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                                                    News & Views - Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th April 2012

Papua New Guinea: Sexual violence forcing girls out of school
In the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) sexual violence against young girls, and the shame and stigma that follows, is forcing many out of school and others into early marriage.

A recent study by Mˇdecins Sans Fronti¸res (MSF), one of the countryÕs main providers of medical and psychological assistance to survivors of family and sexual violence, showed that from 2008 to 2011, a significant proportion of patients who received treatment as a result of violence were children, some under the age of five.

In the rural settlement of Tari, 31 percent of those who reported violence were between five and 12 years old. In Lae, the second biggest city after the capital, Port Moresby, 26 percent were between the ages of 13 and 17. Almost half of those reporting sexual violence In Lae from January 2008 to June 2010 - some 520 people - were under 18 years old. In Tari, 248 were minors, said Patrick Almeida, MSFÕs medical coordinator. In both places, in over 70 percent of the cases, the perpetrators were known by the survivors, he added.
Read more: Reliefweb, 06/04/12

DR Congo: Humanitarian situation worsening in South Kivu
As fighting intensifies in South Kivu, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is worried about the civilian population. In recent months, a sharp increase in attacks on civilians has caused massive displacement.

"We are very concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in South Kivu, especially in the northern part of the province, in Shabunda, Walungu and Kalehe territories," said Laetitia Courtois, the head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Bukavu. "What is most worrisome is that most of the victims of the attacks are civilians. All civilians, including those who have a family member who has joined the fighting, must be spared." Under international humanitarian law, civilians and their property must be spared and protected. The wounded and the sick must be cared for, and medical facilities and personnel must be respected and protected.
Reliefweb: 04/04/12

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Roma, Jews Face Political Discrimination
Roma, Jews, and other national minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina remain excluded from participation in national politics 20 years after war began. Much of this discrimination stems from Bosnia's 1995 Constitution, which mandates a system of government based on ethnicity and excludes these groups from high political office.

In December 2009, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in Sejdic and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina that the country's constitution discriminates against Roma and Jews, in violation of human rights law. The constitution bars anyone who is not one of the country's three main ethnic groups – Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs – from running for the tripartite national presidency or national house of peoples, one of two parliamentary chambers.

More than two years after the European Court's decision, Bosnia has yet to revise the constitution or end discrimination against national minorities in the political system.
Read more: Human Rights Watch, 04/04/12

100,000 people displaced by fighting in north-west Pakistan
The United Nations refugee agency reported today that more than 100,000 people have become displaced since January by Pakistani military operations against militant groups in the north-western part of the country that borders Afghanistan.

UNHCR estimates that 101,160 people, mostly women and children, have been uprooted by the fighting that began on 20 January in the Khyber Agency region of the country's Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).

Arecent increase in the intensity of the fighting is driving even larger numbers of families to flee to the safety of the Jalozai camp, where UNHCR is registering them and providing them with basic humanitarian supplies.
Refworld: 30/04/12

Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI update volume 31
This document provides an update of Country Guidance case law, UKBA publications and developments in refugee producing countries between
19/03/2012 and 02/04/2012 .. Download volume 31 here . . .

Turkmenistan: Damning UN Report Shows Need for Urgent Action
The Turkmen government's clampdown on freedom of expression and repression of civil society activism, torture and ill-treatment in places of detention, and the lack of an independent judiciary topped the committee's concerns. It directed the Turkmen government to report back within one year on measures taken to address them.

On repression of free speech and civil society, the committee voiced concern about the fact that the government "systematically does not respect the right to freedom of expression," "harass[es] and intimidate[s] journalists and human rights defenders," and "monitors the use of the internet and blocks access to some websites."

The committee also criticized the government's "refusal to grant entry visas to international human rights organisations," referring to the Turkmen government's longstanding denial of access to the country for independent human rights monitors, including no fewer than 10 UN rapporteurs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and nongovernmental organizations.
Read More: Human Rights Watch, 30/03/12

Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees - March 2012

9 actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and 2 improved in March 2012, according to the new issue of CrisisWatch

Deteriorated Situations: Afghanistan, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen

Download the full report: Crisis Watch 104

Afghanistan: U.S. soldier Robert Bales shot seventeen villagers including nine children in Kandahar's Panjawi district, sending U.S.-Afghan relations to a new low. President Karzai 15 March called for NATO troops to halt field operations, remain in bases, 16 March accused U.S. of frustrating investigation; soldier charged with murder 23 March. Taliban 15 March broke off prisoner exchange talks with U.S.. 2 killed, 4 injured 2 March when Afghan soldier and civilian instructor opened fire at U.S. Bagram Air Field where U.S. forces burned Qu'rans in Feb; suicide bomber 5 March killed 2 civilians, wounded 4 at Bagram base.

Egypt: The rift between Islamists and secular parties deepened. Five parties accused the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist al-Nour party of dominating the 100-member panel tasked with drafting a new constitution. Boycotting the panel they promised to establish a parallel body to produce their own document. Friction between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces also increased, with the Brotherhood threatening to topple the current government and warning of a second revolution if the military fails to relinquish power. It also announced it will contest the forthcoming presidential election, reversing its earlier decision not to put forward a candidate.

Ethiopia and Eritrea: Tensions intensified as Ethiopian troops attacked military bases in Eritrea, claiming they were being used to train insurgents operating in the Afar region. For its part, Eritrea accused Addis of trying to divert attention from the dispute over their common border, and called on the UN to take action against Ethiopia.

Guinea-Bissau: A first round of presidential elections saw Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior take the lead with 49 per cent of votes. Gomes's opponents, however, including former President Kumba Yala, denounced fraud in the vote, and vow to boycott the run-off, scheduled for 18 April. The assassination of ex-spy chief Samba Djaló just hours after polling, combined with ex-army Chief of Staff Zamora Induta seeking refuge in the EU compound in Bissau, exacerbated fears of growing instability. Crisis Group identifies a conflict risk for Guinea-Bissau.

Mali: military officers overthrew President Amadou Toumani Touré in a coup on 22 March. The takeover followed a mutiny demanding better weapons to fight the Tuareg rebellion advancing across the north. Throughout the month Tuareg rebels defeated government troops and pro-government militias in several northern towns, extending their reach to the key garrison town of Gao and reportedly Timbuktu. Responding to the coup, ECOWAS suspended Mali, ordered the military junta to relinquish power or face sanctions, and called on member states to provide military equipment and logistics to fight the rebellion. Following international pressure, the military junta announced on 1 April that they will reinstate the constitution. Crisis Group identifies a conflict risk for Mali.

Sudan and South Sudan: Relations deteriorated further, their armed forces clashed at the Helgig oil field on the border, sparking fears of a return to war. Thus far attempts to initiate talks between Khartoum and Juba have met with little success, as each side accuses the other of cross-border attacks. In the north, Khartoum's "scorched earth policy" in the Nuba Mountains threatens a humanitarian catastrophe. In the South, thousands of civilians fled continued violence in Jonglei state.

Syria: Descent into all-out civil war continued. The Assad regime stepped up military operations on opposition strongholds and repression against civilians, as anti-regime protests spread to new areas. Activists reported massacres committed by security forces, and UN human rights chief Navi Pillay accused the regime of "systematically detaining and torturing children". The regime has accepted the UN/Arab League special envoy Kofi Annans' peace plan but serious doubts remain as to its implementation. Crisis Group also identifies a conflict risk for Syria.

Yemen: A series of deadly attacks and kidnappings, blamed on al-Qaeda militants, wracked Yemen's south. The bloodiest episode was the storming of military bases near Zinjibar, where approximately 180 soldiers were killed and 70 abducted. UN envoy Jamal Benomar warned the instability was causing a growing humanitarian crisis, with 3 million people needing immediate assistance.

Unchanged Situations
Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Caucasus (Russia), North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe

Improved Situations: Bosnia, Senegal
Senegal former Prime Minister Macky Sall won a peaceful presidential election run-off, defeating incumbent Abdoulaye Wade. Deadly clashes ahead of the vote between police and protesters angry at Wade's run for a contentious third term in office had sparked fears of violence. But Wade's sound defeat and swift acceptance of results instead eased tensions, signaling the country's democratic maturity.

Bosnia's six ruling parties on 9 March reached agreement on the disposition of military and state property. They thus fulfilled the last outstanding condition for the commencement of NATO's Membership Action Plan, as well as for the closure of the Office of the High Representative.

April 2012 Outlook

Conflict Risk Alert: Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Syria

Conflict Resolution Opportunity: None

International Crisis Group


UKBA: Notifying them of Change of Address/Legal Representative
How you can tell UKBA about a change to your UK contact details or your legal representative's details, using UKBA online forms. Online updating is a fast, simple and secure way of providing this important information.

To update your contact details, go here . . . .

To update your legal representative's details, , go here . . . .

You should only use these forms if you are living in the UK or your application was made in the UK.

Cameroon: LGBT Rights Workshop Shut Down
Cameroonian authorities on March 27, 2012, illegally shut down a human rights workshop in Yaoundé that was to include discussion of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and arrested one of the workshop organizers. The action violated rights to freedom of assembly and expression under both Cameroonian and international law, Human Rights Watch said.

The workshop, scheduled to be held at a Yaoundé hotel, had been authorized by the local sub-prefect, an administrative official, in accordance with Cameroonian law. But the sub-prefect revoked his authorization as the event was beginning, upon realizing that the "human rights" to be discussed included the rights of sexual minorities.
Read more: Human Rights Watch, 05/04/12

Angola: Violent Crackdown on Critics
The Angolan government should immediately end its use of unnecessary force against peaceful anti-government protesters, human rights activists, journalists, and opposition politicians, Human Rights Watch said today. Ensuring that people can exercise their basic rights to freedom of association, expression, and peaceful assembly, and prosecuting those who violate those rights, is crucial for creating a peaceful environment for parliamentary elections slated for later in 2012, Human Rights Watch said. On April 4, Angola will celebrate 10 years of peace since the end of the decades-long civil war.

Since January 2012, Angolan authorities have banned and cracked down on five anti-government rallies and arrested at least 46 protesters, 11 of whom courts sentenced to prison terms of up to 90 days. This appears to be an attempt by the government to curb an incipient protest movement promoted by youth groups and others since March 2011, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch also expressed concern that state media appear to be promoting anonymous groups that incite violence against anti-government protesters.
Human Rights Watch, 02/04/12

Kenya: Somalia Unsafe for Refugees to Return
Kenyan authorities should not return refugees to Somalia because of ongoing fighting and abuses against civilians in areas controlled by Kenyan forces and allied militias, Human Rights Watch said today. Instead of claiming that "newly liberated areas" are safe for refugee return, Kenyan authorities should reopen the screening center at Liboi and resume registration of new refugees to ensure they receive assistance, Human Rights Watch said. "Fierce clashes in southern Somalia still pose a grave threat to civilians, Instead of peddling false claims that the border areas are safe, Kenya should focus on assisting and protecting refugees."
Read more: Human Rights Watch, 30/03/12

Illegal migrant set to win damages
An illegal immigrant convicted at Coventry Crown Court of possessing false identity documents is set to win damages after judges ruled that was he was unlawfully detained by immigration authorities while attempts were being made to deport him. Home Office officials broke rules because they detained Amada Bizimana when there was no reasonable prospect of deporting him, the Court of Appeal concluded.

Appeal judges Lord Justice Pill, Lord Justice Jackson and Lord Justice Sullivan said Mr Bizimana was unlawfully held for five months in 2010. They said a High Court judge would decide how big a damages payout Mr Bizimana, who "entered the UK clandestinely" nine years ago, would get unless he could reach agreement with the Home Office.
Read more: Rutland & Stamford Mercury, 01/04/12

Watch us lead the UN donkey up the Khyber

So back to That Bloody War. I mean not the Syrian one – where we're going to stay hands off – or the Libyan one (where we were hands on, but not touching the ground). Nor the Iraqi one, which is a war at 60-a-day fatalities (pretty much equal with Syria's daily death toll, though we can't make that comparison). Nope. Of course, I mean the Afghan war which we fought in 1842 and in 1878-80 and in 1919 and from 2001 to 2014 (or 2015 or 2016, who knows?). We wouldn't let them down this time, we said about the Afghans – or Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara said – in 2001. Oh yes we will.

We learned our lesson in Iraq where our belief in a bloodless victory – bloodless for us, very bloody indeed for them – came hopelessly unstuck. We died, too.

And we must quietly abandon all the stuff about our being in Afghanistan to fight terror – on the grounds that if we don't fight it there, it will be heading for Kent on the Channel Tunnel – because it's a load of old cobblers. The 7/7 bombings had more to with our being there than our not being there.
Read more: Robert Fisk, Independent, 31/03/12

9 Children entered Cedars in February 2012

Egypt: Children on Trial
Egypt's military courts have investigated or tried at least 43 children over the past year, Human Rights Watch said today,including the pending trial of 16-year-old Ahmed Hamdy Abdel Aziz in connection with the Port Said football riots. Children prosecuted in military courts have not had access to lawyers, and often to their families, until after military authorities have investigated and sentenced them. Since coming to power in February 2011, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has referred over 12,000 civilians for prosecution by military courts before military judges, though these courts fail to meet minimum due process standards.
Read more: Human Rights Watch, 27/03/12

Imprisonment of Women/Girls for "Moral Crimes" in Afghanistan
The Afghan government should release the approximately 400 women and girls imprisoned in Afghanistan for "moral crimes," Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The report is based on 58 interviews conducted in three prisons and three juvenile detention facilities with women and girls accused of "moral crimes." Almost all girls in juvenile detention in Afghanistan had been arrested for "moral crimes," while about half of women in Afghan prisons were arrested on these charges. These "crimes" usually involve flight from unlawful forced marriage or domestic violence. Some women and girls have been convicted of zina, sex outside of marriage, after being raped or forced into prostitution.
Human Rights Watch, March 28, 2012

Human Rights of Migrants in Irregular Situation
Migrants in an irregular situation are more likely to face discrimination, exclusion, exploitation and abuse at all stages of the migration process. They often face prolonged detention or ill-treatment, and in some cases enslavement, rape or even murder. They are more likely to be targeted by xenophobes and racists, victimized by unscrupulous employers and sexual predators, and can easily fall prey to criminal traffickers and smugglers. Rendered vulnerable by their irregular status, these men, women and children are often afraid or unable to seek protection and relief from the authorities of countries of origin, transit or destination.
Statement of the Global Migration Group

State Murders on the rise, warns Amnesty
A sharp rise in executions in the Middle East meant more judicial killings last year even as fewer countries resorted to capital punishment, according to new figures published yesterday.

Amnesty International recorded at least 360 executions in Iran, 82 in Saudi Arabia and 68 in Iraq in 2011. As a result, the overall count of people killed as a result of the death penalty rose to at least 676 last year, up from 527 in 2010, when Iran executed 252, Saudi Arabia killed 27 and Iraq executed one person.
Read more, Indpendent, 27/03/12

World Asylum claims 'at highest since 2003
The number of refugees seeking sanctuary in the world's richest countries rose 20% last year, says UN.

Afghans topped the list of asylum claimants to the world's richest countries in 2011; ,ore than 35,700 Afghans asked for asylum last year in the 44 industrialised countries surveyed, a one-third increase on 2010.  They were followed by Chinese and Iraqis, the UN refugee agency has reported. The biggest annual rise was among Tunisians, Libyans and people from Ivory Coast, while the number of Pakistanis and Syrians applying for asylum also jumped noticeably.

Overall, asylum applications to the 44 industrialised countries surveyed rose 20% in 2011, to 441,300 from 368,000 the previous year. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it was the highest figure since 2003.
Read More:, Tuesday 27 March 2012

Has the Refugee Convention outlived its usefulness?
Can an international convention drafted 60 years ago to protect a limited number of Europeans uprooted by World War II continue to provide protection to the millions of people around the world today forced to flee their countries for a variety of reasons?

Today, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is providing assistance and protection to over 15 million refugees throughout the world and the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees remains the cornerstone of that protection. However, millions more people have fled their countries for reasons that the drafters of the Convention could not have predicted.

"The context has changed, climate change, endemic food insecurity, overpopulation and terrorism juxtaposed with technical advances that allow people to communicate and move more easily - this is the 'perfect storm' that has all the ingredients lined up so the flow of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees is large and complex and well beyond the environment in which the Refugee Convention was designed.

The Refugee Convention's definition of a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality, "owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion" has been criticized as too narrow in an era when people are forced to leave their countries for a whole range of reasons.
Read more: IRIN 26/03/12


Last updated 28 April, 2012