News & Views Monday 3rd July to Sunday 9th July 2017  
Bangladesh: End Disappearances and Secret Detentions

Bangladesh law enforcement authorities have illegally detained hundreds of people since 2013, including scores of opposition activists, and held them in secret detention, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Bangladesh government should immediately stop this widespread practice of enforced disappearances, order prompt, impartial, and independent investigations into these allegations, provide answers to families, and prosecute security forces responsible for such egregious rights violations.

The 82-page report, “‘We Don’t Have Him’: Secret Detentions and Enforced Disappearances in Bangladesh,” found that at least 90 people were victims of enforced disappearance in 2016 alone. While most were produced in court after weeks or months of secret detention, Human Rights Watch documented 21 cases of detainees who were later killed, and nine others whose whereabouts remain unknown.

Read more: Human Rights Watch,
Police Who Failed Murdered Refugee Displayed 'Hallmarks of Racism'

Bijan Ebrahimi called police 85 times asking for help but an officer dismissed him as a 'pest' within an hour of his brutal killing. Police officers who failed to come to the assistance of a disabled refugee who was beaten to death and set on fire by his neighbour showed “hallmarks of racial bias”, the police watchdog has said in a damning ruling that revealed a catalogue of failings. Bijan Ebrahimi, 44, was murdered by Lee James in Bristol in July 2013 after seven years of abuse. James wrongly believed his neighbour, an Iranian national, was a paedophile. In an excoriating report, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) criticised the “poor responses” of the police and suggested the officers involved had displayed signs of racism.

Between 2007 and his murder, Mr Ebrahimi made 85 calls to Avon and Somerset Police to report a range of crimes, including racial abuse, criminal damage and threats to kill him. He had his home and car set on fire and had the word “pervert” daubed on his front door. On 40 separate occasions, police officers failed to record the crimes.  Jan Williams, an IPCC commissioner, said Mr Ebrahimi had been failed “on a number of levels, over a number of years”.

Read more: Ben Kentish, Independent,
Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement

In light of this, with immediate effect, I am amending the scope of the Syrian vulnerable person’s resettlement scheme to enable UNHCR to refer the most vulnerable refugees in the MENA region who have fled the Syrian conflict and cannot safely return to their country of origin, whatever their nationality.

The Government are committed to an effective response in the affected regions and to resettling the most vulnerable; this includes those who had sought refuge within Syria prior to the conflict and been recognised as refugees. We will continue to rely on UNHCR to identify and refer the most vulnerable refugees but will no longer limit the scheme solely to those with Syrian nationality. UNHCR will only refer to us those who are genuine refugees, in that they cannot seek the protection of their home country.
This change will also mean that mixed family groups are eligible for resettlement under the Syrian vulnerable person’s resettlement scheme. This change might also ?open up the scheme to other groups, such as Iraqi minorities who sought refuge in Syria, but had to flee again as a result of the Syria conflict.

Read the full statement: House of Commons, 03/07/2017,

Oil Giant Shell Complicit in the Arbitrary Execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa

In November 1995, the Nigerian state arbitrarily executed nine men after a blatantly unfair trail. The executions led to global condemnation. The United States and the European Union imposed sanctions and the Commonwealth group of nations suspended Nigeria’s membership. Officially accused of involvement in murder, the men had in fact been put on trial because they had challenged the devastating impact of oil production by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell, in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta.

The executions were the culmination of a brutal campaign by Nigeria’s military to silence the protests of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), led by author Ken Saro-Wiwa, one of the men executed. In January 1993, MOSOP declared that Shell was no longer welcome to operate in its area. The Nigerian security forces’ subsequent campaign in Ogoniland directly led to serious human rights violations, including the unlawful killing of hundreds of Ogoni people.

This briefing examines the role played by the Shell in the unfair trial and arbitrary execution of the Ogoni Nine. Shell has always denied any involvement. However, Amnesty International’s work at the time, as well as evidence being used in a new legal action in the Netherlands, brought by the widows of some of the men who were executed, paints a very different picture.

Read more: Amnesty International,
Chinese Mother-of-Two Wins Asylum Appeal Over Fear of Persecution

Ms Yan Zheng V Secretary of State For The Home Department

[1]        This appeal against a decision of the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (“UT”) dated 31 March 2016 raises the question of whether, in the particular circumstances of this case, the Upper Tribunal was entitled to interfere with primary findings of fact made by the First-tier Tribunal (“FTT”).  Although the point is of some general interest, in the event there was little difference between the parties as to the principles to be applied and the outcome of this appeal turns largely on the application of those principles to the particular case.

Background Facts
[2]        The appellant is a citizen of China.  She was born in October 1988.  She entered the United Kingdom on a valid student visa and passport in August 2007 and was granted further leave as a student to remain until 30 June 2009.  On 29 April 2014 she claimed asylum based on her fear of persecution, were she to be returned to China, on account of (a) her membership of the China New Democratic Party and (b) her breach of China’s family planning policies, having had two children born out of wedlock.
[3]        By letter dated 9 April 2015 the Secretary of State refused her asylum claim.  She appealed to the FTT.  Her appeal was dismissed on 20 November 2015.  She appealed to the UT by permission of the FTT.  The UT refused her appeal on 31 March 2016, though on different grounds – it set aside the decision of the FTT and substituted therefor a decision that the appellant’s appeal to the FTT against the decision of the Secretary of State was dismissed “on all available grounds”.  The appellant now appeals to the Court of Session, leave to appeal having been granted by this court.
[4]        After her unsuccessful appeal to the FTT, the appellant abandoned any reliance on her membership of the China New Democratic Party.  Accordingly, the only issue before the UT related to the risk to the appellant of being persecuted on account of her breach of China’s family planning policies. 

[50]      For the above reasons the appeal against the decision of the Upper Tribunal dated 14 March 2016 is allowed.  The decision of the First-tier Tribunal dated 19 November 2015 is set aside and replaced by the following decision: (i) the appeal brought by the appellant to the First-tier Tribunal against the decision of the Secretary of State dated 9 April 2015 refusing her claim for asylum is allowed; and, in consequence, (ii) the decision of the Secretary of State dated 9 April 2015 refusing the appellant’s claim for asylum is quashed.  All questions of expenses are reserved.

Read the full judgment: Scottish Courts and Tribunals 30th June 2017
DRC Violence Fuels Fears of Return to 90s Bloodbath

Thousands of people have been killed and more than a million displaced in the most severe outbreak of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent years, raising fears of a return to the bloody civil wars of the 1990s and increasing pressure on President Joseph Kabila to step down or hold elections.

The violence in the vast, resource-rich central African country has been concentrated in the central Kasai region, where local communities formed a militia in support of a local leader who opposed the government and was killed by the police last summer.

Western and African powers are concerned that Congo may slide further into anarchy, leading to a repeat of the war that killed 5 million people between 1996 and 2003. That conflict was the deadliest in modern African history, involving two rounds of fighting that dragged in the armies of at least six countries.

Read more: Jason Burke, Guardian,

Libya High Levels of Violence Makes it Unsafe to Force Deportations

ZMM (Article 15(c)) Libya CG [2017] UKUT 263 (IAC) (28 June 2017)

The violence in Libya has reached such a high level that substantial grounds are shown for believing that a returning civilian would, solely on account of his presence on the territory of that country or region, face a real risk of being subject to a threat to his life or person.

92. The situation is complex and fast-moving but two features stand out: there is at present a manifest failure of state protection for the ordinary citizen and indiscriminate violence is liable to erupt anywhere, at any time. In the context of this extreme volatility we are satisfied that the cumulative effect of the evidence is such that the Article 15(c) test is satisfied.

93. In light of our findings we have not considered it necessary to conduct a region by region review. We do not doubt that there are in Libya today towns and villages which are relatively calm where, notwithstanding the absence of effective government, people are going about their ‘normal’ lives.  We cannot however be satisfied that the peace in these oases is stable or durable, or that the notional returnee to Libya would be able to safely access such locations

.Read the full determination: Bailii,