Do Not Withdraw Asylum Claim Prior to Applying for AVR
Since April 2011, Refugee Action's Choices service has been delivering the Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) Programmes, jointly funded by UKBA and the European Returns Fund, for asylum seekers and irregular migrants seeking to return to their country of origin. Many of Refugee Action's clients are signposted to us by immigration solicitors and advisers.
However, there have been a number of instances where solicitors have wrongly advised their clients that they have to withdraw their asylum claim before applying for AVR. This advice is incorrect: asylum seekers with on-going or appeal-rights-exhausted asylum claims are still eligible for AVR. Moreover, withdrawing an asylum claim prior to applying for AVR can be detrimental to asylum seekers wishing to return: if single individuals (as opposed to a family) withdraw their asylum claim before applying for AVR, they will still be eligible for AVR, but will become ineligible for the financial assistance that they may otherwise have received through the relevant AVR programme.
For more information please contact Refugee Action on 0808 800 0007
Indonesia: Religious Minorities Targets of Rising Violence
The Indonesian government is failing to confront militant groups whose thuggish harassment and assaults on houses of worship and members of religious minorities has become increasingly aggressive. Those targeted include Ahmadiyahs, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Indonesian monitoring groups have noted a steady increase in such attacks, one group finding 264 violent incidents over the past year.
Read more: Human Rights Watch, <>28/02/13
Announced Full Follow-up Inspection of Tinsley House IRC
Inspection 8 -11 October 2012 by HMCIP, report compiled December 2012, published 27/02/13
Tinsley House holds up to 119 male detainees, and also has an adjoining facility for families with children which can hold up to eight families. Over the previous 12 months, just over 40 families had been held in the family unit, normally for a matter of hours.
Inspectors were concerned to find that:
- some detainees in self-harm crisis were placed improperly in the separation room;
- although primary health care was satisfactory, clinical governance was weak and there were some concerning risks in pharmacy and mental health services; and
- welfare services could still be developed to meet more complex welfare needs.
- Families should not be subjected to excessive stays in airport holding rooms and should be escorted promptly to the centre
- 18 recommendations from the last report had not been achieved
- 16 Recommendations had only been partly achieved
- From October 2011 to September 2012, 43 families and 56 children had stayed in the family unit. The average length of stay for children was approximately 21 hours. The majority of families who stayed at the unit had been refused entry at the border and were being returned to their country of origin on the first available flight. The shortest stay was five hours and the longest 135 hours, which was a family seeking asylum.
Read more here . . . . .
Online Lobby: Protect Pregnant Women Seeking Asylum
Asylum seeking women often have very poor health and may have experienced torture or sexual violence in their own countries. They need high quality care and sometimes specialist services during pregnancy to ensure that they and their babies are safe and healthy.
However the UK Border Agency makes this impossible by moving them to housing across the country, sometimes multiple times, uprooting them from friends and family and taking them away from their midwife and specialist healthcare they have been receiving. Not only does this put the health of mother and baby at risk, it leaves women isolated and vulnerable. Many give birth alone, and struggle to cope as new mothers in an unknown place, with very little or no money to provide for their babies.
A simple change in government policy could protect these women and their babies.
Join Refugee Council online lobby of MPs <> here . . . .
EDM 1094: Urgent Action To Condemn and Stop Executions In Iran
That this House is deeply concerned by the increasing number of executions in Iran, where 600 people have been executed in 2012, including many in public; notes that two men, aged 20 and 23, accused of stealing the equivalent of 35 euros, were hanged brutally in public on 16 January 2013 in front of their terrified family members and their horrified and crying young sisters; further notes that thousands of prisoners are on death row including political prisoners from Kurdish, Balouch and Arab ethnic minorities, those affiliated with the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) and even prisoners under the age of 18; further notes three political prisoners were killed under torture in December 2012; further notes that Mr Gholamreza Khosravi, a PMOI supporter whose death sentence has been upheld by the regime's Supreme Court, could face execution at any moment and that Mr Khosravi has been charged with providing financial support to an opposition satellite TV channel; further notes that Iran's leaders and high ranking judiciary, military and intelligence officials are responsible for the execution of more than 120,000 political prisoners, including the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988; and urges the Government to condemn in the strongest terms torture and executions in Iran and to take urgent measures to stop this criminal trend.
Sponsors: Bruce, Malcolm / Durkan, Mark / George, Andrew / Russell, Bob / Sawford, Andy <> House of Commons: 25/02/2013
UKBA's Dispersal Policy 'Puts Pregnant Asylum Seekers at Risk'
A report published today Monday 25th February by the Maternity Action and the Refugee Council says that the immigration authorities are endangering the health of pregnant asylum seeking women and their babies by moving them to accommodation around the country and so removing them from essential healthcare and leaving them isolated.
It also outlines cases of women who have been separated from the father of their child and left to give birth alone in a new area with no access to interpreters and others who have been moved several times during their pregnancies. The report also says that midwives are not always informed when their patients were moved and spent time searching for them. Scans and tests also had to be repeated in the new areas.
Read more: Alan Travis,g uardian.co.uk , <> 25/02/13
Afghan Police Accused of Corruption and Child Abuse
BBC Panorama reporter Ben Anderson spent five weeks with US Marines working to advise Afghan security forces in Helmand province. While he was there he witnessed corruption and criminality among the Afghan police force.
Read more: BBC News, <> 25/02/13
Unaccompanied Minor Cannot be Removed to Third Country
When an unaccompanied minor has lodged asylum applications with more than one Member State, the Member State responsible for examining the application will be that where the most recent application was lodged.
For this to apply, no member of the minor's family must be legally present in another Member State and the minor's best interests must not require a different solution
European Court of Justice, case MA, BT and DA
Another Death at Harmondsworth IRC
Alois Dvorzac an 84-year-old Canadian man has died after becoming ill at Harmondsworth IRC. He was said to be "extremely distressed" before being rushed to hospital on Sunday 10th February 2013. He died later that day in hospital after suffering a suspected heart attack.
The United Kingdom Borders Agency refused to confirm or deny the death and would not say why Dvorzac was in detention. The Canadian high commission in London said they were aware of reports of a Canadian who was detained in London and had since died. A spokeswoman said the high commissioner in London was in contact with the local authorities. She added: "Due to the Privacy Act, no additional information can be released at this time." It was a "sad case", she said.
The centre is managed by the private company GEO on behalf of UKBA. It is the largest immigration detention centre in Europe.
Read more: Eric Allison, guardian.co.uk, 19/02/13
18 Deaths Across the UK Detention Estate
Immigration Concession for Syrian Nationals (Renewal)
The Minister for Immigration (Mr Mark Harper): I am today announcing the renewal of concessions to the immigration rules for Syrian nationals lawfully in the UK.
In the light of the ongoing violent conflict in Syria it has been decided that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) should continue to operate some discretion to enable Syrians legally in the UK to extend their stay here.
Syrians in the UK with valid leave (or leave which has expired within the last 28 days) in specified visa categories will continue to be able to apply to extend their stay in that visa category, or switch into a different specified category from within the UK (with some restrictions) rather than being required to return home first. Those applying will still need to meet the requirements of the relevant visa category, pay the appropriate fee, and adhere to the normal conditions of that category—no access to public funds, for example. If a required document is not accessible due to the civil unrest in Syria UKBA may apply its discretion and the requirement to provide that document may be waived where appropriate.
These concessions will remain in force for one year from today. The Government continue to monitor the situation in Syria closely in order to ensure our response is appropriate and that any emerging risks are addressed.
House of Commons / 28 Feb 2013 : Column 34WS
EDM 1114: Afghanistan Legacy (Murder/rape/child abuse)
That this House is saddened by Panorama's account of the legacy of the UK's sacrifices in Afghanistan that revealed the Afghan police as an ill-disciplined, drug addicted force practising endemic child abuse, corruption, kidnapping, murder and the looting of equipment paid for by British taxpayers; is distressed to hear of the absence of remorse following the murder of three boys killed when attempting to escape from police abuse; and recalls that 440 British soldiers died attempting to improve life in Afghanistan.
Sponsors: Flynn, Paul - <> House of Commons: 26/02/2013
Early Day Motion 1113: Western Sahara And Human Rights
That this House notes the concerns raised by Amnesty International and other organisations over the trial and sentencing of 24 civilian Saharawi human rights activists by a military tribunal; further notes the increasing human rights abuses in the Western Sahara; acknowledges the need for MINURSO to be given a human rights monitoring mandate; and calls on the Government to make representations to the Moroccan government to revoke the politically motivated and unjust sentences against the 24 Saharawi human rights activists, to release all Saharawi prisoners in Moroccan jails and to allow access to the Saharawi territories under Morocco's occupation by independent observers and international media.
Sponsors: Corbyn, Jeremy /Evans, Jonathan / Flynn, Paul / Williams, Mark / Williams, Roger <> House of Commons: 26/02/2013
Côte d'Ivoire : Widespread Human Rights Violations Continue
A repressive cycle of widespread human rights violations by the armed forces pursuing former President Laurent Gbagbo's supporters is making reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire ever more elusive.
The national army, set up by President Alassane Ouattara in order to integrate forces loyal to the former President in the wake of the 2010 post-election violence which led to nearly 3,000 deaths, was supposed to ensure "the safety of person and property without distinction" and "be a powerful instrument for national cohesion".
But the truth behind this public gloss is that this new national army, along with an armed militia of traditional hunters - the Dozos - are carrying out extra-judicial executions, deliberate and arbitrary killings, politically motivated arrests and torture. They are acting with almost total impunity under the pretence of ensuring security and fighting against perpetrators of armed attacks.
Read more: <> Reliefweb, 26/02/13
Queen on application of AZ (by litigation friend, Kathleen UpsdaleThe claimant (to whom I shall hereafter refer to as AZ) challenges an age assessment dated 6 January 2012 carried out by Hampshire County Council (the defendant). The age assessment concluded that the claimant's date of birth is 6 January 1993 (indicating that AZ would have been 19 years old at the time of the assessment). AZ claims that he was born on 10 January 1996 and that he was, therefore, four days short of his 16th birthday on 6 January 2012.
On the basis of my assessment, I make a declaration that the claimant was born on 10 January 1996.
Early Day Motion 1095: Human Rights In Bangladesh
That this House notes with alarm the worsening human rights situation in Bangladesh, including extrajudicial killings, disappearance of political activists and opposition members, the lack of an independent judiciary, and high levels of violence against women; further notes the 2013 World Report by Human Rights Watch, which says that Bangladesh's overall human rights situation worsened in 2012, as the government narrowed political and civil society space, shielded abusive security forces from accountability, and ignored calls to reform laws and procedures in flawed war crimes and mutiny trials; condemns human rights violations of all kinds, wherever they occur; and calls on the Government to put pressure on the Bangladeshi government to take urgent steps to end these human rights violations.
Sponsors: Huppert, Julian / Durkan, Mark / George, Andrew / Russell, Bob <> House of Commons: 25/02/2013
Bangladesh: Climate Of Impunity Prevents Protection Of Human Rights
Torture and other ill-treatment are widespread in Bangladesh and committed with virtual impunity by all security agencies - the police, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), and the army - acting alone or together. Only in cases where the victim dies in custody are any allegations of torture or ill-treatment investigated within the criminal justice system. Even then, if the alleged perpetrators are RAB or army personnel, no credible investigation ever takes place. Many hundreds, possibly thousands, of surviving torture victims under successive governments have little hope of ever receiving justice.
Read more: AI Submission to UN <>Universal Periodic Review
Garden Court Chambers - Immigration Law Bulletin - Issue 313
Justice for Odette Sefuko - Seeking Sanctuary and Justice
Emergency protest: Wednesday 27th February, 12:00 noon
Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield, S1 2HH
Odette Sefuko came to the UK five years ago, to seek safety and live a life free from persecution. She is a fighter for minority rights and women's rights in DR Congo, and now Odette is fighting for her right to sanctuary in the UK.
Odette is as much-loved and valued member of the community in Sheffield, active as a volunteer for the Northern Refugee Centre, St Mary's Lunch Club and Low Edges Conversation Club. Her friends and the wider Sheffield community have rallied round to support her campaign for justice.
Removal directions have been set for Monday 4th March 2013
If you can help Odette campaign against deportation go <>here . . . .
Sri Lanka's Authoritarian Turn
As the UN Human Rights Council prepares to open its 22nd session next week, the Sri Lankan government has made no meaningful progress on either reconciliation or accountability and instead has accelerated the country's authoritarian turn, with attacks on the judiciary and political dissent that threaten long-term stability and peace
"The Rajapaksa government's politically motivated impeachment of the chief justice last month reveals both its intolerance of dissent and power sharing and the weakness of the political opposition", says Alan Keenan, Crisis Group's Sri Lanka Project Director. "By incapacitating the last institutional check on executive power, the government has crossed a threshold into new and dangerous terrain. It is threatening prospects for the eventual peaceful transfer of power through free and fair elections".
Read more: International Crisis Group, <>20/02/13