9 Children entered Cedars in February 2012
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
Important Tools for Anti-Deportation Campaigners
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF ) 2012
Wherever in the world, whatever your religion, Ahmadi, Baha'i, Christian, Muslim or other, and are a religious minority, individuals and their communities are – to a chilling extent – in trouble.
The failure to prevent or punish violence against vulnerable religious minorities provided a grim portrait of how states can create or fuel a culture of impunity.
Make no mistake: across much of the world, persons associated with religious minority communities often are harmed the most. Even when violations do not include or encourage violence, intricate webs of discriminatory rules, regulations, and edicts can impose tremendous burdens on these communities and their adherents, making it difficult for them to function and grow from one generation to the next, potentially threatening their existence.
If you are in the UK applying for or refused asylum for fear of religious persecution the following may be of assistance, check the report to see if your country is featured.
Designated as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) by USCIRF
Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan
Countries Recommended for CPC Designation by USCIRF
Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Vietnam
USCIRF Watch list Countries
Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Venezuela
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom 2012 Annual Report
Click here to view the full 2012 Annual Report
Click here to view the 2012 Annual Report Appendices
Over the past year, while economic woes captured world headlines, an ongoing crisis of equal breadth and scope frequently went unnoticed. Across the global landscape, the pivotal human right of religious freedom was under escalating attack. To an alarming extent, freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief was being curtailed, often threatening the safety and survival of innocent persons, including members of religious minorities.
In Egypt, an epicenter of the Arab Spring, hope turned to dismay, as human rights conditions, particularly religious freedom abuses, worsened dramatically under military rule. Authorities continued to prosecute and sentence citizens charged with blasphemy and allowed official media to incite violence against religious minority members, while failing to protect them or to convict responsible parties. Law enforcement and the courts fostered a climate of impunity in the face of repeated attacks against Coptic Christians and their churches. Rather than defending these minorities, military and security forces turned their guns on them, using live ammunition against Coptic Christians and other demonstrators, killing dozens and wounding hundreds in Maspero Square.
Other governmental actors over the past year also repressed the right to religious freedom, especially of religious minority members. Iran's theocracy targeted Baha'is, as well as Christians, Zoroastrians, and Sufi Muslims. Members of these groups were harassed, arrested, and imprisoned, including Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian convert who was put on trial for his life. Some dissenters were even executed, while hatred was fomented against Jews through repeated Holocaust denial and other means. In China, the government made conditions for Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims the worst in decades.
The failure to prevent or punish violence against vulnerable religious minorities provided a grim portrait of how states can create or fuel a culture of impunity, encouraging private citizens or groups to threaten, intimidate, and even murder others. In Nigeria, the government for years had failed to stem Muslim-Christian violence or bring the perpetrators to justice, emboldening others to commit further bloodshed. The violence reached a terrible peak over the past year, claiming more than 800 lives, displacing 65,000 people, and destroying churches and mosques in the three days after Nigeria's presidential election, and at least 35 more lives in a series of coordinated church bombings on Christmas Day. In Pakistan, blasphemy laws and other discriminatory measures such as the anti-Ahmadi provisions have created an atmosphere conducive to chronic violence, which has worsened due to the government's failure to bring to justice, or even to charge, anyone for the March 2011 assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who was Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minority Affairs and a longtime religious freedom advocate.
Coupled with the continued exportation of religious extremist material from Saudi Arabia across the Middle East and into parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe, cultures of impunity have strengthened the hand of terrorist groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ramping up killings and other abuses.
Whether Ahmadis, Baha'is, Christians, or others, religious minority individuals and their communities are – to a chilling extent – in trouble. Across much of the Middle East, Christian communities that have been a presence for nearly 20 centuries have experienced severe declines in population, aggravating their at-risk status in the region.
To be sure, religious freedom abuses harm members of religious majorities and minorities alike. But make no mistake: across much of the world, persons associated with religious minority communities often are harmed the most. Even when violations do not include or encourage violence, intricate webs of discriminatory rules, regulations, and edicts can impose tremendous burdens on these communities and their adherents, making it difficult for them to function and grow from one generation to the next, potentially threatening their existence. For example, while an electoral democracy, Turkey fails to legally recognize religious minority communities, such as the Alevis, the Greek, Armenian, and Syriac Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches, and the Jewish community. Furthermore, Turkish officials meddle in these communities' internal government and education and limit their worship rights.
In the end, the right to freedom of religion or belief should extend to every individual in every community and country. Since its inception, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has been committed to this fundamental principle and universal standard. USCIRF will continue to report on countries where this freedom is lacking and make positive recommendations for reform.
Religious freedom abuses must never go unchallenged. This is not merely USCIRF's opinion, or a reflection of our own heritage as a free people. It is a basic tenet of humanity, a moral, ethical and legal duty that the United States ought to honor with action.
USCRIF Home Page here . . . .
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: guardian.co.uk, 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
South Sudan [ Targeted air bombardment of the African people ]
Baroness Cox to ask Her Majesty's Government what provisions they are making to support the Government of South Sudan, with particular reference to the development of good governance and responding to the humanitarian crisis.
I will focus primarily on the humanitarian crisis aspect of the question because of the scale of suffering and because it is difficult to develop good governance for people in destitution and danger with a hostile neighbour potentially destabilising a fledging nation. President al-Bashir has stated his objective of turning the Republic of Sudan into a unified, Arabic, Islamic nation and is pursuing policies to achieve this, including targeted air bombardment of the African people of Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile and denial of access by aid organisations to victims of his offences.
House of Lords, 26/03/12
UN Rights Council: Sri Lanka Vote a Strong Message for Justice
The United Nations Human Rights Council's adoption of a resolution on Sri Lanka demonstrates strong international support for accountability for abuses committed in Sri Lanka's armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said today. The resolution passed the council by a vote of 24 to 15, with 8 abstentions. Member countries voting for the resolution included India, Nigeria and the United States.
"The Human Rights Council's vote demonstrates broad international dissatisfaction with Sri Lanka's accountability efforts in the three years since the end of the war," said Juliette De Rivero, advocacy director at Human Rights Watch in Geneva. "Many countries have recognized that this resolution is an important first step toward serious action to investigate the many abuses by both sides during the conflict."
The resolution calls upon the Sri Lankan government to fulfill its legal obligations toward justice and accountability, and to expeditiously provide a comprehensive action plan to implement the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and also to address alleged violations of international law. It also encourages the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN human rights envoys to assist Sri Lanka in implementing these steps.
David Moyo - Kenya Airways continue to respect requests not to fly
Thanks to all those who responded to the campaign to stop David's second deportation. He did not go. He once again spoke to the pilot and said he was being forced to go against his will and the pilot refused to take him.
"Zimvigil co-ordinator" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Kenya Airways - unwritten policy not to carry forced removees
An increasing number of people who have phoned Kenya Airway's to try and stay a removal have been told the following!
When the Home Office serves removal directions on Kenya Airway's in accordance with paragraph 9, of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act to remove some one we do.
However if a person so served at point of flight, that is boarding the plane informs Kenya Airways, they are being forcibly removed and do not want to fly; they will not be taken aboard as it is not Kenya Airways policy to carry a disturbed passenger as he/she may affect the safety of other passengers and crew.
Nigeria: Violence/Death and Displacement in Central/Northern Nigeria
Since January more than 2,000 people have fled from the north-eastern town of Maiduguri following attacks by the Boko Haram Islamist sect. In central and northern Nigeria since the beginning of the year, violent attacks against civilians, suspected to be perpetrated by Boko Haram, the ensuing police and military crackdowns, have occurred on an almost daily basis. These incidents have resulted in death, the destruction of property and the displacement of people from their homes. While large numbers of Nigerians have found refuge in the south of the country, thousands of migrants from Chad and Niger have headed back home.
Refworld: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)
Second Stage Immigration Appeals
Compelling reasons but no need for truly drastic circumstances: second stage immigration appeals revisited
JD (Congo) and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Public Law Project  EWCA Civ 327
The Court of Appeal has considered the test for the second stage of appeal in immigration cases, when someone wishes to appeal from the Upper Tribunal to the Court of Appeal.
Read more: Isabel McArdle, UK Human Rights Blog, 23/03/12
Deportation: Offenders [Evidence not considered at trial]
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in contesting deportation appeals by those convicted of criminal offences before the first-tier and upper tribunal of the Asylum and Immigration Chamber, for what reason and on how many occasions the UK Border Agency has disclosed evidence from police officers and field intelligence officers to judges that had not been considered as part of their criminal trials.
Damian Green: There are no central records held on the number of occasions upon which evidence from police officers or field intelligence officers have been disclosed to judges. In order to answer this question, the UK Border Agency would need to analyse a large volume of paper and electronic records, which would incur a disproportionate cost.
Public protection is the primary consideration when presenting information at deportation cases. The UK Border Agency will provide all relevant evidence, including convictions and other information relevant to whether an individual's presence is conducive to the public good.
House of Commons / 21 Mar 2012 : Column 786W