The HOMEAFFAIRS Briefing is a regular specialised digest of the wider discussion on internal security policy.

Last week, we ventured to Berlin, where we organised restricted roundtables on countering of Islamic extremism and prevention of illegal migration.

The event finished off with a public debate on Islamic extremism featuring Alexander Ritzmann, Fellow of the Brandenburg Institute for Society and Security and Co-Chair of the Communication and Narratives Working Group of the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network; Sigrid Herrmann-Marschall, independent analyst of Islamic extremist networks; Rebecca Schönenbach, Head of Zentrum für Innereuropäische Sicherheitspolitik, Chairwoman of Veto! Für den Rechtsstaat e.V.; and Head of our Internal Security Program Radko Hokovský.

The debate underscored a broad expert consensus on the necessity to combat Islamic extremism even in its non-violent forms. It is time to finally translate this conclusion into policy practice across the EU.

Now onto this week’s recommendations, which are thematically diverse and look at migration policy, the macabre practice of genital mutilation and the policy of integration of refugees into the value system.

 

Frontex Must Expand its Operations in Africa

  • The Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz wants EU border guards to operate in Northern Africa as part of their operations against illegal migration.
  • The expanded mandate would include the fight against migrant smugglers and measures preventing illegal migrants from setting out on the dangerous and ultimately pointless journey across the Mediterranean Sea.
  • This is a positive political development. The European Values think-tank has been calling for a long time for policies to deal with illegal migrants from African countries before they cross the EU external border.
  • EU states must negotiate agreements with African states on prevention of illegal migration and returns of illegal migrants back to their countries of origin.
  • European-level institutions, including Frontex, may play a complementary and coordinating role. It is in the interests of other EU states to support the push for expanding Frontex involvement in Africa.

Every two weeks, our team crafts internal security policy recommendations that incorporate handpicked publications from respected research organisations and experts in Europe and elsewhere.

Step Up Law Enforcement Against FGM

  • The alarmingly high rate of Female Genital Mutilation in the UK and the US received special attention from the Quilliam Foundation, with a foreword by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
  • In the UK alone, not a single conviction related to FGM has been made so far, despite 5,391 new cases recorded between 2016 and 2017.
  • Let us be blunt: that thousands of women in the UK have been held down and their clitoris cut off in recent years is an outrage.
  • Tackling FGM is not just about criminalising it, but about actually enforcing the criminalisation, bringing the perpetrators to justice and providing support to the victims.
  • This necessitates conducting a thorough assessment of high-risk communities with the assistance of teachers, doctors and community leaders who are able to establish support networks for victims and community awareness initiatives.
  • Furthermore, incorporation of FGM awareness into mandatory sex education classes should be prioritised in the education sector.
  • Finally, the public debate on FGM must be open and honest, so that it addresses the very roots of the problem and enables the victims to speak up. It must be made clear that mutilating other people against their will in the name of culture or religion will not be tolerated in a modern democratic society.

 

EU States Must Organise Compulsory Values-Based Courses for Refugees

  • With millions of immigrants settling in the EU in recent years, there is the question of their integration into the system of fundamental values of European societies.
  • A new report by the European Foundation for Democracy offers recommendations about European policies of integration of refugees based on research conducted across seven EU Member States.
  • One of the key conclusions is that for the sake of peaceful coexistence, the newcomers must embrace the principles of liberal democracy.
  • Some EU states require asylum seekers to sign a declaration of intent to respect liberal democratic values, including gender equality, respect for different sexual orientations and freedom of religious and nonreligious beliefs. This practice is worth preserving; however, we must not settle for mere declarations.
  • For instance, Belgium offers integration courses focused on intercultural exchanges, civic and basic legal education. In addition, support is provided for projects created by refugees for newcomers aiming to overcome intercultural barriers.
  • These kinds of values-based trainings should be made compulsory for asylum seekers in all EU states. Of course, the trainers must be vetted and qualified to understand the cultural background of those whom they instruct.