Senator Alice-Mary Higgins introduces Bill to temporarily halt deportations

Deportation Moratorium (COVID-19) Bill 2020
Deportation Moratorium (COVID-19) Bill 2020

Both the Minister and the Taoiseach yesterday responded to our Deportation Moratorium (COVID-19) Bill 2020 by announcing a "stay" on deportations during the public health emergency except in circumstances such as "a threat to national security". They have also committed to pause and review issuing deportation orders at this time.

Myself, Senator Lynn Ruane, Senator Frances Black and Senator Eileen Flynn introduced the Bill because 469 deportation letters have been issued since March, causing alarm and distress not only to the individuals who receive them but also to their communities, friends and colleagues.  While the Government would not formally accept our legal prohibition, the shift in policy they have offered is very welcome. We will be following up to ensure that this assurance genuinely reaches the cases already affected and engage with the Minister around the potential revoking of some of the orders.

The UN Network on Migration has called on all countries to "suspend forced returns during the pandemic in order to protect the health of migrants and communities and uphold human rights" they noted that "forced returns can intensify the public health risk for everyone".

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Senator Higgins joins EPF colleagues in calling on governments to ensure sexual and reproductive rights are protected during the COVID-19 emergency

Even during a crisis, women have sexual and reproductive healthcare needs which cannot wait. Governments should be supporting access to essential SRHR services - unfortunately some are actively using this as a chance to block it. As a member of the the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, I have been pressing governments across Europe to actively support access to SHRR in their own countries and across the wider world. Last week we produced a report on ’Sexual and Reproductive Rights during the COVID-19 pandemic’ which described how many women and girls are being left without essential medical services such as contraception and abortion care, HIV and STI testing, reproductive cancer screenings, and adequate pre and post-natal healthcare.

An IPPF survey showed 5.633 community-based care clinics closing across 64 countries, with African countries being the most heavily impacted. EU member states should be giving humanitarian and health support and including SHRR. In terms of particularly time-sensitive healthcare such as abortion, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Portugal have made provisions for remote support of medical abortions, while Poland and Romania seem to be using this crisis to undermine women’s access to rights and reproductive healthcare.

Amid this crisis we have also seen a huge increase in sexual and gender-based violence, an issue that all governments must address head on.