The work of accredited INGOs in the Conference of INGOs is two-fold: On the one hand, we work together with other INGOs to improve social cohesion and Human Rights in Europe and the world and, on the other hand, we work in our own member States to communicate the work of the Council of Europe and transfer to the Conference of INGOs first hand information available to us.
At church on Sunday 10th February 2019, the Spanish NGO APROMAR, which our grassroots community* supports, was present with a dozen former prison inmates. We were informed that the Spanish jail system, at present, has no facilities for preparing prisoners for their return to society, and thus contravenes Recommendations CM/Rec(2006)2 and CM(2005)163-add:
Whilst the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers are not obligatory for member States,
it is widely known that these recommendations are taken into account by government organisms when NGOs bring this to their attention. Consequently, we trust that APROMAR will bring the recommendations of Committee of Ministers to the attention of the Spanish prison authorities thanks to the Spanish non-official translations provided by the Centre de Estudis Juridics I Formació Especialitzada de la Generalitat de Cataluña.
In January 2014 our INGO EN-RE presented the Human Rights Committee with a suggestion for a working group called Human Rights, Codevelopment and Migrations, duly accepted, and coordinated the working group for the duration of its activity, organising the Side Event in January 2017 until it was adopted by the Conference of INGOs plenary session of 29th June 2017 as CONF/PLE(2017)Rec2.
Prior to that date, I had asked the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs following his visit to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, for an official Spanish translation of CM/Rec(2013)3 but having been informed that there were no funds available, translated it myself into Spanish and then presented it to the Ministry.
During 2018, mentioning my participation in the Conference of INGOs as a delegate of EN-RE, I wrote to the Social Corporate Responsibility Managers of several of the IBEX-35 (the Spanish equivalent of the French CAC-40) companies comparing their record on information on their activities concerning Human Rights and Labour Rights, recorded by the Spanish Observatory of Corporate Social Responsibility, and suggesting their reputation would be improved if they took into account the recommendations CONF/PLE(2017)2 and CM/Rec(2013)3.
One of these SCR managers, “Antonio” has told me how important it is for NGOs to write to companies suggesting Human Rights improvements since the SCR departments can in this way act to prevent business activities that might provoke contraventions of Human Rights. Antonio has insisted that I write to all the 125 companies quoted on the Madrid stock exchange and has helped me in phrasing the email (see below) and I have started to send it out in 2019 drawing attention to the Conference of INGOs page on Human Rights & Business.
Furthermore, EN-RE on its website tries to provide as much information as possible in English, French and Spanish on the functioning of the Conference of INGOs. We have also suggested our member groups check the periodical reports of the Council of Europe on their member States.
Through Redes Cristianas, EN-RE is represented by myself in the Plataforma por la Justicia Fiscal, a Spanish NGO, with a wide membership including Attac Spain & Oxfam Intermón, which campaigns with the Spanish government and society to promote the legal closing of loopholes for tax avoidance and tax evasion and encourage progressive taxation for higher income and wealth brackets in order to reduce the tax burden on lower incomes by high VAT rates. The object is to provide sufficient tax income to the Spanish government to finance the European Social Charter in all its revisions.
Hugo Castelli Eyre
European Network Church on the Move EN-RE, 20th February 2019
Translation of my email in Spanish to the 125 companies quoted on the Madrid stock exchange.
I want to propose something that will improve your company.
I have also been an immigrant. After my education in a British college and university studies, I arrived in Madrid and worked for more than 40 years in a company selling capital equipment in Spain.
But if I had been born in Guidimakha in an African family, and grown up seeing the economic hardship of my family and the death of my close relations for the want of only two Euros to buy medicines, I would have set out to try and reach Europe like the Ghanian Ousman Umar in his video No vengáis al paraiso (Don't come to paradise!) published recently in the newspaper El País. (To see this striking YoOigo video of 13,10 minutes in Spanish go down to the end of the article to the dark pink frame or continue to the end of this text to see my edited English googletranslate of the text shown in the article).
I doubt I would have resisted the dangerous path that Ousman took but I think that all migrants, Africans and others, that reach the Spanish coasts, are very worthwhile persons who can bring important benefits to our society if they are offered satisfactory employment.
For this reason, I would like to suggest a meeting to explain the ways in which your company can contribute to improving this reality.
Hugo Castellli Eyre, DNI 51729512M
Añastro 34, 28033 Madrid
+34 91 3020294/+34 629 875 548
“Don’t come to Paradise! an illustrated report published recently in the Spanish newspaper El Pais, translated into English using Google Translate and edited by Hugo Castelli Eyre, 20th February 2019.
“It was Ousman's second death. He had barely 200 meters to reach the oasis of Isir, a lost village somewhere in Libya. They had a very hard journey of 19 days through the Sahara desert, betrayed by the mafias, by the corrupt police and by their own dreams; 19 days drinking the water abandoned by those who had died f rom hunger or thirst on their way: "At first we buried them with the illusion of fulfilling a goal; in the end we did not look at them, "he tells us, resigned. Of the 46 that started, only six arrived alive.
But Ousman fainted at the gates of Eden, just after thinking that this was really the end, that he had not achieved the goal for which he had been dodging death for five years. The journey from Fiaso, a village of barely a hundred inhabitants in his native Ghana, to that place where cars and planes were built, where people were born with infinite wisdom, where men "were white because they ate raw" or where, simply, Barça played. But that paradise of the white man would have to wait for better owners.
Ousman's first death was just being born. His mother died in childbirth and he should have been sacrificed according to the rite of the Walas tribe, which considered children born in this way as impure and malignant. But fortunately his father was the shaman of the village and let him be born twice.
Only curiosity would accompany Ousman again and again during his life while he dodged death. The curiosity to build his own toys with cans and garbage when he was a child: "We did not have either wise men or big stores". The curiosity to wonder what the world would be like beyond his village, beyond the country he left behind when he was only 13 years old. “Why is the white man able to build all those machines that are seen in the sky?”
That curiosity led him to always get close to the wisest: when he was little, his friend JB, a specialist with the slingshot capable of knocking down birds in flight; or later to a distant uncle with a mechanics and welding workshop in the city of Techiman. There he left aged just 10 to learn the trade without receiving more wages than the owner’s leftovers of food. He endured only six months. The title is on one of his hands in the form of an acetylene burn. Ousman has a passion for cheating death.
Curiosity was mutating in learning and learning in life plans. Whilst repairing trucks, he learned the routes the truckers made to the sea through the north of Libya, and on hearing that his father had prepared for him a forced marriage in his native village he realised he needed to give his life more options. " I'm going to paradise. I want to be a pilot, engineer. Anything but black. "
He came in an open boat and took two degrees.
The third death of Ousman is that of any television newscast: "Several immigrants died when their open boat was wrecked on the coast of Fuerteventura". One of them was Musa, his best friend. Death would not touch him this time, either. He did not know how to swim but a lucky rock saved his life: "Several babies came with us that I never saw again", he tells us with glazed eyes during the interview.
The beginning of the end.
Because he was medically classified as a minor, he went from the rocks to the CIE (Center for the Internment of Foreigners) and from there to the streets of Barcelona. The only Spanish he knew was Barça, Barça so he was sent to Barcelona. On the first day he was singing and greeting strangers on the street, overcome with happiness for having conquered his coveted Eden, even if he had to eat hard bread from the rubbish bins and hold his urine for hours and hours: "According to my religion, you cannot spit in paradise, or even pass water" he recalls naively from those moments.
He spent 30 days sleeping in the open to rid himself of these ideas. And then, that protective angel who has accompanied Ousman throughout his life was reincarnated this time in Montse, a Catalan woman, and her husband, who decided to become his legal guardians until he came of age: "The first night she accompanied me to the bedroom; She put me in bed as if I were a five-year-old boy. She kissed me on the forehead, turned off the light and left. It is impossible to forget it. The world fell on me. I spent the whole night crying, wondering why. " But he did not cry of happiness, he cried to discover his purpose in life.
Ousman got really angry, he realized then that his lack of training and information is one of the most serious diseases on the planet, that his three deaths had to serve to give voice to those who had died on the way. That is why he learned Spanish, English and Catalan. He passed primary and secondary school exams and went to university. He worked mending bicycles to pay for his studies. He graduated in Public Relations, Marketing and Business Administration and obtained a master's degree in International Cooperation at ESADE ... Everything, in only 13 years after arriving in Spain in an open boat. In 2012, whilst being the only black man in Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona) Ousman spent 12,000 euros of his own savings to take computers to Ghana and close the cycle of his project; so that the children of Fiaso, who dreamed of following in his footsteps, would focus on life in a different way, where its priority was education and not the utopia of the whites:
"If you master computer science you can know what happens in any corner of the world." As simple as that, this is how his NGO Nasco Feeding Minds was born. It boasts an award by the UN for teaching computer studies to more than 6,000 girls and boys in northern in Ghana. Ousman also says in the video: “ I finally realised that white men can fly planes and become doctors, not because they’re white but because they have received education” Ousman's great desire was never to conquer paradise, nor to live in the land of dreams of the whites to enjoy its luxuries. Ousman's goal in life is everyones’: to complete his education and empower himself to forge his own destiny. No matter whether in the university, the classroom or the degree course, what matters is having access to knowledge to be able to model your future without barriers ... and walking seven kilometers a day to go to school was not the best way. Poverty is not living in a tribe, or not having a smartphone, poverty means having to survive death three times in order to access a worthwhile education: "Actually I have learned that the true paradise is there; that's why I want to finish my job again, "he confesses.” The impossible journey of Ousman has served to break the bubble of prejudice. His and ours. We all travel through different paths towards the same destination: trying to achieve happiness with the effort and commitment of our education.”