EU: Asylum Proposals Go in Wrong Direction
Politics Shouldn’t Trump Refugee Rights – The European Commission proposals on European Union asylum policy overwhelmingly reflect the negative political climate in Europe and the trend toward curtailing refugee rights, Human Rights Watch said today. The commission’s communication, released April 6, 2016, proposes some important and positive measures. But it emphasizes restrictive, even punitive, steps to deter asylum seekers’ access to the EU and their movement between EU countries.
“The commission rightly focuses on fixing the EU’s broken asylum system and expanding safe and legal channels,” said Judith Sunderland, acting deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But the European Commission proposals have little that is new or concrete, and some of the most specific measures would punish asylum seekers and refugees and curtail their rights.
The commission proposes changes to EU directives on asylum procedures and the criteria for qualifying for refugee status and subsidiary protection – a more temporary status, with fewer rights, for example with respect to family reunification – to further harmonize the approach across all EU countries. Eliminating disparities and member states’ discretion on key aspects is important, but the proposal’s specifics suggest a push to the lowest common denominator rather than across-the-board improvement, Human Rights Watch said.
Read more: Human Rights Watch, 08/04/2016
Amnesty Highlights 'Disturbing Rise' in State Executions
A surge in the number of executions recorded worldwide saw more people put to death last year than at any point since 1989, Amnesty International says. At least 1,634 people were executed in 2015, a rise of more than 50% on the previous year, the group found in its review of the use of the death penalty. Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were responsible for 89% of the executions. The total does not include China, where Amnesty said thousands more were likely killed but records were kept secret. On the other hand, the group also noted that for the first time ever a majority of the world's countries had fully abolished the death penalty. Fiji, Madagascar, Congo-Brazzaville and Suriname changed their laws in 2015, while Mongolia also passed a new criminal code that will take effect later this year.
Read more: BBC News, 06/04/2016
Human Rights Work Has Been Downgraded by Foreign Office, say MPs
Foreign Office ministers, through their actions and words, have allowed a perception to grow that its human rights work has been downgraded, especially in countries such as Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt, the foreign affairs select committee has found. A new report by the committee of MPs says that it has become harder since Philip Hammond became foreign secretary for human rights organisations “to get access to senior ministers and their immediate advisors and even that engagement at ministerial level seemed to be more about box-ticking than genuine consultation”. The committee highlights the government’s failure to place Egypt and Bahrain on its list of human rights priority countries, saying this sent the wrong signal, and suggests the government has no reliable way of measuring whether its human rights work is having any impact.
Read more: Patrick Wintour, Guardian, 05/04/2016
Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI Update Volume 122
This document provides an update of UK Country Guidance case law, UK Home Office publications and developments in refugee producing countries (focusing on those which generate the most asylum seekers in the UK) between 22 March and 4 April 2016. COI Update Vol. 122
UK Urged to Give Asylum to 100 Women Who Fled Isis Captivity In Iraq
Campaigners have called on the British government to grant asylum to at least 100 women and girls who escaped after being kidnapped and raped by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. Isis fighters have abducted thousands of girls from ethnic minority communities in northern Iraq and forced them into sexual slavery since overrunning the area in 2014. Although many hundreds have managed to escape or have been rescued, according to Kurdish regional authorities, they are often deeply traumatised and face uncertain futures on returning to their communities. Jacqueline Isaac, a lawyer and campaigner who works with escapees in refugee camps in northern Iraq, has called on Britain and other western countries to offer asylum and psychological support to 100 girls.
Read more: Esther Addley, Guardian, 01/04/2016
Calais 'Jungle': 129 Unaccompanied Children Missing Since Refugee Camp Demolition
According to a census by Help Refugees UK, 129 unaccompanied minors from the camp have gone unaccounted for. The census found that since the demolition took place in March, 4,946 refugees are still living there, including 1,400 in the shipping containers set up by the French government. The refugee charity said it was “very concerned” at the findings. It wrote in a Facebook post: “This is simply not acceptable. We call on the French authorities to put systems in place immediately to register and safeguard the remaining 294 lone children in the camp.”
“No alternative accommodation was provided for unaccompanied minors during the evictions, no assessment was made by the French authorities of their needs and no systems put in place to monitor them or provide safeguarding. There is no official registration system for children in place In Calais or Dunkirk.” Help Refugees UK added it had shared this information with the UK children’s commissioner Anne Longfield and her French counterpart Genevieve Avenard.
Read more: Peter Yeung, Independent, 04/03/2016
13 Arrested After Immigration Demos in Dover Turn Ugly
Police arrested 13 people in Dover on Saturday as far-right and anti-fascist groups both held protests. Roads were closed and lined by police as demonstrators marched along separate routes through the port town in Kent. One man was arrested on suspicion of possession of offensive weapons and another on suspicion of theft of a police baseball cap. Three men were arrested in connection with a protest on 30 January, when violent clashes erupted between the two groups. The march, which began shortly after 1pm, was disrupted as anti-fascist protesters refused to assemble in a designated area near Marine Parade, leading to eight arrests. Police formed a human barrier to cordon off the group on the seafront and as far-right demonstrators marched past, tense words were exchanged over officers. An EU flag was burnt by far-right protesters as they congregated by the port, where they spoke in favour of Brexit and against immigration. Anti-fascist protesters sang: “Refugees are welcome here” as they stood surrounded by police, countering earlier chants of “No more refugees”.
Read more: Guardian, 04/04/2016
Reports Made Under Rule 35 (1) In Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) Q4 2015
Table 1: Rule 35(i) reports made by a medical practitioner to the Home Office on individuals in immigration detention
Rule 35(i) reports made by Medical Practitioner to Home Office
Number of detainees Rule 35(i) reports relate to
Of which, number of Rule 35(i) releases from detention
- All figures quoted have been derived from management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change. This information has not been quality assured under National Statistics protocols.
2. The purpose of Rule 35 is to ensure that particularly vulnerable detainees are brought to the attention of those with direct responsibility for authorising, maintaining and reviewing detention.
UKHO CIG Bangladesh: Minority Religious Groups
1.1 Basis of Claim
1.1.1 Fear of persecution or serious harm by either the state authorities or non state agents, on account of the person’s religious affiliation or belief.
1.1.2 For the purposes of this guidance, ‘minority religious group’ means Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and the Ahmadiyya.
Published on Refworld, 07/04/2016
UKHO CIG Albania: Women Fearing Domestic Violence
Basis of Claim
1.1 Women in fear of persecution or serious harm due to domestic violence.
Published on Refworld, 07/04/2016
Demonstration Against the Immigration Bill
Assemble 10.30am Tuesday 5th April 2016
Lunar House, 40 Wellesley Road, Croydon CR9 2BY
Opposition to the Immigration Bill continues to grow.
In February, Lord Ramsbotham called for the bill to be withdrawn or suspended to allow proper consideration of a government commissioned report. The Shaw Report made recommendations: a limit on detention; an end to the detention of pregnant women; that there be a presumption against detaining victims of rape and other torture. A prestigious All-Party Parliamentary Group which took evidence from a wide range of organisations and prominent individuals also made important recommendations. Why are these being ignored?
In recent weeks Peers have expressed their opposition by voting for: a 28-day limit on detention; to allow 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees into the country; to allow asylum seekers the right to work if their claims have not been processed within six months; to allow overseas domestic workers to change employers without risking immediate deportation.
Amendment 216ZC calling for the “absolute exclusion from detention of pregnant women” has yet to be voted on. Meanwhile during the debate over 100 pregnant women have been detained in Yarl’s Wood IRC.
The Third reading - a final chance to amend the Bill - is scheduled for 12 April
Lobbying is working – the Lords are leaping – There is Still Time to Defeat the Bill
Workshop on Registration of Children as British Citizens
Latin American House (LAH) in association with the Project for the Registration of Children as British citizens (PRCBC) is providing a free workshop on the registration of children as British citizens.
Date: Tuesday 26 April 2016 Time: 1 - 3.45 pm for people who are not legal professionals; 3.45 - 4.15 pm for legal professionals.
The workshop will explain how to identify children who may be eligible for registration, how the process works and where to go for further advice and assistance. Solange Valdez, solicitor and volunteer director of PRCBC will deliver the training at Latin American House, Kilburn.
The training will be in English, places must be booked in advance.
Download the Booking Form here . . . .
Source Latin American House
Calais ‘Jungle': 75% of Refugees Have 'Experienced Police Violence'
More than three-quarters of refugees living in the Calais “Jungle” say they have experienced police violence, according to a report seen by The Independent. The findings, collated by the Refugee Rights Data Project (RRDP), provide a damning insight into the continuing “humanitarian crisis” at the refugee camp in northern France. Police violence was allegedly experienced by 75.9 per cent of the 870 individuals surveyed, which includes physical violence, verbal abuse, tear gas and sexual violence; 54.1 per cent said they “never feel safe”; 67.6 per cent said they resort to “using blankets or burning rubbish to keep warm”; and 76.7 per cent reported suffering from various health issues – largely attributed to the camp’s “unhealthy environment”. Yvette Cooper, chair of Labour's refugee taskforce, described the revelations as “appalling” news. Ms Cooper told The Independent: “No one should be living in the sorts of conditions I’ve seen in the Calais jungle, and it is particularly shameful that over 650 children have been living in the jungle in these conditions, many for months on end.
Read more: Peter Yeung, Independent, 05/04/2016
Lorry Crash Death: Victim 'Was Refugee Under Vehicle'
A man who died in a crash in Oxfordshire was a Kurdish refugee travelling underneath a lorry, a charity has said. Help Refugees said the man, who was killed in Banbury in the early hours of Friday, was trying to reach relatives in the UK. Mohammed Hussain, 18, had been living in a refugee camp in Dunkirk for six months, he was trying to get to an uncle in Manchester. Maddie Harris, a charity volunteer at the camp, said when the man's cousin and another uncle, who were still in Dunkirk, tried to call his mobile phone on Friday evening, it was answered by police. She said: "The police answered and I was asked to speak to them. "He was underneath a truck, there was an accident and he was killed. He'd been in Dunkirk a long time - maybe he decided to go on his own. The problem is, we are aware of Mohammed because he was known in the camp, but how many more people has this happened to?" Thames Valley Police would not confirm the identity of the man who was killed, but said his next of kin had been informed.
BBC News, 03/04/2016
U.S. Woman Wins Appeal Against ‘Unlawful’ Decision to Refuse British Citizenship
Opinion Of The Court Delivered By Lord Brodie In The Reclaiming Motion By Shelley Elizabeth Romein
 The petitioner, Shelley Elizabeth Romein, has applied for registration as a British citizen pursuant to section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981, as amended by the Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. The respondent, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, by a decision intimated on 20 June 2013, refused that application. On 18 September 2013 the respondent decided to maintain her previous decision. By way of application for judicial review the petitioner seeks reduction of these decisions and certain declarators.
 The petitioner, who was born in the United States on 16 June 1978, claims British citizenship through descent from her mother. The petitioner’s father was a citizen of the United States. The petitioner is a United States citizen by virtue of her birth. However, the petitioner’s mother, who was born in South Africa on 16 February 1948, is a British citizen by virtue of her father having been born in the United Kingdom. The petitioner’s mother was in South Africa at a time when she was pregnant with the petitioner. The petitioner avers that while her mother was in South Africa she contacted the British consulate in Johannesburg enquiring about the possibility of securing British citizenship for her then unborn child. The petitioner was informed by a consular official that registration of the forthcoming child’s birth would serve no purpose, as nationality could only be passed through the male line. As a consequence of that advice, the petitioner’s mother did not register her birth, when that event occurred, with the British consulate.
 We find ourselves in respectful disagreement with not only the Lord Ordinary but also the learned judge in Navarro. On a proper construction of section 4C(3) the petitioner is entitled to be registered as a British citizen if she can prove that she would have become a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by virtue of section 5 of the 1948 Act if the assumption set out in section 4C(3A) had applied at the relevant time. For completeness we record that the appeal hearing did not address the issues potentially arising under ECHR, since they would be relevant only if the court was against the petitioner on the construction issue. The reclaiming motion will be allowed and the petitioner’s application remitted to the respondent for reconsideration. However, in the meantime we shall put the case out by order for discussion as to the appropriate terms of the court’s interlocutor, including any declaratory orders.
Published on Scottish Courts & Tribunals 01/04/2016
Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees – Crisis Watch Issue 152 - March 2016
Deteriorated Situations: Belgium, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Western Sahara
Improved Situations: Colombia, Syria
April 2016 Outlook - Conflict Risk Alert - Chad, Libya
Conflict Resolution Opportunity: Colombia, South Sudan, Yemen
March saw violent extremist movements, including the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda-linked groups, carry out major deadly attacks in Turkey, Pakistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia and Belgium. In Libya, the arrival of Prime Minister Serraj in Tripoli despite warnings from multiple factions could lead to further destabilisation. Meanwhile in Central Africa, political violence rose in Burundi and could break out in Chad around the 10 April presidential election. Yemen, South Sudan and even Syria saw progress, of varying degrees, toward peace talks or implementation of agreements, and in Colombia the start of talks between the state and the National Liberation Army (ELN) could lead to the end of the 52-year-old conflict.
In Libya, international recognition of the new UN-backed Government of National Accord without support from military factions or the Tobruk-based House of Representatives worsened tensions in an already fragmented security landscape, and Prime Minister Serraj’s arrival in Tripoli on 30 March could trigger worse violence in April. Meanwhile, an IS branch is reportedly gaining strength. To prevent further splintering of Libya’s armed groups and ensure that political and security developments support a negotiated peace, Crisis Group has called for a nationwide security track dialogue in parallel with the UN-guided political track. In Tunisia, at least 50 IS militants stormed Ben Guerdane, 30km from the Libyan border on 7 March, attempting to overwhelm key security installations.
In Turkey, a car bomb attack on 13 March in Ankara saw 38 killed including two assailants. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), an ultra-radical Kurdish nationalist offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), claimed responsibility, saying it was an act of revenge for ongoing security operations against the PKK in south-eastern urban centres. As Crisis Group has long argued, the only way toward a durable solution is peace talks with the PKK alongside ensuring further democratic rights for Turkey’s Kurdish population.
Elsewhere, violent extremist movements carried out major deadly attacks. In Pakistan, over 70 people were killed in a suicide bombing claimed by the Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA) in Lahore on 27 March. In Belgium 32 people were killed by two IS-linked suicide bomb attacks at the main airport and on the Brussels metro on 22 March, while in Côte d’Ivoire on 13 March gunmen shot dead sixteen civilians in Grand-Bassam, 40km east of Abidjan, in an unprecedented terrorist attack claimed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Crisis Group’s Special Report Exploiting Disorder: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State examines how such extremist movements benefit from today’s deadliest crises and complicate efforts to end them.
In Burundi, political violence worsened while international pressure on President Nkurunziza failed to stop government repression. There were deadly attacks on three officials including two from the ruling party and the assassination of two high-ranking army officers on the same day, pointing to dangerous divisions in the military. According to the UN, 474 people have been killed in political violence since April 2015, and over 250,000 Burundians have fled to neighbouring states. In Chad, mounting protests against President Déby’s regime and government repression could lead to serious political violence around the presidential election, scheduled for 10 April. Meanwhile, tensions between Morocco and the UN spiked after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon referred to the “occupation” of Western Sahara during a visit to the region in early March.
In Syria, Russia’s announcement that it would withdraw the “main part” of its assets that have conducted operations in the country since September 2015 strengthened the ongoing UN-brokered talks, which resumed on 14 March in Geneva. Since the “cessation of hostilities” that began on 27 February violence has decreased considerably, according to local sources, with the lowest monthly civilian death toll in four years. Meanwhile, in Yemen, the agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Huthis to halt hostilities along the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border in early March paved the way for commitments to a wider ceasefire and peace talks to start in April. Fighting continued, nevertheless, including between government forces and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Aden and IS-linked attacks in the south. Source: CrisisWatch N°152
In South Sudan, amid a decline in fighting, April could see significant progress toward the formation of a transitional government of national unity, bringing the country a step closer toward implementation of the August 2015 peace deal. In Colombia, in a welcome step, the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced on 30 March the opening of formal peace talks which, together with those nearing completion with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana, are the greatest opportunity to end 52 years of armed conflict.