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                               News & Views Monday 24th November to Sunday 30th November 2014

Home Secretary 'Buried' Bad News Immigration Report
Theresa May has buried bad news about BritainÕs asylum system by delaying and manipulating the publication of independent inspection reports, the head of the GovernmentÕs immigration watchdog has warned MPs. In a damning letter to the Public Accounts Committee, seen by The Independent, John Vine reveals that the Home Secretary is currently sitting on five reports believed to be critical of the Government, one of which was completed five months ago. Mr Vine warns the MPs that the failure to publish his reports in a ÒtimelyÓ manner is Òreducing their impactÓ and has ÒcompromisedÓ the independence of his role.

His letter, which comes just months after he announced he was stepping down early, raises serious questions about the extent to which Ms MayÕs is attempting to control critical stories about immigration in the run up to the election. It will also fuel suspicions that the Tories are unwilling to allow the publication of critical reports, after Norman Baker, the former Home Office minister, said the Government had suppressed reports on drug laws that would have contradicted their stance.
Read more: Oliver Wright, Indpendent, 26/11/14


Detention Estate, 5,000 Beds Wanted?
James Brokenshire: It has been estimated that an estate of around 5,000 beds will support the removal of those with no right to remain in the UK. This figure is subject to reviews of demand, affordability and value for money


UKHO CIG - DPR North Korea - Opposition to the Regime

1.1 Basis of Claim

1.1.1 Fear of ill treatment amounting to persecution at the hands of the Democratic People's Republic North Korean authorities due to their actual or perceived opposition to the regime.

1.2 Summary of Issues
Is the person's account a credible one?

Are actual or perceived political opponents of the regime at risk of mistreatment or harm in North Korea?

Are those at risk able to seek effective protection?

Are those at risk able to internally relocate within North Korea?

Are those at risk able to avail themselves of the protection of another country of which they are citizens?

Published on Refworld, 26/11/14


CIG - Iran: Actors of Protection, Internal Relocation and Illegal Exit

Background information, including actors of protection, internal relocation and illegal exit.

Summary of Issues
Are those at risk able to seek effective protection?
Are those at risk able to internally relocate within Iran?
Are those who have left Iran illegally at risk on return?

This document provides guidance to Home Office decision makers on handling claims made by nationals/residents of - as well as country of origin information (COI) about - Iran. This includes whether claims are likely to justify the granting of asylum, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave and whether - in the event of a claim being refused - it is likely to be certifiable as 'clearly unfounded' under s94 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

Decision makers must consider claims on an individual basis, taking into account the case specific facts and all relevant evidence, including: the guidance contained with this document; the available COI; any applicable caselaw; and the Home Office casework guidance in relation to relevant policies. - Published on Refworld, <> 25/11/14


CIG - Iran: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Basis of Claim
1.1.1 Fear of persecution by the state and/or non-state actors because of the person's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, i.e. that the person is (or is perceived to be) a lesbian, a gay man, bisexual, transgender or intersex (hereafter referred to as 'LGBTI persons').

This document provides guidance to Home Office decision makers on handling claims made by nationals/residents of - as well as country of origin information (COI) about - Iran. This includes whether claims are likely to justify the granting of asylum, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave and whether - in the event of a claim being refused - it is likely to be certifiable as 'clearly unfounded' under s94 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

Decision makers must consider claims on an individual basis, taking into account the case specific facts and all relevant evidence, including: the guidance contained with this document; the available COI; any applicable caselaw; and the Home Office casework guidance in relation to relevant policies. / Published on Refworld, <>25/11/14


Serco Given Yarl's Wood IRC Contract Despite 'Vast Failings'
The Home Office has been condemned after it renewed a private security giant's contract to run a controversial women's immigration detention centre where staff have been accused of sexual misconduct. The decision to pay £70m to Serco to operate YarlÕs Wood in Bedfordshire over the next eight years was attacked by MPs, refugee groups and penal reformers.Yarl's Wood, Britain's largest detention centre for women facing deportation, has suffered a succession of damaging allegations since Serco began managing the facility in 2007.

As well as the sexual misconduct claims, they include accusations that women have been locked up for long spells and pregnant detainees held without justification. Two staff members were fired for engaging in sexual activity with a detainee, while a third was sacked for failing to act when the detainee reported the incident, it emerged last year.

Eleven months ago Serco, which also runs prisons, asylum seekers' accommodation and supervision schemes for offenders, agreed to repay about £68.5m after overcharging the Ministry of Justice for contracts to fit electronic tags.
Read more: Guardian, 24.11.14


Early Day Motion 544: Human Rights In Eritrea
That this House condemns the human rights abuses perpetuated by the government of Eritrea, including arbitrary arrest and detention and compulsory military service imposed on all able-bodied men, women and even children, which has led to an unprecedented exodus of Eritreans, now reaching 5,000 a month, fleeing their country as refugees to Europe on a precarious journey, including the recent tragedy at Lampedusa, which is costing hundred of lives; notes with concern the collusion between the government of Eritrea and the international mining companies from the UK, Canada and Australia, which is using the forced labour of Eritreans for work in extractive industries in conditions which have been described as abject slavery by Human Rights Watch and other campaigning non-governmental organisations; and calls on the government of Eritrea to honour the international human rights treaties to which it is a party and allow, without further prevarication and delay, a visit from the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Sponsors: Corbyn, Jeremy/ Teather, Sarah / Evans, Nigel / Lucas, Caroline / Robertson, Angus / Durkan, Mark - House of Commons: 24.11.2014


Immigration Act 2014: Marriage and Civil Partnership
The Minister for Security and Immigration (James Brokenshire): I am pleased to inform the House that, subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary secondary legislation, I plan to implement important new provisions under Part 4 of the Immigration Act 2014 to tackle sham marriages and civil partnerships on Monday 2 March 2015. Part 4 of the Act will give us a much stronger platform for effective, systematic action to disrupt and deter sham marriages and civil partnerships and prevent them gaining an immigration advantage.

It will extend the marriage and civil partnership notice period from 15 days to 28 days for all couples in England and Wales marrying following civil preliminaries or forming a civil partnership. Couples involving a non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) national who wish to marry in the Church of England or the Church in Wales will be required to complete civil preliminaries and give notice at a register office.

From 2 March 2015 I also plan to implement under Part 4 of the Act a new referral and investigation scheme for proposed marriages and civil partnerships across the UK involving a non-EEA national who could benefit in immigration terms. All proposed marriages and civil partnerships involving a non-EEA national with limited or no immigration status in the UK, or who does not provide specified evidence that they are exempt from the scheme, will be referred to the Home Office. Where we have reasonable grounds to suspect a sham, we will be able to extend the notice period in these referred cases to 70 days in order to investigate and take appropriate enforcement or casework action where we establish a sham. A couple will be unable to get married or enter into a civil partnership on the basis of that notice if they do not comply with an investigation under the scheme.
Read more: Hansard 24 Nov 2014 : Column 21WS


ARC Commentary UKHO Pakistan CIG Reports
This commentary identifies the main inconsistencies and omissions between the available COI and case law and the conclusions reached in the CIG reports issued by the UK Home Office on:

- Background information, including actors of protection, and internal relocation
- Fear of the Taliban and other militant groups
- Prison conditions
- Land Disputes
- Women
- Religious Freedom
The commentary is intended as a tool to assist legal practitioners and to help ensure that all relevant material is considered by decision-makers.
Source: Still Human, Still Here, Asylum Research Consultancy, <>26/11/14


EDM 565: Immigration Checks On Private Sector Tenants
That this House notes the introduction on 1 December 2014 of the pilot scheme of the requirement for private sector landlords to conduct immigration checks on their tenants; believes that this will lead to new fees from letting agents to all of Britain's nine million private tenants on moving to conduct these checks; considers that almost no undocumented migrants will be caught, as they will move into illegal tenancies, and in so doing will create a new market for illegal and exploitative landlords; further notes that this requirement will encourage discrimination in the lettings process; and further believes that it is morally objectionable to remove from any person access to shelter, just as it would be to remove access to water or to emergency medical care.

Sponsor: Corbyn, Jeremy - House of Commons: 26.11.2014


International Community has Duty to Protect Minorities
It is the international community's duty to draw lessons from the horrific violence and atrocious crimes facing minorities around the world to prevent them from being repeated, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said today at a forum on minority issues. Speaking to the 7th Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues on 'Preventing and Addressing Violence and Atrocity Crimes Targeted against Minorities,' Mr. Eliasson explained that simply saying 'never again' is not enough.

'We have all seen the unfolding tragedy in Iraq and Syria where Christians, Turkmens, Yezidis and other minorities have been targeted for the most brutal atrocities,' he said . Sadly, this is not an exception. Violence and atrocity crimes directed against minorities all over the world are well documented, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide,' Mr. Eliasson. The United Nations as a whole and all Member States must renew commitments and intensify efforts to promote and protect minority rights worldwide.
Read more: UN News Centre, 25/11/14


Early Day Motion 543: For Our Daughters Campaign
That this House notes that For Our Daughters, a national charity which campaigns against sexist violence and homicide and commemorates those who have died, reports that at least three to four women and girls die each week in the UK as a result of all forms of male violence; further notes that the annual death rate is worse than in the Northern Ireland conflict and exceeds annual troop losses in Iraq and Afghanistan; further notes that the gender-neutral and compartmentalised way in which government statistics have for years been collated and presented seriously obscures the extent to which females are subjected to sexist violence; believes that urgent action is needed to tackle homicide and life-threatening assaults against women and girls; therefore calls on the Government to develop the UK-wide strategy to end violence against women and girls so that it challenges the sexism and attitudes of contempt which foster it, to bolster cross-party and inter-departmental structures to progress this work, including requiring the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to report regularly to Parliament and to set clear time-limited targets to reduce and then end domestic and sexual homicides; and further calls on the Government to require all police, health and social services to record, monitor and publish gender-specific data about violent crime, in particular homicide and assaults in which there is potential threat to life, and designate domestic and sexual violence as a sixth National Policing Priority, thus ensuring that intelligence and resources can be shared.

Sponsors: Lucas, Caroline/ Qureshi, Yasmin / Jackson, Glenda / Weatherley, Mike / Corbyn, Jeremy / Edwards, Jonathan -
House of Commons: 24.11.2014


Detainees Under Escort: Inspection of Escort And Removal
Introduction: This report sets out the findings from the inspections of two escorts and removals (Charter Flights); the first to Tirana, Albania on 27 June 2014 (flight A) and the second, a joint operation with the French government, to Pristina in Kosovo and Tirana, Albania on 25 July 2014 (flight B). I accompanied inspectors on the second removal.

Both removals were generally well organised and calm. There had been progress in addressing some of the concerns we have identified in previous removal inspections. There was good de-escalation of situations in which detainees exhibited distress or reluctance to travel, and for the most part escort staff interacted sensitively with detainees. Use of restraint was generally more proportionate than we have seen in the past and training relevant to the confined spaces of an aircraft had begun to be rolled out.

However, these removals also reinforced some of our long-standing concerns. In particular, the practice of overbooking flights and placing some detainees on a reserve list without their knowledge, hence the detainee, having gone through the distress and anxiety of preparing to leave, found at the last minute that they were never likely to have travelled. This was not just unacceptable treatment of the detainees concerned but undoubtedly made the calm removal of these detainees in future more difficult for the staff involved. The problem was exacerbated on flight B because the return flight of an earlier removal had been delayed for technical reasons. This meant that some escort staff who had been scheduled to join flight B were unavailable and so the number of detainees who could be removed was reduced. There was an inexcusable delay in notifying the centres concerned. At Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal centre for instance, women and men who had been roused for departure at 2.30 am were not informed it had been cancelled until 4.20 am. There was little sense that any of the staff involved had any idea how much distress and anxiety it caused the detainees. Some of the replacement staff who covered on flight B were not familiar with escort duties but experienced supervisors generally made sure matters progressed safely.

Despite improvement, some security processes remained disproportionate and not sufficiently based on an individual risk assessment. Some staff were dressed inappropriately, and sometimes unnecessarily laid hands on detainees in a way that might have been provocative. Detainees could not use the toilet on the coach or aircraft without the door being propped ajar - to the obvious discomfort, in particular, of one woman who asked to use the toilet on a coach carrying male detainees.

Flight B stopped in Lille, France to pick up 10 detainees who were being removed from France and their escorts. The French removal appeared to be conducted on a similar basis to that from the UK. The two operations were kept largely separate but UK staff were unable to explain who would have ultimate authority in the event of an incident affecting the flight as a whole.

The whole removal process took a very long time. On flight B the first detainee boarded the coach at Harmondsworth IRC at 3.10 am and the last disembarked in Tirana at 1.40 pm UK time later that day. Not surprisingly most detainees on the flight slept as did some of the escorts who were supposed to be supervising them on flight A. The journeys were therefore generally calm, physical conditions were good and senior staff helped resolve detainees' concerns. Detainees who had self-harmed or who were at risk of doing so received good care although some established procedures were not followed. Interpretation services were not provided consistently.

Detainees who arrived in Tirana on flight B were taken to a newly established holding centre which had been established with support and funding from the UK government. The facility was of a reasonable standard but mainly focussed on crime prevention and security issues and provided little support for detainees who might be vulnerable. It was unclear how women or children would be dealt with in the facility. Introduction 6 Inspection of escorts and removals to Albania and Kosovo

Even on a generally short and well-organised flight with many detainees who wished to return home, these removals are a sad business. It was good that these removals provided further evidence that many of our recommendations from earlier inspections had been implemented or were in the process of being so, although more needed to be done to bring these improvements to a conclusion. However, the continued use of reserve lists and delays in notifying unavoidable cancellations is simply unacceptable. Flight B saw new partnerships with French and Albanian authorities being implemented and there were issues with both of these that should be resolved before problems occur.

Last updated 27 November, 2014