News & Views Monday 11th March to Sunday 18th March 2018  

End the Inhumanity of Immigration Detention

The damning inspection report on Harmondsworth immigration removal centre (Detention of torture victims attacked by prison inspectors, 13 March) is a reminder of the inhumanity of immigration detention. The report mentions a self-inflicted death of a detainee. His name was Marcin Gwozdzinski, a Polish man who died two days before his 28th birthday. Fellow detainees told the Guardian that Marcin had been begging for help but staff did nothing.

Last year saw the highest number of deaths of immigration detainees on record, with 11 deaths since January 2017. The UK is the only country in Europe without a time limit on detention, despite national and international monitoring bodies, charities, and a parliamentary inquiry recommending a 28-day limit.

Indefinite detention and the associated anxiety and distress has a severely detrimental impact on the psychological and physical health of detainees. The majority of detainees are released back into the community, making this damaging practice all the more senseless. Despite conflicting with international human rights standards, the use of prison and prison-like conditions for detainees, as the inspectorate found in Harmondsworth, continues to be widespread.

The ever-rising death toll and suffering, as highlighted by the women currently on hunger strike in Yarl’s Wood, is the human consequence of the UK’s unjust detention system. It is clear that the government’s policy designed to protect vulnerable adults is not working. Amber Rudd must immediately release vulnerable detainees, end indefinite detention, and begin to phase out the use of immigration detention altogether. Otherwise the deaths and harm will continue.

Deborah Coles Director, Inquest
Celia Clarke Director, Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID)
Emma Ginn Director, Medical Justice
Martha Spurrier Director, Liberty

Six Jailed For Attack on Asylum Seeker Rekar Ahmed

Six young men from south London have been jailed for an attack on a Kurdish-Iranian asylum seeker. Rekar Ahmed, 17, suffered a fractured spine and a bleed to the brain after being beaten up in Croydon last year and spent days in an induced coma. Over two trials, five defendants, aged between 18 and 21, were found guilty of two counts of violent disorder. All were sentenced at Croydon Crown Court, along with James Neves, 23, who admitted one count of violent disorder. Mr Ahmed also suffered facial fractures when he and his friends were attacked near The Goat pub on Broom Road, in Shirley, Croydon.

Read more: BBC News,

Oppression is Fashionable Again, the Security State is Back, Fundamental Freedoms Are in Retreat

Zeid Raad al-Hussein has spent nearly four years fighting a frustrating battle against genocide, oppression, racism — and the increasing indifference to them among governments. Last week he opened the 37th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, and with the end of his four-year term as high commissioner for human rights in sight, he chose, he said, “to be blunt.” His tough conclusions are worth repeating. “Today,” Mr. Zeid said, “oppression is fashionable again, the security state is back, and fundamental freedoms are in retreat in every region of the world. Shame is also in retreat. Xenophobes and racists in Europe are casting off any sense of embarrassment.” Mr. Zeid didn’t shrink from naming the places and people who are violating basic norms. He cited Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who recently said “we did not want our color . . . to be mixed in with others,” and a Polish minister who said Jews were among the perpetrators of the Holocaust. He spoke of “young girls in El Salvador . . . sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for miscarriages”; of the jailing of journalists “in huge numbers” in Turkey and a human rights defender in Bahrain; of people who “can be killed by police with impunity, because they are poor”; and of ethnic Rohingya in Burma, who are “dehumanized, deprived and slaughtered in their homes.”

Of greatest concern to Mr. Zeid are the instances of mass killing that have happened on his watch and that have attracted no meaningful international response. “Eastern Ghouta [and] the other besieged areas in Syria; Ituri and the Kasais in [Congo]; Taiz in Yemen; Burundi; northern Rakhine in Myanmar have become some of the most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times, because not enough was done, early and collectively, to prevent the rising horrors,” Mr. Zeid said. “Time and again, my office and I have brought to the attention of the international community violations of human rights which should have served as a trigger for preventive action. Time and again, there has been minimal action.”

In particular, Mr. Zeid faulted the U.N. Security Council, which has been paralyzed by vetoes from its permanent members — most recently by Russia and China in the case of Syria. “It is they,” Mr. Zeid said, “who must answer before the victims.” He cited a French proposal that would restrict use of the veto in cases that the U.N. secretary-general determines involve genocide, crimes against humanity, or large-scale war crimes. More than 115 countries, including Britain, have backed the idea; China, Russia and the United States have not.

Mr. Zeid’s most important point concerned the larger effect on international order of disregarding atrocities. Countries tend to set aside human rights problems as “too sensitive,” he said, consigning them to the often fruitless sessions of the Human Rights Council. But, he said, “it is the accumulating human rights violations such as these, and not a lack of GDP growth, which will spark the conflicts that can break the world. Why are we doing so little to stop them,” Mr. Zeid asked, “even though we should know how dangerous all of this is?” There is, today, no more relevant question.

Read more: Washington Post,

CPIN Iran: Christians and Christian Converts

Basis of claim
1.1.1 Fear of persecution by the state because the person:

• is a Christian; or

• has converted to Christianity from another religion (or no religion) and/or

• actively seeks to convert others to Christianity.

Published on Refworld, 09/03/2018

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

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 China.

Published on Refworld, 09/03/2018

Early Day Motion 1062: Human Rights in Egypt

That this House is very concerned about the unprecedented human rights crisis in Egypt, with the continuing crackdown on civil society, restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and association, the use of torture, and reports of enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and unfair trials; notes with alarm that the run-up to the Presidential elections has also been marked by serious and systematic violations, including politically-motivated arrests of potential Presidential candidates, such as leading Government critic, Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, former military chief of staff, Sami Anan, and Colonel Ahmed Konsawa; further notes also that human rights groups estimate that there are now more than 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt; and calls on the Government to review all forms of co-operation with the Egyptian Government, including arms exports, to ensure it is not facilitating serious human rights abuses in that country, and to raise its concerns about the situation with its Egyptian counterparts as a matter of urgency.

Hansard: 13/03/2018,

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM  1062

To find your MP go here:

Immigration Detainees: Compensation for Unlawful Detention

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many claims of compensation for wrongful detention were (a) received by the Home Office and (b) successful in each of the last five years; and what the cost to the public purse was of the compensation paid by her Department in that same period.

The Home Office does not record ‘wrongful detention’ as a payment type. It is only unlawful detention compensation which is recorded on the HO finance system. The cost of unlawful detention for FYs 2012/13 onwards are included in the table below:

2016/17           3.3 million
2015/16           4.1 million
2014/15           4.0 million
2013/14           4.8 million
2012/13           5.0 million


Good Character Requirement Abolished For Certain Applications For Registration as a British Citizen

On the 15th march 2018, the UK Government laid a draft remedial order before Parliament to amend the good character requirement for British citizenship applications. The order will remove the good character requirement for registration applications under the following sections of the British Nationality Act 1981:

section 4C i.e. application by those born before 1 January 1983 to British mothers;

section 4G i.e. applications by those born between 1 January 1983 and  1 July 2006 to a British father who was not married  to the applicant’s mother at the time of the birth;

section  4I i.e. applications by those born before  1 January 1983 to a British father who was not married  to the applicant’s mother at the time of the birth.

The good character requirement will also be removed for applications under section 4F, however only  where registration is based on the applicant being stateless . Section 4F applies to those who would have been eligible for registration as British citizens whilst they were under 18 had their father been married to their mother at the time of their birth.

The remedial order has been issued to address the declaration of incompatibility made by the Supreme Court in Johnson v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] UKSC 56. In this case the court held that imposing a good character requirement on those who, but for their parents’ marital status, would have automatically acquired citizenship at birth interfered with the applicant's right to respect for private and family life, was discriminatory, and was therefore incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998.

McGill & Co Solicitors,

Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre – Persistent Failings in Safety And Respect

Harmondsworth immigration removal centre (IRC) at Heathrow, holding large numbers of men with mental health problems in prison-like conditions, continued to show “considerable failings” in safety and respect for detainees, according to prison inspectors. Many areas were dirty and bedrooms were endemic with bed bugs, showers and toilets were poorly ventilated. 37 recommendations from the last inspection had not been achieved and 8 only partly achieved. 

Publishing a report on an inspection in September 2017, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said a 2015 inspection of Europe’s largest immigration detention centre had highlighted concerns over safety, respect and provision of activities. In 2017, Harmondsworth had made some improvements since then, “but not of the scale or speed that were required. In some areas, there had been a deterioration. The centre’s task in caring for detainees was not made any easier by the profile of those who were held. There was a very high level of mental health need and nearly a third of the population was considered by the Home Office to be vulnerable under its at risk in detention policy. The continuing lack of a time limit on detention meant that some men had been held for excessively long periods: 23 men had been detained for over a year and one man had been held for over 4.5 years, which was unacceptable.”

Inspectors found:

  • Worryingly, in nearly all of a sample of cases, the Home Office accepted evidence that detainees had been tortured, but maintained detention regardless. “Insufficient attention was given to post-traumatic stress and other mental health problems.”
  • While violence was not high, a high number of detainees felt unsafe. Detainees told inspectors this was because of the uncertainty associated with their cases, but also because a large number of their fellow detainees seemed mentally unwell, frustrated or angry.
  • Drug use was an increasing problem.

Mr Clarke said the governance of the use of force was generally good “and we noted that managers had identified an illegitimate use of force by a member of staff on CCTV cameras and dismissed the person concerned.” HMIP used an “enhanced” inspection approach, interviewing hundreds of staff and detainees to give them an opportunity to tell inspectors, in confidence, about any concerns relating to the safe and decent treatment of detainees. Neither detainees nor staff told inspectors “of a pernicious or violent subculture,” Mr Clarke added, though only 58% of detainees said that most staff treated them with respect, well below the average figure for IRCs. Both staff and detainees felt that there were not enough officers to effectively support detainees. Around a third of staff felt they did not have sufficient training to do their jobs well and few had an adequate understanding of whistle-blowing procedures.

Inspectors were also worried about the security regime. Mr Clarke said: “Some aspects of security would have been disproportionate in a prison and were not acceptable in an IRC…Harmondsworth is the centre where, in 2013, we identified the disgraceful treatment of an ill and elderly man who was kept in handcuffs as he died in hospital. A more proportionate approach to handcuffing was subsequently put in place by the Home Office and followed by the centre contractor. It is with concern, therefore, that at this inspection we found detainees once again being routinely handcuffed when attending outside appointments without evidence of risk.”

Physical conditions had improved since 2015 but many areas were dirty and bedrooms, showers and toilets were poorly ventilated. Inspectors in 2015 raised serious concerns about bedbugs but they remained endemic in 2017. There were infestations of mice in some areas. Inspectors were also concerned that only 29% of detainees said they could fill their time while in the centre and many described “a sense of purposelessness and boredom.”

There were, however, some positive findings. The on-site immigration team made considerable efforts to engage with detainees, faith provision was good and complaints were managed well. The welfare services were impressive and there was positive engagement with third sector groups, including the charity Hibiscus Initiatives which provided support to many detainees before release or removal. Inspectors made 50 recommendations.

Overall, though, Mr Clarke said: “The centre had failed to progress significantly since our last visit in 2015. For the third consecutive inspection, we found considerable failings in the areas of safety and respect. Detainees, many identified as vulnerable, were not being adequately safeguarded. Some were held for unacceptably long periods. Mental health needs were often not met. Detainees were subject to some disproportionate security restrictions and living conditions were below decent standards. It is time for the Home Office and contractors to think again about how to ensure that more substantial progress is made.”

Source HMCIP,
Download the full report,

CPIN Jamaica: Background Information, Including Actors Of Protection, and Internal Relocation

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 Jamaica.

Published on Refworld, 09/03/2018