UKBA accused of breaking pledge to end child detention

October 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Detention of Children, News

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FOI request by Children’s Society shows 700 children detained at south-east ports in four-month period to August

As many as 2,000 children a year, including many unaccompanied by an adult, could be detained each year at the UK’s borders despite government promises to end child detention.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that in a four-month period between May and August 2011, almost 700 children were held at the UK’s south-east ports, despite a government pledge in May to end the immigration detention of children. Read more

Britain opts out of EU asylum directive

October 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Indefinite detention, News

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The UK has decided not to implement two asylum directives of the European Union as part of its moves to be tough on immigration and asylum seekers, says the Economic Times.
Signing up to the EU’s Reception Conditions Directive would have forced Britain to allow asylum seekers to work after six months, even if their claims had been refused and they were appealing against the decision.
Immigration Minister Damian Green has informed Parliament that the UK will not be opting into the EU asylum directives.
According to him, the directives would have ‘restricted the country’s ability to run an asylum system which is both fair and efficient’.
“This Government does not support a common asylum system in Europe. That is why we have not opted in to these directives and will not opt in to any proposal which would weaken our border,” Green said.

A Home Office release said that signing up to the directives would have sent out the “wrong message, encouraging those who do not need our protection to make unfounded asylum claims”.
“It would also have required all detention to be authorised by a judge, whether or not the detainee wanted to apply for bail. This would have placed a burden on our courts and been costly for the British taxpayer,” the Home Office said in a statement.

It said that opting in to the Procedures Directive “would have jeopardised ways of working which enable the UK to manage straightforward asylum claims effectively – in particular the Detained Fast Track which provides speedy but fair decisions for asylum seekers whose claims can be decided quickly.” Source:Economic Times/  Immigration Matters


On the anniversary of Mubenga’s death in deportation, we call on the government to end these needless abuses

October 15, 2011 by  
Filed under News, Reports

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Emma Ginn
Wednesday 12 October 2011

A year ago, Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained by G4S guards contracted by the British government during an attempt to deport him to Angola.

Medical Justice will join the family of Jimmy Mubenga and others at a vigil on Friday at noon outside the Crown Prosecution Service to mark a year since his death during a deportation attempt.

Independent doctors volunteering with Medical Justice regularly visit immigration detainees who have sustained injuries during attempts to deport them.

In 2008 we published our report, Outsourcing Abuse, on nearly 300 allegations of assault during deportation. Injuries included a punctured lung, a dislocated knee and a broken finger, 42 deportees complaining of having their breathing restricted and some suffering neck injuries from having their head pushed forward between their knees.

We warned that abuses we had seen would happen again. They did. In October 2010, Mubenga died in front of British Airways crew and passengers after being restrained by G4S guards contracted by the British government during an attempt to deport him to Angola. Witnesses say that Mubenga complained repeatedly that he could not breathe.

Police are still investigating the case and considering whether to charge the three guards involved in relation to Mubenga’s death. The guards were recently bailed until December.

Medical Justice and many others warned the UK Border Agency again but they failed to demonstrate any concrete changes that will prevent further abuse and death.

During the year since Mubenga died, abuse and death is indeed what we have seen.

Reliance Security Task Management has since won the government contract to escort people being deported, yet allegations of abuse and use of excessive force have continued. Medical Justice volunteer doctors continue to see deportation injuries.

Sadly, the context is that based on medical evidence from many hundreds of detainees that we have assisted, we have documented the disturbingly inadequate healthcare provision that detainees are subjected to in immigration removal centres.

This, combined with the perilous and frightening conditions of detention, and the fear of deportation, is a lethal cocktail, a disaster waiting to happen yet again. Lessons urgently need learning, especially following the deaths of three immigration detainees in one month this summer.

The culture of disbelief towards detainees is literally fatal. While being restrained, Mubenga said that he couldn’t breathe. UKBA habitually disbelieves asylum seekers, accusing them of fabricating accounts of persecution in their country, and declaring as fact that they are not in danger if deported to that country. Yet some detainees choose death rather than deportation and take their own lives – as one man reportedly did in Campsfield detention centre near Oxford in August. The Home Office has confirmed the police and prisons and probation ombudsman are investigating the death.

UKBA and its contractors have demonstrated contempt for deportees’ lives. The government is ultimately accountable and we question the efficacy of its ability to monitor and control UKBA and its contractors.

We repeat our warning yet again. All deaths in immigration detention are avoidable as detention is optional. No one held in immigration detention is accused of a crime – their imprisonment is not part of any criminal sentence and there is scant judicial oversight.

The damage caused by indefinite and often arbitrary immigration detention and the use of force during deportation is so widespread that the only solution is to end these practices before another tragedy happens.

ENAR press release: Does the EU border agency really take fundamental rights seriously?

October 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Celebrating ECHR, News

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ENAR has issued a press release concerning the recent European Parliament move on 13 September to agree to increase the powers of the EU’s border agency Frontex and to appoint one fundamental rights officer, among other improvements. While ENAR welcomes this measure towards more respect for human rights within Frontex, we are concerned that it will not seriously address the human rights breaches often committed within Frontex operations as a result of its mission to “monitor and control” Europe’s external borders. Read more: European Network Against Racism 

Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit

October 7, 2011 by  
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The men showed up in a small town in Australia’s outback early last year, offering top dollar for all available lodgings. Within days, their company, Serco, was flying in recruits from as far away as London, and busing them from trailers to work 12-hour shifts as guards in a remote camp where immigrants seeking asylum are indefinitely detained.

It was just a small part of a pattern on three continents where a handful of multinational security companies have been turning crackdowns on immigration into a growing global industry. Read more

Police investigate alleged assault on Nigerian mother on deportation flight

October 7, 2011 by  
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A police investigation has been launched into an alleged assault on a Nigerian asylum seeker in front of her three young children on a plane bound for Italy. The alleged incident occurred just two weeks after the launch of the government’s new family-friendly removal policy. The family are one of the first to be detained under the new arrangements. The woman, Faith, 39, said six of the eight escorts on the flight beat her on the arms and legs, twisted her hand and put hands around her neck. She said she was left spitting blood and had still not recovered. Her claims have raised concerns among human rights campaigners about the treatment of asylum seeker families during the revamped removals process.

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35 NGOs urge the Home Affairs Select Committee not to ignore the issue of unlawful detention

October 5, 2011 by  
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The Detention Forum, 3 October 2011: Today, 35 NGOs have written to the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC), urging him to ‘apply scrutiny to the issue of unlawful detention’ in their forthcoming inquiry into asylum and migration.  The letter was drafted by Bail for Immigration Detainees, Freedom from Torture and Detention Action after the idea was mooted at the Detention Forum quarterly meeting on 14th September.  Read more