The website for critical discussion about migration in Central and Eastern Europe.
25. 1. 08
Zdroj: migrationonline.cz

Migration Manifesto: Ten Principles for the Migration Policy of the Czech Republic

Migration Manifesto is a joint document produced by five representatives from Czech NGOs who further discussed the contents with a wide circle of migration experts. Its aim is to offer ten principles to guide the migration policy of the Czech Republic. It was presented on 15th November 2007 at a public debate held in the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. This event was held under the auspices of Frantisek Bublan, head of the Chamber of Deputies Committee for Security. Originally produced in Czech, it is now available in English, Ukrainian and Russian.

1.  International migration is a natural process

2.  In public debates migration must be presented in a well-balanced way

3.  We should preserve the right of asylum and respect the integration of applicants seeking international protection

4.  Some foreigners cannot be denied the possibility to live in the Czech Republic

5.  It is necessary to support the restoration of migrants'  legal status

6.  Migrants’ residence status must be independent from their family

7.  Every foreigner must have the possibility to satisfy his/her basic human needs

8.  We should prevent the exploitation of migrant workers and the violation of their social rights

9.  Rights of foreigners should increase with the length of their stay

10. The integration of migrants is a two-way process

We are convinced that the legislation regulating the stay of foreigners and creating conditions for their coexistence in Czech society should become the subject of informed public debate. It is necessary to create space for this debate in which constructive discussion of various visions of immigration policy would be possible.

As a contribution to such a debate, we decided to formulate our vision of basic principles that we consider crucial for migration policy. We believe that the current state of affairs is unnecessarily complicated and obscure. It puts both foreigners and Czech society at a disadvantage. We believe that as a consequence of the current system, some foreigners become "second class" people that are deprived of rights. Moreover it creates space for corruption and undermines trust in the legal system.

The following text is the result of long-term ongoing discussions among  representatives of non-governmental organizations, lawyers and academics, who have had many years of experience with the analysis of immigration law and policy in the Czech Republic and other European states, including the practical impacts such policies have on the lives of immigrants.

1. International migration is a natural process

It is not possible to keep the migration of people across state borders completely under control; it is only possible to regulate it and lessen its negative impacts. The key instrument used  is state migration policy, which must be based on adequate and responsible selection when accepting new migrants. This selection must take not only the general interests of the Czech society, but also the foreigner’s interests into account, as well as those of their close relatives and the people who have invited them to the Czech Republic. When admitting workers from abroad, special attention must be paid to the negative impact that their emigration may have on the quality and availability of public services in their countries of origin.

2. In public debate migration must be presented in a well-balanced way

A well-balanced public debate on international migration should become a part of the formulation of migration policies. The prevailing approach to migration as a problem associated with criminal activities and terrorism is a serious obstacle to the successful integration of foreigners into Czech society. It leads to a stigmatization of certain groups of foreigners, not only in the public sphere, but also during the legalization of their stay. Politicians, bureaucrats and other actors of public debate should help people to understand the social changes that occur as a result of immigration and help them overcome fear, for example by pointing out the positive impacts of immigration on Czech society.

3. We should preserve the right of asylum and respect the integration of applicants seeking international protection

The right of asylum is a part of the humanist tradition of democratic societies and reflects a duty to help those who are in danger of losing their lives, health or human dignity. The fight with illegal migration should not lead to the practice of limiting the rights of asylum, not even in the expanding Schengen area. Foreigners applying for international protection must be processed on an individual basis and in accordance with international conventions on human rights and principles of good governance: The processing of applications should be handled in a fast, professional and transparent manner, even in cases that are groundless. The applicants who have been refused international protection, but who have integrated themselves into the Czech society during the time of their asylum procedure must be given the right to remain in the Czech Republic.

4. Some foreigners cannot be denied the possibility to live in the Czech Republic

There are a large number of foreigners who have sufficiently strong ties to the Czech Republic, to Czech citizens or to other foreigners living in the Czech Republic. These are mostly family ties, which provide the grounds for the right to lead a healthy and happy family life and for establishing space for the upbringing of their children; but there are also other personal or professional ties. In such cases it is necessary to acknowledge that the foreigner has the right to live in the Czech Republic and that exercising this right cannot be made impossible by migration policy.

5. It is necessary to support the restoration of migrants'  legal status

The illegal residence of migrants is a violation of the law, but the seriousness of this act must not be demonized the way it is today. The illegality itself is a matter of “paperwork” and a foreigner who is staying in a country illegally cannot be identified as a criminal. The state must offer  a foreigner illegally staying in its territory the opportunity to change their irregular status - whether it occurred through an illegal entry into the country without proper documents or by overstaying their visa without the possibility of further legalizing their stay. Illegal residence must not be a trap with no way out. Sanctions for irregular stay must consider the circumstances and ties that occurred during a foreigner’s stay with the exception of reasons of an unambiguously criminal character. These sanctions must be non-recurring, i.e. without jeopardizing further the possibility to obtain a residence permit and citizenship later on.

6. Migrants’ residence status should be independent of their family

Those foreigners who received their residence permit on the basis of their family ties (be it to a Czech citizen or to another foreigner) must not be kept or supported in their dependency on this person and exposed to risks related with such a dependency. Their residence status should be independent from the continuation of their family ties and should allow for economic independence, namely for a work permit. This principle is not exclusive of the necessity to fight law evasion by establishing family ties on purpose.

7. Every foreigner must have the right to satisfy his/her basic human needs

All foreigners staying in the Czech Republic on a long-term residence basis, regardless of their social or residence status, should be able to acquire basic knowledge of the Czech language and of the functioning of public institutions, namely of those ensuring the implementation of rights (access to education, health care, social services and legal appeal). Legal and social norms must allow all foreigners to reasonably fulfill their basic human needs through these institutions. This especially applies to children who should be given access to these services – with justified and necessary exceptions - on the same basis as Czech children.

8. We should prevent the exploitation of migrant workers and the violation of their social rights

The organization of the labor migration to the Czech Republic is often based on exploitation and in undignified work conditions for migrants. Here it is necessary to pay attention to the situation before their entrance of migrants to the Czech Republic and to monitor the ways in which the policies and practices of granting visas help create the dependence of foreigners on their employers or employment agents. The state authorities should increase their efforts to control employment standards and other social rights. Those who do not respect the Labor Code or the dignity of their employees, and thus lower the conditions for employment of foreigners below legally or socially acceptable levels, should be uncompromisingly penalized. If not, this situation will lead to a decrease in social rights on the labor market even for Czech citizens.

9. Rights of foreigners should increase with the length of their stay

The integration of foreigners is a long-term process and requires a certain level of socio-economic stability in the life of migrants. The longer foreigners stay in a country the more their rights should expand, including their right to vote. The state institutions should not create unnecessary obstacles for obtaining citizenship. It is also necessary to guarantee foreigners the right to non-discriminatory treatment from both the state power and private subjects. The state integration policy should not be liable to the needs of the labor market or to the expectations that migrants will be exceptionally flexible and willing to change poorly paid jobs quickly without long-term guarantees in terms of health and social insurance.

10. The integration of migrants is a two-way process

State integration policy should establish transparent and motivating conditions for migrants to learn the Czech language, orient themselves in society and integrate into the economic, social, cultural and political life of society. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that public institutions at state, regional and local levels, together with employers and service providers, treat migrants in an informed and non-discriminatory manner. Moreover, they should participate in the formulation of integration policies and in the integration of foreigners as such.

25. 1. 08
Zdroj: migrationonline.cz

For download
...up ▲