Royal attention to Human Trafficking agenda convened by Association of Commonwealth Universities

On the 5 December 2018, CCARHT Director Dr Pemberton Ford attended a hastily convened group of international scholars and students in London to explore
how higher education can contribute more effectively in the fight for resistance to Human Trafficking.

HRH Duchess of Sussex reflects with Commonwealth Scholars and University Lecturers
HRH The Duchess of Sussex listening to issues pertaining to Human Trafficking and the Sustainable Development Goals

 

 

 

 

 

 

As one of eight around the table for a thematic discussion on what more universities can do to address  the critical issue of Human Trafficking through research and policy formulation, how this work contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and what part the ACU (Association of Commonwealth Universities) can play, it was a joy to explore with fellow academics from the University of Sussex, University College London, the University of Durham, and Kings College London, what is already underway in the field of research, and the learning and exchange already well established through the annual CCARHT summer symposium.

The ACU welcomed  HRH The Duchess of Sussex’s attendance, and interest in the various areas that were discussed at the event (including Peace and Reconciliation and the challenge of Climate change).  It was great to have the Duchess’ attention around the topics discussed, and the ACU is hoping that HRH The Duchess of Sussex’s involvement in and championing of higher education causes, will be instrumental in raising the profile and resourcing in Higher Education  elaboration in understanding of these issues globally.   It was an encouragement  for all those around the table to discuss, however briefly, with HRH The Duchess of Sussex, the areas of most concern in their distinct disciplines and specialisms convened around Human Trafficking and global migration challenges.

The CCARHT Symposium 2018 with the topic around the table – the contribution of Transparency in the Supply Chains to squeezing down on Human Trafficking and super exploitation.

A summary of the discussion on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery as generated by the Chair of the counter human trafficking table, is as follows

Human trafficking and modern slavery
The role of universities
International human trafficking is now a more prominent area of academic focus – and a truly interdisciplinary issue – but it is a global challenge and responsibility for tackling it lies with civil society. Several research centres have been established at universities to build knowledge and inform policy in this area, which includes the pioneering work of CCARHT.  Universities also need to work more closely with front-line agencies addressing human trafficking and modern slavery to share their learning. Universities can inform policy with accurate intelligence, and inter disciplinarily framed responses, to help shape civil society opinion.

CCARHT welcomes the  role of the ACU announced at the convened forum that they will through the network of the Commonwealth Universities for which they are the convening organisation:

  • Promote international collaboration to maximise the impact of research and communicate evidence in this area – for example, through the ACU Peace and Reconciliation policy network. This network is led by the University of Melbourne and has over 60 institutions across the Commonwealth involved.


• Explore ways to foster research collaboration – for example, through seed grants to encourage partnerships or a matching portal to link researchers in different countries.

This is an area which CCARHT will be seeking to co-operate closely with the ACU, to build on the extensive international network already built in Europe, the North Americas,  Africa and Asia of those working in the Academy on various aspects of countering and understanding the dynamics of Human Trafficking.

• Ensure that this subject is given due prominence at all Commonwealth education-related opportunities.

Oba Dokum Thomson (His Royal Majesty the Oloni of Eti-Oni, State of Osun, Nigeria – during the CCARHT 2018 Summer Symposium where he presented the case for transforming the Cocoa industry in Nigeria.

A wonderfully positive note to sign off 2018, which saw CCARHT partnering for the first time with the University of Palermo to co-deliver and sponsor some bursaries for participants at the twelfth symposium on Migration and Human Rights.

The wonderfully successful CCARHT Summer Symposium in Cambridge ‘The five Ts of Trafficking’ received panellists with a huge range of experiences and expertise addressing within a stellar range of over 35 presentations, the Yazidi genocide, the  Rohingya enforced exile, the battle for the rights to life in the Mediterranean, and the impact of Blockchain and Tech as potential game changers for law enforcement in the struggle to keep pace with the Organised Crime profiting from Human Trafficking in Europe and Globally.

CCARHT  looks forward to 2019 and onward discussion with the ACU to develop some sponsored bursaries for  the CCARHT Summer Symposium 2019 ( July 1st – 5th 2019 senior symposium  July 8th – 12th Research summer school with masterclasses). The 2019 CCARHT Symposium  will be responding to the several Rs of Trafficking and places will be open for seizing in January – so warm up your sponsorship for this coming season’s work in Cambridge.

To ensure that you keep up with all the updates do follow our blog, and www.ccarht.org/site/summer-symposium and drop a note to summerschool@ccarht.org to indicate your interest so that we can place you on our mailing lists.

The Central Mediterranean Route and the ‘LARS’ proposal

Since 2011, Italy has been the locus of a massive rise in onward migration from North Africa, sourced from across the sub-Sahel, as well as from South and Central Asia, and the horn of Africa. In 2016 there were 181,436  arrivals in Italy by sea. Of these there was an estimated 30,000 minors present in the mixed migration of those seeking refuge, work, futures, hope in Europe.

Requests for Asylum took some time to respond to the increase in numbers with 2017 presenting the paradox of more asylum applications than arrivals, owing to the backlog in Asylum processing which has blighted the Italian effort to appropriately respond to the sustained surge in forced migration numbers it has been absorbing into its  social and administrative economy  since 2014.

italian stats

 

In 2016 a study undertaken for the Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (SPRAR) annual report, noted that it was taking an average of 403 days from first registration of asylum, to reach the first decision. After that, if the decision was appealed the Tribunale Civile took a further 349 to hear the case, and from the second appeals court, the Corte d’Appello, a further 373 days. Where final appeals came into play the Supreme Court of Appeal – the Corted di Cassazione – took a further 688 days to receive the case and conclude its judgement.  From registration to final appeal a staggering 1,813 days – just a few days short of 5 years.

Italy has been scrambling to catch up. In 2017 it eliminated the Corte d’Appello to remove the second tier of the process of appeal.  At the same time it inaugurated special asylum chambers into 26 appeal courts the first tier Tribunale Civile.  However warnings were soon sounding from across Italy that the backlogs were so significant that in the case of the Florence chamber, carrying a backlog of 5,440 cases in 2017, 2018 would see none of the appeals lodged in 2017 or 2018 AND just under a thousand cases originally lodged in 2016 would not be addressed either.  And when all is said and done hardly any of those submitting their Asylum claims receive refugee status and subsidiary protection.

Why those who arrive in Italy stay

In 2017 only just over 13,000 of the 81,527 decisions which were made by the Italian asylum commissions, were for full refugee status or for subsidiary protection to those not qualifying as refugees but were recognised as being at risk of serious harm if they returned to their home country.

A further 25% of cases, 20,166 of the 81,527 cases before the asylum commissions, recommendations resulted in the generation of residence permits on humanitarian grounds – (health problems or preserving family unity). Humanitarian beneficiaries receive a 2 year renewable residence permit without family reunification being a deliverable.  This means that the   ‘humanitarian’  protection decisions which are generated for those seeking asylum in Italy, represents over half of the positive decisions passed through the commissions in Italy, a significantly different percentage than that of other European countries as the table below shows.

humanitarian Italy

 

The difference in the percentage of Humanitarian decisions in Italy over against full asylum or subsidiary protection, being deployed in other countries in this table, is massive, and worthy of further explication by the Italian authorities and the UNHCR.

At the same time the inability of all countries to exact removals of those who have failed their asylum claim after all processes of tribunal ratification have failed, is exemplified in the following data drawn from Italy in 2017.

italy removals

 

The countries which see most of the returns exacted are North African – Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria.  For third country Nationals coming from sub-Sahel there is currently a huge challenge facing Italy in achieving any voluntary or forced returns to West Africa and Sub-Sahel countries as the following data shows.

countries of source

 

countries of return

 

 

 

 

 

What is to be done? Europeanisation of approach

Italy’s asylum system is creaking.  Not only do decisions take an unconscionable time to realise, but once realised (just under 5 years if every route for asylum is exhausted) very few of those who are present either surfaced through their asylum appeals, or simply bedding down into Italy’s grey/black economy return home.  The same is true with differences in the asylum and subordinate protection recognition rate, across Europe.

Emmanuel Macron took the opportunity at a speech in the Sorbonne at the end of 2017 to highlight a fresh European wide approach.  He said:

“So long as we leave some of our partners submerged under massive arrivals, without helping them manage their borders; so long as our asylum procedures remain slow and disparate; so long as we are incapable of collectively organising the return of migrants not eligible for asylum, we will lack both effectiveness and humanity … we need to do that without leaving the burden to the few, be they countries of first entry or final host countries, by building the terms for genuine, chosen, organised and concerted solidarity.”

 

Carrot and Stick – Safer routes to European Work and Study

The European Stability Initiative in a working paper just published last month, suggests the following strategy to break the grid lock:

An Italian-EU pilot project supported across the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) to provide resources to bring the asylum process including appeals into a more efficient time frame without loss of quality. The Dutch asylum system is cited as a good example of how this can be done, in the ESI’s recent paper ‘Amsterdam in the Mediterranean’, the process from start to finish of asylum petitions takes just two months, with state funded lawyers expediting the cases through two comprehensive interviews.

Certainly a more efficient system, with full state sponsored support for the Asylum seeker would be welcomed by everybody. There are currently hundreds of thousands of migrants ‘capsized’  across Italy, caught in limbo, unable to work and prey to those who offer solutions to homelessness, hunger, loss of purpose, and lack of prospects,  open season for a range of exploitative and criminal processes to be unleashed on their lives. The hope of ‘integration’ is sadly underfunded and is currently not to the general public’s political taste.

The carrot offered, to encourage co-operation from source countries in accepting back their migrating population into their polities is to increase legal access to some EU countries to give the incentive to politicians at countries of source for future and sustained co-operation.  Member states of the EU can offer places for work, or for study, but either way the current stringency around legal means to access European opportunity for third countries will be ameliorated.

Will this be enough to staunch the flow of aspiration and desperation which fills the boats daily bound to Italy from the shores of the Libyan coast-line?  Until some clear economic and hard consequence signals are given to those who secure the smuggling routes North through to the nightmare vortex of Libya, where there are such inhumane, instrumental and cyclical forms of financial and venal extraction played out on young African’s lives, the flow is not going to be staunched any time soon.

Meanwhile the numbers are backing up in Italy, and some of Europe’s  barricades are toughening with resistance to hospitality, integration and honesty around how the global economy actually works, through the movement of goods and people, weakening.

In these circumstances, of desperation, lack of political and civic will, public disinterest in the outcomes foisted on those who have been swept up on their shores, the opportunities for incorporation into criminal and trafficked enterprises increases.

What are your thoughts on LARS – the Legal Access and Return Statement now being postulated to the UNHCR and the European Commission for consideration?  Our joint sponsored symposium in Palermo in a month’s time will be exploring some of the implications of taking this forward in Italy, and how the proposals are currently being received.  Readers reflections would be welcomed to inform our panel discussion on this during the week.