Would You Really Take Human Rights Advice From G4S?
The past few years have seen the landscape of free advice become sparser, with public and other funding cuts forcing many services to shrink or close entirely. We alone have lost 11 Law Centres in the wake of civil legal aid cuts. Against this background, it is all the more important that remaining services work effectively, both on their own and in collaboration with others. Trust between client and adviser, as well as trust between advice agencies, is fundamental to the way advice works, especially in straitened times.
This explains our surprise when we found out in late July that the Equalities Advisory and Support Service (EASS) was to be contracted to outsourcing giant G4S – the same scandal-hit G4S that caused the 2012 Olympics security disaster. If that were not enough to raise concerns, the news report was based on a leak rather than an ordinary contract award announcement. It also came just over two months before this nationwide contract was due to start.
Faced with this unusual situation, we and other organisations tried to get clarifications about the leaked news, but learned little beyond that this was indeed the Government’s decision. That worried us. Our issue with G4S is that, in other public contracts it has delivered, its track record has been quite problematic, and reflects a disturbing culture. Horrible stories of people being neglected, abused, facing violence and even dying while in G4S’ hands.
We needed to alert Parliament’s Select Committees, which scrutinise Government’s work. Liberty had assembled a dossier of G4S violations. Using it, we, Liberty and 40 other organisations wrote to committee chairs and demanded an inquiry. MPs could immediately see the problems outlined. 48 opposition MPs wrote to Education Secretary Justine Greening MP, also the Minister for Equalities, to echo the concerns we had raised. The Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Harriet Harman MP, also wrote to Ms Greening, seeking clarification on the selection of G4S and on how Government was going to ensure that EASS is ‘an accessible, confidence-building helpline service’.
Read more: Nimrod Ben-Cnaan, Law Centres Network, http://tinyurl.com/jszynao
Unlawful Detention - Richmond Yaw and Others v. Italy
The applicants, Taky Berko Richmond Yaw, Yaw Ansu Matthew, Darke Isaac Kwadwo and Dominic Twumasi, are four Ghanaian nationals who were born in 1974, 1983, 1979 and 1986 respectively and live in Castel Volturno (Italy). The case concerned their placement in detention with a view to their removal from the country.
The four applicants arrived in Italy in June 2008 after fleeing the inter-religious clashes in Ghana. On 20 November 2008 deportation orders were issued with a view to their removal. On the same day, the Prefecture ordered their placement in a temporary detention centre so that they could be identified. On 24 November 2008 the justice of the peace upheld the order for their detention. On 17 December 2008 their detention was extended by 30 days without the applicants or their lawyer being informed. They were released on 14 January 2009.
In June 2009 the deportation orders were set aside. In June 2010 the Court of Cassation declared the detention order of 17 December 2008 null and void on the ground that it had been adopted without a hearing and in the absence of the applicants and their lawyer. The applicants lodged four separate actions against the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice seeking compensation for the damage sustained in connection with their detention from 24 November 2008 to 14 January 2009. Their claims were dismissed by the Rome District Court.
Relying in particular on Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security), the applicants complained that their detention had been unlawful. Relying on Article 5 § 5 (right to liberty and security – right to compensation), they also alleged that no means had been available to them under Italian law by which to obtain redress for the violations complained of. Violation of Article 5 § 1 (f)
Relocation Farce Brings Shame On Europe
On the one-year anniversary of the EU plan to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy, the first countries of arrival, the scheme must be judged a farce. First, the EU cut the number by a third. Then, in the year since the plan was approved, it moved just 5,821 people to other member states. While the relocation requirement is legally binding on EU member states, some countries are flouting EU decision-making rules and shirking their responsibilities.
Some have contributed fairly but others, it would seem, are either actively bucking the programme or passively offering little or nothing in the hope the issue will to go away or that the asylum seekers will end up elsewhere. Despite an European Commission press statement touting “significant progress” in relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, prime minister Robert Fico of Slovakia said just a few days ago that the idea of migration quotas was “politically finished”.
Read more: Human Rights Watch, http://tinyurl.com/hz2s989
Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees – September 2016
CrisisWatch is a monthly early warning bulletin designed to provide a regular update on the state of the most significant situations of conflict around the world.
Global Overview September 2016
Deteriorated Situations: Central African, RepublicDemocratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Mali, Korean Peninsula, Kashmir, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Syria, Libya
September saw conflicts worsen in Syria, Mali, Libya and the Central African Republic (CAR), with civilians often bearing the brunt of the violence. Governments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe cracked down on protests against the ruling regimes and in Azerbaijan a referendum on constitutional amendments was widely seen as a step to consolidate the president’s rule and stifle dissent. A controversial referendum in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska went ahead in defiance of state institutions. In Asia, tensions spiked between nuclear powers Pakistan and India following clashes in Kashmir, and on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test, its biggest yet. Both Yemen and CAR could see a significant escalation in violence in the coming weeks, whereas Colombians are getting ready to vote in a plebiscite on 2 October which could herald the end of 52 years of conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Outlook for This Month October 2016
Conflict Risk Alerts: Central African Republic, Kashmir, Syria, Yemen.
Resolution Opportunities: Colombia
Read the full report: https://www.crisisgroup.org/crisiswatch
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 20 September and 3 October 2016.
No Right of Appeal for Extended Family Member of EEA Nationals
A recent case from the Upper Tribunal decided that there is no statutory right of appeal against a Home Office refusal of the application by an extended family of an EEA national. The citation for the case is Sala (EFMs: Right of Appeal)  UKUT 411 (IAC). Extended family members are those who are not covered within the provisions of paragraph 7 of The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 ("the Regulations 2006"). Provisions of paragraph 8 of the Regulations 2006 define them. Therefore the above decision does not affect spouses or family members of the EEA nationals such as children or parents and will typically include unmarried partners, as in the above case, and other more distant relatives. The Upper Tribunal reached the decision by interpreting the provisions of paragraphs 2 and 26 of the Regulations 2006 and concluded that only those having "entitlement" have a right of appeal under the Regulations. As the extended family members do not have such "entitlement" to be admitted or to be issued with documentation under paragraph 2 of the Regulations 2006 they do not have a right of appeal. The decision will have a huge impact in practice as anyone who is an extended family member and whose application was rejected by the Home Office will not be able to use appeal proceedings at the First-Tier Tribunal and argue their case in substance, they will only have a recourse to Judicial Review.
Gherson News: http://tinyurl.com/gpprnw7
Concrete Walls and Bureaucratic Barriers Deny Access to Justice for Migrants
Work recently began on a wall in Calais, funded by the UK government, to prevent migrants and asylum seekers from crossing the Channel to Britain. Nearly simultaneously, the government announced that it would increase immigration tribunal fees by over 500%, erecting a different type of barrier—to access to justice. It was claimed that doing so would bring in an estimated £34 million in income annually and preserve the functioning of the tribunals.
The decision to increase fees was made despite the fact that responses to a public consultation conducted by the government overwhelmingly disagreed with the proposals. The suggestion to increase fees in the First-tier Tribunal (the first port of call when a person wants to challenge an immigration or asylum decision by the state) was opposed by 142 of 147 respondents. Introducing fees in the Upper Tribunal (where appeals against decisions in the First-tier Tribunal are heard) was opposed by 106 of 116 respondents, and the introduction of fees for applications for permission to appeal in both Tribunals was opposed by 111 of 119 respondents. In partial concession to critics of the proposal, the government has said it will introduce fee waiver and exemption schemes in certain cases. However, these plans are as yet unspecified and are likely to increase the bureaucratic burden on migrants.
Read more: Justine Stefanelli, UK Human Rights Blog,
Racial Elements in Hate Crime Cases Being 'Filtered Out' in UK
Police, prosecutors and the courts in Britain are “filtering out” racial elements in hate crime cases, half of reported hate crime is not prosecuted and judges are underusing heavier sentences for hate crime, say Council of Europe anti-racism experts. The European commission against racism and intolerance (Ecri) says racial aspects of hate crime cases are often being filtered out through a combination of an unwillingness to recognise racist motivation, reclassifying racist attacks as disputes or other forms of hostility, and an over-strict interpretation of the legal provisions on racist motivation. The report of experts from 47 European countries, published on Tuesday, also says that about half the hate crime recorded by British police – including on social media – goes unpunished because no suspects are identified. The fifth Council of Europe report on racism in the UK highlights concerns over the “considerable intolerant element” in the public political debate in Britain, particularly on immigration.
Read more: Alan Travis, Guardian, http://tinyurl.com/zmu49lj
EU Signs Deal to Deport Unlimited Numbers of Afghan Asylum Seekers
The EU has signed an agreement with the Afghan government allowing its member states to deport an unlimited number of the country’s asylum seekers, and obliging the Afghan government to receive them. The deal has been in the pipeline for months, leading up to a large EU-hosted donor conference in Brussels this week. According to a previously leaked memo, the EU suggested stripping Afghanistan of aid if its government did not cooperate. The deal, signed on Sunday, has not been made public but a copy seen by the Guardian states that Afghanistan commits to readmitting any Afghan citizen who has not been granted asylum in Europe, and who refuses to return to Afghanistan voluntarily.
Read more: Guardian, http://tinyurl.com/h5hu4wz
Asylum Seekers in UK 'Face Longest Wait For Work Permit In Europe'
Britain is one of the worst countries in Europe at integrating asylum seekers into the labour market, unnecessarily increasing their dependency on the welfare system, a report has found. Under British law, asylum seekers must wait for 12 months before applying for a work permit – the longest waiting time in Europe, according to research from the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) in Italy, and Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German thinktank. Even after the 12-month threshold, they are often unable to access the labour market because they cannot be self-employed or set up a business. They can also only apply for jobs within a small band of professions for which many lack the qualifications to apply. Even when asylum seekers are granted refugee status, researchers found that they are effectively discouraged from seeking work. The limited 28-day window which they have to find private accommodation is too short for them to find work and then earn the wages they would need to pay for a deposit on a rental contract.
Read more: A jobcentre
Even when asylum seekers are granted refugee status, research found they are effectively discouraged from seeking work. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
Patrick Kingsley, Guardian, http://tinyurl.com/jatk49w
English Language Requirement For Family Route Migrants
A reminder that on 21 January 2016 the Government announced that a new English language requirement would be introduced in October 2016 for family route migrants wanting to extend their stay in the UK. Although there has been no further announcement from the Government or update to the Immigration Rules regarding the new language requirement, it is important to be aware of the proposed changes. If the change is in fact implemented, non-EEA national family members (partners and parents) in the UK will have to pass an oral and listening test at level A2 in order to qualify after two-and-a-half years in the UK for further leave to remain on the five-year partner/parent route to settlement. The new requirement was designed to ensure that those entering the UK on a family visa with only basic English, will over time become fluent. At present non- EEA national family members applying for further leave to remain on the partner and parent route to settlement are required to pass an oral and listening test at level A1. However, it is advised that applicants applying for further leave to remain from October 2016 check the English language requirement applicable to them before making their application, to ensure they satisfy the correct requirement.
Gherson Immigration, http://tinyurl.com/h77kzwm