News & Views Monday 11th December to Sunday 17th December 2017  

Ombudsman Called in After Death of 12th Immigration Detainee

An investigation has been launched after the death of a 12th immigration detainee this year. Michael Netyks, a 35-year-old Pole, was serving a six-month sentence at Altcourse prison, a private jail in Liverpool run by G4S. He had been assessed to be vulnerable and is thought to have taken his own life. Altcourse director Steve Williams said: “On Thursday 7 December, a prisoner at HM Prison Altcourse sadly passed away. His next of kin have been informed and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.  “As with any death in custody, this will be investigated by the prison and probation ombudsman.”

The latest death will heighten concerns over the treatment of immigration detainees, who have died at a faster rate in custody in 2017 than ever before.  “The numbers keep on rising,” said Deborah Coles, director of Inquest – a charity concerned with state-related deaths in England and Wales. Almost all of these deaths have been self-inflicted, and a majority have been of EU nationals. Yet the authorities have reacted with inaction, evasiveness and misinformation.”

The highest number of immigration detainee deaths this year have occurred at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire. Just weeks ago, a 27-year-old Iraqi man died there. He is believed to have killed himself. Carlington Spencer from Jamaica, Lukasz Debowski from Poland and Bal Ahmed Kabia from Sierra Leone have also died there in the last year. There have been four deaths of Polish immigration detainees so far, this year, three of which have come in the last three months. Other detainees who have died in the past 12 months have been Afghani, Chinese and Iraqi.

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Change in PBS Rules Could Stop Dependants Gaining Indefinite Leave to Remain

New Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules Affect Dependants of Points Based System Migrants when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain Under the new Statement of Changes of the Immigration Rules that were presented to Parliament on 7 December 2017 is an amendment to the requirements for partners of Point-Based System (PBS) Migrants when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) with the main applicant.  

As the Rules currently stand only the main PBS Migrant has to meet the ‘no more than 180 days absent outside of the UK per year’ rule.  However, from 11 January 2018 any periods of leave granted to PBS Dependant partners after this date will be affected by the 180 days rule, i.e. they will need to ensure that their absences from the UK do not exceed 180 days per year.  This does not include PBS Dependant children, however it could affect their ability to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain if one parent is out of the UK for more than 180 days per year.

The Home Office have made assurances that this will not have a retrospective effect on PBS Dependant partners currently in the UK, and will only be for periods of leave granted under the Rules in place from 11 January 2018.  However, this will affect any PBS Dependant partners where they need to extend their leave to take them to the five-year period. If the leave is extended after 10 January 2018, then they will be subject to the new rules for that period of leave.  Any leave granted before January 2018 will not be included in the new rules.  For example, if the main applicant is in the UK as a Tier 1 Entrepeneur granted leave for the initial three-year period, if they are unable to obtain ILR under the accelerated route they will need to extend their leave for a further two years., together with any dependants.  If an additional two years is granted after 10 January 2018 then they will be caught by the new rules.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration:

Humanitarian Data Breaches: The Real Scandal is Our Collective Inaction

The news that a platform used by at least 11 major operational NGOs and UN agencies may be relatively easy to breach, potentially exposing the personal, location, and demographic data of tens of thousands of highly vulnerable people, is deeply disturbing but not surprising. The real scandal here is not that these vulnerabilities reportedly exist, but that there is still no intentional, comprehensive agenda or political will to decisively address the root causes of this incident and limit the possible fallout.

The danger this type of breach could represent for crisis-affected and vulnerable populations cannot be overstated. The humanitarian community must not press the “snooze button” on the alarms that are likely now ringing in agency headquarters and country offices around the world following these allegations. Rather than circling the wagons, humanitarian leaders need to address the growing threat posed by potential catastrophic data breaches head on.

Read more: IRIN:

UN Bid to Improve Migrant, Refugee Response Flounders

More than a year after the United Nations embarked on an ambitious project to draw up two international “compacts” to better respond to unprecedented migration and refugee crises, the progress report is less than stellar. Experts following the negotiations worry that, despite such a large undertaking, the compacts are still too little, too late. Among key concerns are that their non-binding nature weakens the promise of responsibility-sharing (already evidenced by underfunded pilot projects), and that they will merely reinforce the status quo rather than bring about any tangible improvements for forcibly displaced people. Part of this is due to a dramatically transformed political climate. In September 2016, US President Barack Obama was leading the charge – following a global outpouring of concern over the humanitarian emergency in the Mediterranean Sea – for radical change in the way the world addresses these issues.

Read more: IRIN,

Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI Update Vol. 161

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 28 November and 11 December 2017.

Download the full report:

EU Leaders Complicit in Torture of Refugees and Migrants

European leaders stand accused by Amnesty International of being knowingly complicit in the torture and exploitation of thousands of migrants and refugees by the EU-financed Libyan coastguard and officials running the country’s detention camps. In an attempt to stem the flow of people across the Mediterraneanto Europe, the EU is financing a system that routinely acts in collusion with militia groups and people traffickers to “make money from human suffering”, a report from the human rights group claims.

Following the provision of ships, training and funding from the EU and Italy to the Libyan coastguard, the number of arrivals to Italy fell by 67% between July and November compared with the same period in 2016. Deaths at sea have been reduced commensurately. Yet Amnesty claims the coastguard and those to whom they hand over refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, are often acting in cahoots with criminal gangs and militia. Agreements between the coastguard and smugglers are signalled by markings on boats that allow specific vessels to pass through Libyan waters without interception, it is claimed. The coastguard has also been known to escort boats out to international waters. Those are who are intercepted on their way to Europe are sent to camps run by the Libyan general directorate for combating illegal migration (DCIM), where torture for the purposes of extracting money is almost routine, Amnesty reports.

Read more: Daniel Boffey, Guardian,

Early Day Motion 676: Slave Trade In Libya

That this House deplores the actions of those who seek to enslave migrants passing through Libya; condemns in the strongest terms the abhorrent use of auctions to buy and sell slaves; notes with alarm the horror faced by victims of human trafficking and slavery in Libya and the lack of government control to protect them; points to a UN report in April this year warning that sub-Saharan Africans who travelled north to Libya were routinely facing detention in squalid conditions, becoming victims of rape, beatings and being sold into slavery; reaffirms that, so far, the UN's International Organization for Migration has helped 13,000 people get out of detention centres in Libya and 8,000 in Niger but warns that there are about 15,000 still suffering in such facilities; further notes that an online petition putting pressure on Libya to stop enslaving Black Africans started in November already has over 263,974 signatures; and urges the Government to work with the UN to end the atrocity of modern day slavery in Libya.

House of Commons, 14/12/2017,

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM 676    
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Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - December 2017

Deteriorated Situations in November: Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Cambodia, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt.

Outlook for December 2017

Conflict Risk Alerts: Honduras, Yemen, Egypt

Resolution Opportunities: None

Yemen’s conflict escalated further, fuelling regional volatility and tensions. Following the launch by Huthi rebels of a ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, Saudi forces increased airstrikes in Yemen and tightened their blockade. The missile strike came just after Saudi’s King Salman initiated mass arrests of senior figures on corruption charges. Egypt faced its worst terror attack and a hard-fisted response by security forces could lead to more bloodshed in December. In Africa, violence escalated in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions and Nigeria, while in Zimbabwe President Mugabe’s 37-year rule ended with a military coup. Sharply contested electoral results in Honduras triggered mass protests, while Cambodia’s opposition party was banned ahead of general elections next year. In a positive move, leaders from Moldova and its breakaway region Transdniestria made progress towards reaching a settlement.

Read more: International Crisis Watch,

It’s Official – There Have Been no Suicides in Immigration Detention This Year

Immigrants: Detainees: Written question - HL3822
Asked by Baroness Hamwee

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many detainees in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) have committed suicide in the last 12 months; and what was (1) the name and nationality of the person committing suicide, and (2) the IRC where they were detained, in each case.

Answered by: Baroness Williams of Trafford

Any death in immigration detention is subject to investigation by the police, the coroner (or Procurator Fiscal in Scotland) and the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.

In the period 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017 there have been no deaths in immigration removal centres, or shortly after release, where a coroner has yet determined the cause of death to be self-inflicted.

Staff at all immigration removal centres are trained to identify those at risk of self-harm so that action can be taken to minimise the risk. All incidents of self-harm are treated very seriously and every step is taken to prevent incidents of this nature. Formal risk assessments on initial detention and systems for raising concerns at any subsequent point feed into established self-harm procedures in every IRC, which are in turn underpinned by the Home Office Operating Standard on the prevention of self-harm and Detention Services Order 06/2008 Assessment Care in Detention Teamwork (ACDT).

Information on incidents of self-harm where the intent of the self-harm attempt is suicide is not readily available from central statistical records and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.