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                               News & Views Monday 2nd March to Sunday 8th March 2015

UKHO Statement of Changes 2015 - Reducing Immigration
A package of measures designed to tighten up abuse of the immigration system and protect those migrants here legitimately was published last week as part of the Immigration Rules. The majority will come into effect on 6 April 2015. The rules include: Power to recall those in the UK with limited leave for interview - Changes to administrative review - Changes relating to valid applications - Changes relating to grounds of refusal.
<> UKHO: HC1025, 26/02/15

UNHCR Inquiry Into the Use of Immigration Detention in the UK
As part of its mandate, UNHCR has a direct interest in the situation of asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons in detention. UNHCR has identified the detention of asylum-seekers and refugees as a corporate priority, recently launching a 5-year Strategy to address practices not in conformity with international human rights standards. The UK has been selected as a focus country to participate in the Strategy and we welcome the opportunity to present on related matters before the Parliamentary Inquiry.

In summary, UNHCR's position is that the detention of asylum-seekers should normally be avoided and be a measure of last resort. According to international law, the detention of asylum-seekers is justified only as far as it is determined to be necessary and proportionate for the pursuit of a legitimate purpose in each individual case. While liberty must always be considered, alternatives to detention are part of the necessity and proportionality assessment of the lawfulness of detention. Appropriate screening/detention review mechanisms need to be in place. The detention of asylum-seekers should be regulated by law, carefully circumscribed, and subject to prompt and periodic review.
Published on Refworld, 03/03/15

Misleading Figures About Self-Harm in Yarl's Wood
[Home Office gave misleading figures about Self -Harm in Yarl's Wood in 2011. Replies to Freedom of information requests by 'No-Deportations at the time said there has only be one incident of Self-Harm in Yarl's Wood. On Tuesday 4th March 'No-Deportations received a follow up letter from "Immigration Enforcement', which said: "Between April 2011 and February 2012 you made four separate Freedom of Information requests under the above references in which you asked for information on incidents of self-harm in immigration detention in 2011. In our responses we advised you that there was a total of one incident of self-harm that required medical attention at Yarl's Wood IRC in 2011. This figure was incorrect and the correct figure for 2011 was sixty. We would like to apologise for this oversight and ensure you that our original reply was based on the data provided to us at the time and was in no way meant to mislead you."]

AI Report 2014/15: State of the World's Human Rights

[Another Essential Tool for Anti-Deportation Human Rights Campaigners]

Amnesty Internationals latest report documents the state of human rights in 160 countries and territories during 2014. While progress is being made in some areas, for many people the human rights situation is getting worse. It also celebrates those who stand up for human rights across the world, often in difficult and dangerous circumstances. It represents Amnesty International's key concerns throughout the world, and is essential reading for policymakers, activists and campaigners for human rights.

War crimes or other violations of the "laws of war" were carried out in at least 18 countries. Armed groups committed abuses in at least 35 countries, more than 20% of the countries Amnesty International investigated. Refugees and migrants were at particular risk during 2014. More than 3,400 people are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe. Of the 4 million refugees who have fled the conflict in Syria, 95% were being hosted in neighbouring countries.

Almost three-quarters of governments (119 out of 160) arbitrarily restricted freedom of expression. There were crackdowns on press freedom in many countries, with newspapers being forcibly closed and journalists threatened. More than a third of governments (62 out of 160) locked up prisoners of conscience – people who were simply exercising their rights and freedoms. Gruesome evidence of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq as Islamic State moves to wipe out minorities.

58% of countries (93 out of 160) conducted unfair trials. In unfair trials, justice is not served for the accused, the victim of the crime or the public. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, 78 countries have laws in effect that are used to criminalize consensual sexual relationships between adults of the same sex.

Foreword: AI Report 2014/15

Read the full report <> here . . . .

AI Report: UK & Northern Ireland 2014/2015

Immigration Statistics, Q4 October to December 2014

Published 26 February 2015 - Summary Points: October to December 2014
Data tables / Work / Study / Family / Visas / Admissions / Asylum / Extensions of stay / Settlement / Citizenship / Detention / Removals and voluntary departures

Selective Extracts from Summary Points

Detention: The number of people entering detention in 2014 fell slightly to 30,365 from 30,418 in 2013. Over the same period there was a fall of 1% in those leaving detention (from 30,030 to 29,655).

There was a continuing decline in the proportion of detainees being removed on leaving detention from a high of 64% in 2010 to 53% in 2014. Conversely, there was an increase in the proportion of detainees granted temporary admission or release, from 28% to 38% over the same period.

As at the end of December 2014, 3,462 people were in detention, 24% higher than the number recorded at the end of December 2013 (2,796). This increase may, in part, be accounted for by the opening in September 2014 of The Verne IRC as some detainees may have transferred from being held in prison establishments. In 2014, 99 children entered detention. This was a 91% fall, and the lowest level since the beginning of the data series in 2009 (1,119).

Removals/Voluntary Departures: Enforced removals from the UK fell by 6% from 13,311 in 2013 to 12,460 in 2014. The number of passengers refused entry at port and who subsequently departed increased by 11% in 2014, to 15,943 from 14,396 for the previous year. However, the long-term trends show levels decreasing since 2004. In 2014, there were 24,001 voluntary departures. Due to the retrospective nature of data-matching exercises that are undertaken in counting for some voluntary departures, this figure is particularly subject to upward revision as matching checks are made on travellers after departure.

Asylum: There were 24,914 asylum applications in 2014, an increase of 6% compared with 2013. In 2014, the largest number of applications for asylum came from nationals of Eritrea (3,239), followed by Pakistan (2,711). Grants rates for asylum, humanitarian protection, discretionary leave or other grants of stay vary between nationalities. For example, 87% of the total decisions made for nationals of Eritrea were grants, compared with 20% for Pakistani nationals.

At the end of 2014, 22,974 of the applications for asylum received since April 2006 from main applicants were pending a decision (initial decision, appeal or further review). This was 34% more than at the end of 2013 (17,180), reflecting a decrease in staffing levels following a restructure initiated by the UK Border Agency. Since January 2014, the Home Office has taken steps to reallocate resources to this area.

The UK had the fifth highest number of asylum applications within the EU in 2014 (fourth in 2013). In 2014, Germany, Sweden, France and Italy had more asylum applicants than the UK.

Extensions: There were 23% fewer (-69,963) grants of extensions, falling to 236,572 grants, accounted for by 28% fewer work-related grants (-33,907), 35% fewer study-related grants of extensions (-40,641) and partially offset by 29% more grants (+7,659) for other reasons (mainly an increase in discretionary leave). The -33,907 fall in work-related extensions was mainly accounted for by 32,055 fewer Tier 1 General grants (as this category has been closed to new entrants).

Settlement: There was a fall of a third (-33%; -51,542) in grants of permission to stay permanently, to 103,147 in 2014, the lowest figure since 1999 (97,115). This drop was accounted for by falls in family-related (-27,045), work-related (-20,499) and asylum-related grants (-4,075).

Family-related grants to stay permanently fell by nearly half (-45%) to 32,604, continuing the overall downward trend since 2010 (69,228). There were notable decreases in grants to wives (from 33,844 to 18,690) and to husbands (from 16,652 to 9,539). And 24% fewer children (-931). 32% of family visas decisions in 2014 were refusals, up from 2013 (29%).

Full breakdown analysis of statistics Q4 are <> here . . . .

Violent Extremism & Intolerance Remain Pervasive Across the World
"The fight against terror is a struggle to uphold the values of democracy and human rights – not undermine them. Counter-terrorist operations that are non-specific, disproportionate, brutal and inadequately supervised violate the very norms that we seek to defend. They also risk handing the terrorists a propaganda tool – thus making our societies neither free nor safe." Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN Commissioner for Human Rights

When powerful leaders feel threatened by a tweet, a blog, or a high-school student's speech, this speaks of profound underlying weakness. The world may be at a "turning point" as violent extremism and intolerance remain pervasive across the spectrum of global society, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said today as he urged Member States to uphold the human rights principles underlying their communities in their fight against radicalism.

Speaking to the 47-member UN Human Rights Council earlier today, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein warned of the "real danger" that opinion-leaders and decision-makers would "lose their grasp" of the values that States built 70 years ago "to ward off the horror of war."
Read more: UN News Centre <> 05/03/15

Rapar Welcomes "Robust" Detention Report but Critical

RAPAR questions Report's failure to focus on:

- Policing practices which enable detained fast track and detention

- Use of solitary confinement in detention

- Men as victims/survivors of sexual assault, rape, gendered violence

The substantial increase in the number of people kept in Fast Track Detention is creating "huge unfairness", a leading Human Rights lawyer says. Louise Christian was responding to the findings in today's report from the Inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention in the UK.  The Report has been generally welcomed but Louise Christian sounds a warning about the dangers of the proposed 28 day limit to detention being used as an excuse to remove detained fast track asylum applicants "before they have had full access to lawyers, screening for torture and abuse, and due process."

RAPAR, while applauding a robust document that highlights several key issues, is opposed to the use of detention per se and, as such, does not support the Report's call for a 28 day limit. RAPAR is also extremely troubled by three serious omissions:

- Description of and challenge to the racist policing practices that enable detained fast track (DFT) and detention

- The use of solitary confinement in detention

- Men as victims/survivors of sexual assault, rape, gendered violence

The policing practices used to arrest, detain, and transport refugees to Immigration Removal Centres throughout the UK are fundamental to DFT operations and detention and they reveal an approach which assumes that people seeking asylum are criminal from the outset.  RAPAR has found that overwhelmingly black refugees are often detained through the use of violence: privately-run security firm personnel breaking into homes or pursuing refugees on the streets of Manchester (Montano, N. (2014). "Seeking Asylum is not Criminal" The detention and policing of asylum seekers in the United Kingdom. RAPAR. Manchester, UK. Available on request).

Some IRC facilities, such as Harmondsworth, use solitary confinement (Montano, 2014) This is unacceptable, and any use of solitary confinement must be ended immediately. 

The report explicitly states that women who have experienced sexual assault should not be placed in detention, but ignores men who may have been victims of sexual assault, rape, or gendered violence [pg 64-67]. Although the statistics on sexual violence experienced by any demographic are hard to discern from the available data, men also experience sexual and gendered violence, and refugees may be at a higher risk of sexual/gendered violence, regardless of sex. This omission may have serious unintended consequences for victims of sexual/gendered violence, especially those who identify as LGTB.

For further information please contact Kathleen Grant 07758386208 or Dr Rhetta Moran 07776264646:
Kath Grant <>

Immigration Policy Led to 'New Forms of Racism'
The Government's tough rhetoric on immigration is alienating migrant communities and causing Ònew forms of racism' to break out across the country, a major study will warn on Monday. Controversial policies such as the use of billboard vans warning illegal immigrants to 'go home or face arrest' has led to legal migrants being subjected to racial prejudice, the Ipsos MORI study concluded. Seven different universities around the UK contributed to the 18-month project, Mapping Immigration Controversy. Its findings will be presented at a briefing in London today. Different migrant groups have become increasingly suspicious of one another, with hostility breaking out between asylum-seekers, refugees and Eastern Europeans. Some migrants reported ethnic minority British citizens telling them to 'go home'.
Read more: Chris Green, Indpendent, <>01/03/15

No Forced Returns to Afghanistan
Meeting with Minister for Refugees and repatriation: Present: Eva Joly, Liza Schuster, Abdul Ghafoor and Zia Afif. In the after we met the Afghan minister for refugees and repatriation. The Minister received us in his office, and in response to a request for clarification about the current situation explained that he had sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be forwarded to those European countries with whom Afghanistan has MoUs enabling the forced removal of Afghan citizens to Afghanistan. The letter has not yet been sent to the partner countries: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently studying it and will discuss it with the Minister for Refugees and Repatriation before sending it to those countries.

In this letter, Minister Balkhi explains that currently these countries are breeching the terms of the MoUs by deporting women and children, as well as those who cannot be returned to their provinces of origin. The minister repeated that it was not reasonable to expect Kabul to be able to receive all those who are forcibly returned (especially when they are from other provinces, and or have been born outside Afghanistan).

The Minister also made the point that the security situation in Afghanistan is not stable. He noted that the Foreign forces had handed over responsibility to the Afghan Security Forces, who are under enormous pressure dealing with the insurgents. He noted that there has been a significant deterioration in security in the past few years since these MoUs were signed, commenting that currently 80% of the country is insecure and unsafe.

Minister Balkhi explained that he had asked all European governments and the Australian government to suspend deportations until the MoUs are renegotiated to reflect the current situation in Afghanistan, and assurances have been received that the new MoUs will be respected. He expressed concern for the immediate future as he is worried that the security situation may get worse before it gets better, in particular as the insurgents are likely to increase attacks substantially as the weather improves.

Before leaving, Mr Balkhi asked the four people present to please use their contacts to pressurize the Norwegian government to stop a charter flight due on 15th March and another from UK. He was particularly keen that Ms Joly take his message to the European Parliament.

To be clear: the Minister is of the opinion that no further deportations should take place until the MoUs have been revised and further decisions are made. The terms of the current MoUs will be strictly adhered to in the meantime – unaccompanied women and children, those with mental and physical problems, those who are particularly vulnerable and those who come from dangerous provinces will definitely not be allowed to disembark at Kabul airport.

Zia Afif: is a social worker from Kent in the UK who support Afghan asylum seekers. Eva Joly: Is member of the European parliament and chair LIBE, committee for migrants rights in Europe. Liza Schuster, founder member of NCADC. Abdul Ghafoor, Afghanistan Migrants Advice and Support Organization (AMASO)


Afghan Minister Halts Deportations to Afghanistan
Newly elected minister for refugees and repatriation Mr. Hussain Alami Balkhi has now written to all countries to stop all repatriation and forced expulsions to Afghanistan. In an audio interview the Minister urges all the deporting countries to halt deportations to Afghanistan. The ministers says; situation in Afghanistan was getting better after 2011 that is why MOUs were signed with some European countries including Norway to return those Afghans back to Afghanistan who are coming from safe provinces and they are able to return back to their own provinces. In the MOU it was clearly stated that those refugees who are coming from dangerous provinces won't be returned. It was also agreed in the MOU that women and children won't be returned back to Afghanistan.

The situation in Afghanistan has changed now. Most of those who are being returned are coming from the provinces that are very dangerous and those who are being returned can't go back to their provinces. That is why we oppose deportations from Norway and all other European countries to Afghanistan. As a result we returned a woman and two of her children back to Norway last week. But, unfortunately later we heard that they were mistreated on the way back to Norway.

UKHO/CIGs: Libya, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan

UKHO/CIG: - Pakistan: Ahmadis
Consideration of Issues - Is the person's account a credible one?
2.1.1 Decision makers must consider whether the material facts relating to the person's account of their religion and of their experiences as such are reasonably detailed, internally consistent (e.g. oral testimony, written statements) as well as being externally credible (i.e. consistent with generally known facts and the country information). Decision makers should take into account the possible underlying factors as to why a person may be inconsistent or unable to provide details of material facts.

UKHO/CIG: - Libya: Minority ethnic groups
Fear of mistreatment and persecution by the Libyan authorities, or by other, non-state actors, because the person is a member of an ethnic minority. Decision makers must consider whether the material facts relating to the person's account of their ethnicity and tribe and of their experiences are reasonably detailed, internally consistent (e.g. oral testimony, written statements) as well as being externally credible (i.e. consistent with generally known facts and the country information). Decision makers should take into account the possible underlying factors as to why a person may be inconsistent or unable to provide details of material facts such as age; gender; mental or emotional trauma; fear and/or mistrust of authorities; education, feelings of shame; painful memories, particularly those of a sexual nature, and cultural implications.

UKHO/CIG: - Bangladesh: Opposition to the Government
Fear of persecution by either the state authorities or non state agents, for example members of opposing political parties or opposing factions within their own party due to the person's political affiliation or perceived political affiliation including in a role as a journalist or human rights defender. Decision makers must consider whether the material facts relating to the person's account of their political membership, or perceived political membership, opinions or activity, is reasonably detailed, internally consistent (e.g. oral testimony, written statements) as well as being externally credible (i.e. consistent with generally known facts and the country information). Decision makers should take into account the possible underlying factors as to why a person may be inconsistent or unable to provide details of material facts.

UKHO/CIG: Afghanistan: persons supporting or Perceived to Support the Government and/or International Forces
Fear of persecution by anti-Government elements (AGEs) because of a person's perceived or actual support for the government / international forces. The main AGEs operating in Afghanistan are: the Taliban; Hikmatyar Faction/Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin; and the Haqqani faction. Decision makers must consider whether the material facts relating to the person's account of their working for or being associated with the government / international forces are reasonably detailed, internally consistent (e.g. oral testimony, written statements) as well as being externally credible (i.e. consistent with generally known facts and the country information). Decision makers should take into account the possible underlying factors as to why a person may be inconsistent or unable to provide details of material facts.

Last updated 6 March, 2015