News & Views Monday 19th September to Sunday 25th September 2016  

No Violence Against Children Is Acceptable, All Violence Is Preventable

Violence against children is still too often considered socially acceptable and tolerated in Europe today. After escaping violence in their home countries, in 2016 refugee children have again had to face physical and psychological violence in Europe’s refugee camps, detention facilities or next to closed borders. Migrant children, especially those who travel unaccompanied, are also particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse, trafficking and exploitation. Yet they are often left insufficiently protected by child protection and other public services in countries of transit or refuge.

Perhaps less known is the fate of children affected by the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. During my visit to this country in March 2016, I learnt that in 2015 more than 20 children were killed and 40 were injured as a result of the conflict. About 200 000 of the 580 000 children living in non-government controlled areas, close to the front line, are in need of psychosocial support to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorders. Mines and unexploded ordnance represent a major threat for the safety of these children.  More than 215 000 children have also been displaced to other parts of the country and many live in precarious conditions.

In my work over the last four years, I also found that children in state care, especially those in institutions, can be exposed to high levels of violence. In a report I published in 2014 following a visit to Romania, I referred to reported abuses of institutionalised children with disabilities, including “slapping; choking; beatings with fists, knees and a cane; crushing the children’s fingers using a door; sexual abuse; and no access to toilets at night time.”

Children with disabilities, in particular those with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, whether institutionalised or not, are three to four times more likely to experience physical and sexual violence or neglect according to 2014 UNICEF research. It is clearly an under-reported problem, and children who complain face the risk of seeing their claims not taken seriously because of their disability, as highlighted by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency in a 2015 report.

Read more: Nils Muižnieks, Human Rights Commissioner,

Theresa May Isn’t Interested in Refugees’ Welfare - Just Wants Fewer of Them in Britain

New and more effective. That’s how Theresa May describes the migration policy she proposed to the world on Monday ahead of the UN general assembly. The prime minister wants to combat migration by helping more refugees to stay in the first country they reach; by distinguishing better between people fleeing war, and those fleeing poverty; and by giving countries more licence to protect their borders by force, or with a fence. Wrapped within this three-part plan is the implicit idea that it is better to enable developing countries than to offer sanctuary to the refugees stuck in them.

In the global context, May’s comments are something of a sideshow; a British leader’s interventions in world affairs arguably matter less today than at any stage in the past few centuries. But it’s useful to examine May’s vision. In short: it is neither particularly effective, nor new. The first plank of her plan – the suggestion that more refugees should be encouraged to stay in the first country they reach – is not a new idea. This is the status quo – and the situation that is driving migration in the first place.

Read more: Patrick Kingsley, Guardian,

Exclusion From the Refugee Convention For Aiding And Abetting Torture

The Upper Tribunal in AB (Article 1F(a) - defence - duress : Iran) [2016] UKUT 376 (IAC) (22 July 2016) has clarified when an individual may be excluded from the Refugee Convention under Article 1F(a).  Article 1F(a) of the Refugee Convention states:

F. The provisions of this Convention shall not apply to any person with respect to whom there are serious reasons for considering that:

(a) he has committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, as defined in the international instruments drawn up to make provision in respect of such crimes;

The Home Office guidance on Article 1F states that the intention in applying it in asylum cases is "to deny the benefits of refugee protection to those who, through their own actions, do not deserve protection and to protect the public from those who represent a danger to national security or the community".

In AB the Appellant, an Iranian national, was working in a senior role at a women's prison where political prisoners were detained and tortured. Part of her job involved transferring prisoners from one part of the prison to another part so they could be interrogated and subjected to torture. She was employed for well over ten years. She argued that she had been required to sign a contract of employment for 25 years and that it was not possible to resign but acknowledged other individuals had been transferred from the prison. The Appellant said she thought if she asked to leave she may be viewed suspiciously and subjected to imprisonment, torture or rape. When a relative of hers was brought to the prison the Appellant arranged for her relative's transfer to a hospital to facilitate her escape and the Appellant then fled Iran with her family.
The activities of the Appellant were found to fall within the definition of a crime against humanity as she had facilitated acts of torture. The Tribunal found this because she knew that when she was transferring a prisoner to a certain part of the prison, they were going to be tortured. The role of the Appellant in the crime against humanity was one of aiding and abetting which "encompasses any assistance, physical or psychological, that has a substantial effect on the commission of the crime". The Tribunal found "it is not necessary to establish a common purpose". The Tribunal opined that the defence of duress was available but the Appellant needed to show that:

  1. There must be a threat of imminent death or of continuing or imminent serious bodily harm;
  2. Such threat requires to be made by other persons or constituted by other circumstances beyond the control of the person claiming the defence;
  3. The threat must be directed against the person claiming the defence or some other person;
  4. The person claiming the defence must act necessarily and reasonably to avoid this threat;
  5. In so acting the person claiming the defence does not intend to cause a greater harm than the one sought to be avoided.

And that on the facts she had failed to do so. The threat was considered to be vague and speculative.
Posted by: John Lockwood, Ghearson,

CIGs Iraq - Religious Minorities / Sunni (Arab) Muslims / Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

UKHO CIG Iraq: Religious minorities

1.1 Basis of claim

1.1.1 Fear of persecution or serious harm by state and/or non-state actors, because the person is from a religious minority.

1.2 Other points to note

1.2.1 For the purposes of this guidance religious minorities include all non-Muslim communities in Iraq: Christians, Yezidis, Sabaean Mandaeans, Kaka’i, Baha’i and Jews.

Published on Refworld:

UKHO CIG Iraq: Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

1.1 Basis of Claim

1.1.1 That a woman or girl is at risk of persecution or serious harm by undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on return to Iraq; and/or

1.1.2 That a parent is at risk of persecution or serious harm by virtue of their response to their (minor) daughter(s) being forced to undergo FGM on return to Iraq.

1.2 Other points to note
1.2.1 Accompanying parent(s) cannot be treated as dependents on their child’s application. Where a child is granted protection, the accompanying parent(s) will not automatically be granted protection in their own right. Unless successful in making their own asylum or humanitarian protection application, accompanying parent(s) will need to apply for leave as a parent of a child settled in the UK or apply for leave outside the rules (for further guidance, see Gender Issues in the Asylum Claim).

Published on Refworld:


Boris Johnson Gets it Wrong on Boat Migration From Libya

Forcing Migrants Back is Uninformed and Inhumane: Boris Johnson’s views on handling boat migration from Libya are uninformed and inhumane. "I think personally the boats should be turned back as close to the shore as possible so they don't reach the Italian mainland and that there is more of a deterrent,” the UK foreign secretary said in Rome on Thursday.

Under international and European law, EU countries cannot force women, men, and children back to Libya without assessing whether they need protection and what might happen to them upon their return there. Italy already tried it when Colonel Gaddafi was in charge. The European Court of Human Rights shot that policy down, ruling that no one should be returned to a country where they face the risk of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The situation for migrants and asylum seekers in Libya today may be worse than ever before. In addition to violence and exploitation by smugglers and criminal gangs, migrants and asylum seekers face torture, rape, forced labor and even death in squalid official detention centers.

Read more: Human Rights Watch,

Migrant Death Toll Expected to Exceed 10,000 in 2016

The world is on course to register its highest number of migrant deaths this year, as criticism mounts over failing international efforts to cope with the global refugee crisis. Forecasts from analysts at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) indicate that the number of fatalities among refugees will pass the landmark figure of 10,000 in 2016. The dire statistic will cast a shadow over two high-profile summits on migration in New York this week: on Monday the UN general assembly will meet to discuss the record volume of individuals forced to flee their homes as a result of crises and war around the world. That number currently stands at 65 million people, including 21.3 million refugees who have been forced to flee their country. On Tuesday, US president Barack Obama will host a leaders’ summit – to be attended by the prime minister, Theresa May – intended to raise funds for refugee initiatives and expanded resettlement programmes.

Read more: Mark Townsend and Tracy McVeigh,

UN Human Rights Office Calls On Australia to End Offshore Detention

Australia must show “political courage” and end the indefinite detention of asylum seekers held on Nauru, the new Pacific representative of the United Nation human rights office of the high commissioner has said. In an interview with Guardian Australia Chitralekha Massey, spoke at length about Australia’s offshore detention policies.  She said Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Nauru “is unsustainable, it’s a violation and it’s unnecessary”. The continuing reports of abuse, self-harm and sexual assault had created an alarming environment at the centre that Massey said needed be resolved. Massey said that the asylum seekers held on Nauru had to be given the opportunity to resettle in Australia or another country if they had been found to be refugees.

Read more: Paul Farrell, Guardian,

FA (Libya: art 15(c) Libya (CG) [2016] UKUT 413 (IAC) (7 September 2016)

[Head note:
1.   The question of whether a person is at art 15(c) risk in Libya should, until further Country Guidance, be determined on the basis of the individual evidence in the case.
2.    This decision replaces AT and Others Libya CG [2014] UKUT 318 (IAC) in respect of assessment of the art 15(c) risk.]
Determination And Reasons
 1.             The appellant is a national of Libya. She and other family members have made a number of journeys between Libya and the United Kingdom. She last entered the United Kingdom on 11 July 2014 with her husband and their young child. Another child has since been born. On 28 January 2015 the appellant claimed asylum, naming her husband and their child as making claims dependant on hers. On 28 July 2015 her claim was refused. She appealed; her appeal was heard by Judge Turnock in the First-tier Tribunal and dismissed in a decision sent out on 20 June 2016. The appellant now appeals, with permission, to this Tribunal.
 2.             At the hearing we canvassed with the parties the preliminary view we had reached after reading the papers. The decision we make is made with the consent of the parties, including consent at a senior level in the Home Office following a consultation Ms Pettersen was able to make by telephone.

 12.         We therefore set aside the decision of Judge Turnock and remit the appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. The only extant ground of appeal is that the appellant's return to Libya, in the way and by the route in which it is envisaged it

Published on Bailli, 20/09/2016

Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI Update Volume 132

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 6 September and 19 September 2016.

'Bed in Sheds' Scheme Used As Cover For Immigration Raids

Government cash meant to crack down on bad landlords were used to pay for dawn raids by police and border officials on vulnerable tenants. Hundreds of them were then evicted, arrested or deported, according to a new report. Using Freedom of Information requests to the 30 councils taking part in the government scheme the Radical Housing Network found that money supposed to be used to "root out the cowboys and rogue operators" was instead used to mount raids by police and border officials. These led to arrests and legal action against many tenants, including investigation for drugs offences or council tax irregularities (Peterborough), detention by UK Border Agency (Redbridge), or ASBOs (Barnsley and Herefordshire). The raids were carried under the cover of a supposed ‘beds in sheds’ crackdown on rogue landlords aimed at making life safer for tenants.

Tens of thousands of properties were visited, many of them carried out as "multi-agency visits", featuring not just housing officers but the police, UK Border Agency, tax officers or the fire brigade. The east London borough of Newham received the most funding of all boroughs, over £1 million in total, and carried out 4,504 visits to properties, 341 raids and "nearly 400 arrests whilst on joint property licensing operations". The council has been unable to clarify what proportion of those 400 arrested are landlords, and what proportion are tenants.

Commenting to online news service VICE News, MRN Director Don Flynn says: "This report shows that the people who are the victims of the appalling practices of rogue landlords are now being made to suffer, from what is little more than a ham-fisted publicity stunt, designed to make a few politicians look dynamic and proactive. The tenants lose whatever accommodation they have and the landlords are escaping with little more than a warning letter. By every standard 'beds in sheds' has proven to be a complete flop."

Migrant Rights Network,

Bringing Borders Into the Classroom: Schools Must Collect Data On Immigrant Children

The Department of Education is asking all children in schools in England to bring their passports and birth certificates to prove their nationality and country of birth. The Government’s reason for this is to investigate “education tourism“. Schools are required check on nationality status each term. Parents can declare that they want to opt-out and refuse to give this information to schools. If Parents have already provided this, they can instruct schools not to send this information to Central government. This information will in turn be passed on to Immigration Enforcement. A template letter to send to your child’s school or nursery is here: The collection of nationality data is optional. Schools cannot force parents to identify their nationality or their children’s nationality/immigration status.

Read more: Migrants Rights Network,

UKHO CIG Iraq: Sunni (Arab) Muslims

1.1 Basis of claim

1.1.1 That an Arab is at risk of persecution or serious harm from state and/or nonstate actors because they are a Sunni Muslim.

1.2 Points to note

1.2.1 Although (most) Kurds in Iraq are also Sunni Muslims, this guidance applies to Arab Sunni Muslims only (hereafter referred to as ‘Sunnis’).

Published on Refworld: