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News & Views Monday 6th July to Sunday 12th July 2020

 

Refugees Who Dare To Aspire

Aspirations result from imagining better alternatives to the present. They drive people to improve their conditions and those of their families and communities. Aggregated together they have the power to change whole societies. Aspirations are not, however, evenly distributed. Some people aspire more than others, while others are prevented by their circumstances from doing so.

Poverty, suffering and violence can profoundly affect one’s ability to aspire for a better future. So can displacement. People who have been forced to leave their homes have watched their previous life plans shatter and often live in appalling circumstances. Dreams can be an unbearable burden for refugees struggling to survive. For others they are a way of coping with and enduring a very difficult present. Refugees know that aspirations can be both a blessing and a curse.

This roundtable is about the aspirations of individuals fleeing violence, persecution, and deprivation, as told by researchers and practitioners who have spoken with them in the places they now live. We hope to learn three main things from our roundtable participants.

Read more: Open Democracy, https://is.gd/9jKj3A


Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - July 2020

Deteriorated Situations: Nile Waters, Mali, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Korean Peninsula, Taiwan, StraitIndia (non-Kashmir)Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Belarusm Venezuelam Mexicom Lebanonm Saudi Arabiam, Yemen

Outlook for July 2020 - Conflict Risk Alerts: Israel/Palestine, Libya - Resolution Opportunities: None

Global Overview July 2020: The latest edition of Crisis Group’s monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in June in sixteen countries and conflict situations – the majority in Africa and Asia. In India, counter-insurgency operations inside Jammu and Kashmir sharply intensified, while the most lethal border clashes in over five decades with China killed at least twenty Indian soldiers. In Ethiopia, frictions heightened between the federal government and Tigray region over the electoral calendar, and the killing of a popular ethnic Oromo musician sparked deadly unrest in the capital Addis Ababa and the Oromia region. Meanwhile, criminal groups’ persistent violence led to Mexico’s deadliest day in 2020 on 8 June, setting the country on course for its bloodiest year on record.

Looking ahead to July, CrisisWatch warns of two conflict risks. In Israel/Palestine, a potential parliamentary vote to extend Israeli sovereignty over portions of the West Bank could significantly raise tensions. In Libya, fighting could escalate after the front line shifted eastward around the strategic city of Sirte and Egypt threatened military intervention.

Source: Crisis Watch, https://www.crisisgroup.org/crisiswatch



Migrant Women Deliberately Left Out of UK Abuse Bill

Domestic abuse campaigners and victims have accused the government of not valuing the lives of migrant women in forthcoming legislation on the issue. The Step Up Migrant Women coalition – a collection of more than 50 BAME specialist frontline services, migrant and human rights organisations including the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, Southall Black Sisters and Amnesty International UK – has accused the government of leaving a “gaping hole” in the groundbreaking legislation, arguing that it will not provide any support for abused migrant women who have no recourse to public funds. “The decision to leave migrant women out of this bill sends the message that their lives are not valued, they are disposable, they are second-class people, they are invisible,” said Pragna Patel, the director of Southall Black Sisters.

Currently, domestic violence victims on spousal visas can access support for three months, but women on any other visa with a “no recourse to public funds” stipulation cannot. “With this bill, the government isn’t just invisibilising abused migrant women, it’s worse than that,” said Patel. “It knows they exist but it is deliberately choosing to ignore their needs.”

Read more: Alexandra Topping, Guardian, https://is.gd/zpybRD



Briefing: What is ihe Law on Deporting Non-EU Foreign Criminals and Their Human Rights?

Deportation proceedings pit the rights of the individual against those of the state, appointed guardian of the public interest. And as very clearly stated in primary legislation, the deportation of foreign criminals is in the public interest.The law in this area is rent through with politics, shifting relentlessly with headlines, changes to rules or legislation, and the latest decisions of the courts. The shifts over the past several years have been unremitting, although the law has started to settle down.

In this briefing we consider the recent history of deportation law in the UK, the people who will be subject to these rules, and the arguments available to those seeking to challenge decisions to deport them. Section 32(5) of the UK Borders Act 2007 mandates that, unless certain circumstances apply, the Home Secretary must make a deportation order against a “foreign criminal”, defined in the same Act as a person who has been convicted of an offence and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment as a result. The exception most commonly relied upon is that contained in section 33(2)(a): that removal of the individual would breach his or her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and in particular the right to family and private life under Article 8.

Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/Tk8vYS



ECHR: Forced Prostitution Covered by Article 4

S.M. v Croatia (application no. 60561/14) is an odd case to read. It is very long, running to 356 paragraphs and several concurring judgments, and refers to a wide variety of international law sources. But its conclusion is straightforward: forced prostitution falls within the scope of Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, either as an instance of trafficking or as an instance of forced labour, slavery or servitude, depending on the facts. The court went on to find that the Croatian criminal justice system had failed SM in a variety of ways, violating her Article 4 rights.

SM is a Croatian woman subjected to forced prostitution. A former police officer contacted her via Facebook claiming to be able to help her find a job. Instead, he forced her to have sex for money and kept half of it. He used a variety of means to coerce her into having sex with clients, including force, threats of force and close monitoring. The man also made all the arrangements for her meetings with clients and lent her money. It was pretty clear from the outset that the three elements of trafficking were present. The act of recruitment had taken place, various coercive means were used and the purpose was exploitation and forced labour.

The court began its judgment by confirming that trafficking under Article 4 ECHR does not need to be transnational in nature. It explained that the wider definition of trafficking used in the European Convention Against Trafficking should be preferred to the more limited decision in the Palermo Protocol, which was drafted to specifically target trafficking by transnational organised crime groups:

Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/mQZtfy


Asylum Research Centre (ARC) - Sri Lanka: Country Report

Covering the period between 1 January 2020 and 19 May 2020

The report covers the following broad issues:

I. Background Information

II. Political Developments since 2018

III. Security Situation

IV. Rule of Law/Administration of Justice

V. Human Rights Situation

VI. Trafficking in Persons

VII. Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

VIII. Returnees

IX. COVID-19 and impact on human rights

Download the full report: https://is.gd/xRHcVP


More Money For Trafficking Victims With Kids After Legal Challenge

Government subsistence payments to potential and confirmed victims of human trafficking have increased from 1 July 2020 the following increases apply. The Home Office says that it is: Increasing the weekly payment to those in outreach support… from £35 to £39.60.

Increasing the weekly payment for child dependents from £20.50 for the first child and £13.55 for each additional child, to £39.60 per child.

Introducing new additional weekly payments for very young children:
£5 per week up to the child’s first birthday
£3 per week from the day after the child’s first birthday until their third birthday.

Introducing new weekly payments of £3 for pregnant women.
Introducing a new one-off maternity grant of £300…

This follows a legal challenge by the law firm Duncan Lewis, which says that its client relied on charity to supplement the £20.50 weekly payment to support her new baby. A victim of “horrific sexual abuse” at the hands of Chinese traffickers, the previous subsistence rates left her without “basic necessities” such as baby shoes, dummies and blankets.The Home Office concession brings support payments for trafficking victims who are not claiming asylum in line with asylum support rates. The basic rate of asylum support went up to £39.60 a week on 15 June. Duncan

Lewis had argued that there was “no objective justification” for providing a lower level of support to victims of trafficking who aren’t in the asylum system. Solicitor Shalini Patel said, “I am very pleased that this challenge has resulted in a positive change which will impact so many victims of trafficking who are pregnant or have children”.

Source: Freemovement, https://is.gd/a0kjvs


EU Receives One-Third of Global Asylum Applications in 2019

In 2019, applications for asylum in EU+ countries1 rose by 11% to 738 425, followed by a 16% increase recorded in the first two months of 2020.2 While the COVID-19 emergency has led to a recent 87% drop in applications, EASO expects the overall increasing trend to resume.

On 25 June 2020, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published its annual flagship EASO Asylum Report. It presents a comprehensive overview of the latest key developments in asylum data, policy, practice and legislation. Member State-specific data can be found here.

The Report finds that 2019 was the first time since 2015 that applications increased on an annual basis, in part due to a sharp rise in applicants from Venezuela (+103% over 2018) and Colombia (+214% over 2018). Some EU+ countries – such as Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta and Spain – received more asylum applications in 2019 than during the so-called migration crisis in 2015 and 2016.

In response, EU+ countries receiving high shares of asylum applicants ramped up efforts to address the influx of migrants, disembarkations and rising backlogs of pending cases. In particular, policies and practices targeted protecting unaccompanied minors, accelerating registrations, fast-tracking the return of rejected applicants and expanding accommodation places. Nonetheless, first instance procedures were lengthy in most countries, frequently extending past the six-month legal time limit.

In 2019, the majority of asylum applications were lodged in Germany (165 615; 22%), France (128 940; 17%) and Spain (117 795; 16%), while the fewest were lodged in Liechtenstein (50), Estonia (105) and Latvia (195). Most asylum applicants were Syrians (80 205; 11%), Afghans (60 700; 8.2%) and Venezuelans (45 645; 6.2%).

Read more: European Asylum Support Office, https://is.gd/tcsIy6


Woman loses Legal Challenge to NHS Charges For Pregnant Migrants

A woman who faces decades of repayments to the NHS for maternity care has lost a case in the high court challenging the government’s healthcare charging regime for migrants. The woman, who cannot be named, brought the legal challenge along with the charity Maternity Action, which works to end inequality and improve healthcare for pregnant women. It will come as a blow to hundreds of impoverished migrant women who are pregnant. Last year Maternity Action provided advice to 400 such women.

The woman, who had been subjected to female genital mutilation and is incurring NHS charges of £10,636 for maternity care – a debt she is paying back at £10 a month – argued that the charging regime for migrants deters, delays or denies access to healthcare for pregnant women, those giving birth or those who need postnatal treatment. She and the charity were seeking permission to judicially review government policies but the judge, Mrs Justice Whipple, rejected the case. Whipple said she was not granting permission for the case to proceed, not because of “a lack of sympathy” for the disadvantaged group the case applied to, but because the case had been brought out of time as it referred to charging rules introduced by the government in 2015. She could not see a legal basis for the claim, which related to matters of policy, which needed to be addressed by parliament, and not to matters of law.

Read more: Dianne Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/1tlJHk



Pregnant and Disabled Asylum Seekers Placed in Hotels for Months During Lockdown

Hundreds of asylum seekers including pregnant women, disabled people and young children have been living in hotels across the UK for months, where they are restricted to set meals and given no financial support for travel and basic essentials, The Independent can reveal. People waiting for decisions on their asylum claims began being moved into dozens of hotels at the end of March, after the Home Office ordered its asylum housing contractors to source additional accommodation in anticipation of backlogs in the system following the decision to pause asylum evictions in response to Covid-19. Charities have warned of a deterioration in mental health and wellbeing among those in the 33 hotels that have been procured by the contractors across the country. While in the hotels, asylum seekers are stripped of their financial support of £5.39 a day on the basis that they are provided with meals, leaving them unable to buy additional supplies such as toiletries and baby milk, and unable to use public transport.

The Home Office admitted on Wednesday that there may be problems around leaving people without financial support for three months, with the second permanent secretary telling MPs that the immigration minister was “looking at” the issue. All three contractors, Mears, Serco and Clearsprings, have raised concern about the cuts to asylum support. It comes after concerns about the conditions for asylum seekers living in hotels were heightened in the wake of an unprovoked knife attack at one of the hotels in Glasgow, where a resident stabbed three other asylum seekers, two staff and a police officer.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent, https://is.gd/r52OwZ



Denial of Women's Concerns Contributed to Decades of Medical Scandals

An arrogant culture in which serious medical complications were dismissed as “women’s problems” contributed to a string of healthcare scandals over several decades, an inquiry ordered by the government has found. The review of vaginal mesh, hormonal pregnancy tests and an anti-epilepsy medicine that harmed unborn babies paints a damning picture of a medical establishment that failed to acknowledge problems even in the face of mounting safety concerns, leading to avoidable harm to patients. Instead, women routinely had symptoms attributed to psychological issues or it being “that time of life”, with “anything and everything women suffer perceived as a natural precursor to, part of, or a post-symptomatic phase of, the menopause”, the inquiry heard. “For the women concerned, this was tantamount to a complete denial of their concerns and being written off by a system that was supposed to care,” the review, chaired by Baroness Julia Cumberlege, concluded.

The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review was ordered by the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in 2018 amid concerns about vaginal mesh operations. The implants were marketed as a less invasive treatment for urinary incontinence and prolapse – conditions that are commonly linked to childbirth – but the Guardian revealed that many women were left with traumatic complications following the surgery. The review also focused on Primodos, a hormone pregnancy test taken by women between the 1950s and 1978, associated with damage to children born to mothers who took it, and sodium valproate, a treatment for epilepsy known to cause harm to babies if taken during pregnancy. Cumberlege said the pain experienced by so many women and their families was beyond anything she had previously encountered. “Much of this suffering was entirely avoidable, caused and compounded by failings in the health system itself,” she said. “We couldn’t believe that people had gone through so much agony and suffering and had been ignored. We did believe them.” It was notable that all three cases primarily affected women, she added. “As women, we know when things are not right with our bodies,” she said. “We are the first to know. When that information is ignored, it is simply belittling and adds to the suffering.”

Read more: Hannah Devlin, Guardian, https://is.gd/oHbAl8