Sri Lanka: Report Fails to Advance Accountability
Governments Should Act on UN Panel Call for International Investigation. The report of the Sri Lankan government's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) disregards the worst abuses by government forces, rehashes longstanding recommendations, and fails to advance accountability for victims of Sri Lanka's civil armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said today. The serious shortcomings of the 388-page report, which was posted on a government website on December 16, 2011, highlight the need for an international investigative mechanism into the conflict as recommended by the United Nations Secretary-General's Panel of Experts in April.
Human Rights Watch, 16/12/11
UKBA: Sri Lanka COI - Reports On Torture And Ill-Treatment
UKBA: Somalia Operational Guidance Note 15th December 2011
Important Briefing for anyone in detention in the Detained Fast Track Procedure (DFT)
It is hoped that immigration detainees in Colnbrook, Harmondsworth and Yarl's Wood Detention Centres will find this note helpful in making themselves there representatives if they have one; aware of the importance of making an application to transfer his/her case out of the DFT to the Tribunal both in writing and, importantly, orally at the hearing of the appeal, and of the need to support the application with some written or oral evidence of the need to transfer the claim out of fast-track. That evidence can come from the appellant him/herself.
In order to assist in the dissemination of this information, download Detained Fast Track Procedure (DFT).pdf which has a form on page 4, which could be provided to detainees themselves to complete and submit to the Tribunal.
This briefing provided by Sonal Ghelani and Charlotte Kilroy
The Migrants' Law Project Doughty Street Chambers
Pakistan: Religious intolerance, sectarian violence and radical Islam
Islamic Parties in Pakistan threaten to undermine the democratic reforms on which Pakistan's stability depends. The latest International Crisis Group report, examines the internal workings, policies and agendas of these parties, and their relationship with the state, particularly the military, in order to assess how they maintain political influence despite limited electoral support. Due to their ability to mobilise street power and influence public institutions, Islamic parties, particularly the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F), but also the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) remain significant political entities with narrow partisan agendas that they are willing to defend through violence. Equally important, they share the ideological goal of enforcing Sharia (Islamic law), while maintaining sizeable madrasa and mosque networks that are breeding grounds for extremist groups that threaten the country's stability.
Read more: International Crisis Group, 12/12/11
Uzbekistan: Detainees Tortured, Lawyers Silenced
Uzbekistan has not kept its promises to stop torture in its criminal justice system, including electric shocks and asphyxiation. Safeguards to halt the practice that were announced with fanfare have not been put into effect. Western governments seeking closer ties with the authoritarian Central Asian government for strategic reasons have all but ignored the abuses.
"'No One Left to Witness': Torture, the Failure of Habeas Corpus, and the Silencing of Lawyers in Uzbekistan," provides rare first-hand evidence of wide-scale human rights abuses in the isolated country, from which United Nations human rights experts have been banned for almost a decade. In Uzbekistan, human rights activists are languishing in prison and independent civil society is ruthlessly suppressed.
Human Rights Watch, 13/12/11
Changes to appeals against immigration and asylum decisions from 19 December 2011
The Ministry of Justice will be introducing appeal fee charges for some asylum and immigration appeals from 19 December 2011. People who want to appeal against a decision notice dated 19 December 2011 or later will need to pay a fee. The appeal fee will apply to most categories of visas and decisions. Any exemptions to the fees will be outlined by the Ministry of Justice. This will not affect any decision notices that are dated before 19 December.
Also, from 19 December people will need to lodge their appeals at the tribunal in the UK. We will no longer accept appeals at any of our overseas visa application centres. Full guidance about the changes will be published on the Ministry of Justice website from 19 December 2011.
UKBA press release, 09 December 2011
DR Congo protests in London result in 143 arrests
Police say they have arrested 143 people following a demonstration in central London over the election result in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most of the arrests came at about 21:00 GMT on Saturday after a group had broken away from the main protest. Protesters began to damage property, including cars and shops, as well as threatening members of the public, Scotland Yard said. The demonstration had started as an agreed static protest in Whitehall. At 1615 GMT, demonstrators had moved from the agreed location and blocked Whitehall, a Scotland Yard spokesman said. Officers then made 33 arrests for various offences, including obstructing police and obstructing a public highway. The protest then moved into the Trafalgar Square area, before the breakaway group began causing trouble. Scotland Yard said in a statement that 110 of those arrested had been detained on suspicion of affray.
BBC News, 11 December 2011
Australia: Rioting asylum seekers caused almost $20 million damage to immigration detention centres
New Department of Immigration figures show five riots at Villawood in Sydney, Christmas Island and Darwin have cost an estimated $17.6 million - and that could rise. The most damage was caused at Villawood with the repair bill reaching $9.271 million. According to documents released last Friday night, the cost of the Christmas Island riot in March is now estimated at $5.05 million - double the original figure of $2.5 million. The government claimed the subsequent riots at Villawood, when inmates set fire to several buildings a month later, will cost 50 per cent more than the $6 million originally estimated. There were two riots also at Darwin and another at Christmas Island. "The total cost of estimated damage across all five events as of October 14, 2011, is $17,636,366," the department said.
Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI update volume 24
This document provides an update of Country Guidance case law, UKBA publications and developments in refugee producing countries between 28/11/2011 and 12/12/2011. Download volume 24 here . . .
ARC: Commentary on UKBA October 2011 Somalia OGN
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 Somalia and the conclusions reached in the October 2011 Somalia 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.
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 Somalia issued in October 2011.
Download the full commentary: here . . .
Garden Court Chambers - Immigration Law Bulletin - Issue 255
Published Monday 12th December 2011
It is understood that a panel of judges of the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR has refused the UK government's request to refer the Chamber judgment in Sufi & Elmi v UK  ECHR 1045 for re-examination by the Grand Chamber. Accordingly the Chamber judgment has become final under ECHR, Art 44(2)(c).
For chamber judgment click here.
L.M. v United Kingdom (67449/11)  ECHR 1990 (2 December 2011)
The Strasbourg Court communicated a case of a Zimbabwean national, whose asylum appeal had been dismissed under RN (Zimbabwe) CG, asking the parties inter alia whether the applicant's case should be considered in the light of the Court of Appeal's pending decision in the application for permission to appeal in EM and Others  UKUT 00098, which is yet to be handed down.
To read the statement of facts click here.
ABC (a minor) (Afghanistan), R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2937 (Admin) (6 December 2011)
The claimant, a 16 year old Afghan boy, had admitted killing his half-brother (who had been beating him when he struck the blow) prior to fleeing Afghanistan at the age of 14; he challenged the SSHD's decisions (1) excluding him from asylum and humanitarian protection and (2) refusing to grant him discretionary leave (DL) until he reached the age of 17? (he was instead granted 6 months, 'excluded', DL - the SSHD acknowledging a real risk of Art 3 violating detention conditions in Afghanistan). HHJ Jeremy Richardson QC quashed the exclusion decision, holding inter alia that the SSHD had misapplied English law on both self-defence and provocation to the question of whether C had committed a serious crime and held that the SSHD had failed to apply s 55 child welfare considerations to the grant of 6 months at a time DL with all its inherent insecurity. He also made the interesting point that if C could not be returned to Afghanistan forthwith, the chances of his ever receiving a fair trial there would increasingly recede over time.
For the full judgment click here.
AK (R (on the application of) v SSHD & Leicester City Council  EWHC 3188 (Admin) (2 December 2011)
In a fully reasoned judgment Miss Geraldine Andrews QC granted the claimant permission to challenge the SSHD's decision to detain him in August 2010 (with the intention of removing him to Greece) on the ground that she acted contrary to her stated policy on detaining those who were suffering from a mental illness, whilst refusing him permission on his challenges inter alia to an age assessment and to detention on the basis of age.
For the full judgment click here.
UK returns refused asylum seekers to Sri Lanka
A group (55) of refused asylum seekers and foreign criminal offenders have been returned to Sri Lanka after the failure of an 11th-hour high court attempt to halt the flight.
Lawyers for the activist group Tamils Against Genocide (Tag) argued that the government's removal policy was flawed and there was a real risk of returnees facing torture and ill treatment.
But at an emergency hearing on Thursday, Mr Justice Mitting rejected the general challenge and ruled that the courts could only consider challenges based on individual case histories.
The Home Office said 55 people, among them refused asylum seekers and foreign nationals who had committed criminal offences in the UK, had arrived in Sri Lanka.
Human rights lawyers said there had been protests and claimed that at least 20 people were taken off the plane before departure after launching legal challenges against their removal by the UK Border Agency.
Read more <> guardian.co.uk, Friday 16 December 2011
Court Rules English tests for immigrant spouses is fair
Birmingham High Court has dismissed a challenge to laws that require immigrant spouses to be able to speak English in order to live in the UK. Three couples had challenged the rules which were introduced in November 2010. But Mr Justice Beatson ruled the new language test was not a disproportionate interference with the couples' right to family life.
Hina Majid, legal policy director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said she was disappointed by the ruling. "No-one in their right mind would pretend that learning English is not a good thing for immigrants in the UK to do. This ruling, however, will mean that many British citizens will continue to experience enforced and indefinite separation from loved ones, partners and, in some cases, their children.
But Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "We believe it is entirely reasonable that someone intending to live in the UK should understand English, so that they can integrate and participate fully in our society. "We are very pleased that the courts agree with us."
More BBC News, 16/12/11
UN-backed invasion of Somalia spirals into chaos
People who have endured civil war, oppression under a brutal religious sect and starvation now find themselves caught between the lines of a border conflict that is entering a new and dangerous phase.
Kenya's invasion of Somalia, hailed by the West and the UN Security Council, was meant to deliver a knockout blow to the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab. Instead it has pulled Somalia's regional rival Ethiopia back into the country, stirred up the warlords and rekindled popular support for fundamentalists whose willingness to let Somalis starve rather than receive foreign aid had left them widely hated.
Read more, Daniel Howden, Independent 15/12/11
Iran: Suppression of freedom, prison, torture, execution... A state policy of repression
The dimensions of gross human rights violations in Iran are expanding beyond imagination in every possible direction. The list is very long: torture and other cruel and inhuman punishments, arbitrary and often very long pre-trial detentions and extremely non-standard and unfair trials frequently based on vaguely worded charges often even used to issue and implement death sentences, execution of dissidents and juveniles and the use of death penalty for non-serious offences, growing discrimination against women and women's rights defenders, as well as against all religious minorities and groups, and ethnic communities, suppression of all kinds of dissent and opposition, extremely heavy-handed crackdown on political activists and organisations of all hues and civil society institutions, increasing number of political prisoners and the massive pressures on them, denial of freedoms of assembly, association, expression and press, censorship of books and blocking of various websites and blogs...
Read more: International Federation for Human Rights
Iranians who held 37-day hunger strike granted asylum
Three Iranian asylum-seekers who staged a 37-day hunger strike have won their battle to remain in the UK. The men demonstrated outside Lunar House, the UK Border Agency's headquarters in Wellesley Road, for nearly five weeks after their initial applications for asylum were turned down.
Keyvan Behari and brothers Mehran and Mahyar Meyari starved themselves in a desperate attempt to prevent deportation to Iran, where they feared torture and death for taking part in anti-Government protests. But that prospect ended last week when the Home Office, presented with fresh evidence of torture, officially recognised the group as refugees.
Read more: Croyden Today, 12/12/11
Charter flight to Sri Lanka 15 December 2011
UK to return refused Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka
Despite ongoing concerns over risks of torture in Sri Lanka, including to Tamils returning to Sri Lanka, the UK government continues to remove refused Sri Lankan asylum seekers, with a charter flight planned for 15 December, a UK-based activist group, Freedom from Torture (FfT) said. The group has recently launched a public action calling on the UK government to take urgent steps to ensure that they are not returning anyone to a serious risk of torture in Sri Lanka following its publication of forensically-documented evidence of ongoing torture in Sri Lanka.
TamilNet, Saturday, 10 December 2011
"Out of the Silence: New Evidence of Ongoing Torture in Sri Lanka"
"Torture and ill-treatment perpetrated by state actors, both the military and the police, have continued in many parts of the country after the conflict ended in May 2009 and is still occurring in 2011."
We understand that ArkeFly (an airline your company owns) has been chartered by the UK Border Agency to deport members of the UK's Tamil community to Sri Lanka on the 15th December. Sri Lanka is an unsafe country that regularly tortures and abuses some of its' citizens, especially the Tamil community. This was confirmed recently in a report by the organisation, Freedom from Torture, and was widely reported in our media.
We urge you to halt this flight and refrain from allowing your airlines to operate in this way. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have also both voiced their concerns about the mass deportations. TUI is a respectable company and I am sure that they do not wish to be tarnish with being complicit in sending Tamils back to torture.
Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice
Posting on 'Free Movement' Blog
Question: Who said this?
'We will continue to investigate any credible and relevant allegations and review our policy in light of any findings'.
Answer: Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative. Sri Lanka: Deportation Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 28 November 2011, c685W).
And who said this?
They "constantly monitor the country situation, and issues of safety on return have not arisen. There is no evidence that those who were previously removed to Sri Lanka have been mistreated. All those who returned to Sri Lanka last week passed through border control procedures and were allowed to proceed without incident."
Answer: The South Asia Regional Director of the UK Border Agency interviewed by the Ratmalana-based newspaper The Sunday Leader in the wake of what it called "the controversy and concerns over the recent deportation of Sri Lankans from Britain, including failed asylum seekers" (27 June 2011). Read more: http://www.freemovement.org.uk