News & Views Monday 19th February to Sunday 25th February 2018  

Women In Yarl's Wood IRC On Hunger Strike Over 'Inhumane' Conditions

More than 100 women in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre have gone on hunger strike over “inhumane” conditions at the facility. Around 120 female detainees began their protest on Wednesday, urging the Home Office to end “offensive” practices which they said leave people “breaking down psychologically” after being detained for immigration reasons. Women taking part in the strike told The Independent they had “given up thinking about the outside world” due to uncertainty over being locked up indefinitely, saying the centre was “failing” to meet their health needs. One said she was “struggling to find a reason to go on”.

It comes as the Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, prepares to visit the centre on Friday. She has been trying to gain access for more than a year amid mounting concerns that women are being unnecessarily detained there and held in unfair conditions. In a joint statement, the women on hunger strike said they believed the Home Office was “overwhelmed”, saying it was “not fit for purpose” and accusing it of operating in a “rogue manner”.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Undocumented Migrants: Children: Written Question - HL5373

Lord Hylton: To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the estimate by the Thomas Coram Foundation that there are some 120,000 children in the UK without regular immigration status, of whom half were born here; what are their proposals for improving this situation in line with the best interests of the child; and whether free legal advice is, or will be, available to such children who wish to claim citizenship.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: Any non-European Economic Area national child wishing to remain in the UK to settle here must apply for leave under the family Immigration Rules. These Rules give direct effect to the Secretary of State’s statutory duty in section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, to have regard, as a primary consideration, to a child’s best interests in making an immigration decision affecting them. Comprehensive information about applying for citizenship is available on the GOV.UK website. If an individual wishes to seek additional legal advice there are a number of sources available, including regulated immigration advisers. Whether a person is charged for that advice would depend on the organisation concerned and the individual’s situation.

House of Lords, 19/02/2018,

Rights of EU Citizens Resident in the UK – Parliamentary Statement

The Minister for Immigration (Caroline Nokes)

The Government have been clear since the start of negotiations with the EU that protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK, together with the rights of UK nationals living in EU countries, was their first priority.

Since the opposition day debate on 29 November 2017 secured by the hon. Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins) on the vital issue of safeguarding citizens’ rights, we have delivered on that commitment and reached an agreement with our EU partners on citizens’ rights. The agreement was set out as part of a joint report issued on 8 December 2017, and provides more than three million EU citizens living in the UK with certainty about their future rights and, most importantly, allows them and their families to stay in the UK.

The agreement will protect EU citizens who have been exercising free movement rights in the UK at the time of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Family members, including those from outside the EU, living lawfully in the UK with a qualifying EU citizen at this point are also protected.

As part of our citizens’ rights agreement, we have agreed with the EU that we will introduce a new settled status scheme under UK law for EU citizens and their family members who are covered by the agreement. Those who have already had five years of continuous residence in the UK will be eligible to apply for settled  status. Others will be able to remain in the UK to build up their five years’ residence.

Read more: Hansard,

UK Under Pressure Over Afghan Asylum Seekers Amid Civilian Deaths

Calls for the Home Office to stop returning asylum seekers to Afghanistan have intensified after a report that showed that the number of civilian casualties in the country exceeded 10,000 for the fourth year running in 2017. In all, 3,438 civilians were killed last year and 7,015 were wounded, according to a report released last week by the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan (Unama). The number of civilian casualties in 2017 was 9% lower than in 2016, which was the deadliest year on record, but the total was above 10,000 for the fourth consecutive year. More than a quarter of the deaths (27%) came in attacks directed at civilians. Vicki Aken, the Afghanistan director at humanitarian organisation the International Rescue Committee, described the figures as “unspeakable”.

Despite this, the Home Office still regularly returns asylum seekers to Kabul whose claims to remain in Britain have failed. In 2016, 785 people were returned from the UK to Afghanistan, and between 2007 and 2015, 2,018 people who had sought refuge in the UK as unaccompanied child asylum seekers were deported to Afghanistan, according to a report from Amnesty International.

Read more: Kate Lyons, Guardian,

Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI Update Vol. 165

This document provides an update of UK Country Guidance case law, UK Home Office publications and developments in refugee producing countries (focusing on those which generate the most asylum seekers in the UK) between 7 February and 20 February 2018.

Download the full report:

Interim Operational Guidance: Discretionary leave for Victims of Modern Slavery

The Court of Appeal gave judgment in the case of PK (Ghana) v SSHD on 13 February 2018. The case involved a challenge to a decision to refuse to grant discretionary leave to remain (DL) to a confirmed victim of trafficking. We need some time to consider the judgment and agree the way forward with the Immigration Minister.

In the meantime, the actions set out in this notice must be implemented immediately as from the 21st February 2018.

Refusals of Discretionary Leave

You must pause decision-making where you are not minded to grant discretionary leave to remain for any confirmed victim of modern slavery. A confirmed victim of modern slavery is an individual with a positive conclusive grounds decision. All refusal decisions must be placed on hold.

Read the full IOP:

How Much Notice areFailed Asylum Seekers Given to Leave The UK

There is no specific notice period for failed asylum seekers to leave the UK. Individuals, including failed asylum seekers, with no leave to remain and no further outstanding applications are expected to leave the UK voluntarily at the earliest opportunity. The Home Office provides assistance and advice to facilitate voluntary returns.

If an individual refuses to leave the UK voluntarily, the Home Office will pursue an enforced return. They will be issued with a ‘notice of liability for removal’, which sets out that they can be removed after seven calendar days if they are not detained, and 72 hours if they are detained.

Family groups are provided with greater support and advice and will be invited to attend a family return conference. The notice of liability for removal is a minimum of two weeks after the family return conference.

Home Office Contractors ‘Cuffed Detained Migrants’ Inside Coach On Fire

Immigration detainees whose coach caught fire as it took them to a deportation flight were handcuffed by escort staff before they were allowed to get off, in breach of Home Office rules, eight of the detainees have said. In interviews with the Guardian, the detainees said that just minutes before the vehicle exploded and as fumes filled the cabin, one of the guards started handing out handcuffs to his colleagues. After the cuffing process, which took several minutes, staff working for the Capita-owned security firm Tascor took the detainees off the bus, they said. They were instructed to stand about 40ft away on the M25 as the vehicle exploded. Home Office rules say that restraint during transit could amount to degrading or inhuman treatment, in breach of the European convention on human rights, “unless risk is properly assessed and the use of restraints fully justified”.

Read more: Eric Allison and , Guardian,

BID Launches Legal Action to Ensure the Government Holds G4S to Account

Formal legal action has today Thursday 15th February 2018, been launched against the UK government in an attempt to force it to designate security company G4S a ‘High Risk’ strategic supplier in the wake of a number of catastrophic failings. Lawyers from Leigh Day, who are acting on behalf of charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID), have begun legal action to hold the government to account after its refusal to confirm whether G4S has been designated a ‘High Risk’ strategic supplier. BID argues that a catalogue of serious failings by G4S, many of which were highlighted in a Panorama documentary last year entitled: ‘Britain’s Immigration Secrets’, should result in G4S being placed under increased scrutiny by being designated as ‘High Risk’ by the government.

Read more: Leigh Day,

Frontex Charter Flights up 32% -14,189 Persons Forcibly Removed on 341 Flights in 2017

Frontex (European Border and Coast Guard Agency) has become more and more prominent in recent years as European governments seek to carry out deportations through joint coordinated 'operations'. This not only saves them money but also, by putting deportations in the hands of a regional or international body, pushes accountability to another level away from national governments and immigration authorities. Frontex has the powers to charter mass deportation flights on behalf of European governments, buy equipment and explore satellite technology to monitor the 'EU borders'.

In 2016 Frontex coordinated the return of 10,700 persons on 232 return flights. In 2009 there were only 32 flights