European Parliament Approves EU Plans to Lock Up Immigrants

18 June 2008

European Parliament Approves EU Plans to Lock Up Immigrants

SP Members of the European Parliament today joined colleagues in the United European Left Group (GUE-NGL) in voting against the Weber Report on the treatment of immigrants or, in the EU jargon 'on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals'. Protests against the report, including a demonstration by left politicians in front of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, in the end failed to convince the parliament to reject the draconian plans, which will allow undocumented immigrants to be locked up for 18 months.

Demonstrators express their feelings of shame at the proposal in numerous languages. The SP has consistently opposed what the party sees as an inhuman EU Directive. "It is a scandal that immigrants can be locked up for a year and a half without having committed any crime,” said SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard. “The SP wants to see a humane immigration and asylum policy, a policy that does not automatically treat people looking for better living conditions as criminals.”

SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer added that “It's a matter of detaining people in sorrowful conditions. Just think about it. These are people who have left their own countries as a result of war, dictatorship, discrimination, natural disasters and poverty. They are simply trying to survive.”

The right-wing majority of the European Parliament was unconcerned by such niceties and voted the report through, with 197 votes against, including the GUE-NGL, Greens and some social democrats. Most of the so-called Party of European Socialists, however, in which sit the Dutch, British and Irish Labour Parties, abstained. Only one Dutch Labour MEP voted against.

As well as today's action, last month the European Parliament buildings in Brussels saw a demonstration against the directive, and resistance to the plan is growing.

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