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Monday 12th June to Sunday 18th June 2023

Court Rules Local Authorities Must Protect Unaccompanied Children Seeking Asylum

The Family Division of the High Court has ruled that unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK are the responsibility of local authorities, which have full powers and duties to protect them under the Children Act 1989.

These children have been treated as if they are in legal limbo since 2021, without proper safeguarding, and hundreds have been reported missing. But on Friday the judge confirmed that local authorities have the responsibility to keep them safe and secure.

Earlier this year, a whistleblower revealed that dozens of children had gone missing from a hotel run by the Home Office. So children’s charity Article 39 – supported by Good Law Project – applied to the Family Court to consider making a cohort of children who went missing in Brighton and Hove “wards of court”, to ensure they would get the urgent protection they needed.

The judge ruled that the children could not be protected as wards of court because they are already protected by the Children Act 1989. This important clarification of the law means that local authorities must now uphold their safeguarding duties for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who come into their area.
Read more: Good Law Project, https://tinyurl.com/mr563zfy

Home Office Faces Legal Action Over Children Missing From UK Asylum Hotels

Placing unaccompanied children in hotels run by the Home Office is “unlawful”, according to a legal action launched after hundreds of youngsters living in them have gone missing. Launched on Monday by the charity ECPAT UK, the legal action argues that the Home Office has “no authority” to place unaccompanied children in asylum hotels, from where scores have been kidnapped by gangs.

Earlier this year the Observer revealed how dozens of asylum-seeking children were abducted by criminals from a single Home Office hotel in Brighton. In total, more than 400 unaccompanied children have gone missing from hotels run by the Home Office. Some are believed to have been trafficked; others, who disappeared from the south coast, have been found as far away as Scotland.

Of those who have disappeared, 154 are still missing according to a parliamentary debate last Thursday, with their whereabouts unknown despite police efforts to locate them.

ECPAT UK said it had repeatedly attempted to persuade ministers to end the “unsafe practice”. Yet the Home Office has yet to commit to an exit strategy for housing the children, who have recently arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats. The government has even doubled down on its position by seeking to legislate to grant the Home Office powers to accommodate unaccompanied children. Traditionally, local authorities have used their own powers to protect such children.

Read more: Mark Townsend, Guardian, https://tinyurl.com/4usb2xda

New EU Migration Deal Will Increase Suffering at Borders

Governments Pave the Way for Further Abuse: A June 8 agreement among European Union countries on asylum procedures and migration management is a recipe for more abuse at EU borders. Interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg endorsed policies that will entrench rights violations, including expedited procedures without sufficient safeguards, increased use of detention, and unsafe returns. The detailed agreement has not yet been published.

The deal creates an expedited “border procedure” for anyone applying for asylum following an irregular entry or disembarkation after a rescue at sea. The procedure would be mandatory for asylum seekers coming from countries whose nationals have a less than 20 percent rate of being granted some form of protection and anyone authorities say withheld or used false information. In practice, many if not most people will be channeled into these sub-standard accelerated procedures with fewer safeguards, such as legal aid, than the normal procedure.

People are also likely to be locked up during the procedure, which could take up to six months, with few exemptions for people with vulnerabilities, families, or children. Imposing this procedure in conjunction with detention or detention-like conditions is directly linked to the twin interests of many EU countries in preventing people traveling further into Europe from countries of first entry and in deporting people as swiftly as possible.

Read more: Judith Sunderland, Human Rights Watch, https://tinyurl.com/4xyj838b

[ Human Rights Watch Comment - EU Doubles Down on Suffering

Some EU politicians seem to have an inexhaustible willingness to punish the powerless. The EU has a deliberate “let them die” policy toward people drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. EU member states like Greece and Italy even criminalize saving lives on the open waters. The EU is complicit in torture of migrants returned to Libya.

At EU land borders like Croatia and Poland, the violence of national security forces is extreme. Yet, it gets a nod and a wink from Brussels, which refuses to uphold the EU’s human rights obligations and even EU law.

The EU’s latest assault on human dignity came last week with a new agreement on asylum procedures and migration management by EU member state interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg. It is, as my colleague and expert Jude Sunderland says, “a recipe for more abuse at EU borders.”

The deal creates an expedited “border procedure.” Many if not most people seeking asylum will be channeled into a sub-standard, accelerated process with fewer normal safeguards, such as legal aid. People are also likely to be put in detention during the procedure, with few exemptions for the most vulnerable, or those with children.

The priority is simply to lock people up and deport them as quickly as possible.]

UK Funding Violence to Halt Asylum Seekers In Turkey

Last year Turkey said it “turned back” 238,448 migrants at its eastern border with Iran. Video evidence seen by the Guardian shows cases of extreme violence and force used against Afghan migrants attempting to cross the border into Turkey. This includes the authorities firing live bullet rounds as people flee, including at the feet of children; beatings using rifle butts; robberies; humiliation tactics and pushing people back to the other side of the border.

Mahmut Kaçan, a Turkish lawyer working on asylum and human rights abuses, said the deaths and pushbacks on the border began escalating two years ago. “The UNHCR never criticises or mentions what Turkey is doing at the border. They are complicit in the deaths of these people, as are the EU and other countries that are giving money to Turkey for border security.”

A source with knowledge of the Home Office International Operations team said Turkey had become “a country of emerging importance [to the UK government] in the last two to three years and is now seen as strategically crucial to border securitisation. We offer our expertise and provide officials [locally] with evidence, showing the routes we think illegal migrants or gangs are operating along,” the source said. “It’ll probably be along the lines of: ‘This is a route smugglers and illegal migrants use to get to the UK, we need to do more to stop it.’ The Turkish government will then respond by saying: ‘This is what we need to be able to do that’, and then we fund it, basically.”

Read more: Nicola Kelly, Guardian, https://tinyurl.com/yck2bus6

Poor and Overcrowded Conditions at Manston IRC Put Detainees at Risk

Manston Short Term Holding Centre, a holding facility for asylum seekers, remains overcrowded due to the Home Office’s lack of hotel provision for detainees. With increasing arrivals, detainees have been subjected to longer stays at the facility than intended, which has led to difficulties in management. At the last HM Inspectorate of Prisons inspection in the summer of 2022, officials identified leadership as a main problem within Manston. Due to insufficient organisation and allocation of services, lack of coordination between the agencies and their roles has become an issue.

The Home Office had on record the overall amount of small boat arrival referrals made to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). However, these referrals were unable to be divided into type, whether by adult or child, along with the referral’s location. Therefore, 91 vulnerable adult warning forms were handled by Mitie personnel, which only equated to .5% of the overall migrants moving through the facility. The inspectorate found that no other agencies in charge of vulnerable detainee supervision provided adequate plans for proper support. As a result, at risk migrants could easily be overlooked and neglected.

The Mitie staff appeared distracted and disengaged with the migrants, instead talking amongst themselves behind the desk. Disregard for the migrants intended to receive Mitie’s care was evident. Detainees were having difficulty getting their problems resolved, lacking the information needed to settle their issues. In addition, they lacked faith in the prospect that their welfare obstructions were being handled in the appropriate fashion.

Read more; Gabrielle Purcell: Justice Gap: https://tinyurl.com/nkdmj86d


Obituary for the Nationality and Borders Act 2022

It was always a counterproductive policy, as we warned the government at the time. It deterred no-one but it did create much more work for the Home Office, at a time when the asylum backlog was already soaring uncontrollably.

Colin Yeo, wrote on 22 June 2022 when the details of the policy were announced: “The policy exemplifies Priti Patel’s modern Home Office. It pretends to be tough as old boots but in reality it creates genuine but fairly minor problems for very vulnerable people with no likely policy outcomes achieved. What it does do is make more work for officials, thereby worsening the backlogs in the asylum system. It is not just pointless; it is actually counterproductive”.

The whole episode calls into question the quality of ministers holding one of the highest offices in the land in one of government’s most important departments, the ascendancy of politics over reality and the quality of advice given to ministers. The Home Office’s institutional fingerprints were all over that legislation.

You might have thought that abandoning such a landmark policy might give pause for thought about the current one. But no. We’ll soon be writing a similar obituary for the Illegal Migration Bill, no matter who forms the next government. Like the 2022 legislation before it, it is unworkable and counterproductive and will need to be abandoned soon after it takes effect. The ministers responsible will all have moved on, though. It’s all about the short term politics. They are an absolute shower, the lot of them.

Source: Freemovement, https://tinyurl.com/2p9aveed

UN Report Reveals Chronic Bias Against Women Over Last Decade

“Social norms that impair women’s rights are detrimental to society more broadly, dampening the expansion of human development,” said Pedro Conceição, head of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office.

A new UN report launched on Monday revealed no improvement in the level of prejudice shown against women over the past decade, with almost nine out of 10 men and women worldwide, still holding such biases. “Half of people worldwide still believe men make better political leaders than women, and more than 40 per cent believe men make better business executives than women,” according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in its latest Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) report.

The more things change
A staggering 25 per cent of people believe it is justified for a man to beat his wife, according to the report, reflecting the latest data from the World Values Survey. The report argues that these biases drive hurdles faced by women, manifested in a dismantling of women’s rights in many parts of the world with movements against gender equality gaining traction and, in some countries, a surge of human rights violations.

Biases are also reflected in the severe underrepresentation of women in leadership. On average, the share of women as heads of State or heads of government has remained around 10 per cent since 1995 and in the labour market women occupy less than a third of managerial positions.

Read more: UN News, https://tinyurl.com/233m39fh

IRR: Calendar of Racism and Resistance - Asylum/Migration/Borders /Citizenship

Asylum and Migrant Rights

16 May: A leaked letter reveals that the Home Office is to ‘fast-track’ asylum claims by Iranians and Iraqis, who will be required to complete detailed questionnaires in English and attend a shortened interview, with non-compliance leading to refusal of claims. (Guardian, 16 May 2023)

17 May: In Portugal, immigrants with residency rights launch a petition for family reunification rights, stating that they have been left in limbo since the immigration authorities (SEF) stopped giving appointments, with none available across the country. (Portugal News, 17 May 2023)

18 May: Euro-Med Monitor’s new report, ‘Happiness, love and understanding’: the protection of unaccompanied minors across the EU reveals that compared with accompanied minors they suffer more detention, disappearances, and lack of education. (Middle East Monitor, 18 May 2023)

16 May: Prime minister Rishi Sunak uses his address at the Council of Europe summit to argue for stronger action to end ‘illegal’ migration, and defends his plan to ignore rulings from the European Court of Human Rights over the Rwanda policy. (Guardian, 16 May 2023)

19 May: Dozens of asylum seekers in Wales find themselves without legal representation as law firms are forced to drop their cases because retrospective legal aid funding means they wait for years while the Home Office fails to decide asylum claims. (Wales Online, 19 May 2023)

23 May: The home secretary Suella Braverman is accused of breaking the ministerial code over a failure to formally disclose years of previous work with the Africa Justice Foundation, a charity providing training to Rwandan government lawyers. Several people she worked with are now key members of President Paul Kagame’s government and are involved in the UK’s £140m deal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Borders and Internal controls
10 May: Rescues in the Channel by the volunteer-run Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) increased from 9 in 2013 to almost 100 in 2021, it is reported, as the UK coastguard tasks RNLI to rescue migrant boats in distress. (inews, 10 May 2023)

19 May: Video footage of an illegal ‘pushback’ in April in Lesvos, Greece, is published by the New York Times, which says the footage amounts to a ‘shocking indictment’ of the centre-right government which has always denied the practice and is currently fighting an election campaign on the basis that its immigration policies are ‘tough but fair’. (Guardian, 19 May 2023)

Reception and Detention
10 May: Internal EU documents obtained by Al Jazeera reveal that a new generation of EU-funded refugee camps on the Greek Aegean islands struggle to deliver basic services and safeguards to even the most vulnerable asylum seekers, with sexual and other violence impacting children. (Al Jazeera, 11 May 2023)

11 May: Afghan refugees uprooted from London to a Yorkshire hotel in March receive an eviction notice signed by Suella Braverman, as the Home Office says residents may not receive an offer of alternative housing and must find their own accommodation. (Guardian, 16 May 2023)

14 May: The chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council says the Department of Housing and the Dublin Region Homelessness Executive must act urgently to expand their homeless service to assist asylum seekers sleeping rough and targeted by the far Right. (RTE, 14 May 2023)

15 May: An investigation by the Irish Times finds that almost a dozen companies were paid more than €10 million each under State contracts to provide accommodation to asylum seekers, with one hotel group paid more than €80 million from State contracts. (Irish Times, 15 May 2023)

16 May: As protesters block road access to a hostel being used to house asylum seekers in Inch, Co Clare, Ireland, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin says the government and local authorities will engage with communities to ‘ease’ their concerns. Clare Immigrant Support offers assistance to the newly-arrived asylum seekers. (RTE, 16 May 2023)

18 May: The Italian government announces that Friuli Venezzia-Giulia will be the first region in northern Italy to host a ‘hotspot’ to accommodate an upsurge in migrants arriving via the ‘Balkan route’ and will include a detention and repatriation facility. (Balkan Insight, 18 May 2023)

22 May: In Ireland, police launch an investigation after a 70-year-old man is hit in the face by a torch after approaching two men protesting against migrants in School, Co Clare. In Santry, Dublin, a small group of masked men stop taxis and buses entering the Airways Industrial Estate, as a new anti-migrant blockade begins. (RTE, 22 May 2023; Irish Times, 22 May 2023)

20 May: An investigation at five Home Office hotels in and around Liverpool hears reports of institutional abuse by hostile and racist staff, intimidation of vulnerable people, poor management of medicines, and instructions to deny people food and water. (Observer, 20 May 2023)

21 May: The body of an unnamed man who was awaiting a decision on his asylum claim and staying in a hotel in Kegworth, Leicestershire, is found by the river Soar after passersby reported finding discarded clothing and personal items on the bank. (Metro, 21 May 2023)

21 May: Over 20 groups in Falmouth protest the use of the ‘floating prison’ Bibby Stockholm to house asylum seekers claiming it will re-traumatise vulnerable people many who have already experienced sea-related trauma. (Cornwall Live, 21 May 2023)

19 May: Defence minister James Heappey refuses to support an Afghan air force veteran who served alongside British forces and is facing deportation to Rwanda having arrived in a small boat. The minister refuses to correct his false statement to parliament that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of Afghans have applied for resettlement. (Independent, 19 May 2023)

22 May: An Afghan colonel who worked with UK forces in Helmand province and was forced to flee to the UK in a small boat after his resettlement application went unanswered is threatened with deportation to Rwanda. (Independent, 22 May 2023)



Opinions Regarding Immigration Bail

36 Deaths Across the UK Detention Estate

UK Human Rights and Democracy 2020

Hunger Strikes in Immigration Detention

Charter Flights January 2016 Through December 2020

A History of

Immigration Solicitors

Villainous Mr O