News & Views Monday 23rd October to Sunday 29th October 2017  
Early Day Motion 457: Indefinite Detention

That this House is deeply concerned that the UK detains people indefinitely under immigration rules, is the only country in Europe without a time limit on detention and that people can be detained for months and years on end without knowing when they will be released; notes that in the year to June 2017, 27,819 people were detained and that of the nearly 3,000 people detained in June 2017 over half had been locked up for more than 28 days, 271 people for over six months and that 52 per cent of those released from detention were returned to the community; observes that successive reports by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 2012, the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Migration and Refugees in 2015 and Stephen Shaw in 2016 have demonstrated indefinite detention to have a damaging effect on the health of the people concerned; and calls on the Government urgently to reform immigration detention by introducing a 28-day time limit.

Sponsor: Catherine West

Hansard, 25/10/2017,
Put Your MP to Work – Demand They Sign EDM 456
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ECJ Upholds 6-Month Time Limit for Asylum Transfers

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Wednesday that Austria will be obliged to examine the asylum application of an Iranian national, if an Austrian court finds that the authorities there failed to transfer him within six months to Bulgaria, where he had previously sought international protection. Majid Shiri, the asylum seeker, applied for international protection first in Bulgaria, and then in Austria. Under current EU law known as the Dublin regulation, the member state that was the first point of entry into the EU for asylum seekers - in this case Bulgaria - is obliged to handle asylum applications. The ECJ said that if Shiri had indeed not been transferred back from Austria to Bulgaria within a six-month time limit, the "responsibility is transferred automatically" to Austria, as outlined in the Dublin III regulation. The ruling is likely to have repercussions for a number of asylum cases lodged in 2015 and 2016 when a large number of people seeking international protection entered Europe.

Source: German Press Agency,

Urgent: End the Detention Threatened Deportation of Patricia Simeon

She is currently applying for a Rule 35 certifying that she is an At Risk Adult. Patricia was previously detained in Yarl’s Wood when she first claimed asylum and was released due to receiving a Rule 35 so we are shocked to find she has been detained once again. LGBT+ asylum seekers also face increased and specific risks when they are detained. Research conducted by Stonewall and UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) found LGBT+ detainees experienced homophobic and transphobic harassment, discrimination and violence from other detainees and members of staff.

As a result of this and due to the abhorrent treatment of LGBT+ people in her home country, the state’s decision to detain her is incredibly irresponsible and concerning.

Patricia is an active member of both the local and the national LGBT+ community. She is a founding member and chair of LASS (Lesbian Asylum Support Sheffield). She has attended multiple LGBT+ Pride events throughout the summer and has been incredibly committed to the ongoing success of LASS. In Sheffield, she is also a member of the Out Aloud LGBT+ Choir. Alongside this she is also an active member of LISG (Lesbian Immigration Support Group) and African Rainbow Family in Manchester and has campaigned closely with UKLGIG (United Kingdom Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group) and LGSM (Lesbian and Gays Support the Migrants).

Patricia has an appointment to submit her fresh asylum claim on the 7th November and she has a right to submit this claim.

We are seriously concerned about Patricia’s safety and welfare should attempts be made to forcibly return her to Sierra Leone.Please sign Patricia Simeon’s Online Petition,

Afghanistan’s Deepening Insecurity

Soaring casualties, death by airstrikes, attacks on mosques, and the government’s increasingly slippery control over its own territory. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan continue to soar as the country’s security situation deteriorates, according to the latest statistics released by the UN mission. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, recorded more than 8,000 civilian casualties this year from January until the end of September, placing conflict-caused deaths and injuries at near record-high levels. The numbers have trended steadily upward over the last eight years even if the latest data represents a moderate drop from last year’s peak.

UNAMA attributed roughly two thirds of the casualties to anti-government forces – mainly the Taliban and self-proclaimed Islamic State groups. Civilian casualties blamed on government-aligned forces dropped by 19 percent over the same time period a year ago. However, deaths and injuries caused by airstrikes continue to rise: the mission documented 466 casualties from aerial attacks a 52 percent increase. The US has escalated airstrikes in Afghanistan under President Donald Trump; the US military launched 751 airstrikes on Taliban and IS targets in September, in what the US Air Force called “a record high month for weapons employed in Afghanistan since 2012”. But the UN has warned that less political oversight over airstrikes, and Trump’s strategy to increase troops in the country, could usher in “a more volatile landscape” in the months ahead. Airstrikes in late August killed at least 28 civilians in Herat and Logar provinces, according to the UN.

Read more: IRIN,

Colombia’s Armed Groups Battle for the Spoils of Peace

Colombia’s 2016 peace accord has brought over 10,000 FARC fighters to the cusp of civilian life, but in their wake rival armed groups are battling for control of vacated territory and lucrative coca crops. In order to roll back booming drug production and expanding non-state groups, the Colombian government should provide local farmers with alternative livelihoods while developing grassroots security and local governance.

The peace process with Colombia’s largest and longest standing guerrilla group has defied its detractors and brought 11,200 ex-combatants to the cusp of civilian life, but the aftermath of war has not been safe for all. Since the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) withdrew from their rural heartlands to gather in cantonments in early 2017, rival armed actors have taken their place, waging a battle for spoils: control of isolated communities and territories, many rich in illicit business. In the Pacific cocaine hub of Tumaco, in hamlets of Chocó, or in contraband zones on the Venezuelan border, established armed groups and new insurgent breakaway factions have attacked state forces, intimidated communities and vied to become undisputed local overlords. Grassroots security is crucial to assure the success of the peace process with the FARC as it shifts from a UN-monitored weapons handover to deeper structural reforms of politics and society. Efforts to combat remaining armed outfits are essential, but in so doing the government must not alienate the population and exacerbate poverty in ways that would aggravate the conditions that propel these groups’ growth.

Read more: International Crisis Group,

CPIN: Iran: Honour Crimes Against Women
    1. Basis of claim 

1.1.1 Fear of persecution or serious harm because the woman is at risk of being subject to an ‘honour’ crime.

1.2 Points to note

1.2.1 For the purposes of this guidance an ‘honour’ crime is violence committed by those who aim to protect the reputation of their family or wider tribe and community.

1.2.2 Although ‘honour’ crimes may be perpetrated against both men and women, this note is confined to ‘honour’ crimes against women.

Updated: 17 October 2017
Published on Refworld, 24/10/2017


Paulette Wilson Resident in UK Since 1968 Freed From Removal Centre

A woman under threat of deportation who has lived in the UK for nearly 50 years has been released from an immigration removal centre. Paulette Wilson, 61, who arrived in Telford in 1968, aged 10, from Jamaica, spent a week at the Yarl's Wood centre. Government guidelines state that anyone who settled in the UK by 1 January 1973 has the right to remain in the country. Heather Thomas, from the Refugee and Migrant Centre, said she was "amazed" the Home Office "ignored" evidence. Ms Wilson was due to have an appointment with the Jamaican High Commission on Wednesday to arrange a passport. Her solicitor, James Wilson, said evidence had been supplied to the government that she had been in the country prior to 1973.

Read more: BBC News,

Government to Give Itself Power to Spy on People’s Details for ‘Immigration Control’

Outrage over 'two-tier, racially discriminatory' clause which would strike out data privacy rights in immigration investigations.  New laws will give the Home Office the power to snoop on the personal data of millions of people for “immigration control”, campaigners are warning. A little-noticed clause smuggled into data protection legislation creates an exemption to privacy rights for immigration investigations. The civil rights group Liberty has condemned the threat of “two-tier, racially discriminatory” rules – demanding that Parliament overturn the move.

Without a fightback, millions of migrants could have their personal information “corrected or erased” without knowing “who is processing their data, which data is being processed and why”, it warned. And the exemption is so broad that it could affect “volunteers running night shelters or food banks, or British citizens trying to access health services or education”. Liberty suggested it had been inserted to allow the Home Office to more closely monitor EU nationals granted residency rights after Brexit.

Read more: Rob Merrick, Independent,

Pregnant/Ill Migrants Going Without Medical Care as Government Intensifies NHS Immigration Policy

Pregnant and seriously ill migrants are going without medical care because they are afraid of receiving bills they cannot pay and subsequently being referred to the Home Office, new studies show. Research, seen exclusively by The Independent, shows a third of vulnerable migrants requiring medical treatment had been deterred from seeking timely healthcare because of concerns that their information would be shared with the Home Office as a result of the NHS charging process. It comes as new regulations are introduced on Monday that will extend charging rules and build on existing policy for billing overseas visitors in NHS hospitals. Every hospital department in England will now be required by law to check patients’ eligibility and charge upfront for care.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Anti-Immigrant Forces Gain Ground in Europe

Czechs this weekend elected a new prime minister who heaps scorn on the European Union and says his country shouldn't have to accept a single refugee. Germany just sent a radical far-right party to parliament for the first time since the days of Adolf Hitler. And Austrians last weekend gave the anti-immigrant Freedom Party its biggest share of the vote since 1999. Those three elections in the past month are just the latest to upend the European political order by elevating anti-establishment populists. Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century.

Read more: Katy O'Donnell, Politico,

Pollution One of World’s Biggest Killers

Pollution is a major cause of premature death, disability, and disease around the world, a new report in the medical journal Lancet said today, stressing that most health impacts are on people living in low- and middle-income countries. The report estimates that diseases caused by pollution were responsible for approximately 9 million premature deaths in 2015 – 16 per cent of all deaths worldwide. In the most severely affected countries, pollution-related disease kills more than one in four people.

But pollution rarely kills people directly or quickly. Instead, it is an important cause of asthma, cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, and developmental delays in children; and heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, and cancer in adults. The report challenges the oft-repeated line that pollution and disease can be addressed only when a country has industrialized and become richer. It notes that many of the pollution control strategies that have been effective in some wealthier countries – newer technologies as well as sound laws, policies, and regulations – can be adapted for countries at every income level.

Read more: Human Rights Watch,

Cameroon's Descent into Crisis: The Long History of Anglophone Discord

Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis reached a new low in early October, when at least 17 people were shot dead by security forces and 50 wounded, according to Amnesty International. Protesters had gathered in towns across the country’s two English-speaking regions to mark a symbolic declaration of independence, and were confronted by police firing tear gas and live ammunition in running battles. There has been an 11-month trial of strength between the authorities in the majority francophone country and English-speaking protesters, who are angry over alleged discrimination, and the marginalisation of their two regions – North West and South West Cameroon.

The agitation has deepened from a demand to return to a long-abandoned federal system, to increasing calls for outright secession. In the confrontation at the weekend, protesters hoisted the blue-and-white flag of the self-styled Republic of Ambazonia. The crisis began last year with protests by lawyers and teachers over the influence of French in court rooms and schools. The root of the grievance includes anger over the region’s under-development, its lack of political representation, and the perceived erosion of an Anglophone cultural heritage. The government has labelled the demonstrators terrorists. It has tried to snuff out dissent with hundreds of arrests. Earlier in the year it cut the internet to western Cameroon for three months, arguing that social media was being used to fan the unrest. The response from the protesters has been to declare a weekly one-day business stayaway as part of a broader civil disobedience campaign, which has included school boycotts.

Read more: IRIN,

CPIN: Ethiopia: Background Information, Including Actors of Protection and Internal Relocation

1.1 Basis of claim
1.1.1 Whether in general those at risk of persecution or serious harm from non-state actors are able to seek effective state protection and/or internally relocate within Ethiopia.

Updated: 23 October 2017
Published on Refworld, 24/10/2017

Asylum Seekers in Australia Must Seek Government Permission to Buy a Pet

Australia will require asylum seekers to seek permission before buying a pet in a directive which was condemned as a cruel and “ridiculous” overreach. A leaked government document said that asylum seekers receiving government payments will not be able to use the money on pets or their "vaccination, equipment, toys and bedding" and those who want a pet may be required to prove that they can cover the costs. "Approval for pet ownership must be sought from both the department and the landlord before a pet is purchased," said the document, according to a report by ABC News. The move was condemned by refugee advocates and the Labor party, which described Peter Dutton, the immigration minister, as “the minister for hamsters”.

Read more: Jonathan Pearlman, The Telegraph,