IRC Death - Tahir Mehmood's Wife Refused Permission to Enter UK
Misbah Tahir, the wife of Tahir Mehmood who died in detention at Pennine House Immigration Removal Centre, Manchester Airport in July 2013, was refused permission to enter the UK to attend her husband's inquest. Gary McIndoe, the solicitor who handled Misbah's appeal against the Home Office decision, said the Immigration Tribunal had rejected the argument that Mr Mehmood's wife's presence at the inquest was essential in order to ensure transparency of proceedings.
In his submission to the Tribunal on December 16th, Mr McIndoe said Misbah's appeal should be allowed on human rights grounds. Citing the case of R (Middleton) v West Somerset Coroner (2004), Mr McIndoe pointed out that, in that case, the court had said about family members: "They, like the deceased, may be victims. They have been held to have legitimate interests in the conduct of the investigation (Jordan, paragraph 109) which is why they must be accorded an appropriate level of participation."
Mr McIndoe, who had argued that it was in the interests of democracy for Misbah Tahir to attend the inquest, said this week: "Arguments were also advanced on Misbah's behalf under Article 8, in relation to her private and family life, but these too were rejected in a very disappointing decision which - in view of the imminent start of the inquest - it will not be possible to challenge further." The judge ruled that Mr Mehmood's wife's presence at the inquest was not necessary and said it would not undermine the Coroner's investigation because Misbah Tahir had "no evidential part to play in it".
The inquest into the death of Mr Mehmood began in the Council Chamber at Manchester Town Hall on Wednesday 7th January and is expected to last for at least a week. Mr Mehmood, who had been in the UK since 2007, was taken to Pennine House, a short term holding centre at Manchester Airport run by Tascor, after his work visa expired. He was preparing to return home to Pakistan when he died on July 26th 2013.
On the first day of the inquest, Manchester Coroner Nigel Meadows was told Mr Mehmood had complained of being ill to his brother-in-law Nadeem Iqbal Gondal. Mr Gondal said, on the day of his death, Mr Mehmood phoned him to ask him to describe his symptoms to a nurse at Pennine House. After the nurse spoke to Mr Gondal, Mr Mehmood was given medication and taken back to his room. Steven O'Reilly, a paramedic with the North West Ambulance Service, told the Coroner that, when he and colleagues went into Mr Mehmood's room, he was lying on his bed. No-one was doing CPR and the paramedics moved Mr Mehmood off the bed and onto the floor and started resuscitation straight away. He explained that a hard surface was needed in order to carry out resuscitation. Mr Mehmood was also given six defibrillator shocks over an hour but this was unsuccessful.
Source: Kath Grant for RAPAR <email@example.com>
EDM 670: Defence Of Journalists And Freedom Of Expression
That this House expresses its heartfelt sympathy to the families of those journalists, police and others who were assassinated or injured at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on 7 January 2015; notes that this attack took place on press day, thereby increasing the casualty list and the potential damage to press freedom; considers that the perpetrators of this heinous crime must swiftly be brought to justice; further notes the bravery of individuals who work in this field despite many of them coming under attack previously, and that in carrying out their jobs they uphold the invaluable and historical right to free speech and freedom of expression which are both integral elements of democracies; acknowledges the solidarity that is being shown around the world on behalf of the victims and their colleagues in standing together in defence of civil liberties at this time; and offers its support to the NUJ in the UK and the International Federation of Journalists for their work in defending the rights of all journalists to do their job without fear of threats, intimidation and brutal murder.
Sponsors: Corbyn, Jeremy / Mitchell, Austin / McDonnell, John / Bottomley, Peter / Leech, John / Russell, Bob
- House of Commons: 08/01/15
Early Day Motion 669: Bangladesh and Threats to Democracy
That this House regrets that the leader of the Bangladesh Opposition, Begum Khaleda Zia, has now been interned in her political office by armed police, that the television station ETV has been closed by the Bangladesh government, that there was an attack on the National Press Club, and that live ammunition has been fired at opposition demonstrations; believes that these actions are not the actions of a democratic government, but instead a government aiming to suppress any opposition; calls for the Bangladeshi government to enter into discussions with opposition groups towards having a further election on a free and fair basis; and calls for the UK Government to use its influence to ensure that Bangladesh moves back towards a society based upon democracy and the rule of law.
Sponsors:Hemming, John - House of Commons: 07.01.2015
Immigration Detention - Black Hole at the Heart of British Justice
Britain is the only country in Europe to allow the indefinite detention of migrants leaving them in a legal limbo condemned as barbaric and abhorrent by critics. It has been described as the black hole at the heart of British justice. Thousands of people, most of whom have been convicted of no crime, detained for as long as government officials wish.
But ministers are now facing the biggest ever challenge to the draconian powers, as a growing coalition of campaign groups, civil society organisations and religious leaders demand that the maximum length of immigration detentions be capped. In the run-up to the election, Citizens UK, the largest alliance of civil society organisations in the country, is to call on all prospective MPs to pledge a time limit on the detention of migrants.
Read more: Jonathan Owen, Independent, 06/01/15
Indefinite Leave to Remain
Mr David Ward (Bradford East) (LD): What assistance her Department offers to people without five years' residency applying for indefinite leave to remain, who have been delayed in entering the country on a spouse visa because they are waiting for a determination on a British passport application for a child born outside the UK due to delays in obtaining the initial spouse visa.
The Minister for Security and Immigration (James Brokenshire): In considering immigration applications, UK Visas and Immigration will not generally take into account the time taken to establish the British citizenship of a child of the applicant. That is because the child's status will affect the immigration requirements on the applicant, such as the minimum income threshold to be met by foreign spouses, which should be dealt with before an application is made.
Mr Ward: Is the Minister aware of the impact on family life of these long delays? Such are the delays that by the time the spouse's visa is granted, there may be one or two children, and then the mother will often have to make a decision about whether to stay abroad and be delayed there by starting the probationary period or to come to this country and leave the children abroad.
James Brokenshire: I am obviously happy to look at any individual cases that my hon. Friend may wish to highlight and I can examine further. A British passport is not issued to a child born overseas until the Passport Office is satisfied that all the relevant identity, nationality and child protection issues have been identified. I am sure that my hon. Friend would support that.
House of Commons / 5 Jan 2015 : <>Column 11
Financial Appeal for 'No-Deportations' - 2015
At present 'No-Deportations' has no funding of any kind, so are appealing to recipients of 'No-Deportations' mailings for donations/standing orders.
Standing orders are best as it provides regular income, £5 or £10 a month, welcome.
'No-Deportations' provides 'Signposting' to any one in the UK subject to UK immigration controls and does not want to leave the UK, for whatever reasons. Whether they fear return to their country of origin for political reasons, fear of religious/ethnic persecution, would face persecution for their gender preferences, or wish to remain in the UK for economic reasons, in that they can get a better standard of living for their families/themselves, can send remittances back to their families in country of origin.
To this end 'No-Deportations' sources up to date reports on conditions in countries, which are a source of people travelling to the UK for asylum/political/gender/religious/economic reasons.
Provides up to date UK immigration case law, rulings of UK Immigration Courts/Tribunals, UK Supreme Court, European Court of Human Rights, European Court of Justice that may benefit those UKBA are trying to remove/deport from the UK.
Where those subject to UK immigration controls, fallen foul of those controls and are required to leave the UK. 'No-Deportations' helps families/individuals/campaigners set up Anti-Deportation Campaigns, will try to find alternate legal avenues for them to remain in the UK.
We do not give legal advice or provide legal advice, but will read persons UKBA documents refusing them leave to remain in the UK and 'signpost' accordingly.
All information is provided freely to anyone seeking help without fear or favour.
Take out a 'Standing order' to 'No-Deportations'
'Standing orders' are the best way to support 'No-Deportations', as this provides regular monthly income.
Download Standing order as PDF File Here . . . . As Word.doc Here . . . .
If you take out a standing order please notify ''No-Deportations' of date standing order is to start and amount.
You can donate to 'No-Deportations' ' by cheque:
Very important make cheque out to 'Freemovement' and post to"
C/o 22 Berners Street
John O for 'No-Deportations'
NOMS Operated Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs)
Dover (IRC) 374
Haslar (IRC) 185
Morton Hall (IRC) 364
Verne (IRC) 390
Sub total 1,313
National Offender Management Service (NOMS)
EDM 668: Egyptian Crackdown on the Gay Community
That this House condemns in the strongest possible terms the arrest of 26 men in Cairo by the Egyptian government on the charge of debauchery; notes with concern the stigma the ensuing trial will place upon the men involved, causing detriment to their careers and families; believes that this latest arrest is part of a worrying trend of human rights abuses resulting in the restriction of basic rights and freedoms of the gay community in Egypt; recognises the alarming implications that such action has for human rights and freedom within wider Egyptian society; and calls on the Government to work with international partners and all relevant aspects of civil society to do everything in its power to press the Egyptian government to take urgent action in order to guarantee the fundamental human rights of all Egyptian citizens regardless of sexuality, gender, ethnicity or creed.
Sponsors: Abbott, Diane/ Durkan, Mark - House of Commons: 07.01.2015
Asylum [Detained Fast Track (DFT) Process]
Lord Hylton to ask Her Majesty's Government what improvements to the procedures of the Detained Fast Track for the better protection of applicants they have introduced since the decision of the High Court on 9 July 2014.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): In July 2014 the High Court upheld the principle of a Detained Fast Track (DFT) process as lawful. However, the Court found that the DFT process as operated carried an "unacceptable risk of unfairness" with regard to vulnerable applicants within the system. This was primarily because they were not guaranteed access to lawyers sufficiently soon after induction to enable instructions to be taken and advice to be given before the substantive interview. The Home Office took immediate steps to address this and other criticisms of the process.
The judgment observed that the current asylum screening process did not do enough to identify and exclude from DFT vulnerable people or those with particularly complex claims. We have since changed the questions asked in the screening interview to help address this issue and there is an ongoing review of the screening process that incorporates discussions and input from external stakeholders.
Detention Centre Rule 35:
Detention Centre Rule 35 requires doctors in immigration removal centres to issue reports to Home Office officials with responsibility for authorising, maintaining and reviewing detention, if they have concerns about issues of particular vulnerability. Those issues include particular ill-health, suicide risk and concerns that the detainee may have been a victim of torture. Whilst acknowledging that a Rule 35 report issued by a medical practitioner relating to possible torture concerns may sometimes reflect only the detainee's own claim and so not require automatic release, the judgment nonetheless concluded that the evidence did not show the process to operate as well as it should.
Releases can and do result from Rule 35 reports and a recent sampling exercise has reconfirmed this position and identified some other issues for improvement. We have already taken steps to improve awareness of existing process requirements. We have consulted external partners on improvements to the operation of Rule 35 and further measures will introduced in the coming months to ensure that the process operates as effectively as possible.
Access to legal representation:
The judgment stated that in some cases, legal representatives were allocated to asylum applicants too late in the DFT process, which was considered significant enough to carry a high risk of unfairness for those who may be vulnerable. On the 14th and 15th of July the Home Office implemented new arrangements, that ensured that legal representatives were are allocated to asylum claimants that require them (around 50% of asylum claimants arrive with a lawyer already) on the day of induction to DFT or, where that is not possible, no later than 2 working days after induction. In addition we are now ensuring that there are 4 clear working days between the allocation of a lawyer and the asylum interview except where the asylum claimant and lawyer advise that they want an earlier interview.
House of Lords: 6 Jan 2015 : Column WA113
Lord Scriven to ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the report in The Guardian on 8 February, what steps they are taking to ensure that homosexual asylum seekers are not asked "degrading" questions related to their sexuality.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): It has never been the policy of the Government to allow its asylum case owners to ask "degrading" questions. As was indicated to the Noble Lord in the Government's response to his previous question on this issue (15 December 2014: WA2), existing guidance, which was drawn up in consultation with Stonewall, the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, is clear that questions of a sexually explicit nature should not usually be asked. The Government is currently revising its guidance further and will be making it clear that there are no circumstances in which such questions should be asked.
Since February 2014, all interviews and decisions in sexuality-based claims have been subject to a 'second pair of eyes' check by a senior caseworker who provides constructive feedback to the decision maker. Senior caseworkers also provide ad hoc support and guidance to decision makers during the course of the asylum process.
House of Lords: 6 Jan 2015 : Column WA113
2014 Deadliest Year in Iraq for Civilians Since 2006-7
Violence in Iraq in 2014 killed at least 12,282 civilians, making it the deadliest year since the sectarian bloodshed of 2006-07, the United Nations said in a statement. The majority of the deaths - nearly 8,500 - occurred during the second half of the year following the expansion of the Sunni Muslim Islamic State insurgency in June out of Anbar province leading to widespread clashes with security forces.
The figures show that violence has not abated since 2013 when 7,818 civilians were killed, the U.N. said. The bloodshed remains below the levels seen in 2006 and 2007 when sectarian Shi'ite-Sunni killings reached their peak. In December, the body said that a total of 1,101 Iraqis were killed in acts of violence, including 651 civilians, 29 policemen and a further 421 members of the security forces.
Thousands of combatants have been killed in clashes involving Iraqi army forces, militia, Islamist militants, tribal forces and Kurdish Peshmerga. Fighting in urban areas has taken a particular toll on civilian populations. The bloodshed was worst in Baghdad in December, where 320 civilians were killed, followed by Anbar province to the west with 164 dead.
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation, 02/01/15
Syria's war killed 76,021 in 2014
The conflict in Syria killed 76,021 people in 2014, just under half of them civilians, a group monitoring the war said on Thursday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 33,278 civilians were killed last year in the conflict, which started with protests in 2011 and has spiralled into a civil war. The United Nations in August estimated the total number of people killed since the start of the conflict at 191,000 but activists say the actual figure is likely much higher.
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation, <> 02/01/15
Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees - December 2014
9 actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and 2 improved in December 2014, according to CrisisWatch N°137
Deteriorated Situations: Gabon, Gambia, India (non-Kashmir), Kenya, Libya, North Caucasus (Russia), Pakistan, South Sudan, Venezuela
December saw a significant deterioration of the security situation – compared to the previous month – in nine countries or conflict situations in the world, including in South Asia (Pakistan and India), and East Africa (South Sudan and Kenya). There is a risk of increased violence in the coming month in Sudan, where major offensives are anticipated on the heels of a failure in the peace talks; in Sri Lanka, in the context of the 8 January elections; and in Haiti, where the current president could rule by decree unless parliament's mandate, due to expire on 12 January, is extended.
In South Asia, both Pakistan and India experienced severe violent attacks. In Pakistan, the deadliest ever attack by the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) took place on 16 December on a military-run school in Peshawar, killing at least 148, including 132 children. The military retaliated by escalating operations against militants in the tribal belt. The government introduced a counter-terrorism "National Action Plan", including the establishment of military-run courts, which would require a constitutional amendment undermining fundamental rights and due process. It also lifted a moratorium on the death penalty, leading to the execution of several non-TTP militants allegedly responsible for past attacks on the military. (See our recent report). In India's north east, militant Bodo separatists killed over 70 people in several attacks across Assam state on 23 December. The attacks, which reportedly targeted Adivasi settlers and came in response to several Bodo deaths during the army's ongoing counter-insurgency operation in the area, prompted retaliatory vigilante assaults on Bodos and an intensification of the military campaign. In Sri Lanka, as the race tightened ahead of the 8 January presidential election between joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena and President Rajapaksa, an increasingly volatile campaign environment, including numerous attacks on opposition activists and rallies, raised concerns about the possibility of serious election related violence. (See our new report on the January presidential election and blog post published today).
In the Horn of Africa, both Sudan and South Sudan saw serious armed clashes. In South Sudan, peace talks between warring parties ground to a halt. Both sides remain at odds over the details of a power-sharing deal, in particular the powers that SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar would have as premier of a transitional government. Clashes between the opposing forces continued despite the recommitment in November to a cessation of hostilities agreement, including in Nasir town where fighting between government and SPLA-IO forces is ongoing. There is a risk attacks will escalate into major offensives if no political agreement is reached. (See our new report). Peace negotiations in Sudan floundered as the government continued to reject a comprehensive approach to talks with rebel groups in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Violence is already on the rise, and major offensives are anticipated if the talks fail. The government has stepped up pressure on the UN presence, expelling two UN officials in late December. Somalia's Al-Shabaab militants continued to step up attacks in Kenya. On 2 December 36 non-Muslim workers were killed at a quarry near Mandera, prompting hundreds to flee the town. Thirteen were injured and one killed in an attack by suspected Islamist militants on a club in Wajir. The government's clampdown continued, as President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law an anti-terror bill that is widely contested and seen by many as draconian. (See our recent report)
Elsewhere in Africa, government rule was challenged in both Gambia and Gabon prompting a crackdown. In Gambia, the military foiled a coup attempt against President Yahya Jammeh. Three coup plotters were reportedly killed as the military repulsed the 30 December attack on the presidential palace in the capital Banjul. Dozens of military personnel and civilians were subsequently arrested and, according to Gambian official sources, a weapons cache found. President Jammeh, who was abroad at the time of the coup attempt, has accused dissidents based in the U.S., UK and Germany of masterminding the attack and alluded to suspected foreign support. The government in Gabon violently cracked down on protesters demanding the resignation of President Ali Bongo Ondimba. On 20 December, protesters clashed with security forces – officials reported one killed, but protesters suggested at least three. Several opposition leaders were detained by police in late December.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, political crisis deepened in both Venezuela and Haiti. In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro's government pushed through a number of appointments to key institutions with a simple majority vote, installing government allies in the judiciary and other branches of state. In doing so it has violated a number of legal and constitutional requirements designed to ensure that nominees are impartial and of good repute. The opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance abstained in all the appointments in protest. (See our latest report and recent blog post). Haiti's political crisis over its long-overdue elections intensified, with mass protests demanding the resignation of President Michel Martelly even after Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned, and calling for polls to take place. There were fears of further violence with parliament's mandate set to expire on 12 January, leaving Haiti without a functioning government and meaning Martelly would rule by decree. On 30 December, Martelly reached a deal with the senate and the chamber of deputies to extend their mandate, however lawmakers still need to approve the deal and agree on an acceptable provisional electoral council.
In Russia's North Caucasus region and in Libya the situation deteriorated in December. In the North Caucasus, fifteen police, two civilians and eleven militants were killed, and 36 police injured, in a shootout between rebel gunmen and police in the Chechen capital Grozny in the early hours of 4 December. An Islamist group claimed responsibility for the raid. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov announced that relatives of militants responsible would be punished; sixteen houses belonging to insurgents' relatives were later destroyed. Meanwhile, the leader of the Caucasus Emirate's Dagestan network and several insurgency leaders from Dagestan and Chechnya pledged loyalty to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In Libya, multiple new frontlines emerged across the country, with heavy clashes in the south, west and east between the military allies of the country's two rival parliaments. The fighting deepened the conflict between the two political bodies. A UN-sponsored political dialogue was again postponed due to disagreements over participants.
On a positive note, there was progress both in Colombia and Cuba. In Colombia, peace talks with FARC emerged strengthened from the crisis triggered by the kidnapping of an army general in November. The guerrillas declared an unprecedented, indefinite unilateral ceasefire, which entered into force on 20 December. President Santos welcomed the ceasefire but rejected demands for third party verification and said that security forces would continue operations. There are questions about sustainability, but if the ceasefire holds, it will help break the ground for ending decades of conflict. Expectations that exploratory talks with the ELN could finally develop into formal negotiations are rising, after the country's second guerrilla group said it would make a "special announcement" in early January. (See our recent report on the challenges of ending the Colombian conflict). December saw a dramatic improvement in relations between Cuba and the U.S., with the U.S. announcement on 17 December that it would normalise ties with the island. The possibility of an end to the decades-long U.S. embargo of Cuba is set to transform political relations across the hemisphere (see our blog post on U.S.-Cuban relations).
January 2014 Outlook
Conflict Risk Alert
Haiti, Sri Lanka, Sudan
Conflict Resolution Opportunity - None