We, men and women, 71 members from 52 African civil society organizations and the diaspora, gathered on 28-29 August 2017 in Bamako (MALI) for the pan-African regional consultations on the Global Compact on Migrations, are strongly concerned about the migratory policies that are being put into place under the pressure of the European Union and its member States. These policies are featured by a purely safe and exclusion based approach.
The Valletta process was an important moment in setting up such exclusive policies. The agreement and the related declaration in Valetta concern mainly:
- The prevention of “Irregular migration”,
- Cooperation in terms of return and reintegration .
These policies go against the interests of African populations and migrants. Moreover, they have negative effects on the free movement both at the international level and within the African continent.
The recent summit between France and some African countries, held on 27 and 28 August at the same time of our consultations, is part of this logic continuation of denying migrants’ rights. It implements some items included in Valletta agreements, in particular by deciding on the next establishment of asylum centers called “Hotspots” in Niger and Chad.
These centers, which are key elements in the policies of outsourcing the borders of Europe in Africa, will become focal points for asylum applications from the African continent. In this sense, any African asylum seeker for Europe will now have to go through these centers to be able to introduce his or her application within the European Union. This approach makes asylum applications almost impossible and is contrary to both the Geneva Convention and the one of African Union on refugees.
Our organizations strongly condemn:
- The initiative to set up hotspots in our continent that will only violate the rights of asylum seekers but also create more conflicts between neighbour countries
- European migration policies that generate deaths on the roads of migration, the main victims of which are our youths;
- EU’s pressure to impose to African countries agreements in total contradiction with the interests of African populations;
- The EU’s will to undermine all African integration initiatives with the introduction of new barriers to the free movement of people in formerly integrated spaces like ECOWAS ;
We require from our states to:
- recognize that migration is a fundamental human right;
- refrain from signing such agreements with the European Union countries that will cause more damage to the continent development and interaction with other parts of the world ;
- guarantee the interests of African migrants and refugees whether they are in or outside the continent ;
- put in place genuine African policies that promote citizenship, empower migrants and especially women and youth while privileging the rights of accompanied or not children;
- work on the emergence of a genuine African migration policy recognizing the very positive roles played by migrant and providing them with frameworks that can promote their dignity and their status as vectors of the continent’s inclusive development.
We are committed to send this to the African and European leaders and to share as widely as possible the current declaration all over the world.
Respect migrants’ rights now and everywhere!
Bamako, August 29, 2017
From 28 to 30 August 2017, the African Union is organizing a meeting of experts from African States in Port Louis, Mauritius, as part of the forthcoming adoption of the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons in Africa. The meeting, which follows on from those held in Accra (Ghana) and Kigali (Rwanda), in the first half of this year, aims to develop a roadmap for the implementation of the Protocol. Experts from the ministries of foreign affairs, security ministries, immigration administrations, border management and intelligence services will also be responsible for setting up a three-day “Task Force” to accompany the African Union (AU) Commission in its strategy to implement the protocol.
The meeting in Mauritius offer the opportunity for the Campaign for Free Movement in Africa, initiated by the African civil society, to make the voice of the people heard. In their letters sent to the Heads of State of various African countries, the member organizations of the campaign expressed their support for the adoption of the protocol on the free movement of persons in Africa with its immediate entry as decided at the 27th Assembly of the African Union in Kigali in July 2016. Moreover, all the African organizations involved in the campaign support the need for African states to go beyond the borders inherited from colonization to achieve a real African integration.
For the African civil society, as in the case of Benin and Seychelles, all African states must abolish the visa requirement for Africans traveling to another African country. The African civil society is more than ever convinced that this decision will allow more exchanges at the human and commercial level on the continent by removing the barriers between the various regional economic communities. The African civil society also calls for the permanent opening of all land borders between African countries to ensure the continuity of intra-African trade for effective freedom of movement in Africa.
The African civil society organizations also want to express their wish to have a more active participation in the process of adopting the protocol and no merely an advisory role. Indeed, the African populations, the first recipients of the protocol, must now appropriate it to ensure its implementation. An active and wider participation of civil society in this process would facilitate the appropriation of the protocol and ensure the work of citizen watch for its proper implementation. The member organizations of the Campaign for Free Movement in Africa reaffirm their commitment to continue to collaborate in their respective countries, at the level of their regional economic community and at the level of the African Union, for the effective free movement of Africans on their soil.
Dated the 19th of August, 2017
West African Observatory on Migrations (WAOM), The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (South Africa), ONG Destin En Main (Guinea), Union Africaine des ONG de Développement – Burkina Faso (Burkina Faso), Faith & Justice Network of the Mano River Basin Countries (Liberia), Welcome Back Cameroon (Cameroon), Children and Young People Living for Peace (Nigeria), Alert Migration (Burkina Faso), Centre for Youths Integrated Development (Nigeria), Fédération Nationale pour l’Agriculture Biologique (Senegal), Aide aux Familles et Victimes des Migrations Clandestines (Cameroon), Réseau Migration et Développement (Senegal), Association Nationale des Partenaires Migrants ( Senegal), Direy Ben – Gao (Mali), Worldview – The Gambia (The Gambia), Network of CSOs against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (Nigeria), Visions Solidaires (Togo), Child and Youth Protection Foundation (Nigeria), Conscience International (Sierra Leone), Association pour la Promotion de l’Environnement et l’Action Humanitaire (Mauritania), SOS Immigration Clandestine (Côte d’ivoire), Association des Refoulés d’Afrique Centrale au Mali (Mali), Réseau Afrique Jeunesse (Guinea), Association pour la Défense des Émigres Maliens (Mali), Collectif des OSC pour la Sécurité Alimentaire et le Développement Rural (Cameroon), Africa Unite (South Africa), Initiative Migration et Développement (Mali), Niger Delta Women’s movement for Peace and Development (Nigeria), Changement social (Benin), Conseil de Jeunesse de la CEDEAO – Coordination Pays Guinée (Guinea), Association Jeunesse Active du Niger (Niger), Réseau Ouest Africain des Jeunes Femmes Leaders du Bénin (Benin), Association Santé Education Démocratie (Niger), Organisation Démocratique des Travailleurs Immigrés au Maroc (Morocco), Association Pour une Alternance au Service de l’Humanité (Congo),
The President of the Republic of Togo, Chairman of ECOWAS, His Excellency Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, received a West African Observatory on Migrations delegation led by its Permanent Secretary, Mr. Samir ABI at the President Office in Lomé on Friday, 04 August 2017. This hearing resulted from the open letter to the Chairman of ECOWAS and the campaign for free movement in Africa coordinated by the West African Observatory on Migrations.
For 45 minutes, the delegation exchanged views with the Togolese Head of State on his priorities as head of ECOWAS, particularly on regional integration and free movement of people and goods. At the beginning of the meeting, the Permanent Secretary of the Observatory appreciated the President’s recent decision to dispose transit via the Togo-Ghana border 24 hours a day. This decision is welcomed by the Observatory as one more step towards a smooth flow of people between Togo and Ghana and as an example of good practice to be followed by all other African countries. The President of the Republic expressed the wish that the permanent opening of this border mark an increase in trade between the two countries. However, he expressed his concern about the obstacles that hamper cross-border trade between West African countries, notably the non-possession of identity cards by many ECOWAS citizens.
Following the Head of State, the Observatory’s delegation presented the practices developed by certain West African countries, which consist in giving 72 hours passes to ECOWAS citizens who lack identity cards, on payment of a fee and entitled to a receipt. This practice ensures a supply of revenue to these states which thus allows fighting against corruption and harassment at the borders. The discussions have thus continued on the possibility that one day the ECOWAS space can really resemble the Schengen area with the possibility of circulating freely without control at the borders. The Chairman of ECOWAS, while affirming this projection , spoke of the reluctance of States to open borders completely in view of security threats.
Free movement at the African level was also the subject of discussions between the Observatory’s delegation and the Togolese Head of State. For the Observatory’s delegation, ECOWAS, and in particular its current chairman, should play a more active role in the forthcoming adoption of a African Union’s protocol on freedom of movement in January 2018 during its annual assembly. In reply, the Chairman of ECOWAS, wished to reassure the delegation on the interest of all African Heads of State for free movement on the continent. He explained, however, that the heavy agenda of the meetings at the African Union (AU) Assemblies sometimes hampers discussions on the subject. In this regard, he welcomed the reforms proposed by President Kagame of Rwanda which will help to streamline the agenda of the AU meetings to make them more effective. The Observatory’s delegation expressed the wish that, following the example of Benin, the Togolese Head of State could invite his African peers to exempt African visitors to their countries from entry visas.
The Head of State of Togo deplored the tragedy of young African migrants to Europe via the routes of the Mediterranean Sea. The Observatory’s delegation emphasized that this drama could be avoided if the African populations could benefit from facilities to obtain visas in their mobility to Europe in a spirit of reciprocity to the facilities enjoyed by Europeans traveling to Africa. In view of the forthcoming European Union-African Union summit in Abidjan in November 2017, the Observatory’s delegation asked the Togolese President to act as the voice of the African youth to the European partners so that they may review their visa policy to provide legal channels for migration to Africans.
The Permanent Secretary of the West African Observatory on Migrations finally thanked the Chairman of ECOWAS for the great willingness he has shown since the beginning of his mandate to advance the cause of regional integration. While welcoming the road map drawn up by the Togolese Presidency of ECOWAS, he expressed the wish that the four priorities defined could indeed be achieved by the end of the mandate. He hoped that the opening up by the Head of State of Togo towards West African civil society, which is reflected in the meeting with the Observatory’s delegation, could set an example within ECOWAS. The President of the Togolese Republic, current Chairman of ECOWAS, reaffirmed his willingness to continue the dialogue with West African civil society throughout his mandate as President of the Community in order to meet the objective of the ECOWAS of the peoples that is at the heart of its agenda.
Done at Lomé on 04 August 2017
For the West African Observatory on Migrations
The Permanent Secretary
Celebration of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, on 30th July 2017, provides the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and the West African Observatory on Migrations (WAOM) with the opportunity to express their compassion for all the victims exploited by other human beings throughout the world, in particular in Africa. No human soul can, in all conscious, remain insensitive to the tragedy that forced labour, trafficking in human organs, or the sexual exploitation of one human being by another for profit, represents. Every day, the churches of Africa and the member organizations of the West African Observatory on Migrations receive testimony from men, women and children who have been turned into domestic slaves, exploited in factories and farms, or forced into armed conflict, prostitution, pornography or begging.
It is often difficult to imagine the atrocious ways in which human beings can be mistreated by other human beings in Africa and other places around the world. Hunger, unemployment, failing harvests and poverty are forcing a growing number of families to sell their children rather than using official adoption channels. Many families are also pushing their daughters into forced marriages as a way of getting money. Millions of men, women and children, both in Africa and throughout the world, find themselves in vulnerable situations, as refugees or internally displaced persons, due to wars and natural disasters, forcing them to accept every conceivable form of exploitation to survive. As is ethically required of all human societies and in the name of the faith that unites all believers, the All Africa Conference of Churches and the West African Observatory on Migrations is calling on everyone profiting from the exploitation of a human being to refuse to participate in these crimes that are condemned by religious and secular morality alike.
The churches of Africa and the member organizations of the West African Observatory on Migrations are continually taking preventative, protective and humanitarian action to assist the victims of trafficking. As they are community-based, churches are often the most effective places to sensitize communities against selling their sons and daughters, who are later exploited in the countryside and towns of their own countries, and countries other than their own. Considering the complexity of the human trafficking issue and the criminal nature of the people and the organizations that profit from it, the All African Conference of Churches and the West African Observatory on Migrations are calling on the African States to implement more effective repressive action against these organizations and people, while avoiding criminalizing victims and their communities. Now more than ever, African States should be devoting additional resources to ensuring the reinsertion of trafficking victims returning to their country of origin.
Due to the regional and transcontinental nature of the trafficking of African men, women and children, the All Africa Conference of Churches and the West African Observatory on Migrations are also calling on the regional economic communities (ECOWAS, ECCAS, IGAD, EAC, SADC, etc) and the African Union to intensify regional cooperation, and to come to an agreement with their counterparts in Europe and the Middle East, to ensure that the rights of African migrant workers exploited in these regions are respected. While commending the efforts of the African States that have reinforced existing legislation against human trafficking and migrant smuggling, the All Africa Conference of Churches and the West African Observatory on Migrations wish to express their deep concern regarding the criminalisation of hauliers and African citizens exercising their right to freedom of movement within the regional areas of the continent. Such criminalisation, partly a consequence of European Union pressure on certain African countries following the Valletta Summit, and the lack of legal means available to Africans to exercise their right to mobility, can only lead to migratory routes, that are even more dangerous, being opened and an increase in the recourse to traffickers.
For the All Africa Conference of Churches and the West African Observatory on Migrations, promoting economic and social justice, and democratic values, at national and international levels would offer a long-term solution to human trafficking. By fairly distributing resources, decent employment would be available to all, enabling everyone to feed their families and provide an education for their children. Human trafficking will not be eradicated without facilitating the regularisation of migrant workers and respecting their rights wherever they exercise their professional activities, ending the kafala system in the countries of the Middle East, and taking strong action against the demand for prostitutes and a labour force at the beck and call of destination countries. The All Africa Conference of Churches and the West African Observatory on Migrations remind everyone that the fight against human trafficking is everyone’s responsibility, whether it be at the individual, family, community, country, regional or international level, for all human beings merit respect and compassion.
Press Contacts :
Reverend Professor BOSELA EALE , All Africa Conference of Churches, Nairobi -KENYA
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
ABI Samir, West African Observatory on Migrations, Lomé-TOGO
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Your Excellency, the Chairman of ECOWAS,
On behalf of the member organizations of the West African Observatory on Migrations, we would like to express our sincere congratulations on your peers’ choice for electing you president of our economic community. Following the 51st summit of ECOWAS Heads of State held in Monrovia on 4 june 2017 and according your political agenda as head of ECOWAS to promote regional integration, the West African Observatory on Migrations launched a wide consultation with West African civil society actors. The purpose of the consultation was to collect proposals on actions that civil society considered to be important for real integration at regional level. It enabled various non-governmental organizations, migrant’s communities, religious men, economic operators and citizens to express their hopes for changes during your term as head of our sub-region. This open letter to you summarizes the expectations expressed by the various actors, which we hope will find a favorable response in your priorities at the head of the Community.
Your Excellency the Chairman of ECOWAS,
Citizens of our economic community are constantly expressing their pride for belonging to this community which unites peoples with a common history for centuries. In spite of the divisions created by colonization, the West African peoples feel inherited a history and common culture that have marked their region. The desire for integration that you express at the head of ECOWAS thus finds a favorable echo among the citizens of this space who hope, beyond words, concrete actions of your chairmanship to strengthen the understanding and Cooperation among the peoples of the sub-region.
Your first steps as chief leader of our community were marked by the visit of a border post to take stock of the free movement within the community. While encouraging you to take other similar actions, citizens in our community space wish to express their deep concern about the harassment they continue to experience at border crossings and on roads in the States of the ECOWAS. There remain serious difficulties for Togolese who want to go to Ghana or Ghanaians, Ivorians, Nigerians and other citizens of ECOWAS who wish to go to Lome. Many of the citizens of this community you are presiding, despite possession of their current passport and vaccination card, are subject to systematic racketeering by immigration officials. This crisis situation, which all citizens have been decrying for years, seems to remain unsolved until today. In the eyes of the citizens, a real commitment by the Heads of State and stricter control measures for the actions of immigration officers would be sufficient to put an end to these abnormal practices. In the name of those peaceful citizens being harassed, those poor women who are humiliated because they have a passport other than the country they want to cross, we ask you to use your mandate in the sub-region to end the racket at border posts and on the roads.
As some organizations expressed during the consultations we conducted, we can not speak of the free movement of persons, as long as they are obliged to present identity documents and a vaccination card to move from one country to another of ECOWAS. Like the Schengen area, the free movement that West African civil society hopes to see in our region is one that would allow a citizen to leave Senegal to go to Nigeria without having to show a passport, an identity biometric card and a vaccination card. Real integration in our regions must not suffer from the porous and artificial borders that the European colonists have left behind and which our countries are constantly reinforcing in the name of national sovereignty.
National security and the fight against terrorism are some of the arguments put forward by some States to justify maintaining and strengthening controls at border posts. As the experts and ministers in charge of security at the dialogue on migration in West Africa held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, last august acknowledged, the free movement of persons has no connection with terrorism. Regardless of the measures taken for border control, a criminal will not hesitate to use all means at his disposal, or even corrupt security guards, to cross the border in order to carry out wrongdoing.
Terrorist groups are the result of social inequalities, divisions arising from sectarian political or religious ideologies, and discrimination faced by marginalized groups in our space, and to use violence to make themselves heard. In order to defeat this terrorist threat, which wreaks havoc at both the regional and international levels, it is important for civil society that your presidency is marked by an exhortation to promote social justice in all ECOWAS member countries, to foster a culture of tolerance and live together, through education and to encourage cooperation between intelligence services in order to better protect the citizens of the community against transnational crime.
The road to regional integration depends on the development of roads, railways and the means of communication in our region. At the regional consultation that we have just held, various civil society organizations have expressed their satisfaction at seeing the Dakar – Lagos highway project come to fruition as announced at the Monrovia summit. However, West African civil society regrets that, after so many years of independence and despite our competent human resources, the construction of our highways, bridges and railroads is entrusted to European or Asian companies. Moreover, we regret that willingness to acquire means of integration is conditional on loans from international financial institutions and foreign banks that are going to increase the weight of our public debt.
For the citizens of the sub-region, it is still difficult to understand that it is easier and even cheaper to make a phone call to Europe than to launch an appeal from Togo to Ghana or Nigeria. For the West African civil society, in view of the progress made in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) to end telephone “roaming” fees, an effort by the ECOWAS states is strongly expected to facilitate communication between West African populations and their connectivity.
Many citizens have believed in the ECOWAS of peoples and have settled in another ECOWAS country other than their country of origin. In spite of the ECOWAS protocol on residence and establishment, community citizens find themselves forced to pay colossal sums in certain ECOWAS countries to obtain a residence card. In some ECOWAS states, these costs range from $ 100 to $ 250 per person. In spite of the precariousness of their activities, shoemakers, street vendors, drivers and cooks are obliged to take on debt to obtain a resident card and for their family members, at the risk of being persecuted and locked up by police officers.
In the education sector, the difficulties of recognition of and equivalence between diplomas in the sub-region seriously handicap the progress towards integration. For students from the community living in another ECOWAS state who are able to validate their equivalence, there is also the question of tuition fees. These fees are often triple the fees charged to national students. These worrying situations require, according to the West African civil society, a special attention during your mandate.
The private sector and in particular our Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) suffer severely from the many tariff and non-tariff barriers imposed on the movement of goods produced between ECOWAS countries. Paradoxically, it is easier for a Togolese SME to export its production to France or the United States than to Nigeria or Ghana: This is in contradiction with the sub-regional agreements which in principle exempt sub-regional tax revenues in order to facilitate our economic integration. Your interest in this issue during your term of office will surely ensure job creation in the region for many young people by encouraging access to our local productions to the vast sub-regional market represented by West Africa. In this sense, the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union remains a subject of affliction within the West African civil society, because, as it has never ceased to recall, these agreements weaken development of a viable economic fabric within our region. Moreover, the need to move towards a West African common currency is also part of the wishes expressed by the West African civil society towards you.
West African civil society is convinced that the road to regional integration is the only way to guarantee a strong space capable of responding to the current challenges of globalization. In the face of the Economic Partnership Agreements signed with the European Union, the advanced outsourcing of European borders to various Sahel countries and the development of foreign military bases in our sovereign countries of West Africa, West African civil society observes the community is more than ever confronted with external challenges that jeopardize its integration. West African civil society will continue to pay close attention to the development of the dialogue between West Africa and the European Union, which increasingly serves the purpose of the European Union to the detriment of African interests.
In this sense, we hope that West African citizens will have the right to express their views on the important decisions taken at ECOWAS level that affect their future. An ECOWAS of the peoples can not avoid the consultation of the peoples by electoral means. At the time of the reform of ECOWAS institutions, it is important for civil society, in the name of democratic governance, that the citizens of our space can exercise control over the actions taken by the Commission of the ECOWAS. It is a wish of the civil society to see these projects open during your mandate.
West African civil society remains convinced that ECOWAS is only a step towards African integration. The forthcoming accession of Morocco, the granting of observer status to Tunisia and the agreements with Mauritania, however, raise many questions within the West African peoples. A communication from the ECOWAS institutions to the community’s citizens on the extension of ECOWAS to North African countries is strongly awaited at the level of civil society. The transparency displayed in these processes also depends on the strengthening of the West African populations’ adhesion to our community plan. For civil society actors, the ECOWAS of peoples must, more than ever, go beyond the slogan to become a reality.
While reiterating our sincere congratulations on your appointment as head of ECOWAS, and hoping that during your term of office, the voices of West African civil society will be heard at the level of the ECOWAS institutions, we ask you to accept, Your Excellency, the expression of our distinguished greetings.
For the West African Observatory on Migrations
The Permanent Secretary
Prior to the statutory meetings of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) beginning Thursday, May 25th which will be followed by the 51th Ordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government on Sunday, June 4th, 2017, the Permanent Secretary of the West African Observatory on Migrations held a meeting in Monrovia with ECOWAS Civil Society Movement of Liberia, ECOWAS Citizens Union Communities in Liberia and ECOWAS women in Liberia to take stock of the Liberian presidency of the ECOWAS. During the meeting, many issues relating to migration were raised by the CSOs. It appears that in Liberia and all the ECOWAS states, migrants are faced with recuring administrative problems when applying for a resident or working permits. Besides, the free movement of the ECOWAS citizens remains unrealized due to ongoing harassment at borders for passport and vaccination card control. Migrants, borders marketeers and particularly women are paying high price when they crossed borders for their activities.
While we pay tribute to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf leadership during her chairmanship of the ECOWAS, we expressed our disappointment about the marginal change in regional migration policy during her ECOWAS presidency. The West African migrant’s situation in fact worsened. Thousands of ECOWAS youth are dying in deserts, Libyan jails and the Mediterranean Sea during their search for greener pastures. Thousands of youth are being smuggled by criminal organisations.West African women and children are being trafficked in our region, on the continent, in Asia, America and Europe for domestics works and sexual exploitation. It’s still difficult for a West African citizen to move freely to the other African regions. And due to the Valletta Action Plan concluded with European Union in 2015 and the new immigration policy in USA (specially the Temporarily Protection Status that will addressly affect community of ECOWAS in USA originating from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea), our brothers and sisters are increasingly frequent deported without respect for their human rights and support for their local reintegration. Majority of head of states is silent about all this migration issues.
Against this background, the West African Observatory on Migrations, the ECOWAS Civil Society Movement of Liberia, the ECOWAS Citizens Union Communities in Liberia and the ECOWAS Women in Liberia during their meeting announce the following recommendations to ECOWAS head of states. We call on :
1- The Liberia government to address the issue of the US$250 charged ECOWAS Community citizen’s as resident permit fees and the US$100 annually for work permit ;
2- The head of states to foresee a concrete action against harassment and corruption at their borders to ease the free movement of the community citizens.
3- The ECOWAS head of states must take the lead for a quick adoption and implementation of a free movement protocols by the African Union.
4- The ECOWAS must also review its cooperation with the European Union, United States of America and all the countries which deport our citizens. They must insure the protection of rights and provide adequent support for their local reintegration.
5- The ECOWAS states must have a sincere dialogue with their partners of European Union and USA to create legal channels for African youth for their movement and expressed the need of change in their migration policies.
6- The West African leaders have to negotiate fair development and trade agreements with their partners around the world to insure real employment options for youths and economic growth in our region, hence fighting root causes for forced migration.
7- The West African leaders should reappraise the economic governance to fight corruption in order to minimize poverty and vulnerability of our population.
8- The head of states and government of ECOWAS to proritize the granting of dual citizenship for all ECOWAS citizens in diaspora.
9- We call on action against smugglers and traffickers particularly in cases where west african migrants are sold as slaves in open markets in Libya.
We note the recent agreement with Mauritania and the expression of interest of The Kingdom of Morrocco to join ECOWAS. We hope that this will lead to a real integration for the benefits of peoples of the subregion and not to satisfy the thirst of the market of the companies.
Monrovia on 24 may 2017
West African Observatory on Migrations,
ECOWAS Civil Society Movement of Liberia,
ECOWAS Citizens Union Communities in Liberia,
ECOWAS Women in Liberia.
Mid-way in the Valletta processes, and as African and European high officials are meeting in Malta on 8/9 February 2017, the European Union is crossing a step further in its attempts to limit mobility of migrants and imposes its rule on countries where most of migrants originate from through the use of the “European travel document”, a document adopted last October 2016 and almost unnoticed.
The action plan established in Valletta in November 2015 by the EU, its Member States as well as 35 African states aims to “address irregular migration, human trafficking as well as the root causes of forced migration”. Currently under mid-term review, the action plan bases upon “external cooperation” in order to get “third” states’ signature on readmission agreements. Those agreements should facilitate the removal of migrants.
The European travel document (EUTD) marks yet another step in the EU’s strategy to externalise its migration policy for over twenty years. This travel document is issued exclusively by EU Member States and enables the deportation of a person without s/he has been identified by the “third” country h/she suspected of coming from, i.e. without the person being issued a consular travel document regardless of the person’s rights and of the principle of equality between sovereign states (guaranteed in the Vienna Convention).
Despite the strong opposition of African leaders against the European travel document as soon as November 2015, a position reasserted in early 2017 by civil society and the Malian government, the EUTD is already in use, irrespective of substantial shortcomings both in the format and in the content.
Beyond the negative and immediate impact of a removal order on people, it should be stressed that the complete vagueness on the use of the EUTD may lead to serious human rights violations, as illustrated by the number of interrogations and uncertainties (see attached list).
As the deportation apparatus is gaining in strength (cooperation with Turkey, Afghanistan, Libya, as well as Frontex’s new prerogatives), it is worth noting that fundamental rights are not even mentioned once in the related regulation published in the EU Official Journal.
The undersigned European and African networks of civil society organisations hereby call on the EU Member States to immediately suspend the use of the EUTD, and call on the EU authorities to provide publicly and with no delay complementary and indispensable information on its use (see attached list of required information).
Mobility is a right, not a tool for diplomacy bargain.
AEDH – European Association for the Defence of Human Rights, EuroMed Rights, FORIM – Migration based International Solidarity Organisations Forum, Loujna-Tounkaranké, Medico International, Migreurop, West African Migration Observatory
It would seem that securing commercial vessels and cargo that carry consumer goods towards Africa and bring our raw materials towards the rest of the world would be priority to this dependant continent, Africa. Nevertheless, the African leaders are far from focusing enough in securing their harbors and seas, they ought to dedicate more resources to reflect on a strategy how to emancipate the continent from its current dependency.
It is no secret that the resources of Africa in the oceans do not benefit the Africans. Our petroleum is exploited by transnational companies often in complicity with the ruling classes and the well-off groups of our countries at the cost of the populations. Fish stocks have drastically decreased due to anarchic fishing by Asian, European and American vessels on our coasts. Flora and fauna in the seas around the continent, previously much admired by Western tourists, is now ever more decimated by the wastes produced by the mining industry. This situation has created an increasing poverty in the coastal communities which used to live from fishing. Their populations do not have other options except to engage in maritime piracy, in different kinds of trafficking and finally in departing towards the West in order to survive. Instead of reflecting on the causes of the emergence of piracy along our costs, the outbreak of human, drugs and arms trafficking, and the massive exodus by sea towards other continents, the African leaders are collaborating with firms and countries that exploit our resources in order to think out a plan to combat their own citizens who have no other option to survive than to abandon themselves to unfortunate practices.
Once again the African civil society, in the name of all populations of the continent, denounces this state of things and reminds that no development is possible in Africa which doesn’t take into account the deep needs of the populations. African populations need to live from the resources of their seas and soils and do not wish to be exploited by others anymore. African populations desire to produce and aliment themselves from the continent’s resources. They do not wish to export the raw materials at fixed prices set by the West and to buy in exchange extremely costly products. Finally, African populations want to be able to go where ever they want to, when they want to, just like the Western ones, without visas, migration policies in the name of security or other obstacles are set on their route. The African civil society hereby launches an appeal to the African heads of state who are summoned in Lome, to listen to the voice of their peoples to draft a charter on maritime security, a charter to guarantee the sovereignity of Africa on its waters, not a charter to protect the ships of countries that exploit our continent and its populations.
Lome, 14th October 2016
Faced with the situation of migrants living in Mauritania and other African countries, civil society organizations and actors from academia reiterated the need to appeal to African solidarity and legal instruments ratified by countries to an effective protection of migrant workers. Furthermore the problems faced by the Mauritanians in their mobility in the West African region since the withdrawal of Mauritania from the ECOWAS also occupied much of the discussions at the seminar.
Given the wealth of discussions and the need to work towards a genuine free movement of citizens and migrant workers in the African level, participants identified the following resolutions:
1- Work actively through dialogue and advocacy with state actors for an effective return of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in the sub-regional organization ECOWAS. At the same time, the Nouakchott meeting welcomes the initiative of the Kingdom of Morocco to resume its place in the African Union.
2- In the same vein, participants welcomed the initiatives to establish a biometric identity card of ECOWAS and African passport and ask to expedite production procedures and extension of travel documents to expedite the process of free movement of persons.
3- Strengthening work in synergy between civil society and academia for the emergence of an African approach to free movement.
4. Make pressure to the states for respect of international conventions and protocols ensuring free movement in the African space.
5. Work with local elected officials to develop national legal frameworks around mobility, integration and living together between migrants and residents.
6. Create a better dynamic between African civil society’s actors and networks to ensure effective presence of the voice of African citizens in negotiations and international conferences on migration which impact on African mobility, development, peace and security.
Done in Nouakchott September 27th, 2016
We, networks and civil society organizations working on migration in West Africa salute the ECOWAS Commission and its partners (EU, Switzerland, IOM, ICMPD, ILO, …) for holding this new edition of Migration Dialogue in West Africa (MIDWA). The existence of such a process in West Africa is the pride of the citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which since 1975 have continued to support the actions of their heads of State in favor of sub-regional integration. MIDWA is a space that seems important to maintain and develop in the future in order to facilitate a genuine direct dialogue around migration between ECOWAS citizens and their political and administrative authorities in the direction of ECOWAS of peoples desired by our leaders in 2020.
This MIDWA which intends to address the issues of freedom of movement and climate change within the West African space couldn’t leave indifferent our networks and organizations. In fact, every day in the field, our networks and organizations are witnesses of multiple racketeering and extortion suffered by our mothers and sisters border traders and any citizen wishing to move freely within the Community. Despite numerous meetings, training and awareness campaigns on protocols governing the free movement of people and goods within ECOWAS, the border corruption habits seem difficult to make disappear. Given this situation it appears that we need to challenge the political authorities in each ECOWAS countries, particularly those in charge of security and immigration on their primary responsibility in this situation.
Moreover, the persistence of corruption at borders due to control of travel documents and vaccination card must lead to a recast of protocols on free movement within ECOWAS. Following the example of the Schengen area in Europe, ECOWAS must be an area of real free movement where people can move freely without presenting a travel document. The concern for security and control of labor migration that led to the requirement of identity cards and passports in the 1979’s protocol seems to face the reality of our countries with their porous borders and family ties that unite people on either side of African borders.
The recent terrorist attacks in various countries in the region prove the ineffective nature of these measures. These terrorist attacks, which we condemn, have revealed that the security of citizens of the region depends more on the successful fight against social inequality and the strengthening of cooperation between intelligence services rather than strengthening border controls. In the sense of the spirit that animated the creation of ECOWAS, we call for an overhaul of the 1979’s protocol to allow real freedom of movement.
The social and economic impact that could have free movement within ECOWAS is de facto undermined by the absence of a real policy of cultural and social integration among peoples and fight against discrimination on ECOWAS Citizen residing in another member state than their own. This discrimination creates a sense of ambient xenophobia that prevents ECOWAS citizen to practice their profession or their economic activities freely in ECOWAS countries other than their own. Given this situation it seems important that priority is given to the fight against xenophobia and campaigns for a real integration among the peoples of the region. It also seems important to request from ECOWAS member states the necessary evolution of the legislative framework concerning the employment of ECOWAS citizens, the protection of rights of migrant workers and student mobility within ECOWAS as they are spelled out in the UN Convention on the rights of migrant workers and their families and respective ILO conventions.
The Transhumance is one of the economic activities in the region making a link between the free movement of persons, goods and the development. The intensification of transhumance activities due to climate change, unfortunately is leading to an unprecedented crisis in our region. Hundreds of deaths have been recorded again this year during the transhumance campaign in coastal countries. The responsibility for these deaths is incumbent upon us all because our actions do not seem sufficiently take into account the worsening realities of our populations living of agriculture in rural areas. The adaptation to climate change consequences in the region should be undertaken, in our view, through a thorough reflection on the traditional livestock sector and the regional treaty on transhumance.
As the Valletta Action Plan has been put on the agenda of the dialogue, it seems important to reiterate the expectations that civil society organisations expressed in their statement on the sidelines of the ECOWAS conference in Accra from 9 to 11 February 2016, in the follow up of the Valletta summit. Our networks and civil society organizations once again denounce the fact that the fight against irregular migration has become a conditionality for Official Development Assistance. This situation is opposing the Sustainable Development Goals adopted only a year ago by the United Nations. Following the call of Turkey, our organizations are convinced that a partnership on migration between Europe and Africa should go through the abolition of short-stay visas requested to African citizens as part of their mobility to Europe. Our organizations reaffirm that restrictive and deterring European policies on migration as well as economic schemes like the imposition of so-called Economic Partnership Agreements are the first responsible for the current and persistent tragedy in the seas around the continent and in the Sahara.
While welcoming the holding of the annual meeting of MIDWA, our networks and organizations regret the exclusion of many civil society actors working on migration whose expertise is invaluable in this dialogue. Indeed, the method of selecting experts from civil society organizations left up to states did not allow a fair and real representation of the most active and experienced organisation on migration by country. To allow real integration of voices of the field actors working on migration in West Africa, and following the example of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), our networks and organizations undertake to organize ahead of the next MIDWA a day of civil society. The civil society day whose organization will be led by West African networks and organizations recognized for their work around migration in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and its partners, will allow a better consideration of the proposals of civil society in the MIDWA’s process. The ECOWAS of peoples, that we call with all our wishes, will thus be reinforced.
While reiterating Our commitment to the MIDWA’s process and commending the partners that accompany the process, our networks and civil society organizations do hope that this declaration will be annexed to the conclusions of this dialogue.
Visions Solidaires – TOGO Association des Refoulés d’Afrique Centrale au Mali (ARACEM)- MALI Alternative Espace Citoyen (AEC) – NIGER Movimento Nacional da Sociedade Civil para a Paz, Democracia e Desenvolvimento(MNSCPDD) – GUINEA BISSAU Réseau Afrique Jeunesse – Guinée (RAJ-GUI) – GUINEA Union Fait la Force (UFF)- BENIN Enfants Solidaires d’Afrique et du Monde (ESAM) – BENIN Association Mauritanienne des Droits de l’Homme (AMDH) – MAURITANIA Enda Prospectives Dialogues Politiques (Enda Diapol) – SENEGAL Alert Migration – BURKINA FASO Network of Ex Asylum Seekers (NEAS)- SIERRA LEONE Migration Policy and Advocacy Network (MiPAN)- GHANA West African Observatory on Migrations (WAOM)
We, women, men, youths, students, peasants, traders, researchers, migrants, social activists, citizens of the West African space , mobilized from 13th to 16th July in Conakry, Republic of Guinea, we adopt this statement on the occasion of the 5th edition of the West African Social Forum which focused on the theme “After more than two decades of globalization: What challenges for the governance in a context of political crises, socioeconomic and safe and what answers for the African social movement? “
Participants, who came from Mali, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Togo, Senegal, Nigeria, Niger, Côte d’Ivoire and the different regions of Guinea, welcome the stimulus dynamic of West African’s and African’s social movements within the social forum which is underway since almost a year.
This revival and dynamic reorganization was facilitated by the mobilization of social actors in the subregion during the meetings of consultations and discussions held in September 2015 in Dakar, Senegal and whose this West African Social Forum is the culmination.
In this difficult geopolitical environment marked by many challenges facing the continent, on the bottom of multifaceted crises (security, migration, energy, economic, climatic, environmental, political and food), West Africans social movements could not remain indifferent given the stakes.
Faced with the global crisis of the capitalist system and the bankruptcy of the neoliberal mode of governance dictated by multinational corporations and Western powers, seeking to reclaim our continent, the resistors are organized all over the world for the advent of sustainable alternatives, which respect human rights, equity, social justice and equal opportunities. Africa has become the continent’s most coveted by economic and financial powers who rely ensure their profits now and in the future by grabbing the continent’s resources.
By unfair trade agreements such as the EPAs (Economic Partnership Agreements), which the EU wants to impose on countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific, and the imposition at the head of our countries of leaders who cooperate with the financial and international political system, neoliberalism continues to spread its tentacles in Africa at the expense of its people.
This new neoliberal breakthrough is made possible by armed conflict and terrorist sponsored violence on the continent by the powers that profit from the instability of countries to maximize their profits and their grip on our natural resources. The African people private of their rights to work, to food, to housing, freedom of movement, to free choice of their leaders; and in view of climatic disasters and wars that multiply on the continent, have no option but to take the road to exile with the risk of dying in the deserts or seas. The losses are enormous with repetitive wrecking of migrant’s boats. The awareness of this situation could only lead to a re-mobilization of progressive forces and social movements on the continent.
Regretting the situation of lethargy that knows the African Social Forum Council, the various social organizations and social movements on the continent have committed to participate in the revival of the social dynamics so that the African Social Forum returns to its place in the International Council, which will only enhance the space of the World Social Forum.
Thus, the Guinean Social Movement, proud of its historic role as a pioneer in the emancipation movements on the continent, has kindly agreed to host his colleagues in the subregion to reflect on the current challenges that plague the continent. The success of Conakry’s forum is proof that the African social movement can count on the sons and daughters of the continent to make that historic struggle which began decades ago for the total liberation of Africa from the domination of international system, a reality.
The work of the 5th edition of the West African Social Forum have made a number of recommendations including:
– The need for different CSO platforms of West Africa to build a synergy of action and cooperation on major emerging topics of global geopolitical context of which include: migration, terrorism, management of natural resources and land grabbing;
– Strengthening solidarity between social organizations and citizens of the subregion to face the political and social instability resulting constitutional amendments and the lack of dialogue between political actors;
– The creation and promotion of permanent framework for the exchange between civil society, government and development partners;
– Strengthening of institutional, material and financial supports of the Governments to the dynamics of social fora at national, sub regional and regional levels, this is because the social forum is the largest open space for dialogue and credible alternatives and proposals lasting between social actors on the one hand and on the other between players in the economic and politic;
– Boosting social fora at national and regional level to which, the meeting of Conakry is a starting point;
– The need for organizations of Guinean civil society to create and strengthen frameworks for dialogue and collaborative actions in a structured frame, for more efficiency in their commitment to the promotion of human rights and social justice;
– The inclusive review, foundations, own principles and values of civil society that should be disseminated at all levels.
At the end of Conakry forum, which was a success by the strong mobilization of actors and its thematic content, despite the time and the conditions in which this 5th edition was organized, the various delegations thanked all the people of Guinea, the organizing Committee carried by the CNOSCG, CECIDE, BALAI CITOYEN, THE GURG, THE WOMEN PLATFORMS and CSO, with the support of the Guinean government, and all the partners who contributed to the organization of the African meeting: OSIWA, EUROPEAN UNION, ECES, UNDP, UNICEF, PARTENERS WEST AFRICA and the NED, ACTION AID SENEGAL.
A few weeks before the World Social Forum in Montreal from 9 to 14 August 2016, the West African social movement on behalf of the African social movement, cantor of current resistors on the martyr continent of Africa, however, sees excluded from the dynamics of the global resistance to neoliberalism. Because the difficulties of access to the Canadian visa, the high cost of air tickets to Montreal and lack of communication with African social movements have made uncertain the participation of Southern social movements at the World Social Forum 2016.
The show of solidarity expected of the organizing committee in Canada and the International Council as was often the case through the Solidarity Fund under the previous world social fora to facilitate mass participation of southern social movements, however, remained unanswered.
The meeting in Conakry allowed African social movements to address this situation and regret that the holding of the Forum editions in the North disadvantage the participation of the south countries organizations. To this end, the Conakry meeting reaffirmed that Africa will organize the next edition of the African Social Forum in Abidjan in November 2016, so this edition will be an opportunity to restore the work of the Montreal Forum by some delegates who will participate and move forward on reviving African dynamics around the forum.
In conclusion, participants in the Conakry’s forum, on behalf and account of the whole African social movement denounced the holding of the World Social Forum in a space that does not allow effective participation of activists and actors in the South in general and Africa in particular.
Thus, it calls for a return of the World Social Forum in the South to facilitate the mobilization of the biggest victims of neoliberal globalization that are the martyrs people of the South and Africa, who bear the brunt of neoliberal policies.
In terms of the African agenda, the Forum of Conakry, held that the next two editions of the West African Social Forum will take place successively in Lome, Togo, in 2017 and Niamey in Niger in 2018, and is committed to present an African bid to host the next edition of the 2018 World Social Forum, saying the candidacy of Senegal. Long live to the West African Social Forum! Long live to the African Social Forum! United that remains alive and solidary the World Social Forum.
Done at Conakry July 16, 2016
Since the establishment in 2012 of the residence permits in Mauritania, foreigners and particularly the ECOWAS nationals living in Mauritania continue to be the victim of a hunting migrants carefully organized by the security forces that take part of their vulnerability. Migrants find themselves hunted like criminals by police cars, apprehended in their homes and humiliated in front of their children or arrested at their place of work because without paper. It is even more shocking to note that the majority of migrants most victims of these abuses are from Senegal and Mali which peoples have shared in common with Mauritania the same story from the Ghana Empire since a millenium. This hunt for migrants, cost the lives of this young man who had the courage to meet his needs and those of his family by going to find a work in a neighboring country. This is a mother in a village in Mali who just lost her twenty years old son and will no longer receive money transfers for survival through the fault of a repressive policy for migrants.
African civil society condemns these hunting policies for migrants that grow everywhere on the African continent with the support of the European institutions under the guise of the fight against “irregular” migration. The current situation in Libya is a sad illustration with anti-immigration brigade heavily armed, with the support of the European Union, which tracks day and night the sub-Saharan migrant workers cram in detention centers instead of effectively combating traffickers and Libyan smugglers. From South Africa to Maghreb countries, through Angola, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia and Sudan, the hunt for migrants became a policy instituted by the African political authorities who nevertheless proclaim in all the summit their discourse on regional integration.
The lure of European financial aid to fight against migration transforms the African political authorities in real persecutors of their brothers and sisters who are looking for work to live and feed their families. This could recall the time of slavery abolished there only two centuries. The European Union, at the expense of its humanist values, and shamelessly, in African countries outsources its security migration policy. African civil society calls for the African Union commission, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and all African heads of state to listen to the voice of their people and engage resolutely in a real regional integration process. Only a true African integration could prevent our countries to always be the instrument of European policy and will prevent brave young hope of tomorrow’s Africa, being killed in other countries on the continent seeking win their daily bread.
Signed on behalf of the African Civil Society:
The West African Observatory on Migrations (WAOM) The Pan African Network for the Defense of Migrants’ Rights (PANiDMR) Caritas – Migration and Development -Africa Network (MADE-Africa)
Mr Koenders tour, the 14 to 17 April in your countries, gives us the opportunity to respectfully present our concerns about the current dialogue between Europe and Africa around migration. This visit, which occurs as a result of the Europe-Africa Summit in Valletta is not trivial. Indeed, migration is among the priorities of the Dutch presidency of the European Union and in that the targeting our country considered highly migratory culture is a way to justify to the European public the efforts to fight against the so-called “illegal” migration.
We should like to remind you that the Netherlands is one of those European countries that have a hard migration policy. These countries are going to condition their official development assistance to acceptance by their South partner of deportation of so-called irregular migrants. Out in the global development compact sets since the 2000s by the United Nations, the official development assistance should not suffer such conditionalities. In this sense the bait that represents the trust fund set up at the Valletta summit to push African countries, particularly the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, to develop migration management policies dictated by the European Union is only a wrong eye. Indeed, the EUR 1.8 billion trust fund are only the remainder of the European Fund for Development pledged to Africa in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement which will soon expire. Given this context our countries must lead a serene and constructive dialogue on behalf of the partnership wanted by the European Union and Africa.
The Valletta summit, organized in a hurry during the crisis of Europe cope with the arrival of migrants, was once again a missed opportunity to find just solutions to stem the human drama in the seas and oceans between Europe and Africa. Far ask long-term measures to facilitate the mobility of Africans to Europe, the summit of Valletta was a deaf dialogue between Europe and Africa. The first wanted more control of the mobility of Africans. The latter, who know that no check can prevent their citizens to cross porous borders inherited from colonization to go where they want, have repeatedly called for more visas for the mobility of their populations. The real solution and the only one to end this human tragedy remains free movement that refuses to accept Europe despite the bankruptcy of all its security policies against migrants and granting visas to limit it stay implementation in recent years. Another element included in the current discourse to limit the migration of African’s is development and job creation that could keep young people in Africa.
Although African youth may need to use, it would be unrealistic in the era of globalization to confine employment opportunities for the youth in Africa alone. If American Chinese and European investors, scramble for the wealth of our country, they would be otherwise our citizens who also want to have the same opportunity in other countries. Also the development of a country is no synonymous with the end of the migration. Western countries are evidence for their level of development goes hand in hand with high mobility and regular expatriation of their population. Thus the solutions proposed by the European Union are as flawed as their analysis of the root causes of irregular migration itself.
On behalf of your citizens, we are, we think that the visit of Mr Koenders is an opportunity to recall the important role that migration play in the development of Europe. We hope you will be our spokesmen to the presidency of the European Union to remind the humanistic values which the European Union has long touted and our eyes are dying more and more. Europe is in crisis and our African countries on behalf of the partnership that binds us to them, must show them the way forward. The space of ECOWAS, despite the many difficulties, is an example in terms of free movement for over thirty years and in this sense our country can properly advise Europe in its current crisis. The visit of Mr Koenders is therefore that of listening and sharing experience and not a stay marked, as usual, with ready-made solutions or bitter pills to swallow for African populations. While reiterating our sincere gratitude for the defense of our rights to mobility and in the hope that you will be our spokesmen from the Dutch presidency of the European Union, please receive, Excellencies Presidents, our best salutations.
Ousmane Diarra, Malian Association of Deportees (MALI) Eric Peasah, Migration Policy and Advocacy Network (GHANA) Samir ABI, West African Observatory on Migrations