Chavez warns he will cut off oil to Europe over new migrant law
UPDATE: 6:40PM EST
President Hugo Chavez has now threatened to stop selling oil to the EU if the controversial new migrant law is passed.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened on Thursday to stop selling oil to European countries if they apply a new ruling on illegal immigrants that has been condemned by human rights groups.
European Union lawmakers voted yesterday to allow undocumented migrants to be held in detention centres for 18 months and then banned from residing in any European Union territory for five years.
This is a rather harsh measure that could affect peoples' human rights and the right for someone to take refuge in a foreign country.
Criticized by groups like Amnesty International as “severely flawed” and an erosion of human rights standards, the so-called return directive was passed in the European Parliament here by a 369-to-197 vote, with 106 legislators abstaining.
Manfred Weber, the German center-right legislator from Bavaria who shepherded the measure through Parliament, said that it provided minimum common standards for the treatment of migrants throughout the European Union while still showing citizens it was tough on illegality.
As for the migrants, he said: “The member states must decide whether they need them; if so, then please legalize them. If you don’t need them for your labor markets, then send them home.”
Ten amendments to the measure, proposed by Socialists and intended to offer migrants some protections and legal recourse, were rejected. They included a requirement that a judge approve detention within 72 hours of an arrest, the obligation to provide detainees with free legal counsel and the possibility of making the five-year ban on re-entry optional. Other amendments would have reduced the maximum detention period to six months rather than 18 and insisted on greater assurances for the protection of unaccompanied children.
One opponent of the measure, Cimade — the only French nongovernmental organization authorized to work in France’s 23 detention centers — released a statement saying that it deplored the passage of what civil liberties groups have called “the directive of shame,” and said it was weighing contesting it before the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights.
Amnesty International said it was “deeply disappointed” by the outcome of the vote, and appealed to member states currently applying higher standards not to use the directive as a pretext for lowering them.