News & Views Monday 16th December to Sunday 22nd January 2017  
Kashmir - Escalation in Violence and Breaches of Human Rights

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): I beg to move, this House notes the escalation in violence and breaches of international human rights on the Indian side of the Line of Control in Kashmir; calls on the Government to raise the matter at the United Nations; and further calls on the Government to encourage Pakistan and India to commence peace negotiations to establish a long-term solution on the future governance of Kashmir based on the right of the Kashmiri people to determine their own future in accordance with the provisions of UN Security Council resolutions.

Some Members may not be familiar with Kashmir. It is an area of territory that runs across the border between Pakistan and India. The root causes of the conflict can be traced back to 1947, when the colony of India was granted independence by Britain and was partitioned into two separate entities, India and Pakistan. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, with a predominantly Muslim population but a Hindu leader, shared borders with both India and West Pakistan.

The area has a long and complex history. Obviously there is not enough time for me to go into all of it, but suffice it to say that the argument over which nation would incorporate the state led to the first India-Pakistan ?war, in 1947-48, and there have been several further upsurges in the conflict since then. I do not need to remind the House that both countries are now nuclear powers. Just to complicate matters further, some of the historic territory of Kashmir is now under the control of China.

Read more: House of Commons,

Fivefold Increase in Number of EU Citizens Held in UK Detention Centres

The number of EU nationals detained in immigration centres has increased fivefold since the Conservatives came to power, The Independent can reveal. The sharp rise has led to concerns the Government is trying to “spread anxiety” among people from EU countries living in the UK, in an effort to deter others from moving to Britain. In 2015, the last full year for which Home Office data is available, 3,699 EU citizens were detained under immigration powers – 11.4 per cent of all detainees – while in 2009 just 768 were detained, 2.7 per cent of the total.

In many cases, no crime had been committed, with people detained for reasons such as losing their ID card or having a birthday party in a park, according to the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID). Barrister Adrian Berry told The Independent he believed the Government was pursuing a policy of deliberate hostility towards EU citizens, which could intensify when the country leaves the EU. “The policy of the Home Office towards EU citizens started on Theresa May’s watch as Home Secretary, before the Brexit referendum,” he said. “It’s a marker of her approach to EU citizens and it’s one we should all take very seriously when we look to her promises on and after Brexit.” The detention of EU citizens has continued to shoot up, with 1,227 detained in the third quarter of 2016 – 17 per cent of the total number recorded in that period.

Read more: Katie Forster, Independent,
Deportation Row Boy Lawand Hamadamin Gets Reprieve

A last-minute reprieve has been confirmed for a deaf six-year-old boy threatened with deportation. Lawand Hamadamin's family fled Iraq because so-called Islamic State had threatened to kill disabled children. They moved to Derby via Germany so Lawand could learn sign language but the Home Office has said they should have stayed in Germany. The family, were due to leave on Monday 16th January, have now had a decision on their future deferred. A High Court judge will now look at their case and the review could take several months. After travelling via Greece, Germany and France, the family hid in the back of a lorry to get to the UK and ended up in Derby. Lawand now receives specialist education at the city's Royal School for the Deaf.  More than 11,000 people have signed a petition against the deportation.

Read more: BBC News,
Another Death in an Immigration Removal Centre – First in 2017

 Another death has occurred at Morton Hall IRC. This time by suicide on Wednesday 11th January 2017.  Detainees currently at Morton Hall report the man as 'young and quiet, never causing any trouble'. He spent his time watching TV, playing games and at the Gym. They say the vibes at the centre are 'very low and people are sick and tired of the place'. Speaking to ex-detainee friends of The Unity Centre the mood is also low, no one is surprised at yet another death but anger levels are high as suicides and deaths within the detention estates continue at what seems to be an increasing rate. 

What has been reported to The Unity Centre by detainees held in Morton Hall is that it is believed the man was found around 12noon yesterday and was hanging in his room/cell. We are yet unsure as to how he was found or by whom. At 12noon all detainees were locked in their rooms in Morton Hall which is why this time of death is suspected.

The recently deceased was of Polish descent. The circumstances surrounding his suicide are that he was refused bail on the 23rd of December 2016, whereby, the argument was used by the Judge against granting bail because of the absence of a surety, his girlfriend, who was heavily pregnant at the time. She could not travel to the bail hearing because she was so close to her due date and Morton Hall is not an accessible place. Their baby was born on the day of the suicide; it is believed he was aware of the birth before he took his life. His friend had also been removed from Morton Hall and the UK one day prior to this.

We have also been told that the individual had not committed any crime in the UK and that he had sought medical help for his mental health conditions and been told to use the gym facilities. He did this regularly.

One detainee while reflecting on Wednesday's event says it is the 'mental conditions' of the centre that put so much pressure on people in detention to take such drastic actions. He said continuously thinking about things that are out of their hands is torture and that detention centres like Morton Hall are 'ticking time bombs'. For him he says he is trying to be as strong as he can but how strong can he be?

One Unity Centre Volunteer recalls 'Detainees are constantly comparing detention centres to prisons, with prisons being given preference.  Detainees in Harmondsworth, now Heathrow Removal Centre, Colnbrook, Morton Hall and Yarl’s Wood overwhelmingly report on the poor levels of health care and mental health support. One detainee who has since been removed after two years in Colnbrook said it was like a mental institution with everyone receiving anti-depressants and other medications, he even said there was a trolley that was wheeled around the centre each day handing such medications
out. This cannot be the solution to locking people up with no idea on
whether they will be released, deported, or continue to sit aimlessly in

While centres like Morton Hall exist, with indefinite periods of detention in place and among the increasingly hostile environment manufactured towards migrants within the UK preventable deaths will continue.

The Unity Centre will hold an emergency demo outside the Glasgow Home Office Reporting Centre on Brand Street at 4:30pm on Monday 16th January 2017.

 Source for this message: Unity Centre <>

29 Deaths Across the UK Detention Estate - Suicide/Murder/Undetermined
Home Office Refusal Letters "Lacked Clarity And Reasoning"

This was the finding in a recent Court of Appeal decision which we consider important in considering refusal decision letters from the Home Office.  It is the recent case of SI (India) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] ECWA Civ 1255 heard before Rafferty LJ and Sir Ernest Ryder. This case concerned an Indian national whose application for leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Post Study Work) Migrant was refused for failing to satisfy the maintenance requirement provided for in Appendix C of the Immigration Rules ('Rules').

In refusing an immigration application, the onus is on the Home Office to clearly articulate their reasons in refusing a person's points based system immigration application based on the evidence submitted. If not, they leave themselves exposed to challenge. Should you wish to make an enquiry about your legal right to challenge a refusal, please do not hesitate to contact Gherson.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

Immigration: 57,290 Registered Appeals Awaiting Hearing

Asked by Lord Ahmed  To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the average time taken for immigration and asylum tribunals to process and hear cases. [HL4313]. How many cases are awaiting appeal hearings at immigration and asylum tribunals in England and Wales. [HL4314].  What assessment they have made of the speed at which cases are handled in immigration and asylum tribunals in England and Wales. [HL4315] 

Lord Keen of Elie: The average waiting times for immigration and asylum appeals in 2015/16 was 34 weeks. 
As at 30 September 2016 there were 57,290 registered appeals awaiting hearing. This figure is based on internal management information which is not subject to the same rigorous verification processes as published data. 

We do everything we can to avoid unnecessary delay in the Immigration & Asylum Tribunal and we have provided an additional 4,950 tribunal sitting days for this financial year to ensure current caseloads continue to decrease. We are keeping performance under close review. 

Lords Hansard:

Iraqi who fled Greece after ‘Golden Dawn’ attacks wins right to ‘in-country’ appeal against refusal of UK asylum and human rights claims

An Iraqi national who had been living in Greece but fled to the UK following attacks by the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn group has successfully challenged the Home Secretary’s decision to certify his asylum and human rights claims as “clearly unfounded”.
The decision meant that Sharif Kadir would be unable to appeal the decision from within the UK, but a judge in the Court of Session ruled that he should have the right to have his case decided in an “in-country” appeal and that an immigration judge could legitimately take a different view and find in his favour.

Read more: Scottish Legal News, 19/012017,

Read the full judgement:

Hungarian Authorities Failed to Protect Roma Against Racist Abuse During Anti-Roma Demonstration

In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Király and Dömötör v. Hungary (application no. 10851/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, by five votes to two, that there had been: a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned an anti-Roma demonstration. Mr Király and Mr Dömötör – both of whom are of Roma origin – alleged that the police had failed to protect them from racist abuse during the demonstration and to properly investigate the incident.

The Court found in particular that the authorities’ investigations into the incident had been limited. Namely, one of the investigations – concerning the speeches made during the demonstration – had not taken into account the specific context of the abuse and another – concerning the offence of violence against a group – had been slow and limited to acts of physical violence. The investigations had not therefore established the true and complex nature of the events. The cumulative effect of these shortcomings had meant that an openly racist demonstration, with sporadic acts of violence, had remained virtually without legal consequences. Indeed, the applicants’ psychological integrity had not been effectively protected against what had amounted to nothing less than organised intimidation of the Roma community, by means of a paramilitary parade, verbal threats and speeches advocating a policy of racial segregation. The Court was concerned that this could be perceived by the public as the State’s legitimisation and/or tolerance of such behaviour.

Read the full judgement ECtHR:

Immigration Judge Enraged by Law Firm’s ‘Blackmail’

A senior immigration judge has hit out at solicitors who he claims waste the tribunal’s time.  In VA (Solicitor’s non-compliance: counsel’s duties: Sri Lanka), The Honourable Mr Justice McCloskey said the appellant firm of solicitors had ‘blackmailed’ the Upper Tribunal into adjourning a hearing. The firm was named as London practice Linga & Co. McCloskey also told barristers in the tribunal it was not their job to defend solicitors who had failed to conduct cases properly. The forthright judgment explains that the tribunal has heard a spate of cases in recent months where legal representatives have been found at fault. It linked to another case, Shabir Ahmed & Ors (sanction for non compliance), in which resources were wasted, papers filed late and the upper tribunal treated with ‘sustained and marked disrespect’. In VA, McClsokey said the upper tribunal has already spelt out to the legal profession that ‘it will not hesitate to have recourse to the full panoply of powers at its disposal to prevent this kind of shameful event materialising’. He added: ‘Those powers include the initiation of contempt of court proceedings, wasted costs orders and the publication of rulings of this kind on the tribunal’s website.’

Read more: John Hyde, Law Gaxette,

Sheffield Chilean Community: “We Touched the Sky”

It's easy forget that refugees have been welcomed, and their experience of fighting injustice has been valued here. That was part of the experience of Chilean refugees who came to South Yorkshire in the 1970's fleeing the results of the military coup there. While the UK Government did nothing to defend the elected Chilean Government against dictatorship, local trade unions welcomed and supported activists who shared their organising skills and courage with us. The Sheffield Chilean community have created "We Touched the Sky" an online course explaining what happened in Chile, why people were forced to become refugees and what it was like to arrive and live in South Yorkshire. To publicise this fascinating resource and to celebrate the solidarity shown by local people, South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG) has organised a joint meeting with the Sheffield Chilean community on Thursday 26th January

Public meeting: “We Touched the Sky”. Joint SYMAAG/Sheffield Chilean Community event to learn about the experience of Chilean refugees who came to Sheffield. Thursday, January 26, 7-8.30pm (doors open at 6.30 for pre-meeting refreshments), Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James’ St, Sheffield S1 2EW.

Our main speaker is Dr Jasmine Gideon, senior lecturer in development studies in the Geography Department at Birkbeck,University of London.She has recently published research on the health and well-being of Chilean refugee women in the UK. She will be joined by speakers from the Chilean community in Sheffield and a representative from the Sheffield labour movement who supported Chilean refugees in the 1970s.

The meeting is free though we'd welcome a donation to cover room-hire costs
Stuart Crosthwaite - Email: 
Secretary, South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG)