International Human Rights Day
Saturday December 10th is International Human Rights Day, marking the 63rd anniversary of the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
63 years since over 50 nations, in the moral, political and economic aftermath of World War II managed to agree a set of inalienable rights that that ignored differences of race, gender, religion or wealth and protected the rights of all human beings.
It took two years to draft and went on to inspire the newly formed Council of Europe to set about giving effect to the UDHR in the form of the European Convention on Human Rights, ratified by the United Kingdom (one of the first countries to do so) in 1951. Finally, of course, these rights and freedoms were given the protection of UK law in 1998 with the introduction of the Human Rights Act.
It was a monumental achievement worth remembering and celebrating. Without the UDHR, it's likely that rights we now take for granted - to be treated with dignity and respect, to not suffer violence, invasions of privacy, discrimination, or slavery, to speak our minds and believe what we like and to be tried fairly if accused of a crime - would not have the protection of law that they have now under the Human Rights Act.
In a year in which we've watched in awe as people around the world fought for their most basic rights and freedoms, oppressive regimes fell and newly enfranchised nations took their first steps towards democracy - remembering the history of our struggle to recognise and protect those essential values that underpin our own precious democracy has never been more vital.
Sabina Frediani, Lilberty, Campaigns Co-Ordinator
Home Office told to bring asylum family back to UK
A judge has ordered the Home Office to bring back a family of asylum seekers it removed nearly six years ago Ð even though they may then be deported a second time. The family of five Sri Lankans were removed in 2006 but the High Court ruled they were unlawfully detained during the process and demanded they be brought back.
The court made the judgment even though it accepted it was uncertain once they had been returned and dealt with appropriately that they would be allowed to stay in the UK.
Tom Whitehead,, The Telegraph, 08/12/11
"We'll Show You You're a Woman"
Black lesbians and transgender men in South African townships and rural areas face an overwhelming climate of discrimination and violence despite protections promised them in the country's constitution. Nearly all of the people interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they were reluctant to approach the police for protection or to report crimes. Of the few cases of sexual or physical violence against lesbians that have been prosecuted, the significance of sexual orientation has been acknowledged in only one.
In many instances, interviewees said, police did not respond appropriately when interviewees sought justice, or even compounded the initial abuse. Virtually all of those interviewed who tried to report physical or sexual violence to the police faced ridicule, harassment, and secondary victimization by police personnel.
Human Rights Watch, 05/12/11
Iran: Baha'i Faith
Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of attempts to prevent Bah‡'’s in the Iranian city of Sanandaj from attending gatherings; and if he will make a statement.
Mr Bellingham: We are aware of the deeply concerning reports that Baha'is are being prevented from attending regular planned gatherings and are being threatened. This is a flagrant breach of Iran's commitments under international law to protect freedom of religion, and forms part of a wider pattern of harassment of Baha'is in Iran, including the imprisonment of their leaders. We have regularly raised these issues with the Iranian authorities, for example when the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), met the Iranian chargˇ dÕaffaires in August this year. Following the storming of the British embassy in Tehran on 29 November, the UK has downgraded diplomatic relations with Iran. However, we will continue to press the Iranian Government to accord all Iranian citizens the right to freedom of religion. With our EU partners, the UK has taken co-ordinated action to address Iran's human rights record, imposing travel bans and asset freezes on over 60 Iranians responsible for human rights violations, including Government Ministers and members of the judiciary.
House of Commons / 7 Dec 2011 : Column 309W
Report on an announced inspection of Yarl's Wood IRC
By HMCIP, inspection took place 4th to 8th July 2011, report compiled September 2011, published Wednesday 7th December 2011
Inspectors were concerned to find that:
- rule 35 reports (requiring notification to the UKBA if a detainee's health is likely to be injuriously affected by detention, including if they may have been the victim of torture) were poorly understood by healthcare staff and badly completed;
- some other vulnerable detainees, including those with disabilities, were under-identified, and there was insufficient provision for older detainees.
- too many pregnant women, who should only have been held in exceptional circumstances, were detained in the centre;
- the number of female staff was too low and men were sometimes left in sole charge of units at night;
- detainees found it difficult to get advice about their cases and had insufficient contact with immigration staff based at the centre;
- the overall length of time detainees had spent in different establishments was not recorded and one was released during the inspection after spending almost three years in detention;
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- good progress had been made improving education and activities, and most detainees said there were sufficient activities to fill their time;
- the amount of work available had improved and some led to qualifications;
- residential units and rooms were clean and comfortable, and health care was generally satisfactory;
- a high proportion of detainees told us they were treated with respect by staff;
- an over-stretched but well-regarded welfare officer and support team provided practical assistance to women and helped to prepare them for release or removal; and
- there was little evidence of bullying and women at risk of suicide or self-harm were generally well cared for. more . . . .
*Demo Thursday 8th December outside Nigerian Embassy 12 noon*
Mass deportation charter flight scheduled for later this day. Up to 70 Nigerian migrants booked on this flight, many fear destitution or worse on return.
Nigerian Immigration Service co-operated with UK Border Agency to organise the flight - we demand the Nigerian High Commissioner ends their collaboration!
Nigerian High Commission
9 Northumberland Avenue
London WC2N 5BX
Bring banners and drums!
If you can't be there please call the Head of Immigration at the Embassy
Tel: 0207 353 3776 Ext: 208 Email: <>firstname.lastname@example.org
Media enquiries to soas_detainee_support@<http://riseup.net/>riseup.net or 074 3818 5537
Background material: Border-agency-works-for-a-white-christmas/
Migrant Workers Send Money Home, Surpassing Development Aid
Despite a global economic crisis, worsening employment prospects for immigrants and hardening views on immigration in the U.S. and Europe, migrant workers are sending more money home, according to a World Bank report on global remittances released Wednesday. According to the Migration and Development Brief, released at the fifth meeting for the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Geneva, global remittances to developing countries will reach 351 billion dollars in 2011, and remittances to all countries will total 406 billion dollars.
Countries receiving top remittances this year are India, China, Mexico and the Philippines. Other top recipients include Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Vietnam, Egypt and Lebanon.
Amanda Wilson IPS, Read More here . . . .
Immigrants: Detainees [ Dawn raids ]
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether the UK Border Agency has any plans to review its policy on the time of day at which it visits homes for the removal of failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants; 
(2) if she will place in the Library a copy of the guidance provided to immigration officers undertaking home visits; 
(3) whether guidance is provided to immigration officers on the time of day a visit should take place to a home where a child is resident. 
Damian Green: The UK Border Agency has clear guidance on the considerations that need to be made when planning an enforcement visit, including the time the visit should take place.
Guidance for the timing of operational enforcement visits to residential addresses is set out in chapters 31, 45 and 61 of the Enforcement Instructions and Guidance.
Where enforcement action is being considered to ensure the return of a family with children, an individually tailored return plan will be referred to the independent Family Returns Panel. Enforcement visits will only take place when the Family Returns Panel has advised on the most appropriate time of day to secure the return of the family, while having regard to the welfare of the children.
The timing of visit for cases falling outside of the family returns process is determined and also recorded in the risk assessment that is carried out for each visit. Visits should not normally take place either very late at night or very early in the morning unless operational planning indicates that a visit would be frustrated if carried out at a different time.
All existing policy and guidance relating to the timing of enforcement visits is regularly reviewed as part of a programme of nationwide unannounced assurance currently being rolled out by the UK Border Agency's Professional Standards for Enforcement team (PSE).
House of Commons / 1 Dec 2011 : Column 1069W
Charter Flight to Sri Lanka PVT 030 - 15:30 hrs Thursday 15th December
The operator of this flight is ArkeFly is a Dutch charter airline head quartered in Schiphol-Rijk on the grounds of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in Haarlemmermeer,
There does not seem to be a website for ArkeFly, would be appreciated if anyone on list has contacts in Holland, who could find out more about this airline, specifically who the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is and contact details for th CEO and Email/Fax/phone numbers for ArkeFly so a campaign can be mounted to persuade ArkeFly not to lease their jets to UKBA, specifically for the 15th December.
Congo election result sparks violent protests
President Joseph Kabila declared winner, triggering unrest and rival claim from opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi
President Joseph Kabila was declared the winner of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Friday, triggering violent protests and a rival claim to power by his main challenger. Kabila gained 49% of the vote against 32% for veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the election commission announced.
But Tshisekedi, 78, immediately disputed the result and declared himself president. "I consider these results a real provocation of the Congolese people," he said on RFI Radio. "As a consequence, I consider myself, from today, the elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo."
David Smith, The Guardian, Saturday 10 December 2011
UK govt deports 76 Nigerians
Seventy Nigerians were on Wednesday (think this is a typo, shoud read Thursday) deported by the UK government for various immigration and other offences.
The Europe Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Mr Mohammed Isa, Head of the Immigration Section in the Nigerian High Commission in the UK as saying that the deportees included those who had completed their prison terms, over-stayers and failed asylum seekers.
Dr Dalhatu Tafida, the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, who also spoke on the development, said it was not true that the Nigerian officials were collaborating with the UK government to unfairly deport Nigerians.`The British government is the one that decides whether these people can continue to stay in the UK or not. We only assist when they decide to go home or a decision has been made by the authority to deport them. Our job includes verifying that those being deported are bonafide Nigerians, and not nationals of other nationals, and that they are fairly and humanely treated on their flight back home.''
NAN reports that the deportation exercise began following the signing in 2005 of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on migration returns between the two countries.
Next, December 9, 2011
DR Congo protestors - Close Oxford Circus Tube
A group of more than 200 DR Congo demonstrators have caused an emergency evacuation of Oxford Circus Tube station in central London, British Transport Police (BTP) has said. They set off a passenger alarm on a train they had boarded following an earlier protest in Whitehall over their country's political situation.
The group had been protesting at elections results in the DRC andjoined the Victoria Line at Green Park after gathering in Whitehall, police said, but became rowdy at Oxford Circus, which was the next stop northbound. About 30 police officers were sent into the station, which was closed for half an hour at about 21:30. No arrests were made.
BBC News, 08/12/11
USA repeatedly shipped arms supplies to Egyptian security forces
Data obtained by Amnesty International shows that the US has repeatedly transferred ammunition to Egypt despite security forces' violent crackdown on protesters. A shipment for the Egyptian Ministry of Interior arrived from the US on 26 November carrying at least seven tons of "ammunition smoke" - which includes chemical irritants and riot control agents such as tear gas. It was one of at least three arms deliveries to Egypt by the US company Combined Systems, Inc. since the brutal crackdown on the "25 January Revolution" protesters.
"US arms shipments to Egypt's security forces must be stopped until there is certainty that tear gas and other munitions, weaponry or other equipment aren't linked to bloodshed on Egyptian streets," said Brian Wood of Amnesty International.
Amnesty International, 06/12/11
As at 30 September 2011, management information shows that of the 331 females currently detained solely under Immigration Act powers in Yarl's Wood IRC, the 9 longest recorded lengths of detention are:
2.5 years 924 days 1 detainee 1.8 years 659 days 1 detainee
1.6 years 619 days 1 detainee 1.6 years 610 days 1 detainee
1.5 years 574 days 1 detainee 1.3 years 486 days 1 detainee
1.2 years 450 days 1 detainee 1.1 years 435 days 1 detainee
1.1 years 407 days 1 detainee
A Poisonous Mix: Child Labor, Mercury, & Gold Mining in Mali
At least 20,000 children work in Malian artisanal gold mines under extremely harsh and dangerous conditions. Children as young as six dig mining shafts, work underground, pull up heavy weights of ore, and carry, crush, and pan ore. Many children also work with mercury, a toxic substance, to separate the gold from the ore. Mercury attacks the central nervous system and is particularly harmful to children.
Most children work alongside their parents to supplement the little income adult miners get from selling gold to local traders. Other children migrate to the mines by themselves, and end up being exploited and abused by relatives or strangers who take their pay. Some girls are sexually abused or engage in sex work to survive. Children come to the mines from other parts of Mali, as well as from Guinea, Burkina Faso, and other neighboring countries.
Human Rights Watch, 06/12/11
Judgment in Case C-329/11 - Alexandre Achughbabian v Préfet du Val-de-Marne
The 'return directive' precludes national legislation imposing a prison sentence on an illegally staying third-country national during the return procedure
That directive does not preclude criminal penalties being imposed in accordance with national rules and in compliance with fundamental rights on third-country nationals to whom the said procedure has been applied and who are staying illegally with no justified ground for non-return
MK (best interests of child) India  UKUT 475 (IAC)
The Upper Tribunal gave further guidance regarding 'the best interest of the child', following on from ZH (Tanzania)  UKSC 4.
i) The best interests of the child is a broad notion and its assessment requires the taking into account and weighing up of diverse factors, although in the immigration context the most important of these have been identified by the Supreme Court in ZH (Tanzania)  UKSC 4, the Court of Appeal in AJ (India)  EWCA Civ 1191 and by the Upper Tribunal in E-A (Article 8 –best interests of child) Nigeria  UKUT 00315 (IAC).
ii) Whilst an important part of ascertaining what are the best interests of the child is to seek to discover the child's own wishes and views (these being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child) the notion is not a purely subjective one and requires an objective assessment.
iii) Whilst consideration of the best interests of the child is an integral part of the Article 8 balancing exercise (and not something apart from it), ZH (Tanzania) makes clear that it is a matter which has to be addressed first as a distinct inquiry. Factors relating to the public interest in the maintenance of effective immigration control must not form part of the best interests of the child consideration.
iv) What is required by consideration of the best interests of the child is an "overall assessment" and it follows that its nature and outcome must be reflected in the wider Article 8(2) proportionality assessment. Consideration of the best interests of the child cannot be reduced to a mere yes or no answer to the question of whether removal of the child and/or relevant parent is or is not in the child's best interests. Factors pointing for and against the best interests of the child being to stay or go must not be overlooked.
v) It is important when considering a child's education to have regard not just to the evidence relating to any short-term disruption of current schooling that will be caused by any removal but also to that relating to the impact on a child's educational development, progress and opportunities in the broader sense.
Click here to read the full judgement
Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees - November 2011
Deteriorated Situations: Afghanistan, Burundi, DR Congo, Kosovo, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria
Download the full report: crisiswatch-100.pdf
ARC: Commentary on UKBA August Sudan Operational Guidance Note
This commentary identifies what the 'Still Human Still Here' coalition considers to be the main inconsistencies and omissions between the currently available country of origin information (COI) and case law on Sudan and the conclusions reached in the August 2011 Sudan Operational Guidance Note (OGN), issued by the UK Border Agency. Where we believe inconsistencies have been identified, the relevant section of the OGN is highlighted in blue.
An index of full sources of the COI referred to in this commentary is also provided at the end of the document.
To download the document click here . . . .
This commentary is a guide for legal practitioners and decision-makers in respect of the relevant COI, by reference to the sections of the Operational Guidance Note on Sudan issued in August 2011.
Complete UKBA Operational guidance notes (OGN) on Sudan go here . . .
The document should be used as a tool to help to identify relevant COI and the COI referred to can be considered by decision makers in assessing asylum applications and appeals.
This document should not be submitted as evidence to the UK Border Agency, the Tribunal or other decision makers in asylum applications or appeals.
However, legal representatives are welcome to submit the COI referred to in this document to decision makers (including judges) to help in the accurate determination of an asylum claim or appeal.
The COI referred to in this document is not exhaustive and should always be complemented by case-specific COI research.
Source: Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC)