Almost 1,000 Iraqis Killed in September
One of the highest monthly death tolls in years, the UN has said. The killings reflect the militants' determination to rekindle large-scale sectarian conflict. Iraq is going through its worst surge in violence since 2008, with near-daily militant attacks and relentless bombings blamed on hardline Sunni insurgents. The surge followed a deadly crackdown by the Shia-led government on a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq in April. More than 5,000 people have been killed since then.
<> Indpendent, 01/10/13
Report on an Unannounced Inspection of Brook House IRC
Inspection 28 May – 7 June 2013 by HMCIP, report compiled July 2013, published 01/10/13
Brook House operated by G4S, holds up to 448 adult male detainees who are subject to immigration control. There had been considerable changes to the population since its last inspection in 2011. The throughput of detainees had increased significantly with the average length of stay down to about a month. There were also far fewer ex-prisoners who now comprised only a minority within the population. Brook House remained a safe place, but this assessment was finely balanced. The increased throughput of detainees was arguably Brook House's greatest challenge.
Inspectors were concerned to find that:
- long waits for legal advice and an overwhelmed on-site Home Office contact management team meant detainees were unable to get information or help with their cases;
- detainees were too often subject to needless night-time transfers, and arrangements to receive new detainees were slow and poor;
- there was considerable frustration among detainees which was reflected in high levels of self-harm;
[There were 52 Suicide attempts, January through June 2013 and 251 detainees put on Self-Harm at risk in the same period, these figures were the highest for the detentions estate and the worst ever recorded.]
- although detainees could be out of their rooms for extended periods, they were locked up too early at night;
- preparation for removal or release was still not good enough and although the centre had an excellent welfare officer, reliance on one individual was too great;
- there was a failure to assess the needs of individuals on arrival and a lack of a systematic preparation before someone was discharged; and
- some behaviour by escort contractors who removed individuals on charter flights was heavy-handed and disproportionate.
- unacceptable practice of using 'standbys' for charter removals continued
- There were also far fewer ex-prisoners. They now comprised only a small minority within the population, as most former prisoner detainees were held inappropriately in prisons.
- Inspectors made 103 recommendations
Main recommendation To the Home Office
5.1 All casework should be progressed promptly. The Home Office should more actively engage with detainees held for long periods and take proactive action where detainees cannot be removed because of their failure to comply with re-documentation, either prosecuting them or releasing them if there is no realistic prospect of removal. (S35)
Main recommendation To the Home Office and centre manager
5.2 A sufficient and widely advertised welfare and resettlement service should be delivered seven days a week, providing systematic assessment and support for detainees. (S36)
Main recommendation To the Home Office and escort contractor
5.3 Overseas escorts in the discharge area should remain polite, professional and respectful to detainees at all times. They should not crowd or otherwise intimidate detainees, and physical compulsion should not be used in secure areas unless justified by an individual assessment of risk. (S37)
Introduction from the report
Brook House is an immigration removal centre located near Gatwick airport and operated by G4S. Holding only adult male detainees, it has just under 450 available places. At this unannounced inspection we found that there had been considerable changes to the population since we last visited. The throughput of detainees had increased significantly with the average length of stay down to about a month. There were also far fewer ex-prisoners. They now comprised only a small minority within the population, as most former prisoner detainees were held inappropriately in prisons.
Brook House remained a safe place but our assessment was finely balanced. The increased throughput of detainees was arguably the institution's greatest challenge. Detainees were too often subject to needless night-time transfers, and arrangements to receive and induct new detainees were slow and poor. Many indicators were encouraging, not least our survey finding that suggested most detainees felt safe. Levels of violence were low, use of force was managed well and the use of separation had reduced significantly. However, there was considerable frustration among detainees, which was reflected in high levels of self-harm. A significant impediment to the well-being of detainees was their inability to get information on or help with their immigration cases. This was a result of long waits for legal advice and an overwhelmed on-site Home Office contact management team.
The imposing prison-like structure and character of the centre was a new experience for the 95% of detainees who were not former prisoners, but Brook House remained a respectful institution overall. Relationships between staff and detainees were generally good and, despite some gaps, equality and diversity were reasonably well promoted. The centre was clean, although many rooms needed redecoration. Complaints were normally dealt with appropriately, although replies took too long and some detainees had been asked inappropriately to withdraw complaints. Food was the source of much complaint. The provision of health care was good.
In our survey, about half of detainees said they had enough to do in the centre, more than at the last inspection. About a third of detainees' accessed work or education, with paid work places increasing by about a third since we last inspected. However, not all detainees could apply for work and some restrictions were inappropriate. Although detainees could be out of their rooms for extended periods, they were locked up too early at night, and it was not clear why they had to be locked up at all.
Preparation for removal or release was still not good enough. The centre had an excellent welfare officer but reliance on this one individual was too great. The failure to assess the needs of individuals properly on arrival was replicated by a lack of a systematic preparation pre-discharge. There was some useful input from the Gatwick Detainee Welfare Group, and visits arrangements and access to telephones was reasonably good, but there were some needless obstructions to useful legal websites, information from home countries and social media that could have eased frustrations. We were particularly concerned to observe heavy-handed and disproportionate behaviour by escort contractors charged with removing individuals on charter flights.
Brook House held too many detainees who were not sufficiently well informed by the Home Office, and who were experiencing considerable frustration and confusion as a result. However, overall this is a reasonable report, and the improvements we observed at our last inspection had been sustained and in some cases built upon.
Nick Hardwick July 2013
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Violence Against Muslims in Myanmar
Following the outbreak of deadly intercommunal clashes in Rakhine State in 2012, anti-Muslim violence has spread to other parts of Myanmar. The depth of anti-Muslim sentiment in the country, and the inadequate response of the security forces, mean that further clashes are likely. Unless there is an effective government response and change in societal attitudes, violence could spread, impacting on Myanmar's transition as well as its standing in the region and beyond.
The violence has occurred in the context of rising Burman-Buddhist nationalism, and the growing influence of the monk-led "969" movement that preaches intolerance and urges a boycott of Muslim businesses. This is a dangerous combination: considerable pent-up frustration and anger under years of authoritarianism are now being directed towards Muslims by a populist political force that cloaks itself in religious respectability and moral authority.
Read more: International Crisis Group, <> 01/10/13
Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - September 2013
4 actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and none improved in September 2013, according to the new issue of CrisisWatch
Deteriorated Situations: Central African Republic, Kenya, Philippines, Sudan
Download the full report <>CW122.PDF
Stop the Deportation of Amina Rafique
Last Friday our friend Amina, who has fled domestic violence and abuse in Pakistan, was detained by UKBA without warning whilst reporting in Liverpool. She has been held at Yarl's Wood detention centre since then, and today received notice that she will be deported back to Pakistan on Tuesday 1 October.
Whilst in detention Amina has not had access to a legal aid solicitor due to the waiting list at Yarl's Wood and therefore has not been able to build a case against her deportation. The lack of access to justice has been exacerbated by the large number of women suddenly in need of urgent legal advice, due to the sheer numbers of deportees involved in charter flights.
She has also been denied access to her essential medication for depression, which combined with being wrenched away from her support network in Liverpool is having a serious effect on her mental health.
Survivor of domestic violence
Having fled Pakistan after seeing her mother murdered by her abusive father, Amina was then subjected to further domestic abuse by her brother here in the UK, from whose house she escaped to claim asylum. Amina's father is a powerful man in Pakistan who has not been brought to justice for his crimes because of his connections, and we have grave fears for her safety should she be returned there. She is young, vulnerable and has no family to return to, and her father has threatened to hunt her down wherever she goes.
Despite everything she has endured, Amina is an enthusiastic, energetic and generous member of our community in Liverpool and has played a key role in the running of a weekly support group for women asylum seekers fleeing from gender-based crimes. Her deportation would be a great loss to the community that is already devastated by her detention in Yarl's Wood.
Amina needs your help - NOW. If we do not stop Tuesday's charter flight from departing, Amina will be unfairly removed, along with a large number of other asylum seekers who may also have had no access to legal representation.
For what you can do to help go <>here . . . .
No Recourse to Public Funds Network (NRPF)
Has published a report on the proposed residence test qualification for public funding. NRPF Network has over 2,900 members, from 175 local authorities, 235 voluntary sector organizations and a range of central government departments, police forces and NHS trusts. We focus on the statutory response to people who have no recourse to public funds.
For more information, click <>here . . . .
UK Media Must Stop Referring to Refugees as "Illegal Immigrants"
In a society where inequalities are increasing the struggle over scarce resources, the arrival of new groups of poor economic migrants or destitute refugees can put increased pressure on the poorest communities. One way media coverage could respond to this might be to focus on the struggle faced by new arrivals and pressure policymakers to target appropriate resources to meet their needs and reduce tensions in local areas. But coverage can also exploit the potential tensions created by these movements for a boost in sales. This negative coverage often forces asylum seekers to join a long list of convenient scapegoats including the unemployed, those claiming benefits and those registered as disabled, and can be very damaging indeed.
Read more: Emma Briant, <>New Statesman, 28/09/13