Spanish Italian











Secretary General:



Final Document on the sessions

on the violation of human rights of migrants and refugee people

Brussels – European Parliament, 9thApril 2019





General Secretariat:

VIA DELLA DOGANA VECCHIA 5 – 00186 ROME – TEL:0039 066877774

  1. The framework

The substance of the indictment submitted by a very broad network of movements and organisations, working for many years at the European level in diverse areas concerning migration, to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT), requesting it to promote judicial sessions according to the PPT Statute, may be summarised as follows:

  1. a) The refugee and migrant people are victims of the most heinous and systematic violations of their fundamental rights (to life, to dignity, to work, to health, to seek a future…) being perpetrated by the European Union and its Member States, in an environment of total impunity of the responsible actors, and through policies designed to punish any social actors that, individually and collectively, perform practices of solidarity;
  2. b) The right to migration has always been acknowledged as a constituent part of the history of peoples, but it is now being tragically denied and has become the expression of a neo-colonial politics, that rejects the very existence and identity of the refugee and migrant people, transversal in terms of origins and causes, and as the product of a globalization rooted in a development model based on economic, environmental, of security and wars strategies, which make migration a long-term phenomenon which cannot be contrasted with pushback or containment operations.

The PPT – which has been actively engaged for over 40 years upholding both current international law as well as the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples – has recognized in the dramatic events suffered by refugees and migrants on the borders and within the European countries, a resurgence of a situation, already examined and judged in many previous sessions, and agreed to entertain the request by embarking on a formal procedure to investigate and assess crimes and responsibilities and propose actions to be taken.

Consistently with the statutory mandate of the PPT, which is not primarily to judge crimes but to promote innovative right categories and practices, the procedure has entailed convening sessions to gather evidence of the various aspects of a situation which, while highly complex, is tragically consistent in its substance and diversified in the forms it takes. The venues and the themes of these sessions (Barcelona, July 2017; Palermo, December 2017; Paris, January 2018; Barcelona, July 2018 and London, November 2018) offer a comprehensive map of the approach, the scope and the specific nature of the investigations, the complementarity of its findings with regard both to the factual documentation and to the eyewitness testimonies, as well as the types of crimes being committed, and the liability for their commission.

At the end of each of these sessions, the panels of judges of the PPT, representing different context, as well as professionals and cultural backgrounds, delivered detailed decisions, with regard to the specific facts and to the reasons and conclusions adopted.[1]

The essential elements of the process are also summarized, with a richness of information which reflect the general strategy and the field practices in the different context of the evidences submitted to the attention of the PPT, in the documents prepared for this concluding event by the movements which have promoted and accompanied the work of the PPT, carefully update to focus on the processes of criminalization of the civil society, as well as on the spaces characterized by the absence of rights where the gender and minor targeted violence finds their most dramatic expressions.

  1. Assessment and decisions of the PPT sessions

2.1 All the sessions of the Tribunal examining violations of migrants and refugees’ rights have heard numerous similarities in the treatment meted out to migrants despite the different specific situations in each country. One main fact that has emerged is that what is often called a migrant crisis is, in reality, a profound crisis within the European Union which has been shown to have arisen in every country of the Union in one way or another.

From the Palermo session onwards the contradiction in the European Union and its Member States clearly emerged: on the one hand, they proclaim the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of fundamental rights, and the other hand, they are adopting policies which ignore or violate these refugees and migrants’ rights. The right to migrate, ius migrandi, which was used to justify the conquest of America, is now being denied to the people migrating from the global South to the global North. The right to come and go, enshrined in article 12.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the right to work, provided by article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are in reality being denied by closing Europe’s borders.

Migration is an existential and political act. Ius migrandishould be accompanied by the duty to receive migrants, but this duty clashes with State sovereignty over their territorial domain. To affirm their sovereignty, States are detaining migrants on their borders, ready to violate their human rights. The sole purpose of European policy is to block immigration. This policy of closing Europe’s borders, whose prosperity has been created based on an economic system of plundering the resources of the global South cannot be considered legitimate or politically justifiable until the European Union commits to adopting another global economic model which will permit the development of the countries from which the migrants are fleeing of necessity, knowingly risking death by drowning in the Mediterranean when faced with the certainty of starving to death in their own countries.

In this context, hospitality has been turned on its head, and transformed into hostility. Proof that European policy is designed solely and exclusively to block immigration is the absence of any arrangements or provisions to guarantee legal and safe entry conditions, while clearly aware of the fact that migration is a structural phenomenon that cannot be addressed by raising physical or legal walls.

The European Union’s immigration and asylum policies, based on agreements concluded between individual EU Member States and third countries, constitute the denial of the fundamental rights of individuals and of the migrant people, denying them their human dignity and defining them as illegals and considering any action to rescue and assist them at sea to be illegal.

The decision to withdraw the Frontex and Eunafor Med vessels helps to braoden Libyan coastguard operations in international waters, blocking migrants on their way to Europe, putting their lives and their physical integrity in jeopardy, and taking them back to camps in Libya where they fall prey to financial extortion, torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment.

Since the conclusion of the 2 February 2017 memorandum between Italy and Libya, the work of the police and the military in Libya, in Libyan and international waters, and of the many tribal militias and the so-called “Libyan coastguards”, have resulted in deaths, deportations, disappearances, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, rape, enslavement and – more generally – the persecution of the migrant people: a crime against humanity.

By its conduct under the provisions and by implementing this memorandum, Italy and its representatives are acknowledging total liability for the actions of the Libyan forces against migrants, both at sea and on Libyan territory.

In the wake of the agreements concluded with the Libyan coastguards and in the course of coordinating their work, the episodes of aggression against the NGOs engaged in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean also stand as proof of the liability of the Italian government, perhaps also in association with the European agencies operating in the same context.

Banning and pushing back the NGO ships from the Mediterranean, which has also been imposed by the Italian government’s mandatory “code of conduct”, has considerably weakened the migrant search and rescue operations at sea and increased the number of victims.

2.2. The Paris Session showed that the non refoulementprinciple, intended to guarantee the protection of people fleeing their country for whatever reason, was being frequently violated in metropolitan France, Mayotte, in Italy with regard to Libya, and Spain with regard to Ceuta and Melilla, giving rise to state liability. The March 2016 Turkey-EU accord made it possible to return to Turkey any “irregular” migrant arriving on the Greek islands. Turkey was rewarded for this with 6 billion euro which were used to increase the forces deployed there (coastguards, border guards) and to detain more than 3 million refugees.

The right to asylum is being constantly whittled down or circumvented by a variety of measures, such as the blanket requirement of a visa, the establishment of hotspots on Europe’s borders (Greece, Italy), the permanent establishment of what can only be called human beings’ sorting centres, and the introduction of border controls with the excuse of combating terrorism. Asylum applications are almost routinely construed as playing for time or fraudulent, and subject to a priority procedure, to afford less protection. References to such pseudo-legal notions as “internal asylum”, “first asylum country”, “safe third country”, or “safe countries of origin” are all obstacles raised to refuse recognition of refugee status.

2.3. The Sessions of Barcelona and London have focused their testimonies and provided solid documentation to the PPT more specifically on the situation of migrants and refugees in the real institutional, working, cultural contexts of each of the countries. The denial of freedom of movement deprives migrants from another right: the right of freedom from arbitrary detention. All the European countries have adopted legislation authorising the right to detain foreigners for period ranging from a few days to “indefinitely” which may be for several months, sometimes with no legal basis. It is a settled fact that inhumane acts – deprivation of liberty, murder, enslavement, forced disappearances – have been committed as part of a generalised or systematic attack specifically or deliberately targeting the civilian population of migrants.

A specifically important element emerged and extensively documented for its implications in the London Session has been the openly declared governmental policy targeted to create in UK a ”hostile environment” for migrants and refugees. Such strategy coincides broadly with the policies and the practices of all the European countries, where the manifestations of discrimination, xenophobia, racism, inhumanity have become daily and growing realities.

The EU and Member State leaders including France, and their agents, are accomplices in the commission of these crimes against humanity, by providing substantial assistance to the state or non-state authors of these crimes, in full knowledge of the facts, which therefore renders them criminally liable pursuant to article 25 of the Rome Statute.

Prosecuting those who express solidarity with migrants or refugees both in France and in other EU countries, violates the rights of those who champion the rights proclaimed by the United Nations.

The struggles of migrants must be incorporated into the struggles of marginalised citizens, where women have an important role to play. What is bad for you is bad for me. Racism against migrants becomes racism against citizens, misogyny against citizens and migrants. More than legal instruments, what we need now is unity, equality, solidarity, and workers’ rights.

  1. Europe and the people of migrants and refugees

3.1. The comprehensively argued grounds on which the PPT judgments have been reached call for two fundamental considerations which, while apparently attracting broad agreement, do not appear to have been borne in mindwhen laying down policies and practices for dealing with people arriving in Europe: a) human history, for better or for worse, has always seen migrations that have often been occasions and causes of the most atrocious wars and conflicts; b) the European Union was originally founded to combat and overcome the causes and factors of the many wars that have caused bloodshed in Europe, to fight against every kind of nationalism and racism, and to solemnly declare that genocide, concentration camps, oppression and race discrimination could “never again”occur.

Europe, based as it is on Constitutions and Charters, the civilised Europe that acknowledges the equal dignity of all people and human rights, the welcoming Europe, a haven of protection, cannot therefore become a Fortress Europe by raising physical or legal walls without betraying itself and losing its identity and its very “soul”. And this applies particularly, as the relevant United Nations Agency has recently documented, when it is faced with worldwide population shifts currently involving more than 70 million people, including 25 million refugees, who are even being hosted by small and poor countries – with only a tiny percentage heading for Europe, which is the world’s wealthiest and best-structured continent.

No country, except the USA under the Trump administration, is adopting such a rigid anti-immigration policy as the EU Member States, which are going so far as to actually deny the right to asylum, making it difficult and often impossible, for asylum seekers to submit their applications and at all events preventing judicial oversight over the rejection of asylum applications by the administrative authorities.

Not having any legal and safe channels for reaching Europe, many refugees and migrants are induced to attempt crossing by sea using boats provided by traffickers working in collusion with the Libyan militias, who are cashing in on these needy people. This is transforming the Mediterranean Sea from a crossroads of civilisations to an immense graveyard where tens of thousands of people, hoping to reach what they imagine to be a place of welcome and solidarity, have drowned or been lost at sea.

A whole range of causes have produced these outcomes, of which the most decisive has been the “externalisation” of Europe’s southern borders, accompanied by the offer of billions of euros to the Turkish dictatorial regime to close down the Balkans route, and to the Libyan militias to block African migrants using unprecedented violence and without any oversight whatsoever, as is constantly being reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which never tires of denouncing to the whole world the atrocities of every kind that are being perpetrated against migrants and asylum-seekers, including vast numbers of women and children, in the detention camps.

Even when no specific individuals have been personally identified as the authors of the tens of thousands of deaths and other victims to satisfy the necessary level of evidence required under criminal law, they are the foreseeable and foreseen product of “system crimes” according to the definition adopted by the PPT to categorise the tragic effects of economic policies and decisions that sacrifice fundamental rights. Tragedies that – as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on 22 March this year –  “have indelibly shamed our continent”, recalling that “in 2018 six people were drowned every day in the Mediterranean”. This is a percentage increase running parallel to the increased restrictions imposed on rescue operations, by criminalising the work of the NGOs, mainly by the Italian government which obstinately insists on the reliability of the Libyan authorities who, according to recent statements issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, “guarantee respect for the human rights of migrants thanks to the presence of the OIM”. These are grave and unacceptable statements that paint a false picture of the true situation as the most responsible European authorities, and the OIM, know perfectly well, and deliberately ignore the recent statements issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that, in Libya “a population of refugees and migrants are living in terrible conditions, mony of them detained in holding centres which are among the most  dreadful” he has ever visited in his long experience in dealing with humanitarian affairs.

3.2.  It is illegal to transform Europe into a fortress by closing ports and borders and refusing to rescue and assist those in need, because it violates binding International law and is unlawful because adopted using measures issued without any discussion and approval of the European Parliament and the national Parliaments.

It is above all unconscionable and unjust with regard, first of all, to the rights and needs of people who have set out on a harrowing journey, not on a whim or for their amusement, but out of necessity, fleeing from war, devastation, famine or environmental disasters, often caused or aggravated by the policies and economic decisions of the western European economic system and lifestyles.

It is a decision that not only causes enormous distress, but it is also to no avail, as we know from history and demography. Never before, in the course of millennia, have structural migrations of peoples been effectively prevented by physical or legal obstacles. Closed-door policies not only cause death and suffering to refugees and migrants, they also cause the European population to adopt rigid identity postures, and xenophobic and racist attitudes; in a short space of time, they may seem to have the backing of public opinion, but this is illusory and bound to come to nothing because these policies are incapable of addressing structural phenomena, but on the contrary, prove counter-productive because they prevent or delay any possible reasonable ways of handling the problems which inevitably emerge when these diversities meet.

And it is also an uncivil policy that militates against the interests of Europe for economic and demographic reasons. Migration flows cannot be governed, which is the most we can realistically hope to achieve, by means of violence and repression, which if foolishly pursued can only degenerate and lead to further conflicts which will be even more difficult to govern.

3.3.The PPT recognizes the unlawfulness of concluding international agreements in a simplified form between the EU Member Statesand third States (Turkey, Libya, Sudan, Niger), because it removes major decisions from public debate, from the competence of the European Parliament and the national Parliaments, and from judicial oversight, such that this practice must be considered to be radically contrary to European Union law. More especially, since these are often labelled “development cooperation agreements” they conceal their real legal nature, which is to govern the unacceptable trade-off between money and people, by delegating the blocking of the Union’s external borders to third countries, which we know from daily experience provide no guarantees whatsoever, that they will respect the most elementary human rights.

Such practices are gradually undermining the rule of constitutional law, which is always dangerous but all the more so when applied to migration, which is an irreversible phenomenon in a world where capital, goods and information are increasingly in movement, and it is unthinkable that human beings are the only exception. This process is inevitably bound to radically change our increasingly more multi-ethnic societies, which are obliged by the facts of history today to revise the very concept of citizenship, instituted in Europe to ensure peoples’ rights and freedoms, but now being used as a demarcation line to deny not only “citizenship” rights but also the human rights vested in every person regardless of the jurisdiction to which they belong.

All the most distinguished legal, social and political opinions examined by the judges of the PPT sessions have made it clear that structural policies and interventions are needed to prevent the causes that are driving migration, in order to prevent people being forced to flee from their own countries driven by persecution, war, poverty, and the effects of climate change. Only the adoption of measures of this kind, coupled with policies to receive and integrate refugees would appear to be truly consistent with the thinking underlying and the purposes enshrined in the Charters of fundamental rights adopted in Europe.

The structural character of migration and the unprecedented suffering being inflicted today on the migrant people are specific, concrete and symbolic indicators of the absolute urgency of restoring subjective priority to peoples and persons, shorn of any populist logic and goals, in a global world of states, fully taking on board the whole dimension of the values and the indications set out in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples (the Algiers Charter, 4 July 1976).

The right to life, to personal and collective dignity, personal freedom and health may never, under any circumstances, be sacrificed under the pretext of security, which is often only being used as a means of gleaning electoral support.

The PPT is fully aware of the fact that it is not enough to appeal to the law to handle such complex phenomena, which has to be done by politics which is responsible for guaranteeing and taking responsibility for the interests of the people. Those tasked with adopting political decisions must certainly bear in mind the magnitude of migration movements and cannot ignore the widespread fears running throughout European societies, or the complexity involved in implementing procedures to integrate migrants and refugees.

However, if politics is to be keep faith with the pledges of peace and respect for the dignity of people and peoples solemnly enshrined in international law (from the United Nations Charter to the EU Convention on Human Rights) it must come up with solutions which are solidly grounded in law both to guarantee the rights of refugees and migrants and clearly set out the substance and the image of European democratic society.

Politics must, under all circumstances, respect the fundamental rights of people and peoples, for the guarantee of fundamental rights is a sacrosanct borderline for everyone, including lawmakers and governments, who must ensure that these needs are being met, and offer perspectives and solutions which, while fully respecting the dignity and equality of all men and women, make human rights and the aspiration to peaceful coexistence between different people, a reality.

  1. Conclusions and recommendations

Based on its findings and judgments, the PPT has concluded that taken together, the immigration and asylum policies and practices of the EU and its Member States constitute a total denial of the fundamental rights of people and migrants, and are veritable crimes against humanity: even though they may not be personally ascribable to individual perpetrators according to commonly agreed criminal law definitions they must be recognised as “system crimes”.

This definition requires the European Union to take responsibility for simultaneously changing its economic and asylum and migration policies and regulations, on a strictly interactive basis, and to adopt public and transparent procedures for concluding treaties and conventions, fully involving the European Parliament. Secondly, being system crimes does not relieve the EU and each of its Member States of their specific liability for failure to comply with the obligation to offer assistance, for complicity in murder, torture and inhumane and degrading treatment, and for the other serious violations of human rights resulting from by pushback.

The PPT is adamant that, in order to be effective and rational, every necessary and rational measure to regulate migration and reallocate the migrants must be taken by the European Union as such, since individual Member States tend to pander to sovereigntist tendencies and fuel fear and public sentiment caused or aggravated by the lack of effective reception policies, whereas only the Union itself can adopt and sustain a raft of policies to deal with the root causes of migration, and ensure compatibility between the rights of those already living in the European countries and the rights of the migrants, particularly with regard to the right to asylum, opening communities to foreign residents, appreciating the value of cultural diversity, taking care of vulnerable people, and humanising social relations.

It is urgently necessary to impose a moratorium on all the agreements which, like the EU-Turkey and Italy-Libya agreements, lack any public oversight and render the parties jointly liable for violations of the fundamental human rights of migrants. These agreements must be radically renegotiated and amended.

Consistently with the positions adopted by the relevant United Nations Agencies, the PPT deems it essential to put an end to any hostilities and criminalization against the NGOs engaged in rescuing shipwrecked persons and migrants in difficulty. To ensure compliance with the duty to protect paramount human rights, any measures designed to obstruct any individual and collective actions by civil society solidarity organisations, in any way whatsoever, must also be suspended. And decisive action must be taken to counter any practices that fuel xenophobia and hatred and create a hostile environment.


The PPT’s sessions have been convened as a forum for listening to the migrant and refugee people, and they have also given voice to the grief caused to families of the countless, and nameless, dead and missing persons. The institution of an international observatory, independent and organised with the widest participation of the families, with the mandate of the recuperation, whenever possible, of the bodies of the victims and, in any case, of the reconstruction of the identity of the disappeared would be a minimal token response to the right to be remembered, to truth, and to grieve, which is an essential component part of all human civilisations.

According to the tradition of the PPT, this document is first of all the voice of the victims and of their families and communities. It represents however also the voice of the hundreds of organizations, which together with the countless testimonies, have been the true protagonists of the process opened in Barcelona in July 2017: they did not simply share the sufferings of the victims, but have declared their willingness and readiness to continue their active solidarity with those who choose Europe as the place where their legitimate life projects could become a reality.

The PPT has presented today the results of its work to the highest institution of democratic representativeness of the Europe of the Rights, with the wish that they could be received as a contribution to the activities of the Parliament emerging from the forthcoming elections.

It has become dramatically urgent to give an identity and visibility to the migrant people, as one way of sensitising our collective awareness of the close linkage between the fundamental rights of migrants and refugees, and the future of our democracy.


Bridget Anderson (UK)

Perfecto Andrés Ibáñez (Spain)

Luciana Castellina (Italy)

Mireille Fanon Mendes France (France)

Franco Ippolito (Italy)

Claire-Marie Lievens (Belgium)

Luis Moita (Portugal)

Patricia Orejudo (Spain)

Philippe Texier (France)



Time for a New Transnational Solidarity  in favour of the
Rights of Migrant People

 Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Hearing On the Human Rights of Migrant and Refugee People  EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, BRUSSELS  

Tuesday April 9, 2019

Spanish French


Migrant organisations, trade unions, migrant solidarity groups, scholars and NGOs from the European Union (EU) participated in a collective effort between 2017 and 2019 to give visibility to and denounce the systematic violation of the rights of migrant and refugee peoples with impunity as a result of the migration policies developed by the EU.

Close to 500 organisations from Spain, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and various African countries asked the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) to organize a series of hearings dedicated to the rights of migrant peoples and hear the testimonies of women, men and youth that have been the victims of these policies.

Time for a New Transnational Solidarity in favour of the Rights of Migrant People”is the result of work carried out between 2017 and 2018. This publication presents the main elements of our organisations’ analysis and the demands that we submitted to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal.


To Permanent People’s Tribunal

— General context

The history of the development of mankind, its advances, crises and wars is closely intertwined with the history of migrants and refugees. As in other turbulent times in history, migrants and refugees are being subjected to discrimination and their rights, violated, while politicians from various countries promote and organise xenophobic campaigns against them. Also, as in the past, thousands of people are mobilising today in solidarity with migrants and refugees, as they are aware that if their rights are not recognised, sooner or later, the rights of the rest of the population will be curtailed.

It was once said that the beginning of the 21stcentury was the beginning of the end of history. Victorious over other ideologies and social classes, capitalism was to provide all people with opportunities, as long as they knew how to adapt. Yet, even before the first decade of the new century was over, it became clear that this was merely a mirage. And this mirage turned into a nightmare. The wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, the financial and economic crisis of 2008 (the worst one since the Great Depression of the 1930s), devastation, the rapid depletion of the planet’s resources and the acceleration of climate changeare some of many elements of proof that if no radical change is made to the policies being pursued today, humanity is heading for disaster. The denial of the rights of migrants and refugees – the main victims of these policies – foreshadows a return to times when human rights did not exist.We are now witnessing a global drive to commodify all areas of life in which authoritarian and unsustainable capitalist, patriarchal and colonial dynamics are exacerbated by the privatisation, co-opting or negation of democratic institutions. The result is a process that destroys peoples’ sovereignty and seizes countries and territories, integrating them as if they were part of a large corporation’s internal structure or one of its branches. Human rights are being emptied of their effectiveness as a fundamental category, as they lose policy space to the commodification of life.

Some examples of this are the deregulation of social, labour and collective rights as an ongoing process, which is justified as being necessary in order for the capitalist system to continue functioning. Together with this, communities and individuals are being dispossessed and forced to leave their territories so that all kinds of corporations – oil, energy, mining, tourism, etc. – can earn profits. The wars promoted by imperialist and neo-colonialist policies, which serve as an operation of destructing-reconstructing domination and wealth, constitute another example. Finally, the devastation of ecosystems is aggravating and accelerating the impacts of climate change.The combination of these variables explains the essential reasons for the migration flows around the world. Not only are the victims of commodification and deregulation stigmatised and their rights, violated, but they are also forced to join the ranks of millions of migrants whose exact number is unknown and turned into a new commodity that can be bought, sold or discarded. Or die in the process.

The crisis in Europe

The European Union (EU) abolished the death penalty years ago. But it allows thousands of people who try to reach its territory to die. The EU claims to be a standard-bearer and promotor of human rights around the world. Yet, it violates these rights by creating non-law zones within its own borders. The EU is the world’s leading economic power and is constantly promoting trade agreements. But it has developed a sophisticated and horrifying system to externalise its borders: it builds railings, fences and walls, like a fortress under siege, while large EU transnational corporations and capital pillage the wealth of other countries and impose advantageous trade conditions in the EU’s own favour. The EU reaffirms the rights of women and children, but denies them these rights by separating families, locking up children, deporting women, denying them the right to asylum and facilitating rape, torture, human trafficking and forced prostitution. The EU has laws that guarantee the right to asylum and migrants’ rights. Yet, it refuses to sign the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, has created and/or reinforced repressive measures against migrants, and criminalises organisations and individuals who act in solidarity with them. The EU has been a driving force in the making of the non-binding Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, recently signed in Marrakesh (December 2018), which reduces the agenda of the human rights of migrants to a technocratic management issue.

The EU was to be a political project capable of satisfying the needs of social development, environmental sustainability and the consolidation of democratic rights. However, this project has been going through a profound crisis for years. The EU’s policy on migrants and refugees has led to a human and humanitarian disaster of unimaginable proportions.

The Italian police’s cooperation with governments such as Sudan’s or with the Libyan coast guard; the billions of euros that the EU handed over to the authoritarian and repressive Erdogan government in Turkey to control the movement of tens of thousands of women, men and children on its territory who had left their homes to flee war, poverty or environmental disasters; the strengthening of the system of fences and railings built along Spain’s southern border in an attempt to stop the flows of migrants coming from Africa; the approval of laws that make assisting refugees a crime, as in Hungary, Italy and France; the creation of pseudo legal concepts such as “safe third country”; the closure of ports, the refusal to allow boats transporting migrants to dock or to save people at sea, which is in blatant violation of international law, or the seizure of boats to prevent them from saving people who are in danger, as occurred in Malta or Italy; threats to impose sanctions or use repressive measures against mayors or other legitimately elected authorities when they support migrants; the abolition of residence permits issued on humanitarian grounds or the cancelling of economic resources allocated to migrant reception centres; and the creation of biometrics systems for unaccompanied children held at youth detention facilities as if they were criminals or had committed a crime, as France or Spain do, are some examples of the anti-migrant policies developed in recent years by European governments and the European Union. It is clear that we are witnessing the development of necropolitics, as these policies are sentencing thousands of innocent people to death. We argue that the European Union and its member states are responsible for crimes against humanity.

The crisis of the EU as a space for defending, promoting and developing human rights becomes more evident when one looks at the growing support for and the multiplication of governments led by neofascists, populists and nationalist xenophobes, or vulgar conservatives or “socialists” who mention, on a daily basis, the “waves of refugees” or an “invasion of foreigners” that must be stopped to avoid the “loss of European values” and because the EU “cannot take in all the misery of the world”. In 2018, the number of migrant arrivals in the EU was the lowest in 5 years. Even so, none of the European countries have relaxed their migration policies.

Borders have become zones dominated by war imaginaries where rights violations and impunity are systematic practices, and where women’s bodies are turned into weapons of war that are used to defeat and humiliate enemies in order to destroy their social basis and as tokens of exchange.

We strongly denounce the sexual violence that women, boys and girls suffer while in transit at the hands of the men that they meet along the way: travel companions, police officers, gang members, etc. Spaces where violence against women occur are also “no rights” spaces.

Women refugees and migrants must be political agents. They often have to fight against the stereotypes of the places of destination and to free themselves from the control of their community of origin. This situation is made worse by the pressure on women to maintain the identity of their community, which is usually imposed on them by patriarchy. However, migrant women are not passive subjects who receive help; they are the protagonists of their own migration process.

The lack of safe routes for migrants and refugees means that they are confronted with grave situations of direct and indirect violence while in transit. This problem is even more serious for certain social groups, namely girls, women and people with different identities and genders. These people often suffer from sexual abuse, humiliation, trafficking and other issues that must be addressed according to their specificity.

On numerous occasions, non-state agents such as certain churches, families or community members are the ones who engage in persecution based on gender and/or sexual orientation. This type of persecution must be recognised as a form of violence and the concept of agent of persecution must be broadened to include these actors.

Why we asked the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal to intervene

Since its inception nearly half a century ago, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) has been consolidated as a body that gives voice to the voiceless, to people who have been denied the opportunity to speak or whose opportunity has been taken from them. Its actions have given visibility and analysed in legal terms all those situations where the massive violation of fundamental human rights has received no institutional recognition or response, neither at the national nor the international level.

As an international opinion tribunal, the PPT affirms that states are not the only rightful representatives and interpreters of norms, their implementation and their enforceability. Its founder, Lelio Basso, concluded that “the need for public awareness can be recognised as a source of law”.

The PPT itself emphasises that “the objectives and specific challenges of a session of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal should take the political and legal scenario at the time of the first PPT session in 1979, held on the basis of the statute of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples (Algiers, 1976), as a reference for its general framework”.

In December 2016, several organisations requested that the PPT hold a hearing on the violations with impunity of the human rights of migrant and refugee peoples. The goal of this first session was to give greater visibility to migrants as inviolable subjects of rights; identify and judge the “chain” of co-responsibility along migratory routes that lead to the violation of migrant people’s human rights; and urgently provide and promote adequate measures to ensure access to justice.

As indicated in the presentation of the 38 organisations that co-convened the first PPT session on the violations with impunity of the human rights of migrant and refugees persons, with the endorsement of 100 networks and organisations, the PPT aimed to:

  • Receive and rigorously document the proposals and testimonies of the communities of migrants and refugees;
  • Listen and give visibility to cases of violations of the rights of migrants and refugees;
  • Jointly analyse the root causes (including trade and investment agreements, global extractivism as well as the global production and labour chain) of the forced displacement of migrants and refugees;
  • Determine the responsibilities of governments, including the European Union and other official European bodies;
  • Focus on the role of transnational corporations in the global production chain and in border regimes.

After the first PPT session on this issue was held in Barcelona in July 2017, the situation for migrants and the repeated violation of their rights got worse. We therefore agreed with the PPT to hold more hearings on the issue.

In December 2017, with the support of over 100 international non-governmental organisations and associations, the Palermo hearing was held. It focused its analysis on the human rights violations and the policies developed by the EU and its member states at Europe’s southern “border”.

In January 2018, a third PPT session was held in Paris. The 32 French organisations and associations that participated in the organisation of the session asked the PPT to analyse the impacts within EU borders of the policies that seek to restrict migrant arrivals, favour their interception outside the EU and accelerate the deportation process. The PPT heard 38 testimonies from migrants, representatives of organisations who act in solidarity with migrants, researchers, parliamentarians and local authorities.

In July 2018, with the endorsement of close to 50 organisations, the fourth PPT session was held in Barcelona. On this occasion, the work and testimonies were focused on “non-law” spaces and three fundamental issues: Europe’s border to the south, gender and diversities, and minors and youth.Finally, in November 2018, the fourth PPT session was held on the violations of the human rights of migrant and refugee peoples. With the endorsement of over 100 organisations, including trade unions such as UNITE, the PPT was asked to examine the economic, security, migration and labour policies of the EU and its member states. It was also to evaluate the “hostile environment” policy that the UK government had been using against all migrants and refugees, both with or without permanent residency status in the country.

More than 500 organisations, groups, movements such as La Via Campesina, trade unions such as UNITE and LAB  and representatives of public officials have been involved in these two years of work and PPT hearings. The rulings issued at the end of each session demonstrated that the PPT’s work is fundamental for reversing the regulatory asymmetry that prevails between the protection of the rights of transnational corporations and the protection of human rights. It is also key for gathering legal and political proof that could be used in legal action against the EU and its members states and for promoting the creation of new rights.


The EU and its member states continue to violate international law

Between the first and the final TPP hearings on the violations of the human rights of migrant and refugee peoples (from July 2017 to November 2018), the EU and its member states implemented several repressive measures to detain migrants and prevent them from reaching Europe. Many of these measures have directly or indirectly caused deaths, as well as the kidnapping, torture and rape of men, women, youth and children.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR), in 2017, the year the PPT began to work on this issue, close to 3,140 migrants died or were reported missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean. This confirms that this region, which is the doorway to the EU, has become the biggest sea cemetery in the world.

In 2018, as mentioned earlier, the number of migrant arrivals in the EU was the lowest in 5 years. However, according to UNHCR data, the number of deaths continues to be outrageously high (2,275 deaths, with an average of 6 deaths per day) and the number of people involved in shipwrecks is unknown. European leaders have opted for closing their borders and, in some cases, organising deportations instead of developing policies on protection and rescue.

In the Mediterranean, serious crimes against humanity are being generated. People who are fleeing war, extreme poverty or sexist or religious violence are being abandoned in supposedly “safe” or “peaceful” regions, such as the Mediterranean. This comes very close to a new kind of crime that can be codified as “crimes of peace”.

According to HCR figures, between 2014 and 2018, close to 18,000 people perished or disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea. Given that the EU and its member states continue to approve and implement increasingly drastic repressive measures, these numbers will continue to rise. Some of these measures are:


— Italy.The imposition of a “code of good conduct” on organisations that rescue people at sea. It bans them from entering territorial waters and if they do go out, their boats are seized and impounded in the ports. The same is true in Malta. As the Italian organisations that promoted the PPT session in Palermo observed one year after the session (December 2017), “the government has escalated its war on NGOs at sea”. The Italian navy strengthened its collaboration with the Libyan coast guard to send people who are trying to escape the hell in Libya back to the country.

 The expulsion or transfer of people to Libya was denounced in late 2018 by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. According to this UN body, “This climate of lawlessness provides fertile ground for thriving illicit activities, such as trafficking in human beings…and leaves migrant and refugee men, women and children at the mercy of countless predators who view them as commodities to be exploited and extorted for maximum financial gain”. It adds that “migrants detained in the centres are not given enough food and are systematically subjected to beatings, burning with hot metals, electrocution or subjected to other forms of abuse with the aim of extorting money from their families”.

Based on numerous testimonies and reports, one can say that the treatment of migrants in Libya can be classified as crimes against humanity.

Furthermore, Italian authorities obtained another “victory” at the end of June 2018: official recognition of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for Libya’s SAR area. For the Italian government, this meant it could implement a new policy of “closing its naval ports”. As for Libya, on the Libyan side, the country could conduct operations to intercept, instead of rescue, migrants and, consequently, restrict assistance in international waters and continue accusing NGOs of acting in collusion with traffickers.

The interceptions and forced return of migrants to Libyan detention centres – where they are held in infernal conditions, as denounced by several reports and testimonies – mean that none of the migrants have been able to request asylum and no one has been able to assess their need for protection or any kind of assistance. This practice is called deportation or expulsion.

This means that not only the Italian government, but also other European governments are violating the principle of non-refoulement, which is a fundamental principle in international law. In fact, according to article 33 of the Geneva Convention, refugees cannot be denied entry to a territory, nor can they be expelled or transferred to territories where their lives and freedom are threatened.

The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights determines that the prohibition on refoulement applies regardless of whether the individual has been recognised as a refugee and/or has formalised this status by submitting a request to obtain such recognition. In essence, refoulement is any form of forced removal to an unsafe country.

Libya is not recognised, nor can be recognised, by any international organisation or body as a safe third country and as being capable of guaranteeing a safe port for rescue (POS – place of safety).

The Italian government’s new policy on migrants and the people and/or organisations that work in solidarity with them is particularly troubling due to the repeated violations of the norms enshrined in the Italian constitution, European treaties and international laws.

Moreover, the government’s new decree on security and immigration was converted into Law no. 132/2018. It restricts rights and due process even further, as well as the cases in which recognition of legal status is granted. It also eliminates protections on humanitarian grounds and introduces highly discriminatory criteria on immigration and security. 

— France-United Kingdom.In December 2018, Paris and London approved a “strengthened plan of action”. The plan includes the creation of a new joint information and coordination centre in Calais with the goal of limiting the flow of migrants as much as possible and “fighting crime”. In France, a new asylum and immigration law was adopted in the second half of 2018. It imposes restrictive measures and additional controls to limit entry into the country and banalise expulsions. Prefects are ordered to favour expulsions (deportations) without waiting for the appeal courts’ rulings. Detaining migrants in administrative detention centres (CRAs, for their acronym in French) when they have not committed a crime is a clear violation of law. The situation is made worse by the countless problems reported inside the centres: there have been several suicides or suicide attempts in the CRAs.

— Spain.The Law on Foreigners and the Law on Citizen’s Security serve to repress and restrict the rights of migrants. Foreigner detention centres (CIEs for their acronym in Spanish) are a tool used to maintain people who are already living in difficult conditions in a state of extreme vulnerability. The centres also facilitate the exploitation of the victims and keep them silent. The violations of migrants’ rights committed at the country’s southern border are systemic. The Government of Spain recently decided to stop a boat used to rescue people in danger (Open Arms) from setting sail.

It is worth noting here that other EU countries committed to taking in dozens of migrants rescued from the boats, but have not fulfilled their commitment. What is worse, 16 EU states continue to refuse to receive migrants (with a certain profile) in their country. At the same time, the EU and its member states have massively increased funding for Frontex, the EU agency in charge of policing the EU’s coasts and borders, whose budget is to increase to 1.3 billion euros between now and 2020 and its staff, to 10,000 workers. Brussels has recommended these measures without any previous assessment of this agency’s impact on the violation of human rights.

European governments and EU institutions are not only eliminating and suspending rights, but also redefining who are subjects of rights and who are excluded from the ‘human beings’ category. This is giving rise to a new phase in the deregulation of the international human rights system. All this is strongly connected to the colonial and racist logic that recognises different rights for different categories of people.

— The widespread criminalisation of solidarity

Solidarity is at risk of being permanently criminalised. In our case, this criminalisation has been concretised by EU Council Directive 2002/90. This directive stipulates that member states must impose sanctions on anyone who assists a person who is not a national of a member state to enter or transit across the EU. It also establishes that it is up to member states to decide if they will penalise people who provide such assistance for humanitarian reasons. On one hand, this is causing regulatory chaos, which, in turn, generates a lack of legal security, depending on the state in which aid to migrants and refugees is provided. On the other hand, it leaves the decision on when to apply the humanitarian clause almost entirely up to the state, thereby allowing the criminalisation of solidarity in EU territory to continue. Why do European institutions not adopt regulations that explicitly and clearly establish that under no circumstances and in no EU country can humanitarian aid and solidarity efforts in support of refugees and migrants be penalised?

The impacts of this criminalisation are generalised: it affects sea rescue missions, doctors and teachers, neighbours, students, retired persons, farmers, firemen and firewomen, etc. all throughout Europe. The effectiveness of the criminalisation of solidarity as a deterrent can be measured more by the amount of fear being spread than by the actual number of convictions.

This criminalisation goes beyond migrants who attempt to cross a border themselves to involve the people in their immediate surroundings. There are many cases where authorities do not distinguish between the self-organisation of migrants, on one hand, and human trafficking, on the other. When migrants hide in trucks or other vehicles, a third party has to close the door. By doing so, these individuals can face the same liability as traffickers, when in fact, they belong to the same group of migrants or have been paid an insignificant amount of money for the help they provided, which is to cover the costs of gasoline and similar expenses. In other cases, migrants who are given a GPS and a mobile phone and navigate the boats on the Mediterranean are themselves poor people who do not have money to pay for the trip. They often end up being detained and deprived of the legal defence that they need to contest the charges of being a gang member. The tendency to automatically assume that migrants who act in solidarity with other migrants are involved in the crime of human trafficking stems from the institutional racism instilled in the authorities of the EU and its member states.

In addition to being widespread and extended to migrants’ surroundings, criminalisation hits migrants particularly hard. Their protests, hunger strikes, roadblocks, lorry blockades, etc. result in disproportionately severe charges against themselves. For instance, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders stated in his 2018 report that the Government of Hungary convicted a migrant from Syria for terrorism for having used a megaphone to ask the police to communicate with the refugees and migrants at the border and for having thrown three heavy objects at police officers. The Rapporteur urged states to allow migrants to exercise their freedom of information and of expression, association and assembly, among other rights.

— Proposals

A new migrant people. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples of Algiers establishes that every people has a series of inalienable rights: the right to existence, the right to the respect of its national and cultural identity and the right to retain peaceful possession of its territory and to return to it if it is expelled. It also declares that no one may be subjected, because of their identity, to massacre, torture, persecution, deportation, expulsion or living conditions that may compromise the identity or integrity of the people to which they belong.

This does not correspond at all to the current context where millions of migrants are wandering from one place on the planet to another, with no rights whatsoever. To alter this situation, the Algiers Declaration must be updated to reflect the situation in the world today. It is not a matter of considering these subjects of rights as if they were “a new people” with heterogenous, transnational identities and that the international community must protect and endow with rights and obligations, wherever they live. It is a question of reinterpreting and adapting the Algiers Declaration to new transnational realities and under no circumstance leaving out the forcefully displaced, as they are ultimately the ones who have lost the most in the neoliberal capitalist system.

We demand that the fight against human trafficking not be used as an excuse to adopt racist policies and tools to close and protect borders. European institutions are being tarnished with new and obvious forms of racism which must be eradicated immediately. Migrants’ bodies are being turned into a “body-border”, as defined by Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe, who analyses modern means of control used against Africans migrating to Europe. The body-border draws the line between us and them and permits us to abuse ‘them’ with impunity!

We ask the PPT to give its opinion on our demand for changes to the EU and its member states’ system for asylum and migration and for its compliance with international human rights law.

We demand the cancelation of bilateral agreements with countries that violate the rights of migrant persons: Turkey, Libya, Morocco, Sudan and Niger.

We demand that the search and rescue capacity in the central Mediterranean be strengthened, restrictions on NGOs be eliminated and all types of humanitarian assistance and rescue at sea, on land and within EU borders be eliminated. According to reports from UNHCR and other bodies, the ships that participated in EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia between June and December 2018 only carried out one rescue operation. NGOs are currently forced to keep their ships docked because if they do not, they will be seized, as we explained earlier. Even cargo ships are now afraid to help. This decrease in search and rescue capacity has not affected departures from Libya and more human lives are being lost in the Mediterranean.

We demand that we equip ourselves with tools and better forms of protection and assistance for accompanied and unaccompanied foreign minors, survivors in general and survivors of sexual and gender violence, trauma and torture. We must guarantee them that trained and multi-disciplinary teams of specialists will be sent and that they will not commit more institutional violence and marginalisation.

Open humanitarian corridors and other safe routes to protection and authorise embassies and consulates to issue visas.

Fulfil commitments on relocation and resettlement.

Put an end to illegal deportations to the borders of Ceuta and Melilla, for example, and to Libya.

Eliminate the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and, where appropriate, withdraw its operating procedures.

Demand compliance with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which guarantees that border control respects and protects fundamental human rights.

End the so-called “Dublin Agreement”.

An end to the detention of migrants and refugees

As a result of the sessions on the violations with impunity of the human rights of migrant and refugee persons, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal should also present legal proposals that aim to end forced displacements (related to the causes of forced displacements).

We request that the PPT write the UN Secretary General, the president of the UN General Assembly, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the president of the European Commission to request a meeting with a delegation of members appointed by the PPT to present the verdict and the conclusions and recommendations from its work.

As co-convenors of the 45thsession of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, we are aware of the challenges raised by the strategies of resistance and the alternatives that migrant and refugee peoples are building, despite their exclusion in “non-rights zones”. We will continue working on the demands formulated during the PPT hearing process and strengthening our alliances to converge towards a new era of transnational action and solidarity. The fight for the full recognition of the rights of migrants and refugees is as important now as the fight to end slavery was at the time and the ongoing fight for the recognition of women’s rights.

Brussels, April 9th, 2019

Program Hearing Brussels


Session on the Human Rights of Migrants and Refugee Peoples

 9 April 2019   9.00 to 13.00




 (Interpretation:  EN, FR, ES, DE, IT, NL, EL, SV)


NOTE Getting your Badge to enter the EP: The entry to the European Parliament is at the Simone Veil entrance of the ASP building - on the side of the Place Luxembourg. GUE/NGL people will wait those who need a badge, on the stairs of this entrance, with a poster of the event, from 8:15 to 8:45. So people need to get to the Parliament at 8.00 am

NOTE: Please bring your banners, posters, publications etc for display at the Parliament and at the Demo


09:00 – 09:45 Welcoming words and introduction 

  • Gabi Zimmer, President of GUE/NGL
  • Claude Moraes, Chair of the Comittee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
  • Jille Belisario, Transnational Migrant Platform-Europe
  • Braulio Moro, France Amerique Latine (FAL)
  • Simona Fraudatario, Gianni Tognoni, Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal

09:45 - 11:15 Report and perspectives of the PPT deliberations

The PPT Session on migrants and refugee people
Philippe Texier, President of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal

Legal strategies for Italian and European responsibility
Antonello Ciervo, Chiara Favilli, Luca Masera (Asgi)

Policies of criminalisation, conscription and marginalisation
Frances Webber, Human Rights lawyer and Vice-Chair of the Institute of Race Relations

Crimes of the system: a vacuum in international law
Perfecto Andrés Ibáñez, member of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal

Looking forward: concluding Declaration and comments by the panel of judges
Bridget Anderson, Luciana Castellina, Mireille Fanon-Mendès-France , Claire-Marie Lievens, Patricia Orejudo

11:15 - 11:45 Citizens’ networks as example of "civil disobedience"

Adham Darawsha, Councillor for CultureS and Democratic Participation, City of Palermo

Miguel Roldan, fire fighter – case of criminalisation of solidarity.

11 :45- 12:40 Interventions of participant parliamentarians and social movements: Going Forward to political action

Moderators: Brid Brennan (TNI) and MEP Miguel Urbán (GUE/NGL)

Moderation: Brid Brennan, TNI (Ireland) & MEP Miguel Urban, Podemos (Spain)

  • Root Causes - Forced displacement of Migrant and Refugee People
    Free Trade & Investment Agreements, War, Climate Change
    Mohammed Hakech (LVC/Morocco); Samah Ibrahim Representative of UAWC/Palestine; Lamine Bathily (Sindicato Popular de Vendedores Ambulantes-Barcelona);Clara Osagiede (RMT/TU/UK)
  • Journeys & Borders – Dead & Disappeared (Med & Aegean Sea)
    Crime against Humanity Role of Corporations in Border Wars
    Representative of Sea Watch, Germany; Imed Soltani (Land for All/Tunis); Monica Vargas (TNI/Spain); Driss El Korchi (MCDC/Belgium)
  • Fortress Europe – Hostile Environment
    Detention, Deportation, Racism and Islamophobia
    Liz Fekete (IRR/UK), Renata Molina (FAL/France); Hatem Gheribi (Watch the Med AlarmPhone/Europe)
  • Gender Rights / Women Organising
    Fatou Secka (Equis-MG/Spain); Petra Snelders (Respect/Europe); Angie Garcia (Waling Waling/UK); Jara Henar (Stop Mare Mortum)
  • Youth & Children
    Luciano Banchio (Espacio del Inmigrante/Spain); Glen Sangcap (CFMW/Italia)
  •  Resistance & Alternatives, Transnational Activism and Solidarity
    LAB representative (Basque Country); Khadija Najlaoui (UNITE/UK); Nonoi Hacbang (TMP-E/Europe); Cristina Brovia; Deborah Valencia (MELISSA /Greece)

12:40 – 13 :00 Conclusions 

  • Franco Ippolito, on the behalf of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
  • Federico Pacheco, La Via Campesina
  • MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat, member of the Subcommittee for Human Rights
  • Hosted in the European Parliament by


 More than 500 organisations have worked together in solidarity with the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal

For more information please contact:


Evidence presented by Liz Fekete on behalf of the PPT at the APPG on Race and Community & APPG on
Migration Putting People First: Protecting Public Services from the Hostile Environment,
4 April 2019, Committee Room 9, Palace of Westminster.

On 3-4 November 2018, migrants’ rights groups, trades unionists and race experts came together to put the ‘hostile environment’ on trial at the fourth European session of the Permanent People’s Tribunal on the violations with impunity of the human rights of migrant and refugee peoples. An expert jury heard testimony from witnesses drawn from frontline services, academia, migrants’ networks and, crucially, migrants and refugees themselves, including former immigration detainees, care workers, cleaners and domestic workers.

What did this public opinion tribunal teach us and what did it reveal?

From the outset I should say that the evidence we received and heard both as written and oral testimony pointed to the fact that the issue of public services could not be divorced from the hostile environment of employer sanctions, the criminalisation of work and workplace exploitation. Denial of services and a nativist approach to migrant workers goes hand in hand. And that’s the main message of the PPT that I am bringing here today.

The PPT foregrounded the widespread subcontracting and outsourcing which leads to the creation of ‘sites without rights’ or ‘spaces for exploitation’. We heard from witnesses repeatedly how ‘migrant’ status puts people outside the protection of public services andthe law, including labour laws – witness the failure to enforce the minimum wage for migrant workers and the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board in 2013.

Testimony from trades unionists and workers in specific sectors showed how migrants can be virtually disenfranchised: hotels and housekeeping, warehousing, road haulage, in food and agriculture, in construction (where bonded labour is even used) and in care and domestic work, where a mainly legal female workforce faces sex, race and class discrimination, usually with no access to legal remedies.

The creation of illegality is intimately tied to the deterrence logic of the hostile environment which dissuades people from accessing public services including health care. It starts with the conscription of employers, landlords, university staff and medics, into surveillance and enforcement. But we heard too how it builds on the legal measures that have criminalised work since the 1990s - the ban on work for asylum seekers, the introduction and intensification of employer sanctions, salary thresholds for settlement and family reunification, the creation in 2016 of a new criminal offence of illegal working.

I am sure the APPG on Race & Community has been addressing some of these issues, such as how employer sanctions affect immigration enforcement through raids on mainly small, BAME-owned workplaces. One witness, Bobby Chan of the Min Quan Advocacy Group, claimed the law has been weaponised by Home Office officials with unchecked power to close a business down. He told how frequent raids, accompanied by physical brutality, were in fact a legalised shakedown rather than real immigration enforcement, with those arrested being released within minutes but employers expected to pay fines of £20,000 a time. This is leading to contempt for the law.

A number of witnesses described the perverse impact of immigration rules. Kent Refugee Help explained how the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule creates crime, by creating destitution. Leeds Migrant Action and Dr Jon Burnett of Swansea University spoke of the ‘captive labour’ of detained asylum seekers, denied permission to work in the UK but performing nearly a million hours of menial work in detention without the protection of labour laws, at less than a seventh of the minimum wage. This again leads to contempt for the government, an exploitative employer which argues that it is fine to pay detainees £1 an hour because ‘this is not work, but a way of passing time’.

Yes, the evidence presented to the PPT pointed to the dangers in data sharing and the shameful exclusion from services, but it also highlighted the need to understand how government policy and law provide the structures for super-exploitation. Creating a climate of fear where the sick and undocumented are too frightened to access public services places enormous power in the hands of unscrupulous employers and also creates divisions among NHS staff, with some workers, as Dr Neal Russell explained, willingly using racial profiling to decide who should pay for services within a charging system that is out of reach for poorly paid migrant workers. (This same doctor was one of several who returned medals awarded for fighting Ebola in West Africa because they believe creating fear and mistrust in the NHS is wrong and that ‘collectively, as human beings we should never allow anything to stand in the way to access to health care’)

All the written evidence presented to the PPT can be found on the website of the Transnational Migrants Platform where we will also download videos of some of the testimony. Next week we are meeting in the European parliament to discuss our findings with parliamentarians and our colleagues in Barcelona, Palermo and Paris who also organised hearings. Although the UK is the only country where the hostile environment has officially been acknowledged as a state policy objective, it is practised in effect in every EU country, and by the EU which has announced its intention to suspend search and rescue in the Mediterranean. The EU is complicit in sending boat people back to Libyan detention centres where they are subjected to forced labour (yes, the issue of labour exploitation returns!), as well as sexual abuse, trafficking and torture including electric shocks, burns, lashes and even flaying.

The PPT indictment, by immigration expert Frances Webber, is available in the current issue of the IRR’s journal Race & Class.We will be bringing out a book including all the testimonies next year. The courage and commitment of the witnesses who appeared before the PPT is acknowledged by all of us who took part as the driver of the judgment which is now being finalised and will be delivered to the Home Office shortly.

Permanent Peoples' Tribunal Hearing
The Human Rights of Migrant and Refugee Peoples

on Tuesday 9thApril from 9.00-13.00
Room ASP 1G2



Panel of judges 



Bridget Anderson (UK)

Professor of migration, mobilities and citizenship at Bristol University, Anderson is also Director of Migration Mobilities Bristol ( She has been Professor of migration and citizenship and research director at COMPAS in Oxford. She has a DPhil in sociology and previous training in philosophy and modern languages. She has explored the tension between labour market flexibilities and citizenship rights, and pioneered an understanding of the functions of immigration in key labour market sectors. She is the author of Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Controls(Oxford University Press, 2013) and Doing the Dirty Work? The Global Politics of Domestic Labour(Zed Books, 2000). She coedited Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy with Martin Ruhs(Oxford University Press, 2010 and 2012), The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportationwith Matthew Gibney and Emanuela Paoletti (Springer, 2013), and Migration and Care Labour: Theory, Policy and Politicswith Isabel Shutes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Anderson has worked closely with migrants’ organisations, trades unions and legal practitioners at local, national and international level. I'm

 Perfecto Andrés Ibáñez (Spain)

Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Spain and director of the magazine “Jueces para la Democracia”. He is member of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal.

Luciana Castellina (Italy)

Born in Rome in 1929, graduated in law, journalist, deputy of the Chamber of Deputies and the European

Parliament between 1976 and 1999, former vice-president of the Parliamentary Delegation for Central

America and for South America, president of the Culture, and External Economic Relations Committee of the European Parliament. She was vice president of the International League for the Rights of the People,

currently the honorary president of the ARCI, an Italian cultural and social association.


Mireille Fanon Mendes France (France)

President of the Frantz-Fanon Foundation and member of the Working Group of experts for people of African descent of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations

Franco Ippolito (Italy)

President of the Lelio Basso Foundation and former President of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal. Section President and previously Secretary-General of the Supreme Court of Cassation. He has been the Secretary-General of the Associazione Nazionale dei Magistrati, the President of Magistratura Democratica, President of the Associazione Italiana Giuristi Democratici, a member of the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura, and Director-General of the judicial organisation of the Justice ministry. He has written essays and lectures in national and international courses in the field of jurisdictional guarantees and of judicial organisation. He has taken part in numerous international missions in Europe and Latin America (in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico and Peru).

Claire-Marie Lievens (Belgium)

Legal adviser in foreigners and asylum law for the Human Rights League in Belgium (Ligue des Droits Humains).

Luis Moita (Portugal)

He is a Professor of International Relations at the Autonomous University of Lisbon, where he is the Director of the OBSERVARE research centre which publishes an annual report and of the bi-annual scientific publication JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations. He directed the Portuguese NGO CIDAC, Amilcar Cabral Information and Documentation Centre, for 15 years. He is a founder member of the Portuguese Council for Refugees. He has cooperated with the Basso Foundation since the 1980s and is a member of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal. 

Patricia Orejudo (España)

Professor of Private International Law University of the Complutense University of Madrid. Lawyer specialized in Human Rights. PHD in Law. She has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses, in many other centres in Spain, Europe and Latin America. Member of the state campaign for the closure of Detention Centres for Migrants and the Sol Legal Commission. She has worked in Women's Link Worldwide, a non-profit organization that uses the power of the law to promote and defend the rights of women and girls, as a senior lawyer, and has collaborated with the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR). Investigate issues mainly related to migration from a gender perspective.

Philippe Texier (France)

President of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, he has been an expert consultant of the French Court of Cassation, from 1997 to 2012. He was also a member of the Committee for Social, Economic and Cultural Rights of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which he chaired from 2008 to 2009. He was an independent expert of the Commission for Human Rights in Haiti from 1988 to 1990 and the Director of the United Nations missions in El Salvador, ONUSAL (1991-1992).

The public hearings of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on “The Hostile environment” held in London on 3rd and 4th November 2018 form part of a process of investigation which has lasted more than two years and has produced texts and judgments for the opening session in Barcelona (7th- 8th July 2017) and from Palermo (18th- 20th December 2017), Paris (4th – 5th January 2018) and Barcelona (29 June- 1 July 2018).
The earlier proceedings and the resulting judgments have provided an indispensable background and framework for the panel of judges at the London session, along with detailed factual and juridical support and integration of the evidence submitted to it. The main overall findings, presented orally at the conclusion of the hearings, are set out in the points which follow. The full text of the judgment, with detailed factual evidence and formal attribution of responsibility, will be made available shortly.
  1. The direct testimonies of the witnesses, together with the written and oral presentations of the experts, provide robust and comprehensive documentation of the dramatic and systematic violations of the fundamental rights to life and dignity of migrants and refugees, both as individuals and as a group, indicated in the Indictment as the target and victims of a spectrum of repressive legislation and policies enacted by the UK government over the last several years.
  2. The evidence and documentation clearly establish that the violations of fundamental individual and collective rights presented to the PPT are the deliberate, planned and systematic expression of repressive policies which, translated into legal provisions and norms, affect the full spectrum of the concrete rights which must be recognised in all human beings: rights to life, to dignity, to health, to work, to education.
  3. In all the critical domains of their existence, migrants and refugees appear to be the victims of an ever deeper and more pervasive political, juridical and cultural transformation of a society which accepts and promotes the reversal of the values of democracy, of binding obligations for Governments and of basic principles of international law as affirmed and enforced in the corresponding international instruments. Economic and security-driven legal measures are given priority and prevail over the inviolable legitimacy of the individual and collective rights belonging to human beings, which are denied.
  4.  The contemporary migration and asylum regime demonstrates a deliberate historical amnesia, ignoring the destructive consequences of British colonialism and the ways in which this continues to underpin the massive inequalities of contemporary global political economy. These inequalities are a key factor in impelling human mobility.
  5.  A policy which has defined itself as promoting a “hostile environment” corresponds to the non-recognition of migrants and refugees as people and members of society despite the disparate nature of their origins and of the causes of their migrations, displacements and expulsions. The transformation of persons exercising their fundamental right to migrate into ‘others’, aliens, potential or real enemies, invaders and aggressors, both in attitudes and in concrete behaviours such as labour contracts, reproduces categories of colonialism and slavery.
  6. A further reason for concern, and a confirmation of the direct responsibility of UK institutions, emerges from the documentation of the administrative and bureaucratic rigidity in the application of unjustifiable and opaque rules designed for the repressive control of people, the direct product of global models of development which pretend to bear no responsibility for the violations to the dignity of life, specifically of the most fragile individuals and groups.
  7. The London session has focused on the situation of migrants and refugees in the real life of a democratic society that can be considered as a model. The testimonies presented – factually so well documented, with a lucidity which could not exclude a deep emotional participation – are highly consistent in terms of severity and for their characteristics of systematicity and continuity with the findings of the previous sessions devoted to other aspects and steps of the migration process in the EU. The responsibility of the several institutions referred to in the testimonies and illustrated in the expert reports, have appeared to the panel of judges well proven, having regard to official norms and political documents. As mentioned above, the juridical (criminal and civil) definition of responsibility for the violations, with a careful assessment of the causal determinants and actors, will be the subject of the full report. But it is clear that the basic crime of denial of the rights to life, to dignity, and to the rule of law, can be considered ascertained beyond any reasonable doubt. Further, it is clear from the evidence heard in previous sessions, in different scenarios and modalities, and confirmed in some ad hoc reports in this session, that the UK situation is not unique, but rather is an expression of the broader processes and institutional responsibilities vested not only in the countries and the central institutions of the EU but also in the diffuse geographical and political scenarios where economic and environmental poverty, armed conflict and wars oblige human beings to become peoples without rights facing legal and racist violence, and the further violence of systematic impunity.
  8. This summary account of the public hearings and experience of the London session of the PPT would not be complete without underlining other even more impressive evidence in opposition to violations and impunity. The evidence the PPT has heard demonstrates the creativity and resistance of individuals and communities who, in a hostile environment, affirm and document that solidarity is not a crime but a resource, constantly renewed and shared as a perspective of “another future” – striving for new transnational strategies of action and solidarity among migrants and refugees themselves and with citizens. Beyond any repressive process of “identification”, migrants and refugees affirm their identity as human subjects and, through their common experience and their solidarity, their identity as a people. The PPT can be only one of the processes in support of their peaceful struggles for life and dignity.
Rome, 22 November 2018

Bridget Anderson - Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship at Bristol University. She formerly held the post of Professor of Migration and Citizenship and Research Director at COMPAS in Oxford. She has a DPhil in Sociology and previous training in Philosophy and Modern Languages. She has explored the tension between labour market flexibilities and citizenship rights, and pioneered an understanding of the functions of immigration in key labour market sectors. She is the author of Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Controls (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Doing the Dirty Work? The Global Politics of Domestic Labour (Zed Books, 2000). She coedited Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy with Martin Ruhs (Oxford University Press, 2010 and 2012), The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportation with Matthew Gibney and Emanuela Paoletti (Springer, 2013), and Migration and Care Labour: Theory, Policy and Politics with Isabel Shutes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Bridget Anderson has worked closely with migrants’ organisations, trades unions and legal practitioners at local, national and international level.


Wah-Piow Tan - A Balliol educated human rights solicitor in London representing Chinese migrants in the UK since 180s. A former political prisoner and exile from Singapore, Wah-Piow is well known since his youth as a student leader, activist, writer and public speaker advocating democratic reforms in Singapore. Most recently, in August 2018, he enjoyed unprecedented extensive media coverage following his 80 minutes discussion with the new Malaysian Prime Minister on the subject of expanding the democratic space in Southeast Asia. In 1980, Wah-Piow attended the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) hearing on The Philippines in Antwerp as an observer.

Maureen Byrne is a Councillor. She is a retired full time Equality Officer in Unite the Union. She has been on the Employment Tribunal panel for 30 years. Currently she is Employment Law adviser for the Stansted Airport Branch. Maureen is chairperson for the Bury St Edmund’s Women’s Aid Refuge and Local Association for Mental and Physical Handicapped Charity, a group supporting young people with special needs. She is the Town Council Chairperson of the Personnel Committee.

Dr Eddie Bruce Jones AB (Harvard); MA (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin); JD (Columbia); LLM in Public International Law (KCL is currently  acting dean and  Lecturer in Law at Birkbeck College, University of London  where he teaches and researches in the areas of human rights, comparative discrimination law, racism, sexuality and migration. He is an academic fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, a member of the New York state bar and a trustee of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group. He serves with a collective of lawyers on the Independent Commission on the Death of Oury Jalloh in Germany (on police brutality and due process) and is the Sexuality and Gender Identity Resource Co-ordinator for the Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Network based in Oxford

Leah Bassel - is a member of Haringey Welcome, a campaign group working for fairness, dignity and respect for migrants and refugees in the London borough of Haringey.  Leah researches the political sociology of migration, intersectionality and citizenship as Professor of Sociology at the University of Roehampton. Her books include Refugee Women: Beyond Gender versus Culture (Routledge, 2012), The Politics of Listening: Possibilities and Challenges for Democratic Life (Palgrave, 2017), and Minority Women and Austerity: Survival and Resistance in France and Britain co-authored with Akwugo Emejulu (Policy Press 2017).  She is currently co-Principal Investigator, with Akwugo Emejulu, of the Open Society-funded project Women of Colour Resist and has also led projects funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the British Academy.  Before pursuing an academic career, Leah was an emergency outreach worker in Paris where she provided humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers and created a circus camp project for refugee youth.  She holds a DPhil from the Refugee Studies Centre/Nuffield College, University of Oxford and a BA and MA from McGill University, Canada.  

Enrico Pugliese - is Professor of sociology of work, (Emeritus) at Sapienza- University of Rome, faculty member of the Graduate school in applied sociology, University of Rome La Sapienza. He is also research associate at Irpps (Istituto di ricerche sulla popolazione e le politiche sociali), National research council, Rome. He has been Professor of Sociology of work  at  the University of Napoles  "Federico II" where he served as chairman of the department of sociology and then as dean of the faculty of sociology. He has been visiting professor in several European and American Universities. He has been also meember of the National commission of inquiry on work at the Consiglio nazionale dell’economia e del lavoro, chairman of the Commission for drafting the immigration law of the Regione Campania. He has also been member of the advisory Commission of the City Mayor of Napoli for immigration policy. His main research interests include: international migration, Italian migration in Europe, third world immigration in Italy, migration policies, labour market with special reference to precarious employment and unemployment. His recent publications on migration include: Quelli che se ne vanno (Those who leave), Il mulino 2018, and International Migrations and the Mediterranean in Andreotti, Benassi, Kazepov (eds) Western Capitalism in transition, Manchester University Press 2018.

Don Flynn is a former director of the Migrants’ Rights Network and a past chair of the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM). 

The Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) approach to uncovering the inconvenient truths that governments and other elites don’t want you to know about has been around since the days of the war in Vietnam.

In 1979 the tribunal took its present permanent form to provide a structure supporting the complaints of people denied the protection of human rights norms and law.  With a secretariat based in Italy, the PPT provides a means to scrutinise the actions of authorities which follows the structure of judicial inquiry. 

It was pioneered in the late 1960’s in the form of a tribunal into war crimes being committed in South East Asia, convened by the two of the foremost intellectuals of the day, Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre. Between 1974 and 1976 the tribunal was re-constituted to investigate the crimes of the military dictatorships in Latin America.

Recovering authority

Being independent of the structures of the state, the PTT is important because its judgments and decisions rest on the moral weight of the causes and arguments to which they give credibility, as well as the integrity and capability to judge of the Tribunal members. The goal of PPT Sessions is “recovering the authority of the Peoples when the States and the International Bodies failed to protect the right of the Peoples.”

The current inquiry into violations of the rights of migrants and refugees has been taken up out of concern that the new politics that emerged across the world in recent years, with the common features of authoritarian populism and rigid nationalism, is having dire consequences for people who have moved across borders in pursuit of personal safety and improved livelihoods.

The PTT has convened hearings to consider the evidence on these issues in France, Italy and Spain. In November it will be coming to Londonfor a two-day session in order to hear first-hand accounts of the ways in which the lives of migrants have been affected by the toughening of immigration law and policy.


In preparation for the London hearing a team of UK-based migrant and refugee rights experts has been working to draft an indictment, setting out what they believe to be the most dangerous features of the situation in this country.

The indictment centres on the greater risks of exploitation that have been created for migrants by government policies which have undermined workplace rights for decades.  The growth of hyper-casualised, zero-hour contract jobs during this time has impacted on all workers but has had a disproportionate effect on people whose access to protection and rights are often obstructed by their immigration status.

The ‘hostile environment’, the impact of which on long-established migrants from the Caribbeanhas become so well understood since the beginning of this year, has drawn hundreds of thousands more into its maw whose situations are yet to be fully scrutinised by the public.  The London hearing of the PPT will be an opportunity to do that.

Challenging secrecy

Severely shaken by the revelations of extreme hardship imposed on hapless migrant groups, the UK Home Office has tried to defend itself by claiming that the shocking revelations of people losing their rights after forty or more years residence in the UK have been ‘exceptional’ cases brought about by poor decisions on the part of officials. 

The new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has attempted to salvage the reputation of his department by promising that all will be put right after an internal review of its work has been completed.  In the meantime he has attempted to cover the whole operation under a blanket of secrecy, imposing ‘non-disclosure agreements’on aggrieved individuals as a condition for receiving compensation for the damages they have suffered.  

London hearing

The London hearing of the PTT will provide a opportunity to challenge this attempt at covering up the harm done to migrant and refugee communities. It is expecting to hear evidence from community-based organisations on just how systematic the business of stripping away rights for migrants has been over the years, compelling thousands to seek livelihoods in the most exploitative sectors of the labour market and denying them the right to pursue collective grievances through trade union representation.

The team convening the London hearing have made a public call for submissions of evidence from migrant community organisations, trade unions, legal representatives, faith communities, as well as from individuals who have experienced a violation of their human rights to security and a dignified occupation.

Visit the London hearing’s webpages for details on how to submit your evidence, or get in touch with the team of convenors to find out more about plans for the hearing in November. 

Don Flynn is a former director of the Migrants’ Rights Network and a past chair of the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM). He is a co-convenor of the London hearing of the PPT on violations with impunity of the rights of migrants and refugees.

Barcelona, July 12, 2018. – The Third Hearing of the Session of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) on the violation with impunity of the human rights of migrants and refugees Peoples, took place on June 29, 30 and 1 of July in Barcelona. After examining cases of human rights violations in the axis of Gender and Sexual Diversity, Minors and Youth and the Southern Border, presented by organizations of migrants and refugees, organizations active in solidarity and research centres, the conclusions of the six judges of the Court are blunt: crimes against humanity are being committed on European borders. The responsible are both the European Union and the Member States, with the aggravating circumstance that there is a strategy of non-recognition of the facts and guarantees of impunity for the individuals and institutions responsible.

Jara Henar, Alianza por la Solidaridad

The Permanent Peoples Tribunal Hearing on Sites Without Rights  (PPT) was convened and prepared by dozens of organizations of migrants and refugees and other civil society organizations and was attended by a jury composed only of women, all experts of national and international recognition: Teresa Almeida, Bridget Anderson, Marina Forti, Patricia Orejudo, Laia Serra and Stasa Zajovic.

On June 29, the Hearing was inaugurated with the presence of the City Council of Barcelona (Jaume Asens, Deputy Mayor and M. Dolores López, Commissioner of Immigration, Interculturality and Diversity), as well as representatives of the convening organizations at the international level (Jille Belisario of the Transnational Migrant Platform-Europe and Federico Pacheco of the European Coordination of La Vía Campesina). Lamine Sarr also participated on behalf of the Popular Union of Street Vendors and the Migrant Tancada of Barcelona, ​​Gianni Tognoni, Secretary General of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal and Brid Brennan, of the Transnational Institute.


Jaume Asens said that “the 100 people killed today in the Mediterranean tell us of a common grave, they point out political responsibilities in a context of a Human Rights crisis.” Lamine Sarr recalled that migrants have much more difficulty crossing the borders than commercial goods. Federico Pacheco observed that “the discourse that justifies racism and colonialism is carried out by all the countries of the European Union, justifying measures that seek more effective expulsion mechanisms, while Europe violates the international law letting people die at sea“. Jille Belisario stressed that the Session “seeks to advance towards the recognition of humanity and dignity of migrants and refugees, but also to make visible their participation as subjects of full rights in the development of alternatives towards a more just society“. Brid Brennan remarked that “these PPT Hearings have developed a great meeting space between migrants and refugees who are themselves transnational political agents and who bring us the challenge of building new solidarities from within Fortress Europe“.


The Hearing was introduced by Juan Hernández Zubizarreta and Beatriz Plaza, who linked the essential elements of the PPT General Indictment established in 2017, with the axes of the Hearing of Barcelona (Gender and Sexual Diversity, Minors and Youth and the Southern Border). In particular, they denounced the Spanish Immigration Law and the Citizen Security Law that criminalize migrants. They also highlighted the European necropolitics, at the core of the violation with impunity of rights, and that consists of letting people die. The Secretary General of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal recalled the process of the PPT Session, noting that in the previous hearings (Palermo, December 2017 and Paris, January 2018), the documentation and legal qualification of the European policies had been made. He affirmed that the deaths caused by European necropolitics are the result of a war that the European Union and member countries have declared on migrants and refugees, and that the agreements of European governments are creating a parallel Law that violates international treaties and consolidates authentic systemic crimes.


In the Axis on Gender and Sexual Diversity that was introduced by Carmen Miguel Juan, the cases were prepared and presented by: Ca la Dona, Entrepobles, Mujeres migrantes diversas, ACATHI, Stop Maremortum, Yo sí sanidad universal/PASUCAT, No muri No recinti, Women’s Link, Casa Delle Donne, Non Una di Meno Genova, APDHA, KASAPI & MELISSA-Grecia, Waling-Waling Campaign for Rights of Migrant Domestic Workers-UK, Women in Exile, Centro Filipino de Barcelona, Mujeres pa’lante, Alianza contra la Pobreza Energética, Unitat Contra el Feixsme i el Racisme (UCFR). From the framework established in the introduction in which it was expressed to what extent migration and refuge legislation are “gender blind”, a series of consequences were deployed in the form of specific violations against women. The recognition of the right to international protection focused on cases in which violations occur in the public space and by a state agent, relegates to the background many of the causes that women flee from, considered as “domestic “or” cultural “. On the other hand, the link between temporary residence and the employment contract does not take into account the nature of the care work which is frequently the only work that migrant women can access. In terms of traffic violence, cases were presented about the reality that prevails in Italy, Greece, Germany, Morocco and the Spanish State. There is often a continuum of violence suffered by migrant and refugee women in their countries of origin, in the transit to European borders and once established in European countries, through their work, often invisible in homes or in agricultural fields combined with the problems they face in accessing health, housing and energy.  The case of LGBTI persons was also presented in the Axis. These are targets in the countries of origin of homicides, sexual and gender-based violence, torture and arbitrary detentions. In transit, they are victims of many kinds of rights violations and once within European borders, an adapted framework that can ensure their protection is not available.

Cas de Isla Mar (Sra. Estefanny Molina, Women’s Link)


The Axis of Minors and Youth was introduced by Raquel Prado, and the cases were presented by the Espacio del Inmigrante and the Centro Filipino of Barcelona. The situation of denial of the right to protection experienced by people under 18 years of age was highlighted, despite the fact that they are ensured protection by more than one hundred norms of international law, almost all of which have been signed and ratified by the EU and its member states. In particular, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Girl stands out. Migrant minors travel unaccompanied, or are separated in transit to European borders. Many disappear, victims of human trafficking, prostitution, exploitation, slavery, without States assuming their responsibilities to search for these new disappeared. It was reported that the States do not ensure access to a dignified and full life for young people who reach the age of majority, on equal terms with the rest of young people.

The South Border Axis was presented by Bru Aguiló of Fotomovimiento, and the cases were prepared by: NOVACT, Sindicato Popular de Vendedores Ambulantes, Alianza por la Solidaridad, Observatori DESC, Fotomovimiento, Collectif Des Femmes Migrantes Au Maroc   COFMIMA, Women’s Link, SOS Racisme, Centre Delàs, Tanquem els CIEs, Alianza por la Solidaridad, APDHA, Women’s Link, IRIDIA, ELIN. The presentation of the Axis was framed as a Site without Rights, in which prevail: plunder, colonization, neocolonization, imperialism and neo-imperialism, as well as a deep institutional racism. The narratives moved from the spaces without rights that appear before crossing the borders and, in passing through them, further spaces without rights are reached – that are built around migrants in our cities through institutional racism. Compelling documentation was presented on the numbers of the people who continue to arrive – showing the failure of the push-back policy. From January 1 to June 10, 2017, comparing with the same period in 2018, the arrivals were multiplied by two, reaching the figure of 9315 in 2018. The deaths and disappearances multiplied by four. In the whole of the Mediterranean Sea, more than 14,000 people died or disappeared since 2014. Through the Mediterranean routes in general, it is estimated that more than 42,000 people arrived on European territory, and that only in 2017, 10,000 were returned to Libya.

In the cases and testimonies presented, the violation of rights in Morocco, in the maritime borders and the fence was highlighted.  For example, through the case of Tarajal (that led to the death of 15 people on February 6, 2014), the case of women from Isla del Mar or other direct testimonies, a series of inhumane practices-including extra judicial killings by agents of the Spanish State were exposed. These complaints were extended to the Centres for Internment for Foreigners (CIEs), along with raids of ethnic profiling or bureaucratic obstacles to achieving regularization, contribute to keeping migrants in a position of vulnerability that facilitates their labour exploitation and silence. In addition, it was also exposed that one of the pillars of architecture that ensures impunity in the violation of the rights of migrant and refugee peoples is located in outsourcing to private actors, many of them being transnational corporations. In this regard, the business carried out by corporations active in the military and security sectors was highlighted, and the case of INDRA was specifically illustrated. In this case, the co-responsibility of the Spanish government, which owns 18.7% of the company’s shares, was evidenced. INDRA was denounced for having built the third fence on the border of Melilla, and also for the production of military equipment used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. It was also indicated that INDRA and other counterpart military corporations, have influenced the development of the current eminently militarised policy response to the ‘migration crisis’ by the European Union and the Spanish Government to the “migration crisis” is eminently militarized.

Organizations of migrants played a central role in the Hearing. Not only in the recognition of the violations and oppressions suffered but also in terms of the resistance generated in the face of such violations. This became evident in the form of diverse narratives and self-organized actions, ranging from the demands for their rights, such as organizations of domestic workers active in the care sector (Waling-Waling, Mujeres migrantes diversas), to denunciation and the mutual support in situations that violate law (Women in Exile). In addition, it is important to highlight the importance of the economic alternatives proposed by the associations and cooperatives of the Popular Union of Street Vendors, which recently launched its “Top Manta” “clothing” anti-brand, or the MELISSA-Greece proposal, made up of women from more than 45 nationalities that provide solutions to unaccompanied minors and multiple forms of solidarity. One of the main contributions of the PPT Session is to contribute to the visibility of the social contribution that these resistances generate, interwoven with traditional social struggles. In this context the representative of Waling Waling said “our transnational campaign for our labour rights is one of our great contributions in this era to unionism in Britain.”


After careful listening to the living stories for two days, and gathering the main ideas of the testimonies, the Judges of the Court expressed their deep appreciation for the courage, forcefulness and commitment of the people and organizations that presented the cases. They affirmed that crimes against humanity are being committed on European borders, and that both the European Union and the Member States are responsible.


Patricia Orejudo observed “we have heard many life stories plagued by violence, brutality and denial of rights. What is common to all of them is that they have been produced by the forced location of these people in Non-Right Spaces. The first cause of these spaces is that the law itself discriminates and dispossesses of rights “. She also noted that “No Right” is created because of the lack of visibility of the needs and particularities of all people. After its supposed neutrality, there is an androcentric configuration that hinders the exercise of rights by women, girls, and the LGBT collectives. “The Immigration Law is androcentric, when it ignores the specificity of domestic work or care, exercised fundamentally by women and in a significant percentage, migrant women.” Therefore, flexible concepts that mitigate the inter-sectionality of discrimination are required. She also stressed that the Spaces of “No Law” are generated when laws are not applied and that spaces of impunity and denial of justice are opened. Finally, she noted that the creation of these spaces is the prelude to more areas of “No Right”, and that if this is not remedied, the denial of rights will be extended to all people.


Laia Serra considered the Permanent Peoples Tribunal as a tool for the recognition of violations, the visibility of systematic patterns of violence, the creation of new political and legal categories and the opportunity to denounce, symbolic reparation, as well as a space for meeting to weave alliances. She emphasized the timeliness of the Hearing in terms of going beyond the debate between the legal and the legitimate, the legality versus justice. She also noted how the border has become a concept based on segregation, which legitimizes the maintenance of privileges, a kind of “new Apartheid”, where people who have citizenship and those who do not have citizenship are faced with it. She pointed out that ” an invisibility prevails regarding  European wealth and welfare state being built on exploitation, plundering and violence towards other peoples” and continues within the framework of a Historical Debt, in which Europe has “responsibility for the extermination of Peoples and cultures, and the depredation of their resources”. She also affirmed that the basis of current migration policies is the capitalist economic mode and also spoke about social fascism, while “a discourse continues that banalizes violence, claims the legitimacy of the external threat and the need for protection.”


Teresa Almeida highlighted the current prevalence of social fascism, which manifests itself as a regime of culture and civilization, where the notions of justice, equity, university and solidarity lose all meaning. In this regime, social and labour relations are permeated with segregation, violence, precariousness and indifference and democracy empties itself of meaning, ceasing to recognize all people as subjects of rights. “What has been reported here has not only been indifference to the desperation and death of the people, but also the harassment and criminalization of migrants and those who support them,” she said. She also stressed that “not only is it allowed but also the agents that have the capacity to cause harm to migrants are encouraged, within the framework of the agreements signed with countries in transit such as Morocco, Libya and Turkey, and that they act as gate-keepers who prevent the entry into Europe of the most horrible forms we can imagine”. She also underlined the need to establish resistance networks that counteract the militarization and securitization of “Fortaleza Europe”, and that can take the form of establishing spaces such as the Session of the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples, the creation of refuge-cities, among others.


Bridget Anderson affirmed that “migrants are not the problem, the problem is Europe“. She stressed that the current situation of these people exposes the patriarchal and anti-women nature of society that exists in Europe. “The negative aspects of Europe are closely linked to capitalism, they are not simply bad attitudes, but rather domination, expropriation and business, both economically and socially“. She pointed out the importance of the alternatives that migrants develop in the “No Right” Spaces, turning borders into spaces where politics is made. In this regard, she highlighted the importance of initiatives such as the Popular Union of Street Vendors in Barcelona and the Elin Center for the reception of migrants. She also observed that we should stop considering migrants as victims that we should help, and rather recognize them as agents from whom we have much to learn. She recalled that we should continue to demand that the European Commission introduce the free movement of people, stop outsourcing the management of borders, and ensure free and secure routes and legal channels to enter Europe. Clear demands should also be made on the role of the transnational corporations and to some of the humanitarian organisations that work closely with the police and the army to implement a policy of exclusion and expulsion. On the other hand, she affirmed that trade unions should be questioned, because they recognize only formal work, while they should support the development of new organizations of more inclusive workers. Finally, she recommended that abuses and exploitation of migrants be linked to the benefits of transnational corporations.


Marina Forti observed that the media have an important responsibility in spreading a narrative based on notions such as “emergency” or “migratory crisis”, frequently spreading negative stereotypes about migrants and their organizations. She recommended in that sense the importance to work on an alternative story, and the role that the press can play in that regard. She stressed that “the speeches of emergency, crisis and invasion are part of a deliberate construction of the politics of fear and hatred.” “Fundamental rights are lost in the fences and borders, they disappear in the camps in transit, and they sink in the Mediterranean”. Finally, she recalled the importance of organizations of migrants and of organized civil society in the restoration of “Law Spaces”, where solidarity is kept alive.


Stasa Zajovic referred to the closure of the Balkan route and the situation of complete violation of rights there. She also highlighted the importance of collecting data on the institutional narratives of the European Union that advocate that these situations occur and that, in addition, are being normalized.


The Secretary General of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, Gianni Tognoni, concluded that the crimes against humanity reported to this Hearing of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal have “the aggravating effect of a strategy of not recognizing the facts and guaranteeing impunity for the individuals and institutions responsible”.


The next Audience of the Session of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal will take place in London in October 2018 and will focus on Labour rights. The PPT’s final hearing will take place at the beginning of 2019.


Gianni Tognoni (Italia)

Doctor of medicine and surgery, since 1969 he has undertaken basic, clinical, epidemiological and public health research in some of the most critical fields of medicine, such as cardiology, intensive therapy, neurology, psychiatry and oncology, publishing results in more than 600 articles in the most prestigious international journals and being responsible for leadership in various departments, currently with Mario Negri Sud Consortium. Among his activities he is a WHO consultant for the selection of essential medicines, founding member of the international society for independent information on pharmaceuticals, coordinator of projects on community epidemiology in countries in Central and Latin America, as well as some in Africa. From his collaboration with the second Russell Tribunal to scientific activities he has actively worked in the fields of human rights, right to health, and rights of peoples.  Since its establishment in 1979, he has been Secretary-general of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal.


Simona Fraudatario (Italia)

She has worked with the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal since 2006 as coordinator of its activities and Sessions held in Latin America and Asia, especially in Colombia, Mexico, India, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Recently, she has coordinated the second step of the Session on the violation of the human rights of migrants and refugee people, realized in Palermo in December 2017. She participated in international conferences on human rights in Latin America and Europa. She edited the second edition of François Rigaux’s volume on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples (La Carta di Algeri, Edizioni Gruppo Abele, 2012) and was co-editor and co-author of the volume Colombia entre violencia y derecho. Implicaciones de una sentencia del Tribunal Permanente de los pueblos (Ediciones DesdeAbajo 2012). She was also co-author of Memorie di repressione resistenza e solidarietà in Brasile e in America Latina (Ediesse 2013).