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                               News & Views Monday 30th March to Sunday 5th April 2015

Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees - March 2015

3 actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and 4 improved in March 2015, according to CrisisWatch N°140

Deteriorated Situations: Burundi, South Sudan, Yemen

Improved Situations: Colombia, Guinea-Bissau, Myanmar, Nigeria

March saw significant improvements in resolving longstanding conflicts, particularly in Myanmar and Colombia. However, Yemen's political crisis tipped into all-out war, and fighting increased again in South Sudan following suspension of the peace talks. In Africa, election-related tensions worsened ahead of Burundi's June presidential elections, while renewed international support to Guinea-Bissau gave a lift to political stability and reform. In a significant development for West Africa and beyond, Nigeria witnessed, for the first time in its history, the ousting of a ruling party through national elections, with Muhammadu Buhari's victory in the 28 March presidential elections.

Yemen is at war. On 26 March, Saudi Arabia and ten other (mostly Arab) states launched an air campaign against the Huthis and allied military units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, with the aim of restoring President Hadi's government. Since his escape from house arrest in February, Hadi had been cobbling together an anti-Huthi alliance in the southern city of Aden. Clashes are fragmenting the country and could spread, while the regional military intervention is augmenting sectarian divides and diminishing the possibility of a negotiated political solution. In our latest report, we call for a UN Security Council brokered and monitored ceasefire, followed by UN-led peace talks with backing from Western and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies. In South Sudan, the conflict also worsened. Fighting increased following the early March suspension of peace talks between the warring parties. On 24 March, the UN Security Council threatened sanctions against "senior individuals" responsible for violence.

On a positive note, Myanmar's government and ethnic armed group negotiators agreed on the text of an historic Nationwide Ceasefire Accord on 31 March, a significant step in bringing an end to six decades of armed conflict. The text now has to be ratified by the armed group leaders. Several contentious political and military issues have been left for a subsequent political dialogue process, including the shape of future armed forces; there is little time to address these issues before elections scheduled for later this year. The agreement followed a hiatus of almost six months in the talks, and comes despite ongoing serious clashes in the Kokang region between the military and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army. In Colombia, the 33rd round of peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ended on 7 March with an unprecedented agreement on a joint humanitarian demining effort. On 10 March, President Santos temporarily suspended bombardments on guerrilla camps in a bold move that reinforces the message of conflict de-escalation and helps stabilise FARC's three-month-old ceasefire.

Elsewhere in Africa, political tensions over President Pierre Nkurunziza's potential third term and social discontent rose in Burundi ahead of June presidential elections. Ruling CNDD-FDD party hardliners announced they would use "any means" to secure Nkurunziza's candidacy, and reportedly launched a terror campaign against those who oppose it. Intimidation and repression of the opposition continued: on 15 March, the wife of opposition leader Agathon Rwasa survived an assassination attempt. In a significant step forward, Nigeria's 28 March presidential elections resulted in a peaceful transfer of power. Opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Muhammadu Buhari defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, in a historic victory that saw the first ousting of a ruling party in a national election in Nigeria's history. Electoral violence rose as the polls drew closer, but pressure from the international community and President Jonathan's early acceptance of defeat significantly reduced post-election tensions. The international community together with national leaders will now need to keep stressing that any incitement to post-election violence will not be tolerated.

In Guinea-Bissau the highly-anticipated 25 March donor conference yielded positive results, as international partners pledged some €1.15 billion in aid over ten years. This influx of financial support prompted renewed optimism regarding the country's long-needed wide-ranging reforms and economic development (see our new report on security sector reform in Guinea-Bissau).

April 2015 Outlook

Conflict Risk Alert: Yemen

Conflict Resolution Opportunity: None

Download CrisisWatch N°140 <> here . . . .

Home Office Owes a 'Non-Delegable Duty of Care' to Detainees

GB v Home Office [2015] EWHC 819 (QB) (31 March 2015)

10. Conclusions
63. For the reasons set out above, I would answer the first preliminary issue in the affirmative. In those circumstances the second preliminary issue adds nothing and does not require to be answered.

1. In these proceedings, the claimant, GB, pursues a claim in negligence against the defendant arising out of medical treatment which she received whilst detained by the defendant at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre between 16 June and 27 July 2012. It is said that the prescription of an anti-malarial drug caused her to suffer a severe psychotic reaction. In the autumn of the last year, Master Leslie ordered the trial of a preliminary issue as to whether or not the defendant owed to GB a non-delegable duty of care. If it did not, the claim in negligence must fail, although there is a separate claim against the defendant for unlawful detention which is unaffected by this issue. If there was such a duty, then there are a variety of other disputes arising out of the allegations of negligence and causation which are also unaffected by this preliminary issue.

[Appendix 1 Agreed statement of facts

This is an agreed statement of facts for the purposes of the preliminary issue trial. The preliminary issue to be tried is as follows:

(i) Whether or not the Defendant owed a non-delegable duty of care to the Claimant so as to render it liable to the Claimant in respect of any negligent acts or omissions on the part of those providing medical care at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC), in particular Dr Inskip (were such negligence to be established) ;

(ii) Further or alternatively, whether or not the Defendant was vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of the medical practitioner and other Yarl's Wood staff.
The facts set out below are confined to those considered relevant for the preliminary issue. Further undisputed facts may be ascertained from the pleadings: the factual background set out in the Particulars of Claim is largely admitted in the Defence. The names of the Claimant [GB] and the alleged father of her child [GA] have been anonymised pursuant to the Order of 17 March 2015. ]

['Non-Delegable Duty of Care - General: Performance of an obligation that cannot be delegated to a third (non-contracting) party under the terms of a contract]

EDM 920: Abuses Against Yezidi Women and MinoritiesbBy ISIL
That this House remains extremely concerned about the treatment of minorities in Iraq and parts of Syria by ISIL (also known as Daesh), and in particular the persecution of Yezidi women who have been brutally targeted since August 2014 and continue to be held in ISIL captivity in large numbers as part of ISIL's ruthless attempts to eliminate non-Arab and non-Sunni Muslims in the area; is appalled by the evidence of abuses against these women including enslavement, torture and tape; notes the recently released Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights which concludes that the acts committed by ISIL against the Yezidi minority might constitute genocide; also notes the traumatising effects of these abuses, which have caused some women and girls to commit suicide; and calls on the Government and its international partners to increase humanitarian efforts to protect Yezidi women, and minority communities more generally, in the region, to do more to locate and release women held captive, to improve protection and facilities for those women who have been released or have escaped, and to assist in gathering evidence for use in future prosecutions of the perpetrators.

Sponsors: Clwyd, Ann/ Bottomley, Peter / Durkan, Mark / George, Andrew / Russell, Bob <> House of Commons: 25.03.2015

European Union Restrictions on Social Benefits

According to Advocate General Wathelet, EU citizens who travel to a Member State of which they are not nationals in order to seek employment may be excluded from entitlement to certain social benefits

However, if the person in question has already been employed in that Member State, he may not automatically be refused such benefits

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU): According to the Advocate General, that exception must be interpreted restrictively and any limitations that arise must be legitimate. Mr Wathelet therefore proposes that three situations should be distinguished.

Firstly, a national of one Member State who enters the territory of another Member State and stays there (for less than three months or for more than three months) without the aim of seeking employment there may, as the Court held in the judgment in Dano, legitimately be excluded from social assistance benefits, in order to maintain the financial equilibrium of the national social security system.

Secondly, such exclusion is also legitimate, for the same reasons, in respect of a national of one Member State who moves to the territory of another Member State in order to seek employment there.
On the other hand, as regards, thirdly, a national of one Member State who stays for more than three months in the territory of another Member State and has worked there, the Advocate General considers that such a person may not automatically be refused the benefits in question.

Bruktait 'Bruk' T - Still Here - Still Fighting
Thank you to all who took action for Bruk, the forced removal was cancelled just hours before she was to be put on a aircraft. The other women in Yarlswood have been surrounding Bruk day and night, making sure she could not be taken away into isolation, they were and are determined that Bruk is staying; every action taken inside and outside of the detention centres to resist deportation and call for an end to detention is crucial.
Movement for Justice

Charter Flights Q4 2014

'No-Deportation' asked for information regarding Home Office chartered returns flights from October 2014 to December 2014. The answers to your questions fall to be dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I will answer your questions in order.

1. Number of males removed? 627

2. Number of females removed? 84

3. Number of escorts? 1,581

4. Number of flights? 12

5. To which countries? Afghanistan, Albania, Ghana, Jamaica, Kosovo, Nigeria, Pakistan

6. Number of children? None

7. Total cost of the removals? and 7a. Total amount paid for escorts?
With reference to the information we hold in respect of cost, it has been decided not to communicate this information to you pursuant to the exemption under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This allows us to exempt information if its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any persons.

Xue v SSHD - Claim for Unlawful Detention Succeeds

1. This is a claim for unlawful detention. The Claimant, a Chinese Citizen, was detained by the Defendant ("the Secretary of State") from 2 March 2012 to 17 June 2014, when she was released, having been granted bail by Mitting J on 13 June 2014. This claim was issued on 9 June 2014. Permission to apply for judicial review was granted on the papers by HHJ Platts on 10 October 2014. At the hearing of the substantive application, the Claimant was represented by Mr Buley, and the Secretary of State by Miss Anderson.

2. I have not found this an easy case to decide. It is a case in which the competing claims of firm immigration control and of the welfare of an individual starkly conflict. The Claimant was detained administratively for over two years. The longer her detention went on, the more vulnerable she became. Her physical health has been significantly compromised, probably permanently. Her mental health also declined in detention. She eventually fell down a stairwell and broke her back. But she is a foreign national. She has no right to be here. Her account of the reasons why she left China has been disbelieved by the First-tier Tribunal ("the FTT"). The Secretary of State has decided that she should be deported on public interest grounds, because of her persistent record for offences of dishonesty. She has a very poor history of absconding while on temporary admission. She has no passport. During her detention she did not initially co-operate with the Secretary of State's attempts to get her an emergency travel document ("ETD"). The lack of an ETD was, for over a year, the only barrier to her removal.

109. This claim succeeds. The Claimant's detention was unlawful from 16 July 2013. She is only entitled to nominal damages up until 2 May 2014, the date when she was returned to detention from hospital after her fall. At that point, as I have held, her continued detention was a breach of the second Hardial Singh principle, and she is entitled to an award of damages to reflect that.

UK's Compliance With UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Whilst the Convention has not been incorporated into UK law and is therefore not directly justiciable in UK courts—that is to say, an individual cannot go to a UK court to complain about a breach of any of the rights in the Convention—the conclusions and recommendations of the UN Committee, while strictly speaking not legally binding, do provide an authoritative interpretation of the individual treaty obligations which are themselves legally binding on the UK.

House of Lords/Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights

To Analyze the extent to which the situation for children's rights has improved or deteriorated with regard to those areas on which we have reported over the Parliament: these include the rights of migrant children, child trafficking, children in custody, children with special educational needs ("SEN"), and children and legal aid.

There are growing concerns about the extent to which children enjoy practical and effective access to the legal remedies that do exist in domestic law

Children's rights in a time of austerity
All the evidence with which we have been presented during this short inquiry points to the fact that the impact on children of this current period of austerity has been greater than for many other groups. Certain categories of children may have been protected from the worst impacts of austerity, but other groups—in particular migrant children, whether unaccompanied or not, and children in low-income families—have been hits by cuts in benefits and in the provision of services. Inasmuch as austerity was a necessary response to the financial problems besetting the country—and it is not our role to take a view on this—some proportionate impact may have been inevitable. However, we are disappointed that children—in particular, disadvantaged children—have in certain areas suffered disproportionately.

We remain very concerned about the use of force on children in custody and believe that the recent provisions with regard to secure colleges in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act cannot be considered compatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The progress that has been made in this area over the last few years is in danger of being lost. The Government must consider not only the circumstances in which force can be used but revisit the methods of restraint which can be employed.

While we welcome the reduction in the number of migrant children held in immigration detention, we are disappointed that so little other progress appears to have been made by the Government since we reported on the human rights of unaccompanied migrant children and young people in the UK back in June 2013. All the evidence we have received suggests that the treatment of child migrants is an area where, despite some improvements, if anything the situation has grown worse overall during this Parliament.

The Home Office seems still to prioritise the need to control immigration over the best interests of the child. This is unsatisfactory. The Government must ensure that the best interests of the child are paramount in immigration matters and work with other departments to ensure that the needs such children are met and their rights safeguarded. The UNHCR evidence that guidance for Home Office and UKVI staff is not good enough and training patchy must be acted upon.

Report, together with formal minutes

Last updated 4 April, 2015