European Conference with simultaneous translation: English – German   4th May 2013, 09h30 – 18h00, Berlin ver.di Headquarter (near Ostbahnhof), ver.di – Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft – United Services Union, Paula-Thiede-Ufer 10, 10179 Berlin, www.verdi.de

Das Programm PDF

09h00 -Entrance, Registration

Welcome and introduction to the conference

09h30 : Opening speech:

«  Thomas Gebauer, Frankfurt, Medico International: Forced to flee – causes in the countries of origin, accountability of the EU


Session 1:

10h00 – 11h00: OBSTRUCTION OF ASYLUM SEEKING  – Immigration as a Crime OR AS AN ACT OF charity


«  Karl Kopp, Pro Asyl, Frankfurt, Germany: Lethal Barriers

«  Marianna Tzeferakou, lawyer, Athens, Greece: At the southern wall of the fortress, economic crisis, refugees and racism


Chair: Berenice Böhlo, lawyer, Berlin


11h00 – 11h30 Coffee break


Session 2:

11h30 – 12h30 THE “SURVEILLANCE AND PUNISHMENT”-POLICY – Survival as a crime


«  Volker Gerloff, lawyer, Berlin: The residence requirement and other prohibitions, the impact of anti-terrorism legislation on refugees

«  Kati Verstrepen, lawyer, Antwerp: Is it a crime to marry ?

«  Pierluigi Umbriano, lawyer, Naples: Is it a crime to help people to survive (Cap Anamur and other cases)


Chair: Joachim Kerth-Zelter, lawyer, Solingen


Session 3:

12h30 – 13h30 Discrimination against Migrants – THE “NO EQUAL RIGHTS FOR MIGRANTS”-POLICY


«  Volker Gerloff, lawyer, Berlin: Discrimination against refugees in Germany

«  Bea Schwager, Sans Papier Aid, Zurich: Precarious at the best – no access to social and legal protection for “Sans Papier” – Domestic Workers

«  Lies Michielsen, lawyer, Antwerp: European and international law for migrants and refugees

«  Bernhard Welke, lawyer, Genthin, Germany: Exploitation sweet-and-sour



Chair: Ursula Mende, lawyer, Krefeld


13h30 – 14h30: Lunch break


Session 4:

14h30 – 15h30: Expulsion of Migrants: THE “GET RID OF THEM”-POLICY


«  Claire Saas,associate professor of criminal law and procedure, gisti, Paris: The European return directive as implemented in France. The paradox between minimal protection and deportation mania


«  Prof. Dr. jur. Christine M. Graebsch, Dipl.-Krim., Dortmund, Germany: “Multiple punishment” of non-Germans through expulsion

«  Christophe Tafelmacher, lawyer, Lausanne, Switzerland: The Swiss expulsion-initiative – a danger for the rule of law



Chair: Birgit Sieger, lawyer, Dusseldorf


15h30 – 16h00: Coffee break


Session 5:


a.       Adrian Berry,Barrister, Chair of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) (UK):Jurisdictions at the service of Refugees? Key cases from the ECtJ and the ECtHR

b.       Sonja Marko, ver.di headquarter, department for migrants, Berlin: Trade Unions and works-councils – between representation of interests and solidarity;
Dr. Sylwia Timm, DGB, Berlin: The Fair Mobility Project

c.       Marei Pelzer, lawyer, PRO ASYL, Frankfurt: Resistance and Solidarity in Civil Society – the example of PRO ASYL

Bruno Watara, Refugee Council Brandenburg: Refugees fight for their rights

N.N., Initiative for the “Protest against 20 years of Asylum Law Compromise” in Germany


Chair: Sonja Marko, ver.di headquarter, department for migrants, Berlin

17h30: Final Conclusions, demands

18h00: Closing aperitif



Organizers of the Conference:

«  European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights e.V. (ELDH), www.eldh.eu

«  Vereinigung Demokratischer Juristinnen und Juristen e.V.(VDJ), www.vdj.de


Together with:


«  arbeitskreis kritischer juristinnen und juristen an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (akj-berlin)

«  Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

«  European Democratic Lawyers (AED-EDA)

«  fight racism now

«  Flüchtlingsrat Berlin (Refugee Council, Berlin)

«  Flüchtlingsrat Brandenburg (Refugee Council, Brandenburg)

«  GISTI, Frankreich

«  Medico International


«  Republikanischer Anwältinnen- und Anwälteverein e.V. (RAV )

«  Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

«  Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, ver.di Bundesverwaltung, Bereich MigrantInnen






Registration is necessary, so as to pay for the organisation of the conference and for the right to entrance.

The registration fee is € 30,– (none for participants without a job) to be paid in cash at the entrance.


Please send your registration to with the following details:

First name and family name, profession, postal address, email-address




On their way to the European Union (EU) migrants experience in many  – often life-threatening – ways that they are not welcome. This is also true for those who finally arrive in the EU. Quite often the EU and its member states bear responsibility for the causes of flight and migration of migrants from their home countries, like persecution and poverty.

The barriers which are erected against refugees and migrants are often put into a legal form which does not conform to human rights and the rule of law. When international refugee law is applied, if this happens at all, this is often done as if it were an act of charity. The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) have in many cases dealt with the practise of denying entrance and granting asylum and of extradition from the EU and its member states.

The German Government in its effort to appear formally correct, already 20 ago trimmed the right to asylum guaranteed in the German Constitution. In remembrance of this human rights scandal various protests will be organized this year. ELDH and VDJ, its German affiliate, together with many organisations and initiatives will join these protests.

At the conference the speakers will analyse the different stages of flight and migration and the legal questions in this context.

1.                   The illegal and inhuman criminalisation of refugees and migrants even before they arrive in the EU. The barring of escape routes, in particular by FRONTEX. Thousands of refugees have lost their lives due to these obstacles.

2.                   The criminalisation of refugees and migrants in general, and of those who assist them.

3.                   The discrimination against refugees and migrants, i.e. by the constraint to work under precarious or unconscionable conditions, ethnic profiling by the police, excessive databases.

4.                   Various methods to expel refugees and migrants, i.e. the very often tolerated or not sufficiently combated racism which humiliates refugees and by its aggressive form threatens their life.

5.                   But also examples of resistance and solidarity will be given:

«  The jurisdiction in favour of refugees and migrants,

«  Trade  Unions and other organisations which struggle for the rights of refugees and migrants

«  Politicians in national and in the European Parliament who try to establish the legal framework

o    For a fair – not reduced – asylum procedure, which does not consider flight as a crime

o    For human conditions to work and to live for refugees

o    For an effective right to stay, which allows to refugees at least a medium term planning of their life

o    Against the re-extradition within the Dublin II or III regulation into countries where they risk to be subjected to human rights violations


The participants of the conference will be lawyers specialized in asylum law and alien law, social scientists, trade unionists, human rights activists, from Germany and other European Countries. The languages spoken at the conference will be English, German (and perhaps French).