Home Office officials were refusing to comment on Saturday evening on an apparently botched effort to deport a seriously ill man from Britain by private plane. A jet chartered by the government was forced to return to the UK with Nigerian Ifa Muaza and immigration officials still on board, after a 20-hour flight that saw the plane prevented from entering Nigerian airspace. It diverted to Malta, where an angry dispute broke out with the authorities over the plane’s right to use its airstrip. Read more
Church leaders are urging David Cameron to rethink government policy on Britain accepting Syrian refugees.
Forty-eight Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic and United Reformed Church leaders from across Great Britain have written an open letter to the Prime Minister acknowledging the significant role that Britain has played in providing funds for refugees in countries around Syria. However, the letter also speaks of the ‘moral responsibility’ to resettle a significant number of refugees in Britain. The letter criticises the Government’s initial commitment as falling a long way short of the contribution Britain should make given its size and resources. The leaders suggest that a proportionate figure well in excess of 1,000 would be far more appropriate and point out that following a major conflict most refugees are able and desire to return to their homes.
“We are proud of Britain’s long heritage of welcoming refugees,” said the Revd John Howard, Chair of the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury Methodist District, who coordinated the response. “We have an ethical duty to honour this tradition and play our part in caring for those displaced by this terrible conflict.”
The full text of the letter follows: Read more
The progress of another punitive Bill which strips away legal protection from migrants and will increase homelessness, ill health and destitution, seems for now to have tri-partisan support.
The Immigration Bill finished its passage through the House of Commons on 30 January. The third reading ought to have been a last chance for MPs to consider seriously the devastating impact of the removal of the right to appeal wrong immigration decisions, the enormous accretion of powers to the executive, without whose consent judges may not grant bail in certain circumstances, or consider new grounds of appeal; the transformation of residential landlords into immigration enforcers, the denial of all shelter to those without papers. And principled opposition to the Bill, and particularly to the removal of appeal rights, the exclusion of undocumented migrants from the rental market, the introduction of policing duties for landlords and the extension of charges for NHS care, has poured in to the Bill’s parliamentary scrutiny committee from professional associations, housing charities and experts.
However, the level of scrutiny given to these careful, considered and reasoned arguments was derisory, and the level of parliamentary opposition pathetic. A small group of MPs, with Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas and Sarah Teather at its core, fought doggedly but in vain to rouse their fellows. Instead, the third reading became a battle among the wings of the Tory party as to which could be the toughest and which of the Right’s whipping-boys would be the targets – the foreign criminals, the suspected terrorists or the Romanian and Bulgarian ‘scroungers’. Provisions which turn migrants into outlaws, without remedies against illegal decisions and excluded from fundamental rights of shelter and health care, were nodded through. Read more
JOHN GRAYSON 12 February 2014; Commercial outsourcers fail and fail again. Privatisation hurtles on. The Public Accounts Committee has been interrogating executives and civil servants about the degradation of asylum housing in England.
Stephen Small spends a lot of his time trying to convince Members of Parliament that his employer is nothing like as bad as they think. He works for G4S, the gigantic security company that holds £2 billion worth of UK government contracts spanning public health, welfare, education, immigration and the justice sector.
In November 2010, just days after G4S guards killed Jimmy Mubenga on a deportation flight by heavily restraining him, Small was summoned before the Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee. Disputing whistleblowers’ claims that G4S guards commonly used dangerous restraint techniques, Small claimed: Read more
Meeting: Thursday 27th, February 2014, 6.45pm
St. John’s Church, Greenhill, Weymouth DT4 7SS
The UK’s use of immigration detention is growing. At any one time, there are around 5,000 people in immigration detention across the UK. The newest detention centre, IRC The Verne, will be the second largest in the country. It will hold 580 immigration detainees, without time limit, for administrative purposes.
Join us to find out how you can help those detained.
• Ali McGinley, Director, Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees
• Andrew Wilson, Morton Hall Visitors Group
• Tamsin Alger, Casework Manager, Detention Action
• A former detainee will talk about his experiences of detention
Come along to find out more about the realities of indefinite immigration detention in the UK, what life will be like for those held at the Verne, and how you can help by getting involved in setting up a local visitors group to support them.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or for more information
A briefing session on the immigration bill and how it will affect children, covering restrictions on access to healthcare and housing and the narrowing of appeal rights.
- Tuesday 28 January 2014, 4.30pm
- Committee Room 3, House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW
- Lucy Jones – Doctors of the World
- Ronan Toal – Garden Court Chambers
- Ilona Pinter – The Children’s Society
Still Human Still Here: Third Reading of the Bill: Third Reading and Report of the Immigration Bill has been set for Thursday 30 January. There should be around 4 hours for debate, but it is likely that amendments linked to Bulgaria and Romania will dominate proceedings.
The National Audit Office issued a report on 10 January 2014 on the COMPASS contracts and the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers. It noted that “Although overall performances are now improving, two of the providers, G4S and Serco, are still failing to meet some of their key performance targets, notably relating to the standards of property and the time taken to acquire properties for asylum seekers.”
The Home Office is covertly targeting the most vulnerable asylum seekers – those considered mentally unfit, or victims of torture – for deportation as part of the government’s hardline stance on immigration, according to lawyers and charity workers.
Lawyers claim that asylum seekers are being forced to leave the UK without having a proper psychological or health assessment, both obligations under human rights legislation and UK immigration rules.
A spokesman for Asylum Link Merseyside said the government had started selecting the most vulnerable cases for removal. He said: “This is a concerted attempt to deport those with mental illness: it ties in with attempts to whittle down the backlog of such cases as quickly as possible. It’s horrible.”
Shamik Dutta of Bhatt Murphy solicitors in London said: “The Home Office has repeatedly been criticised by our courts for unlawfully detaining the victims of torture and those suffering from mental illness. It is therefore inevitable that some of those people go on to suffer the terror of unlawful removal.”
One case is that of a Pakistani man who, his caseworkers claim, was deliberately denied a full psychiatric assessment or access to a lawyer before he was deported and left to fend for himself on the streets of Karachi. Kashani Jamil, 34, was removed from the UK on 26 October last year, despite the fact that the British Red Cross, Refugee Action and a Merseyside mosque had all registered disquiet about his capacity to make informed decisions.
His caseworker, Durani Rapozo, a complex-needs social worker at Asylum Link Merseyside, said: “The Home Office moved Jamil from one detention to another to avoid him being seen by solicitors and doctors so that he did not have proper health assessments.”
Following the concerns, a specialist consultant was due to give him an urgent psychiatric assessment on 19 September last year. The day before, however, he was taken by the Home Office to a removal centre, where attempts to get him released were seemingly ignored. When Rapozo requested a rule 35, which means alleged torture victims are released and assessed by a doctor, Jamil was moved to another removal centre the day before a GP was scheduled to visit him.
“This should not happen in 21st-century Britain and makes me as a professional ashamed of our asylum system. Rushing to deport a vulnerable client with mental health needs who is a victim of torture is immoral and degrading, hence constitutes a breach of his human rights,” said Rapozo.
Jamil claims he was tortured by the Taliban in Pakistan and forced to drink kerosene, with the result that he can now drink only milk and eat biscuits and tuna – requirements Rapozo claims were ignored by officials.
In an email to the Observer, Jamil described how during the flight from the UK his belongings were lost and that on arrival in the southern Pakistani port city he was confused.
“I was under the effect of my heavy medicine but had got medicine for just next day,” he wrote. “I hadn’t got money even to buy water so I was very upset I asked money to people like a beggar. Because of my limited movement I couldn’t get any chance for treatment. After three months of hiding from the Taliban and due to my PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] I am like a zombie.
“Every night flashbacks are killing me, I always feel like I am in a detention centre and can’t eat or drink properly. I don’t know how with my deteriorated memory and hallucinations I can survive.”
In a letter to the home affairs select committee calling for an investigation into Jamil’s dilemma, Rapozo writes: “The Home office dumped Jamil in Karachi and they lost all his belongings and diary that had vital contact numbers for family/friends in Pakistani and he is struggling with hearing voices. The detention of Kashan worsened his health and letters attached shows how traumatised he was in detention.”
Jamil is currently in Ajman, UAE, after Rapozo put his sister in touch with him, but his temporary visa means he will have to return to Pakistan soon.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We take the health of those in our care seriously and aim to ensure anyone in detention is treated with dignity and care. All detainees have access to medical teams. An individual suffering from a serious mental illness will only be held in detention in exceptional circumstances. All cases are carefully considered on their individual facts.”
They added that rule 35 does not mean an applicant must automatically be released from detention and that “exceptional circumstances” may mean ongoing detention is appropriate.
26 January 2014: The Ministry of Justice is planning further cuts to legal aid. These include a ‘residence test’ which would prevent immigration detainees from accessing advice in very many situations. Under this test, the women in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre who recently reported alleged sexual abuse by guards would not be able to access legal aid to challenge their treatment. Read more here.
The Justice Alliance has organised a petition calling on the Government to halt their plans to cut legal aid. It already has over 10,300 signatures, and with your help can gather many more. Sign the petition here: http://chn.ge/1j6O2NF
Take Action – Immigration Bill
The Immigration Bill is a central plank of the Government’s bid to create a ‘hostile environment’ for undocumented migrants in the UK. It will be debated in the House of Commons on Thursday 30th January.
Please write to your MP drawing their attention to the grave impacts the Bill would have for immigration detainees. You can easily email your MP from this website: www.writetothem.com and we have created a model letter below, which you can copy and paste into your message. If you have time, please do adapt and personalise your message.
Kirklees and Swansea councillors back bid to support destitute asylum seekers 18 Jan 2014 11:00 Figures show there were 33 destitute asylum seekers and 300 supported by the Home Office in the borough last year
Congratulations Kirklees and Swansea: A bid to support destitute asylum seekers received the backing of councillors.
Figures show there were 33 destitute asylum seekers and 300 supported by the Home Office in the borough last year.
Kirklees councillors felt they could do more. Read more
30.11.2013:Private plane carrying ‘near to death’ asylum seeker forced back to UK
We are shocked and saddened by the high court decision to refuse Isa Muazu’s appeal to be released from an immigration detention centre (Report, 19 November). Isa is in a critical condition, having been on hunger strike in Harmondsworth detention centre for over 90 days. Despite compelling medical evidence and in the context of mounting political pressure from cross-party parliamentarians, the decision to continue Isa’s detention and pursue his deportation contradicts medical advice and shows no regard for the value of his life. We would argue that this goes well beyond a”‘hostile environment” and has far-reaching consequences for society as a whole. Read more