger-prints of all new arrivals (Greece for example), whilst others don’t, leading to a concentration of migrants being sent to those countries that do because there is proof that they arrived there. It is also open to abuse, because a state can decide not to take finger-prints and send the migrants to another country that does, thereby ‘cleaning its hands’ of the responsibility for those migrants. The Regulation should be revised and a genuinely coordinated migration policy for Europe put in place, starting from a coordinated policy for asylum.

Extreme right – how to respond to the development of a discourse of exclusion?
Moderator: Julien Coclet, Urban Prod
Action proposals:

  • clearly define the term foreigner
  • take time to think the answers = streamline
  • enable new forms of participation
  • civic education: learn to young people to read and understand newspapers 
  • stop identity checks based on racial profiling
  • create networks 'without borders' – migrants without borders
  • show the different forms of oppression and spread the message: i.e. “Théâtre de l’Opprimé” (Theatre of the Oppressed)
  • give automatic residence permit  for a year
  • show that the real problems are economical
  •  improve the representativeness of parliaments (national assembly) but not by quotas but through education
  •  put under spotlight leaders from immigrant heritage


Detention camps:
Moderator: Ségolène Pruvot, European Alternatives, JP Cavalié, CIMADE.
 Brief historical background:

Camps for migrants were legally introduced in France in 1938 for the Spanish Republicans.
Illegal residence is a crime since 1980.
Administrative detention centers were regularized in 1984.
In 2009, France was one of the few European countries where civil society could go into detention camps – this has changed recently- visits are possible also in Italy.
The Charter on the  rights of migrants is essential, but it was not signed by the western countries.

Are fundamental rights respected?
Are detention centers necessary?
The discussion shows that whatever the reforms in the management of administrative detention camps are (some people think they are necessary), the problem will not be resolved as long as migrants are perceived and treated as criminals;
The issue of customs – and border is linked to the issue of confinement.
We observed that confinement as become increasingly commonplace. 

  • confinement should be the exception but it has become the rule
  • being undocumented should only be an “administrative” and not criminal offense (which justifies confinement)
  • economy relies on the exploitation of illegal immigrants
  • money can circulate freely in the world, but people can’t – how could we justify that the free movement of goods is higher than the free movement of people?
  • better distribution of wealth in rich countries  to avoid frustration, changing consumption patterns 

Proposals : 

  • Ask for the ratification by western countries of  the Convention on the rights of migrant workers and members of their families
  • Decriminalise illegal residence in the territory
  • change the visa system: abolish it – the closure of borders only blocks people on European soil instead of enabling interactions and exchanges
  • solve the problem of development and debts of countries ' of departure'
  • allow associations and civil society to enter  detention centers, improve migrants’ access to their rights  – however  centers remain unacceptable for some people –  fight and mobilisation for the closure of camps is necessary
  • put an end to the specific rights of foreigners and  grant the same rights to all persons residing in a territory
  •  fight against ignorance and working with the media etc. for the re-humanisation of migrants