EU Ministers Call for Tougher Immigration Policies after Attacks

FILE PHOTO: Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson pays tribute to the victims two days after a gunman shot dead two Swedes, at the place of the shooting in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson pays tribute to the victims two days after a gunman shot dead two Swedes, at the place of the shooting in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
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EU Ministers Call for Tougher Immigration Policies after Attacks

FILE PHOTO: Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson pays tribute to the victims two days after a gunman shot dead two Swedes, at the place of the shooting in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson pays tribute to the victims two days after a gunman shot dead two Swedes, at the place of the shooting in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Ministers from across the European Union said on Thursday that member states must screen migrants and asylum seekers better and expel those deemed a security risk more quickly, after militant attacks highlighted persistent difficulties.

Interior and justice ministers were meeting on Thursday in Brussels to discuss what steps to take following deadly attacks in Brussels and France, at a time of heightened security concerns linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

"It's important that those individuals that could cause a security threat to our citizens be returned forcefully, immediately," Reuters quoted EU migration commissioner Ylva Johansson as telling reporters ahead of the meeting.

"We need to be more efficient, close the loopholes and be quicker on decisions to carry out returns."

The 45-year-old Tunisian gunman who killed two Swedish football fans in the Belgian capital on Monday was staying there illegally after his asylum request had been denied.

He reached the EU via the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2011 and also lived in Sweden. He was shot dead by Belgian police.

The 20-year-old, Russian-born Ingush accused of stabbing to death a teacher in northern France on Friday was known before the attack to be a possible security risk but could not have been expelled under current legislation, France said.

"We realize there's still a bit naivety either in the institutions of some countries or in the EU," French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said as he arrived for the EU meeting, calling for the swift implementation of much-discussed EU migration rules, and for faster decisions on asylum requests.

Proponents of this looming overhaul of the EU's migration policies - expected to be finalized this year - say it would improve the situation, including by facilitating quicker repatriations of foreigners with criminal records.



Despite Curfew, Deaths Mount in Bangladesh Student Protests

Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
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Despite Curfew, Deaths Mount in Bangladesh Student Protests

Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)

Police imposed a strict curfew across Bangladesh and military forces patrolled parts of the capital Saturday to quell further violence after days of clashes over the allocation of government jobs left several people dead and hundreds injured.
The curfew follows the deadliest day yet in the weeks of protests despite a ban on public gatherings. Reports vary on the number of people killed Friday, with Somoy TV reporting 43. An Associated Press reporter saw 23 bodies at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, but it was not immediately clear whether they all died on Friday.
Another 22 people died Thursday as protesting students attempted to impose a “complete shutdown” of the country. Several people were also killed Tuesday and Wednesday.
The protests, which began weeks ago but escalated sharply when violence erupted Tuesday, represent the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since she won a fourth consecutive term in office after elections in January that were boycotted by the main opposition groups.
Police and protesters clashed in the streets and at university campuses in Dhaka and other cities across the south Asian country. Authorities moved to block online communications by banning mobile and internet services. Some television news channels also went off the air, and the websites of most Bangladesh newspapers were not loading or were being updated.
The curfew began at midnight and is set to relax from noon to 2 p.m. to allow people to buy essentials before being put back in place until 10 a.m. Sunday. A “shoot-at-sight” order was also in place, giving security forces the authority to fire on mobs in extreme cases, said lawmaker Obaidul Quader, the general secretary of the ruling Awami League party.

The protesters are demanding an end to a quota system that reserves up to 30% of government jobs for relatives of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971 against Pakistan. They argue the system is discriminatory and benefits supporters of Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and they want it replaced with a merit-based system.

Hasina has defended the quota system, saying that veterans deserve the highest respect for their contributions to the war, regardless of their political affiliation.

Representatives from the both sides met late Friday to find a resolution. At least three student leaders were part of the meeting in which they demanded a reform in the quota system, an opening of student dormitories across the country and the stepping down of university officials for failing to prevent violence on the campuses.
Law Minister Anisul Huq said the government was open to discussing the student leaders’ demands.

The protests are also backed by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party that has vowed to organize its own demonstrations with many of its supporters joining in the students’ protests.