Dispatches: Pakistan's Murderous 'Blasphemy' Law
Christian pastor Zafar Bhatti's trial for violating Pakistan's blasphemy law never got to the court verdict stage. That's because Bhatti was shot dead today in his Rawalpindi prison cell in an attack that also wounded his cellmate, British citizen Muhammad Asghar. The motives of the alleged gunman, a member of an elite police unit, aren't known. Regardless, Bhatti and Asghar are the latest victims of Pakistan's dangerously ambiguous and discriminatory blasphemy law. Police arrested Bhatti in 2012 on suspicion of sending "blasphemous" text messages, despite evidence indicating the phone from which the messages were sent didn't belong to him. Ashgar's conviction in January – based on allegations that he claimed to be a "prophet" – ignored evidence he suffered from mental illness.
Read more: Human Rights Watch, <>25/09/14
South Sudan: Civilians Fleeing Violence Nears 2 Million
United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights said today that gross violations committed by all parties to the conflict in South Sudan have declined but the number of civilians forced to flee the violence now nears 2 million "with no likelihood that people will return to their homes soon."
Referring to the damaging impact of the conflict on human rights across the country, including gross violations committed by all parties to the conflict, such as extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, rape, other forms of sexual violence, and attacks on hospitals and UN facilities, Flavia Pansieri noted that the scale and severity of reported violations had declined compared to the first months of the conflict.
Read more: UN News Centre <>24/09/14
Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI Update Volume 86
This document provides an update of Country Guidance case law and UKBA publications and developments in refugee producing countries between 9th September and 22nd September 2014 - Volume 86
Tamil's Deported From UK Despite Evidence of Torture
The UK continues to deport Tamils seeking political asylum to Sri Lanka, despite strong evidence that the security forces systematically use torture against those suspected of dissident activity five years after the end of the country's civil war.
A new report by the Freedom From Torture advocacy group, based on medical evaluations of victims, found that many were subjected to branding and two thirds of those examined suffered rape or other sexual torture. The report, which has been submitted to the UN's human rights committee in Geneva, suggests there has been no let-up in the use of torture of those suspected of links with the Tamil Tigers, despite the decisive defeat of the rebel group in 2009.
Nearly three dozen of the torture victims were Tamils living in the UK who were picked up by Sri Lankan security forces while on visits home to see friends and family. Despite this evidence, the Home Office continues to carry out fast-track deportations back to Sri Lanka of Tamil asylum-seekers who show evidence of having been tortured.
Read more: Julian Borger, Guardian <>23/09/14
Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey Nears 140,000
Humanitarian Needs Mount - The UN refugee agency on Tuesday said more than 138,000 refugees, mainly ethnic Kurds fleeing militant threats to towns and villages in northern Syria, have crossed into southern Turkey since Friday.
UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming said the Turkish authorities had told the refugee agency that they are now managing the entry of refugees through two border points (previously nine) in three phases: security checks in order to maintain the civilian character of asylum; health checks, including measles and polio vaccination for very young children; and registration.
Read more: Refworld, 23/09/14
Juliet Osarenwinda - Back Home in Birmingham Where She Belongs
Bail application last Thursday was successful and Juliet was released from Yarl's Wood IRC on Friday and travelled back to her community in Birmingham. As ever this is not the end of the 'struggle' for Juliet and won't be until the Home Office grant Leave to Remain.
600 Asylum Seekers Crammed Into 98-Bed Budget Hotel
Asylum seekers are being crammed into a budget 98-room hotel for four months. Up to nine people have been living in rooms meant for a family of four while others are forced to bed down with complete strangers. The Home Office has signed a four month deal to block book every room at the Euro QueenÕs Hotel in Crystal Palace, south east London. Single rooms at the hotel cost £39.99 a night with a double room available for £49.99. The exclusive booking has netted the hotel owners around £500,000. The Home Office was forced to remove 68 people this week after council housing inspectors said conditions were deemed too overcrowded.
Daily Mirror, 17/09/14
World Must Press Ahead On Equal Rights for LGBT Community
Bringing homophobia and transphobia to an end is "a great human rights cause," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, adding that the fight against discrimination "lies at the core of the mission of the United Nations."
In his video message to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Core Group Ministerial Event, the Secretary-General stressed his strong support for equal rights for LGBT people everywhere, underlined the UN's own efforts towards eliminating discrimination within the Organization and voiced concern over the widespread harassment members of the LGBT community continue to face around the world. "I speak out against the appallingly high levels of stigma, discrimination and violence people suffer because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," he said.
More than 76 countries still criminalize consensual adult same-sex relationships, while in many more countries discrimination against LGBT people is widespread – including in the workplace and in the education and health sectors.
Read more: UN News, <>25/09/14
Children Being Denied Justice By Legal Aid Cuts
Vulnerable teenagers are being deprived of justice because cuts to legal aid are preventing them from getting representation, a report by the children's commissioner said on Wednesday. Rights guaranteed by United Nations conventions are being breached because children are unable to navigate complex legal procedures unaided, according to Maggie Atkinson, the children's commissioner for England.
Legitimate claims for housing, welfare and other cases are being abandoned and children overawed by officials are often unable to fight their way through hostile bureaucracies, the report by the publicly funded office concludes. Criticism of the impact of changes to legal aid – which sliced £350m off the civil legal aid budget – is not new but coming from an official body and focusing on the plight of children is likely to inflict greater political embarrassment.
Read more: Guardian, <> 24/09/14
'Welcome to Hell Fire': Torture and Other Ill-treatment in Nigeria
Amnesty International's research has found that countless people have suffered, and continue to suffer, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (hereinafter ill-treatment) at the hands of the Nigerian security forces, including the police and military. Torture and other ill-treatment are routine practice in criminal investigations across Nigeria. Suspects in police and military custody across the country are subjected to torture as punishment or to extract 'confessions' as a shortcut to "solve" cases – particularly armed robbery and murder. Many police sections in various states, including the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and Criminal Investigation Division (CID), have "torture chambers": special rooms where suspects are tortured while being interrogated.4 Often known by different names like the "temple" or the "theatre", such chambers are sometimes under the charge of an officer known informally as "O/C Torture" (Officer in Charge of Torture).
Read more: Refworld, 19/09/14
M.D.M.H. (Bangladesh) For Judicial Review of A decision of SSHD
 ScotCS CSOH_ 143 (19 September 2014)
Acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, an immigration officer decided that the petitioner was liable to be removed from the UK. The petitioner had a right of appeal out of country, but applied, instead, for judicial review of the decision. The petition was dismissed on the ground that the petitioner had not exhausted the alternative procedure.
 The petitioner is a national of Bangladesh. On 11 February 2014, the Secretary of State for the Home Department ( SSHD ) issued a decision that he was liable to be removed from the United Kingdom and, on 18 February 2014, she issued a direction for his removal on 1 March 2014. Both decisions are challenged in these proceedings and the petitioner asks the court to reduce each of them. The respondent avers in his answers to the petition that, when first orders were granted in this case, the SSHD cancelled the removal directions and that, the date for removal having passed, there is no practical need now to reduce that decision.
 The case came before me on 1 and 2 July 2014 for a preliminary hearing on the respondent s first plea in law, which is to the effect that the petition should be refused, because the petitioner has an alternative statutory remedy that is effective in the circumstances of his case.
 The issues which fall to be resolved are (i) whether the petitioner has an alternative statutory remedy, the existence of which bars recourse to the court s supervisory jurisdiction; and, if so, (ii) on what legal basis are proceedings barred.
 In accordance with the general principle, this petition for judicial review is incompetent, because: (i) there exists an alternative statutory remedy by which the question sought to be raised in these proceedings could have been decided; (ii) the petitioner has not availed himself of the statutory procedure; and (iii) there are no special or exceptional circumstances which operate to exclude the general principle.