News & Views Monday 1st August to Sunday 7th August 2016  

Australia: Appalling Abuse, Neglect of Refugees on Nauru

Investigation on Remote Pacific Island Finds Deliberate Abuse Hidden Behind Wall of Secrecy. About 1,200 men, women, and children who sought refuge in Australia and were forcibly transferred to the remote Pacific island nation of Nauru suffer severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. The Australian government’s failure to address serious abuses appears to be a deliberate policy to deter further asylum seekers from arriving in the country by boat.

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. They endure unnecessary delays and at times denial of medical care, even for life-threatening conditions. Many have dire mental health problems and suffer overwhelming despair – self-harm and suicide attempts are frequent. All face prolonged uncertainty about their future.

Read more: Human Rights Watch,

Dozens of Asylum Seekers Crammed Into Single Home Office Property

Dozens of vulnerable women and children seeking asylum in the UK are living in filthy, overcrowded and potentially dangerous conditions in Home Office accommodation, a Guardian investigation has revealed. There are currently 18 women and 15 children living in the property in Hounslow, which is two terrace houses knocked together. They have fled conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East. Some are survivors of rape and torture.  Two private contractors, Clearsprings Ready Homes, one of the largest providers of Home Office accommodation, and Cromwood Housing have contracts to manage the accommodation. The owner of the property, Imtiaz Aziz, lives next door in a vastly different house to the one provided for the asylum seekers. Clearsprings hit the headlines after the Guardian revealed that it compelled asylum seekers to wear coloured wristbands in exchange for food.

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

International Crisis Watch July 2016

Deteriorated Situations: South Sudan, Mali, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir, Armenia, Turkey, Syria

Improved Situations: None

Outlook August 2016 - Conflict Risk Alerts, South Sudan - Resolution Opportunities None

July saw protracted conflicts intensify, attempts to resolve them derail and political crises erupt or deepen. In Turkey, a failed coup attempt led to hundreds killed and prompted concern over the government’s commitment to the rule of law and divisions within the security bureaucracy. In neighbouring Syria, regime forces cut off the final supply line into opposition-held areas of Aleppo city, with scores killed in airstrikes and rocket attacks. Unresolved low-intensity conflicts flared up in Armenia and India-administered Kashmir, and both Bangladesh and Afghanistan experienced major terrorist attacks. In Mali, efforts to implement the June 2015 peace deal faced a violent backlash, and in South Sudan clashes between government forces and former rebels left hundreds dead. A new split in the opposition there could make the conflict more difficult to end.

On 15 July, a segment of the Turkish army attempted to topple the elected government and President Erdo?an, failing in the face of resistance from police, part of the army and citizens. At least 240 people were reported killed during clashes, while over 10,000 people were arrested, over 18,000 detained and some 60,000 public officials dismissed in the wake of the coup attempt. The scale of the backlash has prompted concerns in the West over Turkey’s commitment to the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as over divisions within the security bureaucracy and Turkey’s capacity to address security challenges including operations against the Kurdish insurgency in the south east. 

In Syria, the Assad regime, assisted by re-intensified Russian airstrikes, severed the final supply line into areas of Aleppo city held by mostly non-jihadist opposition forces, amid renewed diplomatic manoeuvering between the U.S. and Russia. Scores were killed by fighting in and around Aleppo as airstrikes and rocket attacks hit civilian areas, where as many as 300,000 people are estimated to remain in encircled portions of the city with dwindling basic supplies. As the regime informed residents and rebels willing to surrender that they could leave through “humanitarian corridors”, the UN called for guarantees of protection and humanitarian access, and insisted no one can be forced to flee. Elsewhere, over 40 people were reported killed in an Islamic State (IS) bombing of Qamishli city near the Turkish border on 27 July, and activists reported that an U.S. airstrike on Menbij city killed at least 73 civilians on 19 July, making it allegedly the worst coalition attack on civilians. 
In Bangladesh, a brutal attack on a café in an upscale neighbourhood of the capital Dhaka on 1 July left 22 people, mostly foreigners, dead. Although IS claimed responsibility, officials pointed to the likely involvement of local affiliates of al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent (AQIS), an ally of the group behind recent killings of secular and atheist bloggers and publishers. In a commentary published after the attack, Crisis Group noted that the government’s primary challenge is to tackle the growing local constituencies of both IS and AQIS, and adopt a counter-terrorism approach based on accountable and impartial law enforcement. IS also claimed responsibility for a joint suicide attack on ethnic Hazara protesters in the Afghan capital on 23 July which killed at least 80 people and injured over 250.
Also in South Asia, the killing by Indian security forces of Burhan Wani, operations chief of Kashmir’s largest militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, on 8 July, sparked a fresh crisis in India-administered Kashmir. As major protests broke out across Jammu and Kashmir in response to the killing, 49 people were reported killed and over 5,000 injured in clashes with security forces. Pakistan condemned the killing of Wani and violence against protesters, while India’s home minister blamed Islamabad for orchestrating the violence. 

Meanwhile, Armenia was rocked by an armed opposition group’s seizure of a police headquarters in the capital Yerevan on 17 July, taking several hostages and killing two police before surrendering at the end of the month. The gunmen were demanding President Sargsyan’s resignation over his handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan, amid speculation over his government’s possible concessions to Baku. Thousands of people joined daily protests in support of the gunmen, with dozens injured in clashes with police, and scores detained. 

In Mali, the peace process in the north faced serious setbacks as fighting flared up between an ethnic Tuareg armed group allied with the government and a coalition of Tuareg fighters who favour northern secession, killing at least twenty. Meanwhile in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, four days of clashes between government forces and SPLA-IO former rebels left hundreds of fighters dead and dealt the peace process a major blow. The replacement of Riek Machar, long-time SPLA-IO leader, as first vice president split the former rebels, and more fighting in several areas in late July could signal further splits and an escalation in the coming weeks. To pull South Sudan back from the brink, Crisis Group urged regional leaders, especially Uganda and Sudan, backed by the African Union, China and the U.S., to clarify the consequences for the warring factions if they do not halt the violence.

Read more: Crisis Watch,

UKHO CIG: Somalia: Women Fearing Gender-Based Harm And Violence

1.1 Basis of Claim

1.1.1 Fear of being subjected to gender-based harm and violence by state and/or non-state actors.

1.2 Other points to note

1.2.1 Decision makers must refer to the Asylum Instructions on Gender issues in the asylum claim.

Published on Refworld, 04/08/2016

UKHO CIG Ukraine: Background Information, Including Actors of Protection and Internal Relocation

1.1 Summary of issues

1.1.1 In general, are those at risk of persecution or serious harm able to seek

effective protection?

1.1.2 In general, are those at risk of persecution or serious harm able to internally

relocate to escape that risk?

Published on Refworld, 04/08/2016


‘New Charter For Cruelty’ At UK Immigration Detention Centres

People held at Britain’s immigration removal centres can be thrown into solitary confinement against medical advice and held for hours without any explanation, according to new guidance set to be issued to guards by the Home Office. A draft “detention services order”, spelling out guidance to staff at the immigration prisons on the use of solitary confinement, says the sanction can be applied even if medical advice explicitly warns that it would be “life threatening”. The practice, described by campaigners as “cruel”, can also be handed out by guards to anyone who is judged to be “stubborn” or “disobedient” – despite concerns by official watchdogs that vulnerable people with mental health problems are being being seriously affected. 

Tens of thousands of would-be migrants to Britain are locked up in prison-style immigration removal centres every year. Not all people in the centres are destined for deportation: while some are waiting to be removed, large numbers are simply waiting for their asylum application to be processed or to have their rights to remain in the UK determined. These detainees are not being held in the centres as part of any sentence – but are made to live in them for the administrative convenience of the authorities.

 Read more: Jon Stone, Guardian,

The Breaking Down of the EU Convention On Human Rights, and the UK’s Responsibility

Numerous members of the new Government have stated that they want a greater role in the world for a post-Brexit UK, rather than a diminished one. If the Government is to be diplomatically resurgent, what sort of challenges might it wish to confront? It could do far worse than face up to the creeping, unspoken, but calamitous refusal of governments all across Europe to implement judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). This problem is not only hugely important, but is also notable because the UK should take a large amount of responsibility for it happening in the first place.

The problem started around the turn of the century. Previously, between the Court’s creation in the 1950s and the mid-1990s, judgments were implemented by governments quickly and consistently. However, in the late 1990s, this began to change. By 1996, there were over 700 outstanding judgments against governments. By the end of the millennium, there were over 2,200, and by 2004, there were almost 4,000. Today, the total number is well over 10,000 outstanding judgments of the ECtHR, which national governments are simply ignoring.That is a colossal figure, and amounts to nothing less than the breaking down of the rule of law.

Read more: UK Human Rights Blog, George Stafford,

The Degrading Restriction on an Asylum Seeker’s Right to Work

Most asylum seekers arrive in the UK to escape their country of origin for fears of persecution, where the idea of state protection is unrealistic and or internal relocation is a possibility. Many have no intent or motive to come to the UK and only consider where they will be safe away from their perpetrators. They hope for a better future but instead, some spend their years in the UK stuck in an inefficient administrative process, in receipt of minimal support and suffering from emotional stress as a result of their traumas coupled with their inability to ever return to a life of normality. This article seeks to question the UK’s policy on restricting asylum seekers right to work, specifically in cases where it is the failure of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to provide them with an adequate decision within a reasonable timeframe that is the cause of them continuing to remain as an asylum seeker.

Read more: Sangeetha Vairavamoorthy, Duncan Lewis,

Charities/High Street Names That Used Benefits Claimants as Free Labour

The names of hundreds of major companies and leading British charities who used a benefits scheme to employ people without paying them have been revealed after the government lost a four-year legal battle to protect their identities. The list, includes firms such as Tesco, Nando's, Boots, Superdrug, Morrisons, Asda, Co-op, WHSmith, Poundstretcher, Cash Converter, DHL and a host of other major corporations. And it also includes charities such as the British Red Cross, Age UK, Cancer Research, Marie Curie, the National Trust, Oxfam, the RSPB, the Salvation Army and Shelter.

Reda more: Independent,

Easy Prey: Criminal Violence and Central American Migration

Massive deportations from Mexico and the U.S. have failed to stem the tide of Central Americans fleeing endemic poverty combined with epidemic violence. Stepped up enforcement has diverted undocumented migration into more costly, circuitous and dangerous channels. Criminal gangs and the corrupt officials who enable them are the beneficiaries of a policy that forces desperate people to pay increasing sums to avoid detention, extortion or kidnapping. Beefed-up border control inadvertently fuels human smuggling and fortifies criminal gangs that increasingly control that industry. Governments must guarantee those fleeing violence the opportunity to seek asylum through fair, efficient procedures, while launching a major regional effort to provide security and economic opportunity in home countries. Central American leaders, especially in the northern triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, must in turn address chronic insecurity more effectively while monitoring and assisting those deported, especially children and adolescents, so they have an option other than fleeing again.

Read more: International Crisis Group,

Seriously Ill Detainee Was Shackled Hours Before He Died

The Home Office has been forced to disclose the results of a damning internal inquiry into the treatment of a seriously ill immigration detainee who was handcuffed and chained in hospital until shortly before he died. The report, which has been passed to the Guardian, raises fundamental questions about the treatment of ill and vulnerable detainees. It identifies a failure in the Home Office’s duty of care towards a 43-year-old man with a heart condition who was handcuffed while he was sedated, criticises a “serious breakdown in communication” and calls for significant changes in the use of restraints on detainees in hospital. A Home Office spokesman welcomed the report and said that following the death new guidance had been issued relating to the restraint of detainees while under escort and for medical visits, along with new guidance about the reporting of serious incidents and deaths in detention.

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Judicial Review Succeeds - SSHD Failed to Have Adequate Regard to the New Material

Onykwere v SSHD [2016] EWHC 758 (Admin) (13 April 2016)
3. The issues that arise may be summarised as being: i) Whether, in that context, the SSHD's certification of the Claimant's asylum and human rights application as clearly unfounded under section 94(2) of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, as recorded on 29 November 2013 and maintained in her decision of 3 June 2014 was lawful (the "Certification Issue"). ii) Whether, in that context, the SSHD's decision that the Claimant's representations made on 17 February 2014 and 10 April 2014 were incapable of being a fresh claim by reference to paragraph 353 HC395 was lawful (the "Fresh Claim Issue").

136. In the above circumstances it is not necessary to lengthen, what is already a lengthy judgment, by addressing in detail each of the eight alleged errors of law that were extracted from the submissions made on behalf of the Claimant. The claim for judicial review succeeds, and for the reasons I have given. I will, however, address them briefly out of courtesy to the Claimant's counsel:- i) I agree that in relation to the Fresh Claim and Certification Decision, and when doing an exceptional circumstance review outside the Rules the SSHD did not give any, or any proper, consideration to the new material and how it impacted upon the question of the primary interest of the children, when weighing those interests against the public interest when considering whether the claim was clearly unfounded. In the light of that material, as at 3 June 2014, on at least one legitimate view of the facts or the law, the claim might succeed and the claim was not clearly unfounded.

Read the full transcript Bailii,