News & Views Monday 27th November to Sunday 3rd December 2017  
Half Asylum Claims 'Non-Straightforward' and as a Result Face Long Delays

Almost half the asylum cases dealt with by the Home Office are being classified as “non-straightforward” excluding them from a six-month decision target, an official watchdog has revealed. The chief inspector of borders and immigration says that an internal Home Office review earlier this year revealed that a significant number of these claims “should never have been categorised as non-straightforward”. David Bolt’s report on the processing of asylum claims in Britain shows lengthening backlogs in dealing with asylum cases despite a 20% reduction in the number of claims to 29,549 in the 12 months to March 2017.
The report published on Tuesday reveals that mor
e than half of those classified “non-straightforward” had faced delay of more than 12 months in getting a decision as of March 2017 and fewer than a quarter had had an initial review. It also discloses that more than a quarter of Home Office staff who take decisions on asylum cases quit over a six-month period. The asylum casework inspection also reveals that when a special project based in Bootle was set up to clear the backlog of “non-straightforward” cases only one member of staff had been recruited by the time it was supposed to start in July this year. The chief inspector of borders said the Home Office had described the asylum system as “in transition” and there were plans to enable it to cope better with peaks in demand. “My message is the Home Office needs to accelerate these plans and put itself in effective control of the asylum process as soon as possible. Otherwise, the next peak in asylum intake, or trough in staffing levels, will see it fall further behind.

Read more: Alan Travis, Guardian,

Criminal Enterprise? Shell's Involvement in Severe Human Rights Violations in Nigeria in the 1990s

Oil giant Shell has a case to answer for its role in human rights violations including murder, rape and torture committed by the Nigerian military government in the 1990s. The victims were the Ogoni people, whose land has been devastated by pollution from Shell's operations. When the Ogonis organized in peaceful protest, the Nigerian government unleashed a campaign of appalling violence against them. Despite a raft of evidence linking Shell with the government's actions, no company executive has ever been made to answer for its involvement. The fact that Shell has never been held to account for this is an outrage, and one that sends a terrible message: if companies are rich and powerful enough, they can get away with anything. So, for the first time, Amnesty International has brought together the available evidence to paint a damning picture of Shell's role.

Read more: Amnesty International,

EU Citizens Enhanced Protection Against Deportation

Acquisition of a right of permanent residence is a prerequisite to qualify for enhanced protection against expulsion

The period of 'ten years' for which a citizen must, if he is to be protected against expulsion, have resided in a Member State other than his own may include periods of absence or of imprisonment provided that one of those periods has not had the effect of breaking integrative links with that Member State

Under the directive on free movement and residence.' EU citizens who have resided in a Member State other than their own (the host Member State) for a continuous period of five years are to acquire a right of permanent residence in that State. In that context, the host Member State may not take an expulsion decision against an EU citizen who has acquired a right of permanent residence on its territory, except on serious grounds of public policy or public security.

Similarly, an expulsion decision may not be taken against an EU citizen who has resided in the host Member State for 'the previous ten years', unless the decision is based on imperative grounds of public security, as defined by that State.

Read more: European Court of Justice,

International Criminal Court’s Case Against the United States in Afghanistan

In recent years, a confrontation between the U.S. government and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been looming over the alleged actions of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Prosecutor’s brief announcement that she would seek permission to launch a formal investigation into the situation in Afghanistan followed a series of annual reports making clear that this investigation will cover not just the Taliban and Afghan security forces, but also U.S. military and intelligence officers.  This is a scenario that both ICC critics and supporters in the U.S. government have fretted about ever since the formation of the court. Yet the official Department of Defense reaction was distinctly muted.  Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon’s statement to National Public Radio that an ICC investigation with respect to U.S. personnel would be “wholly unwarranted and unjustified” drew in tone and content from U.S. government talking points that have been used for years.  Will the government shift to a more aggressive response once senior leadership turns its attention away from the President’s trip to Asia and has a chance to weigh in?

It is already clear that the Prosecutor’s decision is not one that the U.S. government will accept.  Under federal statute, cooperation with the ICC in prosecuting U.S. personnel is prohibited.  On the policy level, the current and past administrations have strenuously objected to foreign courts or international tribunals exercising jurisdiction over U.S. personnel, citing concerns about unfair treatment.  No U.S. administration has supported becoming party to the ICC Rome Statute (the court’s constitutive document), and the Bush Administration was so concerned that the court would try to assert power over U.S. personnel that it went to extraordinary lengths to guard against that possibility.  It sought immunity agreements from member States using foreign assistance as leverage.  It blocked U.N. peacekeeping resolutions at the Security Council because they did not include ICC immunity clauses. It even worked with Congress to enact a law–still on the books–authorizing the United States to use military force to rescue U.S. persons from The Hague should one ever be detained by the court.

Read more: International Crisis Group,

Early Day Motion 602: Arrest and Trials of Kurdish HDP Leaders in Turkey

That this House expresses concern regarding the upcoming trials of the democratically-elected leaders of Turkey's third biggest parliamentary party, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP); notes that a total of nine elected MPs, 88 elected mayors and over 8,000 party activists are currently in prison; further notes that the basis for the arrests are speeches delivered which, along with the mass arrest of journalists (EDM 231), encroaches on the right to free speech in Turkey; believes that the motivations behind their arrest and imprisonment on terrorism charges, months after the removal of parliamentary immunity, are political; recognises that the arrest of HDP parliamentarians is also an attack on the democratic rights of the six million plus citizens of Turkey who voted for them; commends the work being done by the HDP in attempting democratic steps towards a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish question; condemns the Turkish Government for trying to criminalise the democratic voice of millions of its citizens; calls for the immediate release of the HDP politicians; and calls on the UK Government to pressure Turkey to lift the state of emergency and restore democracy.

 Sponsors: Morris, Grahame M / Stephens, Christopher / Hepburn, Stephen / Carden, Dan / Smith, Laura / Lewis, Clive
House of Commons 28/11/2017-
Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM 602    
To find your MP go here: https:///

CPIN: Ethiopia: Oromos Including the 'Oromo Protests'

1.1 Basis of claim
1.1.1 Fear of persecution or serious harm by the state due to the person’s Oromo ethnicity and/or their actual or perceived involvement in the ‘Oromo Protests’ of 2014 and/or 2015/16.

Published on Refworld” 28/11/2017

Immigration Detainees Face Deportation Due to Legal Aid Bureaucracy

Immigration detainees are being deported because administrative hurdles are deterring legal aid solicitors from taking up viable judicial review cases, an independent report commissioned by the Bar Council suggests. Even though immigration detention is in scope for legal aid, the Injustice in Immigration Detention report, published today, says the UK legal landscape is failing detainees. Beginning a judicial review claim is a 'financial gamble' for a legal aid lawyer, the report states. The solicitor must apply for a legal aid certificate for civil representation, which has a 'stringent' merits test. Preparing the legal aid application, alongside the application for JR permission, can take a long time. If permission is not granted, the Legal Aid Agency does not pay for any of the pre-permission work. The report says: 'This leads to a Catch-22 situation: lawyers are cautious about beginning work unless they are satisfied on the merits of the case, but often that is not possible without investigative work, at their own financial risk. It is possible under the legal aid scheme to apply for "investigative help" funding for this sort of work; but it often appears this is not sought, particularly in urgent removal cases.'

Read more: Law Gazette,

Marking the Report Humanitarianism: the Unacceptable Face of Solidarity

The Institute of Race Relations is holding an event, 'Stop the criminalisation of human rights defenders!'

Monday, 4 December at 6-8.30pm
IRR 2-6 Leeke Street
Kings Cross Road

Speakers from Medecins sans Frontieres (which has a rescue ship in the Med), the Forensic Oceanography project and the European Parliament will discuss with IRR's Liz Fekete and me how EU migration policies are shrinking the space for humanitarianism and feeding the far Right. With poetry from Roy McFarlane,

Spaces are limited, you must book your place,  the link is here.

For humanitarians, the belief that all humankind should be treated humanely and equally is not some abstraction − assisting those in great need and responding to emergencies are what you simply get on with. That humanity is under an obligation to intervene in the face of suffering, is a principle embodied in religious teaching, as well as humanist and secular thought.

The EU's and states’ emphasis on securing borders against migrants and refugees has led to:
* the extension of the 'hostile environment' and territorial policing to border bottlenecks
* the undermining of human rights obligations of rescue and subsistence;
* the increasing criminalisation of humanitarian actors who try to fill the gaps in rescue and provision; 
* the encouragement of the far Right's anti-migrant agenda. 

The report calls for the European Commission to reform the Facilitators Package to create a mandatory exemption from prosecution for humanitarian actors. 

Source: Institute of Race Relations, Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity, demonstrates how anti-smuggling laws designed for use against criminal gangs have been used improperly against those acting from humanitarian motives in EEA member states to criminalise decency and compassion.

European Union Gives Home Office £100 Million to Spend on Deportations

The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) was established on 16 April 2014 by the European Union as a Multi Annual Financial Framework to cover the period 2014 – 2020. The UK opted into AMIF, and was allocated €370m for use on UK priorities in the field of migration/Deportation and integration.

AMIF is administered by the UK Responsible Authority, which is based in the Home Office European Funding Team. The Acts establishing AMIF are: Regulation (EU) No. 514/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and Regulation (EU) No. 516/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council

Article 53 (2) of Reg 514/2014 states: Member States shall ensure transparency of the implementation of the national programmes and shall maintain a list of actions supported by each national programme which shall be accessible through the website or the website portal. The list of actions shall include updated information on the final beneficiaries, the names of the projects and the amount of Union funding allocated to them.

A full break down of how the Home Office have allocated the funding, most of it to enforce deportations and by default a miserly amount for settlement, can be found here:

Frozen and Forgotten: The Neglected Displacement Crisis on Europe’s Doorstep

Many of the world’s humanitarian catastrophes are described as forgotten emergencies, but only this one is playing out relatively unnoticed on the doorstep of Europe, over an area roughly the size of Switzerland. The frozen, low-intensity conflict in Ukraine’s Donbass region will mark a grim, four-year milestone in April. And the numbers aren't pretty: more than 10,000 killed and at least 23,000 injured.

At the beginning of 2014, Ukraine had no displaced people. Now, it’s on the world’s top ten list, with an estimated two million.

The roots of the conflict can be traced back to the winter of 2013/2014, when then-president Viktor Yanukovych backtracked on a promise to enter into an association agreement with the European Union. That, in turn, sparked the Revolution of Dignity, which ousted the pro-Russian president in February 2014 but cost the lives of at least 100 civilian protesters. Shortly afterwards, thousands of armed separatists invaded Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and remain there to this day. Several ceasefire agreements, including the latest “Back to School” initiative in September, have failed to bring about an enduring peace. The two regions, knows as oblasts, are now self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics.

Read more: IRIN,

Caseworker Weekend Training: End Deportations

End Deportations is recruiting volunteers for its new casework project!

Deadline to apply: by 5pm on Sunday 17th December 2017

We are looking to train up and support 30-40 volunteers in the new year to carry out casework to support individuals targeted for charter flight. The aim will be to try to get them off the flight and released from detention ASAP.

What will the project involve?

End Deportations is a voluntary collective that campaigns to end mass deportations by charter flight, as a necessary step towards ending all deportations.

Casework is at the heart of the campaign. It’s one of the main ways we build solidarity and friendship with people targeted for charter flight, enable them to get involved with the campaign after release/return if they want to, and pave the way to strategic legal challenges against the policy and practice of deporting en masse.

Our casework team will be speaking by phone and email/fax/text to people who’ve been targeted for charter flight deportation, and supporting them to take control of their immigration/asylum cases, access lawyers and independent healthcare, challenge their deportation and get released as quickly as possible. Click here to see the full role description.

All caseworkers will be part of the Casework working group of End Deportations, with decision-making power about how that working group operates.

Read more: