News & Views Monday 29 April to Sunday 6th May 2018  

Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - May 2018

Deteriorated Situations: Central African Republic, Somalia, Nigeria, Taiwan Strait, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Nicaragua, Israel/Palestine, Yemen, Libya

Conflict Risk Alerts: Burundi, Central African Republic, Israel/Palestine, Yemen

Resolution Opportunities: None

April saw the conflict in Yemen intensify, with both the Saudi-led coalition and Huthi forces increasing attacks – fuelling risks of further escalation in May. At the Gaza-Israel border, Israeli forces continued to push back Palestinian protesters with deadly force; with larger protests expected in May, casualties could rise. Eastern Libya's strongman fell ill, prompting fears of further political and military splits. In Afghanistan, the Taliban stepped up attacks, while Kashmir saw deadly clashes and protests. Dozens were killed amid anti-government protests in Nicaragua. In Nigeria, rising violence – especially between herders and farmers – left nearly 500 dead. Burundi could see more political violence around its 17 May constitutional referendum, and a flare-up in attacks by armed groups in the Central African Republic could provoke worse bloodshed in coming weeks. The United Arab Emirates’ withdrawal from Somalia led to clashes between army factions there. On a positive note, Ethiopia’s new prime minister took steps to mitigate ethnic tensions. In North East Asia, tensions escalated across the Taiwan Strait, while China-Japan relations continued to improve, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon pledged to seek “complete denuclearisation” of the peninsula.

International Crisis Group:

Brook House IRC: Use of Force Against Immigration Detainees More Than Doubles in a Year

Use of force against people in one of the UK’s largest immigration detention centres has soared by more than 160 per cent in two years, a watchdog report has revealed. Incidents of control and restraint against detainees in Brook House IRC occurred 334 times last year, compared with 161 the previous year and 128 in 2015, according to an inspection report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB). Nearly half (45 per cent) of these incidents were to “maintain good order and discipline”, while 21 per cent were to facilitate someone’s removal from the country, the report notes. Less than a fifth were acts of self-defence and 14 per cent were to prevent self-harm.

Campaigners said the rise in use of force against detainees highlighted “endemic” problems in the UK’s immigration detention system, urging that “mass indefinite detention” inevitably leads to the “proliferating use of force on distressed people”. It comes after Brook House, which is located near Gatwick airport and has the capacity to hold 508 men, came under fire last September when G4S guards in the centre were filmed allegedly “choking”, mocking and abusing detainees. Inspectors also warn of “frequent” incidents of self-harm among detainees, with 161 reported in 2017, 18 of which required hospital attention. There was an average of 42 care assessments opened each month for people believed to be likely to harm themselves.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Meet the Lesbian Asylum Seekers Battling the UK’s ‘Hostile and Homophobic’ Immigration System

To mark Lesbian Visibility Day, PinkNews spoke to three lesbian asylum seekers about their harrowing experiences – from depression to attempted suicide – as they fight the UK immigration system.

In November, PinkNews revealed that thousands of gay, lesbian and bisexual asylum seekers have been refused asylum from Figures quietly released by the Home Office for the first time showed that 3,535 asylum applications between July 1, 2015 and March 31, 2017 were made at least partly on the basis of sexual orientation.

This amounted to 6 percent of the total asylum claims in this time frame. More than two thirds (2,379) of these were refused.

The statistics showed that Uganda was the country with the highest number of asylum claims based on sexuality, with more than two-thirds of all asylum applications being made for this reason (257 out of 382)
Read more: Pink News, 

Nearly 50% of UK Immigration and Asylum Decisions Are Overturned

Appeals are allowed for a variety of reasons but often result because of new evidence being presented before the tribunal which was not available to the decision maker at the time of the initial decision. Other reasons for appeals include the situation where the decision maker or immigration officer has applied or interpreted the law incorrectly, where the immigration officer did not follow the correct procedures, or where the appeal is brought under human rights provisions.

However, the news that nearly 50% of UK immigration and asylum decisions that go to appeal in England and Wales are overturned has prompted the Law Society to suggest that the UK’s immigration system is “seriously flawed” and that these applications are not being dealt with correctly.

The Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, also stated that Ministry of Justice figures have shown that the number of appeals being upheld has been increasing for the past three years. 

The Law Society’s president, Joe Egan, stated that “we know there is good practice in the Home Office and officials who clearly want to make a difference, but each error or delay may – and often does – have a devastating effect on someone’s life”. 

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

Early Day Motion 1234: Bangladesh, Chittagong Hill Tracts

That this House is concerned by the risks facing indigenous Jumma women in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region of Bangladesh, the authorities' systematic failure either to prevent sexual and other violence or facilitate access to justice for survivors, and by the Bangladesh military's complicity in human rights abuses; notes that while attending the recent Commonwealth Summit, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was challenged on her country's human rights record; further notes that the Bangladesh army is currently the second-largest troop-contributing country to UN peacekeeping forces; urges the UK to make the case for proper scrutiny of all Bangladesh military and other personnel prior to serving in the UN peacekeeping forces to certify that they are not committed or are alleged to have committed criminal offences and/or violations of international law; calls on the Government to encourage and support Bangladesh and Indigenous Jumma communities in the implementation of the 1997 CHT Peace Accord and de-militarisation of the CHT; and further calls for an end to UK arms sales to Bangladesh while there is a risk of weapons and other military equipment being used to commit human rights abuses in CHT.

House of Commons, 02/05/2018,

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM 1234

To find your MP go here:

UK Backs Down Over Afghan Interpreters' Immigration Fees

The UK government has backed down over the fate of more than 150 Afghan interpreters who worked alongside British troops during their hard-fought deployment in Helmand province. The Home Office bowed to pressure after the interpreters sent a letter of protest after being told they would have to pay £2,389 each to apply for indefinite leave to remain. They had been allowed into the UK initially on a five-year relocation scheme.  The government’s initial decision seems to be one of many examples of the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy to reduce the number of immigrants. Speaking before a formal announcement by the Home Office, the defence secretary Gavin Williamson signalled the change of heart. He told the BBC: “These are people who have served alongside our armed forces and they have done so much ... so we have made it absolutely clear they should be staying in this country.

Read more: Ewen MacAskill, Guardian,

NHS Bosses Warn That Doctor Shortages Are Due to Immigration Rules

According to NHS bosses, staff rota gaps and patient waiting times are worsening due to an increase in the number of doctors who are being refused permission to work in the UK. Healthcare trust leaders have written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and wrote to former Home Secretary Amber Rudd in an attempt to resolve the issue, saying that the NHS has been 'stretched to its very limits' and that it is 'impossible to understand how this decision can have been reached'.

There is a fixed limit on the number of skilled non-EU workers that are granted UK work permits each month. This applies across all sectors, meaning that non-EU doctors are included in the same allocation as IT workers, teachers and office workers, for example.

According to Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, 400 work permits for non-EU doctors have been blocked since December, with clinic appointments being cancelled and patient care being severely delayed. It is increasingly difficult for the NHS to recruit and keep EU staff, making it ever more important to find and recruit doctors from outside the EU. Some NHS positions are on the ‘shortage occupation list’, meaning that there is no cap on the number of skilled non-EU workers who are recruited to fill these positions. A&E nurses, clinical radiologists and paediatricians are included on the shortage occupation list. Doctors, to the 'shock' and 'concern' of Healthcare trusts, however, are not.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

Early Day Motion 1193: 20th Anniversary Of Refugee Week

That this House celebrates the 20th anniversary of Refugee Week which lasts from 18 to 24 June 2018; notes that the refugee crisis has uprooted almost 50 million children from their homes who are now vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and trafficking; further celebrates this year's message for Refugee Week, Different Pasts, Shared Futures, which is of great importance in remembering that we have far more in common than that which divides us; encourages hon. Members to work with the many organisations supporting Refugee Week, including Amnesty International, the British Red Cross, the Refugee Council and SOS Children's Villages UK and to celebrate Refugee Week in their constituencies; and calls on the Government to ensure that refugee children continue to be welcomes in the UK.

House of Commons, 24/04/2018,,

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM 1193
To find your MP go here:

Seriously Ill People at Risk of Removal Must Exhaust All National Remedies Before Applying to ECHR

The case Khaksar v. the United Kingdom (application no. 2654/18) concerned an Afghan asylum seeker’s complaint about his threatened removal to Afghanistan. Mr Khaksar, the applicant, argued that his removal would breach Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), in view of his serious health issues following a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

In its decision the European Court of Human Rights has, unanimously, declared the application inadmissible for non-exhaustion of national remedies. The decision is final.

The Court pointed out in particular that the UK Court of Appeal had recently provided formally binding guidance to the lower courts on the removal of seriously ill people. Mr Khaksar, who had not sought permission for judicial review before the High Court of a decision by the Secretary of State refusing to reconsider his case, had therefore not given the domestic courts the possibility to consider his case in accordance with domestic law.


High Court Blocks Amber Rudd Attempt to Deport Witness

Amber Rudd has lost a legal battle over her attempts to deport a key witness to a controversial death at a UK immigration centre. Jamaican Andrew Van Horn was due to be expelled from from the country this week, despite the likelihood that he would be summoned to appear at an inquest into the death, and to a separate police investigation. On Tuesday 24/04/2018,a high court judge ruled against Rudd, ordering that Van Horn should be allowed to remain in the UK because he “may well be required to give evidence at the inquest of a fellow detainee” and the Home Office had not offered any assurances that he would be allowed to return to the UK to give evidence.

Lawyers said the approach by Rudd, who is battling for her career over the continued fallout of the Windrush generation scandal “offended fundamental principles concerning the rule of law” and compromised the state’s duty to adequately investigate deaths in custody. Carlington Spencer, 38, from Jamaica, died last October at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire, one of a cluster of deaths that prompted the home affairs select committee to investigate the facility.

Read more: Mark Townsend, Guardian,

CPIN: Somalia: Women Fearing Gender-Based Violence

1.1 Basis of claim

1.1.1 Fear of gender-based violence by state and/or non-state actors.

1.2 Points to note

1.2.1 For the purposes of the note, gender-based violence includes, but is not limited to: domestic violence, physical attacks and abuse outside the home, sexual violence and rape.

1.2.2 Decision makers must refer to the Asylum Instructions on Gender issues in the asylum claim.

Published on Refworld, 27/04/2018,