News & Views Monday 17th December to Sunday 23rd December  

Financial Appeal for 'No-Deportations' - 2019

Trafficking Victim Wins £30,000 Payout From Home Office After Wrongful Detention

The Home Office has paid £30,000 to a victim of child trafficking who was held illegally in immigration detention for several months despite having refugee status and showing clear signs of having been tortured and abused.
Abdul* (not his real name) was about seven when he was trafficked into the UK in the mid-90s. He thinks he came from Somalia but is not certain. He lived with adults who pretended to be his family but who abused him physically and sexually. One attempt to escape failed when police sent him back to his abusers. Suffering serious mental health problems as a teenager, he became street homeless and addicted to drugs.

Abdul ended up in prison for robbery and at the end of his sentence the Home Office transferred him to Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre. A solicitor helped him challenge his detention and referred him to the Salvation Army. He was then placed in the national referral mechanism (NRM) as a potential victim of trafficking and in April 2018 was released from detention.
Aleksandra Stankiewicz of Duncan Lewis solicitors told the Guardian: “Our client’s case is yet another example of the home secretary failing to promptly identify, support and protect victims of trafficking. We welcome the home secretary accepting he acted unlawfully in detaining our client for over four months, albeit that he waited until the 11th hour to concede the inevitable conclusion in this case.”

Under British law, while there is no time limit on immigration detention, the Home Office must prove that removal is likely to happen soon. Because he was a recognised refugee and there was evidence he would be at risk in Somalia, lawyers from Duncan Lewis also argued that detention was unlawful because removal wasn’t imminent.

Read more: Harriet Grant, Guardian,

Police Face First ‘Super-Complaint’ Over Immigration Referrals

The first ever super-complaint to be lodged against the police will challenge the systemic and “potentially unlawful” practice of forces referring victims and witnesses of crime to the immigration authorities.

The complaint, to be formally issued by human rights groups Liberty and Southall Black Sisters, argues that handing over victims of crime to the Home Office for immigration enforcement undermines the fight against crime and erodes public safety. The “super-complaint” process became operational last month and allows designated organisations to “raise issues on behalf of the public about harmful patterns or trends in policing”.

The complaint will now be reviewed by senior officials from the College of Policing, the Independent Office for Police Complaints and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and could force changes to existing practices.
An investigation by Liberty exposed a secretive data-sharing arrangement whereby victims and witnesses of crime were frequently reported to immigration enforcement by police. Liberty and Southall Black Sisters say that this deters the reporting of offences and counters the police’s broader objectives, as well as obligation under human rights law to investigate serious crimes.

The two groups are presenting more than 50 pages of evidence and claim there needs to be guidance prohibiting data-sharing by all 43 police forces in England and Wales.

Read more: Mark Townsend, Guardian,

Guidelines on Assessing and Determining the Best Interests of the Child

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

A Child as defined in Article 1 of the Convention on  the Rights of the Child (CRC), means "every human being below the age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier". In terms of actions by UNHCR, the word "child" refers to all children falling under the competence of the Office, including asylum-seeking children, refugee children, stateless children, internally displaced children and returnee children assisted and protected by UNHCR.

Children at Risk  are those children who are at heightened risk  of violence, exploitation, abuse or neglect as a result of exposure to risks in the wider protection environment and/or risks resulting from individual circumstances. Children at risk can include, but are not limited to: unaccompanied and separated children, particularly those in child-headed households as well as those accompanied by abusive or exploitative adults; stateless children; child parents; child victims of trafficking and sexual abuse, including pornography, paedophilia and prostitution; survivors of torture; survivors of violence, in particular sexual and gender-based violence and other forms of abuse and exploitation; child spouses, particularly those under the age specified in national laws and/or children in forced marriages; children who are  or have been associated with armed forces or groups; children in detention; children who suffer from social discrimination; children with mental or physical disabilities; children living with or affected by HIVand AIDS and children suffering from other serious diseases; and children out of school.

Unaccompanied Children are children who have been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so. Please note that some States still refer to these children as "unaccompanied minors" in their legislation and policies; UNHCR uses the term unaccompanied children .

Separated Children are those separated from both parents, or from their previous legal or customary primary care-giver, but not necessarily from other relatives. These may, therefore, include children accompanied by other adult family members.

Orphans are children both of whose parents are known to be dead. In some countries, however, a child who has lost one parent is also called an orphan.

The Best Interests Procedure (BIP) describes UNHCR's individual case management procedure for children of concern. It is a multi-step process that goes through identification, assessment, case action planning, implementation, follow-up and case closure. It includes two important procedural elements: the Best Interests Assessment (BIA) and the Best Interests Determination (BID).

A Best Interests Determination (BID) describes the formal process with strict procedural safeguards designed to determine the child's best interests for particularly important decisions affecting the child. It should facilitate adequate child participation without discrimination, involve decision-makers with relevant areas of expertise, and balance all relevant factors in order to assess the best option.

A Best Interests Assessment (BIA) is an assessment made by staff taking action with regard to individual children, except when a BID is required, designed to ensure that such action gives a primary consideration to the child's best interests. The assessment can be done alone  or in consultation with others by staff with the required expertise and requires the participation of the child.

A solution is achieved when a durable legal status is obtained which ensures national protection for civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.
Consent is any freely given and informed indication of an agreement by a person, which may be given either by a written or oral statement or by a clear affirmative action.l ln the case of children, consent should generally be obtained from the child's parent or guardian, as well as consent or assent from the child according to the child's age and maturity. "Assent" is the expressed willingness or agreement of the child. Consent from parents/guardians is not necessary where it is not in the best interests of the child to share information with the child's parents/guardian or where parents/guardians are not reachable. The information provided and the way in which consent/assent is expressed must be appropriate to the age and capacity of the child and to the particular circumstances in which it is given.

Complementary Pathways are safe and regulated avenues by which refugees are provided with lawful stay in a third country where their international protection needs are met, while they are given opportunities such as learning new skills, acquiring an education, and contributing as workers in the labour market. Complementary pathways are not meant to substitute the protection afforded to refugees under the international protection regime; they complement it and serve as an important expression of global solidarity, international cooperation and more equitable responsibility sharing to meet the protection needs of refugees and support them to achieve durable solutions. While resettlement must remain a protection tool guided by protection and humanitarian imperatives and must not be conflated with migration pathways, complementary pathways can help widen temporary options available  for refugees with few prospects of attaining a durable solution particularly in protracted and large-scale refugee situations.

UK and German Immigration: A Tale of Two Very Different Laws

Two European countries announced radical overhauls of their immigration rules on Wednesday, but there the similarity ended.

Britain, where concerns about long-term impacts of immigration helped drive the 2016 vote to leave the European Union, billed its stricter regime as “a route to strengthened border security and an end to free movement”.
Germany, however, facing such a shortage of workers that is threatening economic growth, said it was easing immigration rules to attract more foreign job-seekers.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the British home secretary, Sajid Javid, stressed that the Conservatives’ 2017 election manifesto had made clear the party’s “commitment to bring net migration down”.
His counterpart in Germany, Horst Seehofer, said: “We need manpower from third countries to safeguard our prosperity and fill our job vacancies.” The economy minister, Peter Altmaier, hailed the new law – keenly awaited by business - as historic.

Britain’s priority appears primarily to be establishing a system of tough controls capable of keeping certain people out. Business has accused the government of putting a political imperative for restriction before the needs of the economy.

In contrast, by introducing looser visa procedures and reducing red tape Germany’s emphasis appears to be on making it easier for certain people to enter and to stay. Some in Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance and in the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) have said such a move ignores public concerns about immigration.

Read more: Jon Henley, Guardian,

Home Office Criticised  for Deleting Records on Death Of Detainee

A coroner has accused the Home Office of “manipulating statistics” relating to deaths in immigration detention after it emerged that some records relating to the death of a detainee had been deleted. Senior coroner André Rebello made the comments at the conclusion of an inquest at Liverpool and Wirral coroner’s court on Wednesday into the death of 35-year-old Polish man Michal Netyks. Netyks was found dead at HM Prison Altcourse in Liverpool on 7 December last year. A jury concluded that the cause of death was suicide, partly contributed to by the immigration deportation process.  Netyks had completed a short prison sentence and had packed his bags ready for release when he received the news that, instead of being freed, the Home Office was going to deport him to Poland. He had lived and worked in the UK for 12 years.

The eight-day inquest heard that he died from a head injury after jumping from a floor of the building soon after he received the news that he was going to be deported. Rebello said that partially redacted notes provided to the inquest by the Home Office indicated that records had been deleted by senior management. He said: “This needs investigation and an explanation as its effect is to manipulate statistics – it appears to be almost a denial of the facts.”

This is not the first time the Home Office has been criticised over its lack of transparency relating to deaths in detention. The Guardian and other sources reported that there were 11 deaths n immigration detention last year – an all-time high. However, at the end of last month the Home Office for the first time ever published detention death statistics as part of new “transparency data”. Officials said there had only been four deaths last year.

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Children in Migration Must be Informed About Their Rights

Children in migration have the right to be informed about their rights. Such information is crucial for having their voice heard and enabling them to participate in procedures affecting them. These children, despite being one of the most vulnerable groups in Europe today, face barriers in access to information that is child-friendly and age-appropriate.

In response to these challenges, on the occasion of the International Migrants Day marked today, the Council of Europe, has launched the Handbook for frontline professional on how to convey child-friendly information to children in migration.

The Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees Tomáš Bo?ek said: “The protection of refugee and migrant children is a one of the priorities among the activities of the Council of Europe. Developed in the framework of the Action Plan on protecting refugee and migrant children, the handbook on child-friendly information is crucial for keeping children safe and able to access their rights. This handbook also addresses one of the main challenges countries are facing today,” said.

The handbook includes examples of promising practices implemented around Europe, practical tips to highlight ways to implement this guidance in practice, specific situations or risk factors that would increase a child’s vulnerability or increase the barriers in access to rights; questions children may have at different stages of their journey; children’s recommendations; “golden rules” for each context.

Quotes from children, too, make part of the book. “ In class, there are some who are a little embarrassed, others who are shy and others who are ashamed of not knowing. They feel stuck, blocked. Everyone has his story. There are some who are there, they are in class but in their head they are elsewhere. They think of their past. Sometimes people are scared, their situation is very complicated, it’s not easy,” – says 15-year-old Hafidjou.

The book is launched under the Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016-2021).

Read more: UN News,

Hundreds of Trafficked Children ‘Lost’ by Local Authorities

A quarter of trafficked children who were in the care of local authorities in the UK last year have going missing from the system, according to new research by two British charities that work with vulnerable children.

The new figures raise serious questions about the capacity of local authorities to provide a safe environment for vulnerable children who arrive in the UK alone, or after being rescued from trafficking gangs. The report – to be published this week and seen by the Observer – shows that of the 1,015 children reported by local authorities as identified or suspected victims of trafficking in 2017, 24% – 276 – have gone missing from the care system.

The charities ECPAT (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking) and Missing People found that, in total, 5,780 unaccompanied and trafficked children were reported as being in local authority care in 2017, an 8% increase on 2014-15. The study found 15% of unaccompanied children had also gone missing from care. Overall, 190 of the total missing children have not yet been found. The findings are from Freedom of Information requests to 217 local authorities with responsibility for children’s social care in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Read more: Ismail Einashe, Guardian,

Court Challenge to Hostile Environment Tenancy Scheme Begins

An attempt to overturn a key pillar of the government’s hostile environment policy that forces landlords to evict or turn away tenants they believe may be in the country illegally is due to begin in the high court. Campaigners and landlords won leave this year to bring a judicial review against the Home Office on the grounds that the so-called Right to Rent scheme is unlawful and discriminates against tenants on the basis of their race or nationality.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), the charity that has brought the appeal along with the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and Liberty, said the policy put people who had a legal right to be in the UK at risk of homelessness and destitution.

Since 2014 landlords have been required to assess whether prospective tenants are in the UK legitimately. In 2016 an offence was introduced of knowingly leasing a property to a disqualified person, with landlords facing hefty fines or a maximum prison sentence of five years if they fail to evict the tenant. The Windrush scandal revealed the extent to which citizens with Caribbean backgrounds who had lived in Britain for decades were being wrongly evicted, prevented from working and denied NHS treatment after being unable to provide the right documentation.

Read more: Patrick Butler, Guardian,