On 27 and 28 September 2017, MYLA in cooperation with UNHCR-Skopje, organized a Regional Civil Society Meeting on Asylum, Migration and Statelessness which brought together partner organizations from South-East Europe that work on asylum, migration and statelessness. The meeting provided a forum for CSO’s in the region to identify common challenges and to discuss future plans to strengthen the cooperation in the region. This event featured, in parallel, a Regional Meeting on Asylum and Migration and the annual meeting of the Western Balkans Legal Aid Network (WeBLAN).
The meeting started with an informal evening featuring panel discussions on the challenges and the future of regional cooperation among civil society in the region, as well as the cooperation of civil society organizations with the media in combating injustice.
The Regional Meeting on Asylum and Migration focused on identifying the common challenges CSO’s face in relation to the representation of asylum seekers in administrative and judicial procedures, as well as in advocacy and monitoring activities. The partners that took part at this meeting were Belgrade Center for Human Rights, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Civil Rights Program – Kosovo, Vasa Prava – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Legal Information Center (PIC) – Slovenia, Croatian Legal Center, Humanitarian Center for Integration and Tolerance – Serbia. Flip Schuller, an immigration and asylum lawyer specializing in international litigation, shared his views on the effective representation of asylum cases and the ways in which organisations in the region can strengthen their voice on the regional and European levels.
While expressing the particularities in each country, most of the organisations highlighted that the effective access to the asylum procedure, the lack of well reasoned asylum decisions by administrative bodies, as well as the lack of court judgement that rule on the merits of the asylum claims, remain as key challenges.The participating organisations also shared their experiences on the efforts they have been undertaking to resolve these issues.
Considering the common legal history and systems countries in the region face, the partner organisations agreed that these issues need to be tackled on a regional level, with the support of international partners and in cooperation with state institutions and national courts. In the coming period, the organisations agreed to develop a common list of issues countries in South East Europe face, regarding their asylum systems which will be further used to develop joint actions and initiatives to address these issues on a regional level.
Simultaneously, MYLA hosted this year’s meeting of the WEBLAN network, which underlined the importance of the network as a form of regional cooperation of member organizations, especially in terms of prevention and the fight against statelessness. The participants presented the procedures for registering in the registry of births, as well as for regulating residence and obtaining citizenship in their respective countries. The ways in which each organization identifies stateless persons and positive legal regulations and good practices in addressing this problem were also presented. The members presented activities conducted and planned for 2017, as well as future activities of the network envisaged for 2018.