Human Rights Protection Under Strain in Europe
"The picture of the human rights situation which I have observed during country visits, meetings with authorities and discussions with NGO representatives in 2012 is worrying" said today Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while presenting his first annual report. "Of particular concern are the persisting patterns of discrimination, racism and homophobia; the treatment of migrants; constraints to freedom of expression; as well as the inefficiency of national judicial systems."
On top of these long-standing problems, austerity measures have contributed to undermining the overall post-war acquis of social and economic rights. Civil and political rights have also been affected, including access to justice, conditions in detention and relations between the police and the public. "In many countries key institutions for human rights protection, such as the courts and national human rights structures, have been weakened by excessive budget cuts. Furthermore, populist politicians as well as nationalist and extremist groups have exploited people's frustrations and fears for electoral purposes."
Minorities, in particular Roma, are increasingly the targets of discrimination, racism and intolerance. Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity continues to be a widespread problem. "Legislative measures restricting the freedom of expression and association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons represent a worrying step backwards to a bygone era when homosexuals were treated like criminals."
Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are also experiencing tough times in today's Europe, as they are often confronted by policies and attitudes driven by security concerns to the exclusion of humanitarian principles. "Even recognised refugees face serious obstacles to their integration in society and are kept in limbo situations because of the absence of effective integration frameworks."
Children's rights is another critical area. "Child poverty is on the increase, and brings with it the risk of a resurgence of child labour. It is still the situation in some countries children are born and grow up stateless, which denies them the right to have rights. Moreover, forced evictions of Roma hit children very hard, disrupting their education, their ties of friendship and traumatising them."
The living conditions of persons with disabilities are in general unsatisfactory. "Thousands of them are kept in old, secluded institutions; school segregation still affects many children with disabilities; and discrimination in the job market is widespread."
The state of freedom of expression also worries the Commissioner. "As long as being a journalist or a human rights activist in some of our member states may cost your life or a prison term, we cannot consider our democracies safe. Several countries still have laws which criminalise defamation and excessive control on the Internet is gaining ground."
Lastly, the Commissioner underlines that the dysfunction of some national justice systems and the excessively slow implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights seriously undermine the rule of law. "Cherry-picking and disregarding judgments of the Court have a disruptive effect not only on our system of human rights protection, but on the very essence of those values on which the Council of Europe is built."
Nils Muiznieks, Huamn Rights Commissioner, <> Strasbourg, 25/4/2013
Garden Court Chambers - Immigration Law Bulletin - Issue 321
Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI Update Volume 55
This document provides an update of Country Guidance case law and UKBA publications and developments in refugee producing countries between 08
/04/2013 and 22/04/2013 - Volume 55 <> here . . .
Breaking the Silence - Child Sexual Abuse in India
Child sexual abuse is disturbingly common in homes, schools, and residential care facilities in India. A government-appointed committee set up after the New Delhi attack to recommend legal and policy reform has found that child protection schemes "have clearly failed to achieve their avowed objective."
The 82-page report, "Breaking the Silence: Child Sexual Abuse in India," examines how current government responses are falling short, both in protecting children from sexual abuse and treating victims. Many children are effectively mistreated a second time by traumatic medical examinations and by police and other authorities who do not want to hear or believe their accounts. Government efforts to tackle the problem, including new legislation to protect children from sexual abuse, will also fail unless protection mechanisms are properly implemented and the justice system reformed to ensure that abuse is reported and fully prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said.
Read more;: <> Human Rights Watch
UKBA Criticised For Separating Children From Parents
Children are being placed at risk of serious harm by the detention of parents on immigration grounds, a charity BID has claimed. Two hundred children were separated from their parents between 2009 and 2012 by the UK Border Agency.
The charity's report found that these children suffered adverse effects including weight loss, nightmares, insomnia and "extreme isolation". Most of the children stayed with another family member or guardian, but 85 were taken into care when a single parent was detained.
The report found that children endured emotional distress in both scenarios and some of those put into care were "moved between unstable care arrangements, neglected, and placed at risk of serious harm".
The 111 parents involved were detained for an average of 270 days, but in 92 cases the parents were eventually released. In 15 cases, parents were deported or removed from the UK without their children
Read more: Neil Puffett, <> Children Young People Now, 19/04/13
Nigeria violence kills at least 185
Fighting between Nigeria's military and Islamist extremists killed at least 185 people in a fishing community in the nation's far northeast, officials said on Sunday.
The fighting in Baga began Friday and lasted for hours, sending people fleeing into the arid scrublands surrounding the community on Lake Chad. The unrest saw insurgents fire rocket-propelled grenades and soldiers spray machine-gun fire into neighbourhoods filled with civilians. By Sunday, when government officials felt safe enough to see the destruction, homes, businesses and vehicles were burned throughout the area.
Read more: <> Guardian UK, 22/04/13
Essential Tools for Anti-Deportation Campaigners
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) - Human Rights in Countries of Concern 2012
FCO have listed 27 countries in their annual report that have/continue to severely abuse Human Rights.
If you are supporting someone facing deportation to any of the countries below or listed in the report. Check the information contained and use it in your campaign material.
Afghanistan, Belarus, Burma, Chad, China, Colombia , Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) , DR Congo, Eritrea, Fiji, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Libya, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Download: 2011 FCO report
Online Petition - Let May Brown Stay in the UK
Student May Brown, 19, faces being kicked out of the UK after her asylum plea was rejected. May fled her native Nigeria aged 16 after seeing her father murdered and she herself being abused and threatened.
The college student is studying to become a barrister. She met and married her husband Michael, a former British soldier, in Weymouth, Dorset. The pair are very much in love and had been busy making plans for the rest of their lives. That has been cruelly snatched away.
Recently May was told by immigration officials that her marriage was a sham and her asylum application had been rejected. May said if she returned to her home country she feared she would be killed. So great was her fear of persecution that a few days before she was told she was to be deported she attempted to take her own life and was rushed to hospital in a coma.
We, the undersigned, are calling on the government to allow May Brown to stay in the UK.
Sign the petition <> here . . . .
USA Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 2012
USA Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, provides a wealth of campaing material on the inhumane treatment/position of women/ethnic/religious and political minorities.
Their reports for 2012 were published on the 8th April 2013 and all the countries can be accessed here:
Go to Countries/Regions pull down menu and select country
Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (Amendment) [increase levels of asylum support]
Sarah Teather (Brent Central) (LD): I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to require the Secretary of State to review levels of asylum support annually; to require him to lay before Parliament a draft up-rating order to increase levels of asylum support in line with changes made to mainstream benefits in years when the general level of prices has increased during the previous 12 month period; to replace support provided by the voucher system under subsections (10) and (11) of section 4 of the Act with a single, cash-based support system; and for connected purposes.
Read more: House of Commons / <> 23 Apr 2013 : Column 764
Government Backs Down Over Proposals to Outlaw Caste Discrimination
The Government has climbed down over proposals to outlaw discrimination on grounds of caste. Peers voted again last night in favour of an amendment giving legal protection to the UK's more than 400,000 Dalits - the former so-called "untouchables" - who sometimes face discrimination in Hindu and Sikh communities in the UK.
Ministers were first defeated on the issue last month, sparking a tussle between the two Houses. However, amendments tabled by Business Secretary Vince Cable today make clear that the Equality Act will "provide for caste to be an aspect of race".
Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, said: "We are delighted that the Government has accepted that discrimination against caste should enjoy the same statutory protection as all other forms of protected characteristics. This is a victory for the Lords and their emphasis on protecting human rights."
<> Indpendent, 23/04/13
EDM 1292: Myanmar Rohingyas at Risk in Monsoon Season
That this House is shocked by recent video footage showing the Myanmar police standing by or joining in brutal attacks on members of the Muslim Rohingya community in Myanmar; condemns the government of Myanmar over its treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority; is deeply concerned that the Government has dismissed a United Nations report calling for urgent action to protect tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees this monsoon season; notes that over 120,000 Rohingyas are currently in tented refugee camps which are likely to flood; further notes that the Myanmar administration has reaffirmed that the Rohingyas will not be granted citizenship despite UN pressure; and calls on the Government to bring what pressure it can on Myanmar to protect this persecuted minority and to give them full citizenship rights.
Primary sponsor: Galloway, George / <> House of Commons: 22/04/2013
UN Condemns Multiple State Executions In Iraq As 'Obscene'
The United Nations human rights chief today condemned the rampant use of the death penalty by the Iraqi Government, which executed 21 people earlier this week, stressing the country's justice system is still not functioning adequately and should not carry out capital punishment at all. The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay described the Iraqi justice system as "too seriously flawed to warrant even a limited application of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time."
The Government has executed 33 individuals in the past month, and the ministry of justice announced that a further 150 people may be executed in the coming days. A total of 1,400 people are believed to be currently on death row, and 129 people were executed in 2012 alone.
Read more: <> UN News Centre 19/04/13
Freedom in the World 2013
Worst of the Worst: Where basic political rights are absent, and basic civil liberties are widely and systematically denied.
Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, not far behind Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Laos, and South Ossetia.
The emergence of popular movements for reform were the driving force behind major gains in the Middle East last year, according to Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom House's annual report on the state of global freedom. However, a number of regions experienced setbacks due to a hardened and increasingly shrewd authoritarian response to these movements.
While the number of countries ranked as Free in 2012 was 90, a gain of 3 over the previous year, 27 countries showed significant declines, compared with 16 that showed notable gains. This is the seventh consecutive year that Freedom in the World has shown more declines than gains worldwide. Furthermore, the report data reflected a stepped-up campaign of persecution by dictators that specifically targeted civil society organizations and independent media.
Read more: Fredom House 19/04/13
UKBA: Operational Guidance Note: Bangladesh
This document provides UK Border Agency case owners with guidance on the
nature and handling of the most common types of claims received from
nationals/residents of Bangladesh
Scale of UK Asylum Decisions Overturned on Appeal
The number of decisions overturned on appeal is testament to on-going problems with the asylum decision-making process, Amnesty International and the Still Human Still Here coalition said today as they published a new report.
The report A question of credibility: Why so many initial asylum decisions are overturned on appeal in the UK (PDF) examines why so many initial decisions to refuse asylum are being overturned by Immigration Judges.
Home Office statistics show 25% of initial decisions to refuse asylum are being overturned on appeal.
For this report, researchers examined a sample of 50 randomly selected cases and found that in the vast majority - over 80% - a flawed credibility assessment resulted in the wrong decision being arrived at in the first instance. Researchers analysed refusal letters and appeal determinations in cases concerning asylum applicants from four countries with particularly high appeal overturn rates; Syria, Sri Lanka, Iran and Zimbabwe.
Read more: <> Amnesty UK, 18/04/13