European Court of Justice holds that EU Charter of Fundamental Rights binding on UK
The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has delivered its judgment in the landmark case of Saeedi/NS (C411/10) deciding fundamental questions about Member States' obligations under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and whether the Charter binds the UK. 13 Member States intervened along with the European Commission, UNHCR, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International/AIRE. An Irish reference, ME, was joined with NS. The Grand Chamber's ruling was handed down on 21st December 2011 deciding a number of fundamental issues.
No UK 'opt out' from the Charter
The UK along with Poland had negotiated a Protocol to the Lisbon Treaty (which made the Charter binding) that then Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed was an opt-out. At the summit which agreed the Lisbon Treaty, the BBC reported: "The four essential things that we in the UK required in order to protect our position have all been obtained," said Tony Blair at the end of his last EU summit as British prime minister. "Those were first of all to make it absolutely clear that the charter on fundamental rights was not going to be justiciable in British courts or alter British law."
Read full briefing provided by Sonal Ghelani
Second immigration detention ruled 'inhuman or degrading'
For the second time in three months, a High Court judge has condemned the immigration detention of a mentally ill offender as inhuman or degrading.
Campaigners are calling for a thorough review of the detention of vulnerable people after the judgment in October 2011 that the detention of a mentally ill man for deportation violated the prohibition on torture, inhuman or degrading treatment in Article 3 of the Human Rights Convention. BA, who was convicted as a drugs carrier in 2006, became psychotic while serving a prison sentence and began starving himself, which led to his transfer to hospital under the Mental Health Act. Upon discharge from hospital in February 2011 the UK Border Agency (UKBA) detained him in Harmondsworth, a secure removal centre equivalent to a medium security prison, despite medical advice that it would cause him to relapse, which it did. Private medical care providers at Harmondsworth did not monitor his health for two months; it took them seven weeks to arrange for him to see a psychiatrist; and he was handcuffed for hospital visits, making him unwilling to go. In July, a consultant psychiatrist brought in by <http://www.medicaljustice.org.uk/>Medical Justice warned that he could die if detention continued. Medical staff at Harmondsworth agreed that he could die 'imminently'.
Read the full article: Frances Webber, IRR 22nd December 2011
Petition: Stop Deportation of Yidnek Haile to Prison in Ethiopia
Unless the deportation process is stopped, , Yidnek Haile - a student currently studying at the University of Manchester - will be deported from the UK on Thursday 22 December 2011, spending this Christmas and many Christmases to come in the brutal environment of an Ethiopian jail. His crime? Using Skype.
Please sign the petition here . . . .
DR Congo: 24 Killed since Election Results Announced
Since Joseph Kabila was declared the winner of the presidential election, security forces have been firing on small crowds, apparently trying to prevent protests against the result. These bloody tactics further undermine the electoral process and leave the impression that the government will do whatever it takes to stay in power.
Congolese security forces have killed at least 24 people and arbitrarily detained dozens more since President Joseph Kabila was announced the winner of the disputed presidential elections on December 9, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should immediately halt attacks and arbitrary arrests against opposition supporters and local residents by security forces in an apparent effort to prevent any protest of disputed election results.
Those killed include opposition activists and supporters as well as people gathered on the street or even in their homes, Human Rights Watch found. Human Rights Watch has received dozens of reports of other killings and attacks by security forces which it is seeking to confirm and is continuing its investigations.
Human Rights Watch, December 21, 2011
A right of permanent residence may be acquired only through periods of residence which satisfy the conditions laid down by EU law
Periods of residence completed by a national of a non-Member State before the accession of that State to the EU must be taken into account in calculating the five-year qualifying period, provided they were completed in compliance with the conditions laid down by EU law
Judgment in Joined Cases C-424/10 Tomas Ziolkowski v Land Berlin and C-425/10 Barbara Szeja and Others v Land Berlin
Full Judgement here . . . .
EDM 2558: Guantánamo Bay
That this House notes that on 11 January 2012 it will be a decade since the first detainees were incarcerated at Guantnamo Bay naval base; believes that Guantnamo detainees should either be charged and prosecuted in fair trials or released to countries that will respect their human rights, including the USA if that is the only available option; further believes that US military commissions, which do not meet international fair trial standards, should be abandoned, as should any pursuit of the death penalty; considers that victims of human rights violations must be provided genuine access to effective remedy; calls for former or current US officials responsible for human rights violations to be held to account and brought to justice, including in respect of crimes under international law such as torture and enforced disappearance; further calls on the USA to recognise the applicability of, and fully respect, international human rights law when conducting counter-terrorism operations, and at detention facilities in Guantnamo, Bagram in Afghanistan and elsewhere; and urges the Government publicly to insist that President Obama address the detentions at Guantnamo Bay as a human rights issue that requires urgent attention.
Primary sponsor: Caroline Lucas, date tabled: 20/12/2011
Release of Pakistani detainee ordered by Court of Appeal
A Pakistani detainee was sufficiently in the control of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for Defence to support the issue of a writ of habeas corpus, and it should not be withheld on any grounds concerned with diplomatic relations.
"Habeas corpus" is a legal action through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention, that is, detention lacking sufficient cause or evidence. The original Latin designation simply means the initiation of a process requiring a person to be brought before a judge. It is a fundamental principle of English law that, where an individual is detained against his will, it is for the detainer to show that the detention is lawful, not for the detainee to show that his detention is unlawful.
Read more: Rosalind English, UK Human Rights Blog, 20/12/11
Iran [ continuing repression of the Baha'i minority]
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass to ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the nature and extent of the persecution of the Baha'i community in Iran.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The increasing intimidation of Baha'is is a disturbing trend which must be reversed. This includes the harassment and intimidation of Baha'i educators and of Baha'is attending religious festivals and the ongoing incarceration of the seven spiritual leaders of the Baha'is in Iran. We have regularly raised our concerns with the Iranian authorities, for example when Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), met the Iranian Chargˇ d'Affaires in August this year. Following the storming of our embassy in Tehran on 29 November, the UK has downgraded diplomatic relations with Iran. However, we will continue to press publicly for the Iranian Government to accord all Iranian citizens the right to freedom of religion. With our European Union 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 Lords / 19 Dec 2011 : Column WA314
'Speak Out' - Voice of those incarcerated in Immigration Removal Centres
"Speak Out" is a news letter written and produced by we detainees for detainees and others who are interested or has any link with detainees. Also includes people who pass their time with us professionally or voluntary. We appreciate our voluntary visitors who spent their time to visit us detainees in immigration removal centres.
"We detainees have every right to be proud of who we are despite being detained, we have a contribution to make to society. Incarceration behind the razor wire of immigration removal centres keeps us from the community, it is wrong."
"Speak Out' was brought to life by Ruhul Anam, who has been in detention since March 2008. The Court of Appeal has found that his detention from May 2008 to August 2009 and he has been awarded nominal damages, the amount yet to be decided. He will now challenge UKBA that the continued detention from May 2009 to date has also been unlawful.
Over the years he has studied the immigration rules and has become a good 'Jailhouse Lawyer', providing many detainees with the knowledge to make their own appeals to the UK courts and ECcHR, many of the appeals have been successful. Also advised detainees on making bail applications with a good number of successes
"Speak Out" a newsletter produced by detainees can be downloaded below
For more information or to submit articles for the next issue contact:
Ruhul Anam email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
South Sudan: Emergencies unfolding one after the other
Six months after the birth of South Sudan as the world's newest independent country, a series of emergencies are unfolding that require urgent humanitarian responses. The international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has scaled up into full emergency mode in Upper Nile State to respond to the sudden influx of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict in neighbouring Sudan. And around the town of Agok in Northern Bahr al Ghazal State MSF is facing the spectre of a food shortage and has launched a preventive supplementary feeding programme for children who risk becoming malnourished in the months ahead.
The 22-year war that ended in 2005 left South Sudan's healthcare provision in a parlous state that could be described as an emergency in its own right. Now, in the contested area of Abyei between the two Sudans, fresh conflict has pushed the local population to escape further south, resulting in an estimated 100,000 displaced people. Other conflicts across the border in Sudan – particularly in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states – have forced tens of thousands of refugees to flee across the border over the past month, and they are still coming. The burden of these multiple crisis situations is heavy, and aid organisations need to move onto an emergency-response footing.
An asylum seeker may not be transferred to a Member State where he risks being subjected to inhuman treatment
EU law does not permit a conclusive presumption that Member States observe the fundamental rights conferred on asylum seekers
The common policy on asylum is a constituent part of the EUÕs objective of progressively establishing an area of freedom, security and justice open to those who, forced by circumstances, legitimately seek protection in the European Union. The 'Dublin II' Regulation1 sets out the criteria for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in the EU, a single Member State being, in principle, responsible. Where a third country national has applied for asylum in a Member State which the Regulation does not indicate as the State responsible, the Regulation provides for a procedure for transferring the asylum seeker to the Member State responsible.
Full Judgement here . . . .
EDM 2559: Human Rights In Kazakhstan
That this House is deeply concerned at reports of the killing of oil workers in Kazakhstan who have been protesting about their living conditions and the poverty of their region; condemns the actions of the government of Kazakhstan in using troops, mass arrests and isolation tactics; calls on that government to adhere to international human rights conventions and International Labour Organisation statutes; and calls on the Government to make robust protest toits Kazakh counterparts to prevent further loss of life.
Primary sponsor: Jeremy Corbyn, date tabled: 20/12/2011
Sri Lanka: Women's Insecurity in the North and East
Women in Sri Lanka's predominantly Tamil-speaking north and east are facing a desperate lack of security in the aftermath of the long civil war. Today many still live in fear of violence from various sources. Those who fall victim to it have little means of redress. Women's economic security is precarious, and their physical mobility is limited. The heavily militarised and centralised control of the north and east – with almost exclusively male, Sinhalese security forces – raises particular problems for women there in terms of their safety, sense of security and ability to access assistance. They have little control over their lives and no reliable institutions to turn to. The government has mostly dismissed women's security issues and exacerbated fears, especially in the north and east. The international community has failed to appreciate and respond effectively to the challenges faced by women and girls in the former war zone. A concerted and immediate effort to empower and protect them is needed. Asia International Crisis Group, 20th Dec 2011
Slovakia: "Segregation and anti-Gypsyism at the core of Roma exclusion"
"Concrete action to counter anti-Gypsyism and discrimination against Roma must be given priority by the authorities of Slovakia" said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, releasing today his report following a visit to Slovakia carried out from 26 to 27 September 2011, which focuses on the protection of the human rights of Roma and persons with disabilities.
Racist and anti-Roma discourse is still common among mainstream politicians in Slovakia, as well as in the broadcasting and print media. "The Slovak authorities should increase their efforts to prevent the spreading of such prejudices, including by promoting self-regulation within political parties and the media and implementing more thoroughly the relevant criminal provisions." In order to address continuing reported instances of violent hate crimes targeting ethnic minorities, including Roma, the Commissioner calls on the Slovak authorities to better apply the criminal law provisions establishing racial motivation as an aggravating circumstance.
Read more: Thomas Hammarberg, EU Commissioner for Human Rights
Increasing repression in Belarus is worrying
One year has passed since the fraudulent presidential election in Belarus declared Lukashenka as the winner. What came after was an increasing and unacceptable repression. Thousands of people took part in the protest demonstrations in Minsk in the evening of the election day on 19 December 2010. They were met with indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by the police, and no less than 700 demonstrators were arrested. Most of them were sentenced in summary trials to fines or administrative arrests for five to fifteen days.
Belarus is the only country in Europe which has not qualified to join the Council of Europe and its human rights record for the past year has pushed the prospect of membership further into the future.
Read more: Thomas Hammarberg, EU Commissioner for Human Rights
EDM 2556: Elections in Democratic Republic of Congo
That this House expresses deep concern at the conduct of the recent elections in Democratic Republic of Congo; notes that the respected Carter Centre found that the election results announced by the Electoral Commission lacked credibility and that in a detailed analysis from its 26 teams covering 10 provinces, expressed a number of concerns including the process at Mulemba Nkulu voting staions in Katanga which reported 99.46 per cent. turnout with 100 per cent. of the votes going to President Kabila; further notes that the EU observer mission expressed concern that 17 per cent. of votes were cast from missing persons' registers, twice the number recorded in 2006; further notes the United Nations Stabilisation Mission observed that there were `significant irregularities' in the counting and tabulation of votes; and therefore, in view of the widspread concerns and protests throughout the country, questions the legitimacy of the elction process and whether the result is a genuine expression of the wishes of the people of Democratic Republic of Congo.
Primary sponsor: Jeremy Corbyn, date tabled: 19/12/2011
Tribunal obliged to seek out representation in Country Guidance cases
The Court of Appeal last week handed down a very interesting judgment on the need for 'proper argument' in Country Guidance cases, the obligation on the tribunal itself to seek to secure that proper argument and how far the tribunal determination process can morph from an adversarial to an inquisitorial one. The case is HM (Iraq) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1536 and Richards LJ gives the leading judgment.
Read more by Freemovement 19th December 2011
Three New reports from UKBA Chief Inspector John Vine
"Error rates are still far too high in the Agency's visa decision-making, with too much emphasis placed on achieving numerical targets and not enough on the quality of decision-making." John Vine ICI of UKBA
Forwarded from: Migrant Rights Network, December 19, 2011
The Independent Chief Inspector of UKBA, Mr John Vine has issues three reports today . These are his own annual report for 2010-11 , a global review of entry clearance December 2010 - June 2011 , and an inspection report of the UKBA New York visa section January - March 2011.
The headline item from the global review of entry clearance operations is the finding of "significant concerns regarding the quality of decision making." The report finds evidence in 35% of the sample it examined of a failing with at least one decision-making quality indicator. In 9% of the sample total these errors were considered large enough to undermine the decision to refuse entry.
There was evidence of poor customer service, with 16% of cases being refused because of a failure on the part of the applicant to provide information which they could not have known was required at the time of submitting their applications.
The full reports can be downloaded from here . . . .
Australia: Detention centre staff condemned by coroner over deaths of Villawood detainees
A NSW coroner has slammed the immigration department and two private contractors for failing in their duty of care to three asylum-seekers who took their own lives over a three-month period in 2010.
In an inquest into the deaths of the three men at Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Magistrate Mary Jerram found the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Serco Australia and International Health and Medical Services had failed to recognise and properly care for the three detainees' deteriorating mental states.
In all three deaths she described the actions of some staff as "careless, ignorant or both", and found that communications between the different agencies were "sadly lacking".
Amos Aikman, The Australian,December 19th 2011