News & Views Monday 25th March to Sunday 31st March 2019


Judge Rules £1 an hour Wages for Immigration Detainees are Lawful

A high court judge has found that wages of £1 an hour paid in immigration detention centres are lawful.
Five former immigration detainees challenged the rates of pay. The men’s case was dismissed by Mr Justice Murray on Wednesday, although he said he sympathized with them. They are seeking permission to appeal against the ruling.

The pay rate is less than one-seventh of the legal minimum wage and was described by detainees as “slave labour wages”. However, the judge ruled the rates were acceptable because the purpose of the types of jobs being done, such as cleaning, hairdressing and welfare support, was “to provide meaningful activity and alleviate boredom”. He said no one was compelled to do the work.
Paid work in detention centres is voluntary and detainees do not have to pay for food or accommodation while they are incarcerated. Detention centres, like prisons, are exempt from minimum wage legislation.

Read more: Diane Taylor Guardian,

Majority of Immigration Removals Called off People Wrongly Targeted

More than half of deportations from the UK are called off, The Independent can reveal – raising concerns that thousands of people are being unfairly targeted for forcible removal. Figures obtained through freedom of information law show that of the 24,674 removal directions issued last year, 15,200 were cancelled. Of these, more than two-thirds were called off within a week of the scheduled removal and 45 per cent within just one day. Lawyers and campaigners said the figures showed the impact of the Home Office’s “detain first, ask questions later” approach.

The most common reason for cancellation was because legal representations had been submitted (34 per cent), with other reasons given including ”administrative”, “disruptive behaviour” and “medical”.  It comes after the High Court ordered the Home Office to stop using a controversial “no warning” tactic, which means a person can be told that at any point during the subsequent three months they may be given between three and seven days' notice that they will be removed.

The decision meant the Home Office had to immediately cancel 69 removals scheduled for the coming days. During the hearing, the court heard that hundreds, if not thousands, of people were probably subject to the policy in any one year. Opelo Kgari, who has been issued removal directions twice but had them cancelled both times within hours of the flight time, said the experience was “traumatising” and that a large amount of resources were wasted in the process.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

More Children Killed by Unsafe Water, Than Bullets

UNICEF’s 16-nation study into how water supplies effect children caught up in emergencies, also shows that children under-five are on average more than 20 times more likely to die from illnesses linked to unsafe water and bad sanitation, than from conflict. “The odds are already stacked against children living through prolonged conflicts – with many unable to reach a safe water source,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The reality is that there are more children who die from lack of access to safe water than by bullets."

According to the report, every year, 85,700 children under-15 die from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (WASH), compared with 30,900 from conflict. Some 72,000 under-fives die annually from similar illnesses linked to WASH-access problems, compared to 3,400 from war-related violence.

UNICEF studied data from Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It compared World Health Organization (WHO) mortality estimates for “collective violence” and “diarrhoeal disease”. On average, mortality estimates were higher for diarrhoeal disease than violence in under 15-year-olds – except in Libya, Iraq and Syria. Under-fives were more likely to die from diarrhoeal disease in all countries except Libya and Syria, the UN report found.

Read more: UN News,

Charity Launches Super-Complaint Against Police for Treating Slavery Victims as Criminals

Hestia, a charity that specialises in helping victims of slavery, has lodged the complaint today after its investigation found just seven per cent of reported cases of modern slavery were being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) by police. This is despite a 250 per cent rise in the number of operations to more than 1,100, which the National Crime Agency (NCA) last week said had been fuelled by children being exploited by county lines drug gangs.

The super-complaint, which will automatically trigger an inquiry by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, is being backed by the Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Newlove. “Victims are being alienated by the criminal justice system to the extent that they disappear or in some cases return to their captors,” said Baroness Newlove. “Not only is this demoralising but it undermines our fight against this crime. It also seriously undermines our ability to prosecute offenders if we are no longer in touch with the victims.”

Key complaints uncovered by Hestia included victims saying they were not believed by investigating police officers or being treated as criminals when they had been forced to commit crimes by their exploiters. Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act explicitly provides a defence of being forced to commit a crime. Police officers also prioritised investigating the immigration status of victims over their crimes, according to Hestia, while some female victims of sexual exploitation were interviewed by male officers and male translators. There was also a regional lottery. Just six police forces were responsible for 75 per cent of the cases referred to the CPS. They were the Metropolitan Police Service, West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Northumbria and Kent.

Hestia has supported more than 3,300 victims of modern slavery since 2011 and is one of 14 bodies in the UK with the right to lodge super-complaints.It has based its super complaint on evidence from police and agencies involved in tackling modern slavery, Freedom of Information requests to all 43 police forces, interviews with frontline staff and supporting reports from two legal expert organisations.

Source:  Charles Hymas, Telegraph,

CCRC Refer Case of Ms E to the Crown Court

Ms E arrived at Gatwick Airport on a flight from Turkey in September 2009. She presented herself at Immigration Control without a passport saying she was an Iranian national who wished to claim asylum. She said she had been involved in political demonstrations in Iran and was in fear of the authorities there.

She had left Iran a month earlier and travelled on foot to Turkey where she surrendered her Iranian passport to an “agent” who arranged her passage to the UK. She was arrested at Gatwick and charged failing to produce an immigration document, contrary to section 2(1) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004. She was remanded in custody overnight at a police station. The following day, on the advice of a solicitor paid for by Legal Aid, Ms E entered a guilty plea at Crawley Magistrates’ Court. She was convicted and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment. Ms E was not able to appeal against her conviction because there is no right of appeal for people who plead guilty in a magistrates’ court.

In 2010, the Home Office recognised Ms E as a refugee; in 2015 she was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

In November 2017 she applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a review of her case. Having reviewed the case the Commission has decided to refer Ms E’s conviction for an appeal at the Crown Court.

The referral is made on the basis of new evidence and new argument to suggest that Ms E should have been entitled to rely on the statutory defence under section 2(4)(c) Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004, and that that defence would probably have succeeded.

Catalogue  of Failings Led to Death of 'Gentle' Man at Detention Centre

A catalogue of failings contributed to the killing of a “gentle and polite” man in immigration detention, an inquest jury has found. The jury at West London coroner’s court examined the role of the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, health professionals and detention centre subcontractors in the death of Tarek Chowdhury, from Bangladesh. The 64-year-old was killed by Zana Assad Yusif, 33, from Iraq, at Colnbrook immigration removal centre, near Heathrow, in December 2016. Yusif, who was known to mental health services and had 16 previous convictions for 33 different offences, beat Chowdhury to death just two days after the latter arrived at Colnbrook. Chowdhury had lived in the UK for 13 years and was detained by the Home Office as an overstayer when he attended a regular reporting session. Yusif arrived in the UK inside a lorry at the age of 17. Yusif pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility because of his mental health problems at a trial at the Old Bailey in London in May 2017. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail.

In response to the verdict, a Home Office spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Chowdhury’s loved ones, and we deeply regret any failings that may have contributed to his death. Following Mr Chowdhury’s tragic death we have taken a number of actions to prevent something like this happening again, informed by investigations by police and the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.

The expression of regret followed a narrative conclusion that found Yusif should not have been placed in an immigration removal centre and that there was an absence of an appropriate system to share information about Yusif’s risk of violence which caused or contributed to Chowdhury’s death. The jury also found failures to properly assess and share information about his mental health and inappropriate staffing and handover arrangements and that these failures may have caused or contributed to Chowdhury’s death. Assistant coroner Richard Furniss said he would be making a prevention of future deaths report asking the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice to look at continuing difficulties with information sharing

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

‘Serious Failings’ in Almost Every Stage of Immigration Detention Process

The Home Affairs Committee said a series of “irresponsible” failures by the department had led to people being wrongfully detained, held in immigration when they are vulnerable or unnecessarily detained for too long. In a damming indictment of the system, the cross-party MPs concluded that the government had “utterly failed” to oversee the safe detention of individuals in the UK, and called for “urgent reform” to ensure it is more transparent and humane.

Yvette Cooper MP, chair of the committee, described the Home Office’s approach to immigration detention as “careless and cavalier”, citing casework failures, insufficient judicial safeguards and a general lack of humanity in the system. She added: “Making the wrong decision on detention can have a devastating impact on people’s lives – as we saw from the Windrush scandal, but also from many other cases we have seen. The lack of any time limit and of proper judicial safeguards has allowed the Home Office to drift and delay, leaving people stuck in detention for months who really shouldn’t be there at all.”

Pressure has been mounting on the government to impose a time limit on detention. In January, Tory MPs David Davis, Dominic Grieve and Andrew Mitchell joined forces with Labour MPs to impose a 28-day limit on all detainees apart from foreign national offenders. A recent report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) also backed a time limit, as well as calling for the Home Office to lose the power to detain people in immigration centres and for detention estates to be made “less like prisons”.

Sonya Sceats, chief executive of charity Freedom from Torture, welcomed the committee’s report, saying: “Far too many vulnerable people are being wrongly detained, for no good reason, and without adequate safeguards. The impact of detention on torture survivors is devastating. It compounds trauma and can severely hamper recovery. Yet torture survivors continue to be detained.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Detention is an important part of our immigration system – but it must be fair, humane and used only when absolutely necessary. We do not detain people indefinitely, and the law does not allow it – most people detained under immigration powers spend only short periods in detention. As the home secretary made clear in our response to Stephen Shaw’s follow-up review of the welfare in detention of vulnerable people, we are committed to going further and faster with reforms to immigration detention, and a comprehensive cross-government programme of work is in hand to deliver on that commitment.”

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

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