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    News & Views Monday 18th May to Sunday 24th May 2015

Inquest Into Death of Immigratin Detainee Rubel Ahmed

Jury Returns Critical Narrative

Monday 18th May 2015, a jury found "inadequate" communication between multi-disciplinary teams was one of the factors that contributed to Rubel's death following the service of removal directions on him.

Rubel was discovered hanging in his cell on 5 September 2014, a few days after being informed of the decision to remove him to Bangladesh. He was detained in Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre, a former category B prison which still bears many of the hallmarks of its former function. An All Party Parliamentary inquiry panel and HM Inspectorate of Prisons have already expressed concerns about immigration detainees being held in prison-like conditions. A recommendation by the Inspectorate to stop locking Morton Hall detainees in their rooms in the evening and overnight remains unimplemented over 2 years after it was made in March 2013. Morton Hall's Centre Manager accepted in her evidence that locking detainees in their rooms was a risk factor for them and that there were lessons to be learned from Rubel's death.

The jury returned an open conclusion alongside its critical narrative after hearing from Rubel's cousin, Aktarun Miah, who told the jury that she was left with the impression that Rubel had been regarded as "irrelevant" by those detaining him. She described Rubel as a gentle natured, caring and respectful person who should not have been locked up, and explained the impact on the family of what the Coroner described as a "very significant" delay in confirming Rubel's death to them.

Staff at Morton Hall knew that detainees under their care were vulnerable, but there was no system or protocol in place for checking on Rubel's mental state after he had been told he would be removed to Bangladesh. Morton Hall's Centre Manager said that staff were expected to assess his risk by noting changes in behaviour and persona, but those responsible for his welfare on the night of his death did not even know who he was. An off-duty member of staff had to be called in to identify Rubel after he had died.

Experienced staff told the jury that they had not been trained in resuscitation techniques for several years and could not remember being trained in emergency responses to someone having been found hanging. They were unable to remember much of their training on working with immigration detainees as opposed to prisoners.

The Coroner confirmed he would be writing a prevention of future deaths reports to the Home Office.

Mr Ajmal Ali, Rubel's cousin, said on behalf of the family: "As a family, Rubel's loss has opened up a deep void in our hearts. The time we knew him was an honour and privilege as he always shone as a humble, shy, gentle and caring young man.

Despite a thorough investigation by the police and PPO, we feel Rubel's death has flagged up some serious issues around the application of prison protocols across immigration detention. In particular, locking Rubel up in his room early in the evening prevented him from being able to talk to his fellow detainees in the hours before his death leaving him alone with his own thoughts and worries. We believe that being unlocked would have made a difference to him that night."

Clare Richardson, the family's solicitor, said: "The jury heard that two of those responsible for Rubel's welfare on 5 September 2014 had not received training in resuscitation techniques for over 10 years, and none of them could remember much of what they had been taught about working with immigration detainees. This reflected a wider malaise in the training regime at Morton Hall which needs to be addressed urgently by the Ministry of Justice".
                
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said: "This inquest has again highlighted concerns about the quality of care and treatment afforded to this highly vulnerable group. Despite repeated criticisms people continue to be locked up in a system that is known to exacerbate mental and physical ill health. This tragic death of a vulnerable young man points to a failing system unable to safeguard those in its care". 

INQUEST has been working with the family of Rubel Ahmed since September 2014.  The family is represented by INQUEST lawyers Group members Clare Richardson of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors and barrister Una Morris of Garden Court Chambers.

From: "Anita Sharma" <anitasharma@inquest.org.uk>


AB and Others (Internet Activity – State Of Evidence) Iran

[2015] UKUT 257 (IAC)

(All appeals allowed)

[Obiter: The material put before the tribunal did not disclose a sufficient evidential basis for giving country or other guidance upon what, reliably, can be expected in terms of the reception in Iran for those returning otherwise than with a "regular" passport in relation to whom interest may be excited from the authorities into internet activity as might be revealed by an examination of blogging activity or a Facebook account. However, this determination is reported so that the evidence considered by the Upper Tribunal is available in the public domain.]


Determination and Reasons
1. The appellants in this case are citizens of Iran. In very broad terms they each claim they are refugees because of their "blogging" activity on the internet. The word "blogging" will be readily understood by a contemporary reader but for the avoidance of any possible misunderstanding we mean the practice of publishing on the internet written articles, reports, film clips, pictures, or links to the same, whether produced by the person responsible for the blog or another. They each appeal against decisions of the Secretary of State on the grounds that they are refugees or otherwise entitled to international protection.

Conclusions
448. We have considered carefully the material before us. Unusually for a case such as this there has been little challenge to the evidence. The experts gave honestly held opinions that were substantiated with reference to appropriate sources. Where they were challenged the challenge was nuanced rather than aggressive. Questions by the Secretary of State were intended to make us ask searchingly if the matters complained of established a real risk in this particular or any case rather than to suggest that the experts were inept or partisan. We do not think that they were either of these.

458. We now direct ourselves particularly to the questions asked as the list of issues. Under (1) we say that social and other internet-based media is used widely through Iran by a very high percentage of the population and many of the people who use it are involved in blogging, uploading photographs and videos, using Facebook and some of them do things that are at least perceived as criticisms of the Iranian state. The Iranian state is very aware of the power of the internet and is very determined but not particularly successful in restraining it. We are quite satisfied that the Iranian authorities in their various guises both regulate and police the internet. There is no other explanation for the large number of reported examples of internet sites being closed down or marked by the Cyber Police or similar organisations. We do not see any direct link between such activity by the state or quasi-state officials and persecution.

459. It is not clear to us how the state officials are able to intercept blogs. Partly it must be the result of being a false friend, which must be some response to intelligence-led activity or guessing, partly maybe the result of filtering, which we accept can be extremely sophisticated. We were, however, impressed by the suggestion that the most revealing method is just carelessness or response to questioning.

460. The capability to monitor outside Iran is not very different from the capability to monitor inside Iran. Essentially the internet as the name implies is associated with the World Wide Web. We accept that there is some evidence, which we find persuasive rather than compelling, that some websites operating outside the United Kingdom have been intercepted and this again is most likely to be the result of the Iranian authorities being concerned. There is clearly some level of interest within Iran in the comments of people living outside Iran. We do not find this particularly revealing. We accept the evidence that a party of ten is sufficient to create an offence. There is no particular reason why a person outside or inside Iran involved in blog activity doing things such as that done by AB should attract a great deal of attention but search engines and browsing could find them and start to build a profile. The Iranian authorities clearly have the capacity to restrict access to social internet-based media. They do it in a variety of ways but all of them can be overcome, and this is where we get the "cat and mouse struggle" indicated above. Overall it is very difficult to make any sensible findings about anything that converts a technical possibility of something being discovered into a real risk of it being discovered. Under (3) we find that our main concern is the pinch point of return. A person who is returning to Iran after a reasonably short period of time on an ordinary passport having left Iran illegally would almost certainly not attract any particular attention at all. However, very few people who come before the Tribunal are in such a category. At the very least people who would be before the Tribunal can expect to have had their ordinary leave to be in the United Kingdom to have lapsed and may well be travelling on a special passport. Nevertheless for the small number of people who would be returning on an ordinary passport having left lawfully we do not think that there would be any risk to them at all.

461. We do accept that a person who is interrogated would have enquiries made and the more active they had been the more likely the authorities would become interested and pursue their investigations. We have no hesitation in saying CD is in such a category. She is a woman who has in the minds of the authorities been a nuisance for a long time and this would come to light in enquiries on her return.

462. As to question (4) we are again in an area of uncertainty. A person who has been extremely discreet and careful may well not be linked. The difficulty is that it is easy to be indiscreet and very difficult to stand up to the interrogation of the kind that we think is very likely to happen in the event of return. The mere fact that a person blogged in the United Kingdom would not mean they would necessarily come to the attention of the authorities in Iran. They may well have been discreet and successful in being discreet but only if everything had worked for them.

463. In answer to question (5) we are again to some extent speculating but it is clear to us that the more active a person had been on the internet the more enquiries that were we to make the more likely of that person getting into trouble.

464. We do not find it at all relevant if a person had used the internet in an opportunistic way. We are aware of examples in some countries where there is clear evidence that the authorities are scornful of people who try to create a claim by being rude overseas. There is no evidence remotely similar to that in this case. The touchiness of the Iranian authorities does not seem to be in the least concerned with the motives of the person making a claim but if it is interested it makes the situation worse, not better because seeking asylum is being rude about the government of Iran and whilst that may not of itself be sufficient to lead to persecution it is a point in that direction.

465. It follows therefore that we allow all of these appeals.

In summary

466. It is very difficult to establish any kind of clear picture about the risks consequent on blogging activities in Iran. Very few people seem to be returned unwillingly and this makes it very difficult to predict with any degree of confidence what fate, if any, awaits them. Some monitoring of activities outside Iran is possible and it occurs. It is not possible to determine what circumstances, if any, enhance or dilute the risk although a high degree of activity is not necessary to attract persecution.

467. The mere fact of being in the United Kingdom for a prolonged period does not lead to persecution. However it may lead to scrutiny and there is clear evidence that some people are asked about their internet activity and particularly for their Facebook password. The act of returning someone creates a "pinch point" so that a person is brought into direct contact with the authorities in Iran who have both the time and inclination to interrogate them. We think it likely that they will be asked about their internet activity and likely if they have any internet activity for that to be exposed and if it is less than flattering of the government to lead to at the very least a real risk of persecution.

468. Social and other internet-based media is used widely through Iran by a very high percentage of the population and activities such as blogging may be perceived as criticisms of the state which is very aware of the power of the internet. The Iranian authorities in their various guises both regulate and police the internet, closing down or marking internet sites although this does not appear to be linked directly to persecution.

469. The capability to monitor outside Iran is not very different from the capability to monitor inside Iran. The Iranian authorities clearly have the capacity to restrict access to social internet-based media. Overall it is very difficult to make any sensible findings about anything that converts a technical possibility of something being discovered into a real risk of it being discovered.

470. The main concern is the pinch point of return. A person who was returning to Iran after a reasonably short period of time on an ordinary passport having left Iran illegally would almost certainly not attract any particular attention at all and for the small number of people who would be returning on an ordinary passport having left lawfully we do not think that there would be any risk to them at all.

471. However, as might more frequently be the case, where a person's leave to remain had lapsed and who might be travelling on a special passport, there would be enhanced interest. The more active they had been the more likely the authorities' interest could lead to persecution.

472. The mere fact that a person, if extremely discrete, blogged in the United Kingdom would not mean they would necessarily come to the attention of the authorities in Iran. However, if there was a lapse of discretion they could face hostile interrogation on return which might expose them to risk. The more active a person had been on the internet the greater the risk. It is not relevant if a person had used the internet in an opportunistic way. The authorities are not concerned with a person's motivation. However in cases in which they have taken an interest claiming asylum is viewed negatively. This may not of itself be sufficient to lead to persecution but it may enhance the risk.
http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/IAC/2015/257.html

G4S Prison Guards - Drugged up, Racist, Criminal Behaviour

[G4S who manage Brook House and Tinsley House IRC's are under fire again, this time much worse behaviour than at any time in the past.]

Guardian report: At least six members of staff have been dismissed at a privately run young offenders facility after a series of incidents of gross misconduct, including by some in leadership positions. An Ofsted report on the G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre, near Rugby, says some staff were on drugs while on duty, colluded with detainees and behaved "extremely inappropriately" with young people, causing distress and humiliation.

It says poor staff behaviour led to some young people being subjected to degrading treatment and racist comments. The inspectors reveal that one child who suffered a fracture, potentially as a result of being restrained, did not receive treatment for 15 hours because senior staff overruled clear clinical advice that he needed medical treatment. The disclosures are the second scandal to hit Rainsbrook. In 2004, 15-year old Gareth Myatt died at the centre after being restrained using techniques that were subsequently banned.

The inspectors said the discovery of contraband DVDs at the centre was likely to be the result of smuggling by staff and raised concerns that "some staff may have colluded with young people to elicit compliance by wholly inappropriate means. Senior managers were not able to reassure inspectors this was not the case."

It is understood that G4S's contract to run Rainsbrook was extended in March 2014 for a further 18 months, until November 2016. Rainsbrook is one of four privately run secure training centres, which hold children aged 12-17. There were 77 young people in Rainsbrook at the time of the inspection. Four years ago Ofsted rated the centre as outstanding.

The latest inspection report (Download pdf), published today Wednesday 20th may 2015, says management of behaviour at the centre has deteriorated over the past 12 months. The inspectors said they were concerned that data provided by the centre on the number of fights, assaults and injuries were inaccurate. Significantly, more young people than in other STCs reported feeling threatened or bullied or had experienced insulting remarks.

The report says full details of a number of serious incidents have not been included to protect young people's confidentiality. It says that in two out of eight cases of serious staff misconduct reviewed by inspectors, there was delay in taking appropriate action. In two cases, Rainsbrook staff including the director failed to follow clinical advice that the young people involved needed hospital assessment, and in one case they failed to get prompt treatment.

The G4S director of children's services, Paul Cook, said: "This is an extremely disappointing report for everyone connected with Rainsbrook and it's the first time in 16 years that the centre has been found by any inspecting body to be less than good or outstanding. We recognise that the incidents highlighted by inspectors were completely unacceptable and took swift action at the time, in discussion with the Youth Justice Board. The YJB has expressed confidence in our action plan to address all the concerns raised and I am keen for inspectors to revisit the centre at their earliest opportunity to check on our progress."

Lin Hinnigan, chief executive of the Youth Justice Board, said: "Earlier this year, Ofsted informed the YJB of serious concerns in performance at Rainsbrook STC. As the safety and wellbeing of young people in custody is of paramount importance, and the YJB sets high standards to ensure it is maintained, we immediately required G4S to address the issues swiftly and effectively. Rainsbrook has new leadership in place and an action plan to improve recruitment and training is being implemented. We are confident that Rainsbrook will return to the high levels of performance and care it previously delivered."

Alan Travis, Guardian, <> 20/05/2015


Illegal Migrants/Temporary Foreign Workers: Segmentation Of Labour
Labour markets are segmented, and the vulnerability at the bottom underpins the stability and benefit at the top. States use migration controls to maintain the docility of the bottom rung. ndustrialised economies have long been dependent on the labour that international migrants provide. Migrant workers are attractive to many employers precisely because they are vulnerable: the denial of their rights, status and citizenship prospects leaves them open to various types of exploitation (e.g. lower wages). Governments are complicit in this strategy, and as an increasing number of people migrate to Europe, North America, and other wealthy countries to escape poverty and exploitation, governments are devising ways to maintain these migrants' vulnerability.

Temporary foreign worker programmes deny migrants the opportunity to stay in the country and become citizens. In Canada, a country of 35 million, the number of temporary foreign workers has skyrocketed to about half a million, and now exceeds the number of permanent immigrants. These workers tend to be highly vulnerable, because many of them are only permitted to work for one particular employer and dismissal can result in deportation.
Read more: Harald Bauder, Open Democracy, 19/05/2015


Rooftop Protest at Dover IRC
A man climbed to the roof of an immigration detention centre on Friday and threatened to take his own life, in protest against his imminent deportation. The man, who the Guardian understands is called Dainus, resisted attempts to talk him down from the roof of the immigration removal centre in DoverÕs Western Heights for several hours. He was set to be deported to Lithuania on Friday and feared he would not receive medication for a pre-existing medical condition which would eventually prove fatal.

Other sources inside the detention centre, which was placed on lockdown for the duration of the incident, said Dainus had been denied the medical treatment he needed in recent days, leaving him ill and in pain. A Home Office spokesman confirmed the incident at the centre and later said the man was eventually brought down Òsafe and wellÓ. But the department made no comment on the claims the man had been denied medication.
Read more: Guardian 15/05/2015


Asylum Research Consultancy COI Update Volume 102
This document provides an update of Country Guidance case law and UKBA publications and developments in refugee producing countries between 5th May 2015 and 18th May 2015 - Volume 102  < >here . . .


UK Legal Migrants 'Too Scared Of Arrest To Seek Medical Treatment'
Migrants who have permission to be in the UK are avoiding seeking vital medical treatment for fear of being arrested, a charity has warned. Doctors of the World said the vast majority (83 per cent) of the patients it spoke to for its annual survey had no access to the NHS. Although more than half (57.5 per cent) of the people attending its clinic in Bethnal Green, east London, were foreign nationals who did not have permission to reside in the UK, the charity said that on average patients had already been living in the country for six-and-a-half years, illustrating that they are not so-called health tourists travelling to the UK for the purpose of free medical treatment. Administrative and legal barriers, lack of knowledge or understanding of the healthcare system and their rights, and language barriers were cited as reasons for not pursuing conventional healthcare routes.
Read more: Jennifer Cockrell, Indpendent, 18/05/2015


US: Trauma in Family Immigration Detention
Indefinite detention of asylum-seeking mothers and their children in the United States takes a severe psychological toll, Human Rights Watch said today. Mothers from 25 detained families, including 10 who had been locked up for 8 to 10 months, described to Human Rights Watch their family's trauma, depression, and suicidal thoughts. The Obama administration has until May 24, 2015, to propose a plan in response to a federal judge's preliminary ruling that family detention violates a binding settlement on the rights of migrant children. US authorities should immediately release migrant families detained after entering the United States to seek asylum, Human Rights Watch said.

"The Obama administration has now kept traumatized children and their mothers locked up for nearly a year," said Clara Long, US researcher at Human Rights Watch. "They have no idea when they will be released, and they are terrified to be deported back to places where they could be killed, raped, or otherwise harmed."
Read more: Human Rights Watch, 15/05/2015


AM (S 117B) Malawi [2015] UKUT 260 (IAC)

(No merit in the grounds advanced - decision promulgated on 22 September 2014 accordingly confirmed)

[Obiter: (1) The statutory duty to consider the matters set out in s 117B of the 2002 Act is satisfied if the Tribunal's decision shows that it has had regard to such parts of it as are relevant.

(2) An appellant can obtain no positive right to a grant of leave to remain from either s117B (2) or (3), whatever the degree of his fluency in English, or the strength of his financial resources.

(3) Parliament has now drawn a sharp distinction between any period of time during which a person has been in the UK "unlawfully", and any period of time during which that person's immigration status in the UK was merely "precarious".

(4) Those who at any given date held a precarious immigration status must have held at that date an otherwise lawful grant of leave to enter or to remain. A person's immigration status is "precarious" if their continued presence in the UK will be dependent upon their obtaining a further grant of leave.

(5) In some circumstances it may also be that even a person with indefinite leave to remain, or a person who has obtained citizenship, enjoys a status that is "precarious" either because that status is revocable by the Secretary of State as a result of their deception, or because of their criminal conduct. In such circumstances the person will be well aware that he has imperilled his status and cannot viably claim thereafter that his status is other than precarious.

(6) When the question posed by s117B(6) is the same question posed in relation to children by paragraph 276ADE(1)(iv) it must be posed and answered in the proper context of whether it was reasonable to expect the child to follow its parents to their country of origin; EV (Philippines). It is not however a question that needs to be posed and answered in relation to each child more than once.]
http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/IAC/2015/260.html


Last updated 21 May, 2015