One life in investigative journalism

April 19, 2014 by  
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open democracyA Q&A with Clare Sambrook, OurKingdom co-editor and co-founder of the ‘End Child Detention Now’ campaign. Interviewer: Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, writer-in-residence at Lacuna.What story or campaign are you most proud of?

One night, a few summers ago, friends of mine in York were disturbed by a loud banging on their door. There stood a Kurdish family — men, women and children — distraught. A young relative of theirs in Cumbria, where I live, had been detained by the immigration authorities. Her two-year-old son was left parentless for four days. My friends found them a lawyer — on the 31st phone call, and prompted letters appealing to the Home Office. I created a media campaign. After 26 days locked up at Yarl’s Wood detention centre, the family was released and, eventually, allowed to remain here. There had been no reason to detain them.

Out of their damaging ordeal came our (unfunded) End Child Detention Now campaign. We were amazingly successful at raising awareness about and combating the practice of locking up asylum-seeking families in conditions known to harm them.

Anthony Barnett at OurKingdom published our work relentlessly from the start. That relationship grew into the Shine A Light project, which continues to expose injustice and challenge official lying. Read more

UN special rapporteur criticises Britain’s ‘in-your-face’ sexist culture

April 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Indefinite detention, News

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Rashida Manjoo, UN special rapporteurRashida Manjoo also says Home Office refused to allow access to Yarl’s Wood immigration centre on fact-finding mission

 Rashida Manjoo, above, was told a call ‘from the highest Home Office levels’ had blocked her entry to the Bedford immigration centre. Photograph: UN/PA

The UK has an in-your-face “boys’ club sexist culture” which leads to certain perceptions about women and girls, a UN investigator into violence against women warned on Tuesday.

Special rapporteur Rashida Manjoo said there was “a more visible presence of sexist portrayals of women and girls” and a “marketisation of women’s and girls’ bodies” in the UK, which was more pervasive than elsewhere.

“Have I seen this level of sexist cultures in other countries? It hasn’t been so in-your-face,” she added. Read more

Refugee Action Calls On Immigration Minister To Honour Britain’s ‘Proud History Of Supporting Refugees’

April 12, 2014 by  
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Refugee ActionImmigration Minister James Brokenshire was today questioned by MPs in the House of Commons following Wednesday’s damning judgment from the High Court.

The judgment, following legal action taken by charity Refugee Action, held that the Home Secretary had acted unlawfully by freezing the level of financial support available for asylum seekers.

Following an urgent question from Sarah Teather MP, the Immigration Minster was asked to explain how the Home Office would take forward the Judge’s findings.

In response to the Minister’s comments this morning, Dave Garratt, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, said:

“We are disappointed that the Home Office is considering appealing what is a very clear and thorough judgment from the High Court. Every day the Home Office spends prevaricating is another day this vulnerable group of people are forced to live below the poverty line, sometimes on as little as £5.23 a day. Read more

Review ordered into questioning over-intrusive questioning of gay asylum seekers

April 12, 2014 by  
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TelegraphHome Secretary Theresa May has ordered a review of border officials’ handling of asylum claims made by gay and lesbian applicants following reports that some claimants had handed over video evidence to prove their sexuality.

MPs have previously raised concerns that the process for lesbian and gay applicants, many of whom are fleeing persecution in their home countries, relied too heavily on anecdotal evidence and “proving that they are gay”.

And a Home Office document leaked earlier this year revealed how one bisexual asylum seeker was asked a series of questions including: “Did you put your penis into x’s backside?” and “When x was penetrating you, did you have an erection?” Read more

Look out for QARN at Yearly Meeting Gathering 2014

March 28, 2014 by  
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qarn logo smLook out for us at BYM: we are planning:

A joint QARN session with QUNO: the session title is ‘Refugees: national and international developments and challenges’ Hear about the work of Quaker United Nations Office and Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network on human rights, refugees and asylum seekers. How can Quakers encourage the development of policies based on justice and compassion?

2 x  ’journey’ sessions on destitution and indefinite detention

1 x  evening ‘option’ session for  Friends to share their experiences. 
We will also be at the Groups Fair
More information to follow …

QARN Conference for Quakers at Woodbrooke 6-8 February 2015

March 28, 2014 by  
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qarn logo sm Working title: Detention, destitution and deportation - Peace, Truth and Equality
Gathering Quaker energy to speak truth to power
We are planning a conference for Quakers together with Woodbrooke.
More information will be available nearer the time:

Children entering detention under Immigration Act powers

March 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Detention of Children, News

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tinsley-houseThe figures maybe revised in subsequent quarterly immigration publications and should be seen as provisional.

February 2014 (ODS, 9.88KB) 

Children held solely under Immigration Act powers (1), by place of initial location
and age (2), entering in February 2014 (3)(4)(5)
Number of children
Initial location Under 5 yrs 5-11 yrs 12-16 yrs 17 yrs Total
Immigration Removal Centres
Brook House 0 0 0 1 1
Campsfield House 0 0 0 0 0
Colnbrook 0 0 0 0 0
Dover 0 0 0 0 0
Dungavel 0 0 0 0 0
Harmondsworth 0 0 0 0 0
Haslar 0 0 0 0 0
Morton Hall 0 0 0 0 0
Tinsley House (Family Unit) (6) 3 0 1 1 5
Tinsley House (Non Family Unit) 0 0 0 0 0
Yarl’s Wood 0 0 0 0 0
Short Term Holding Facilities (7)
Colnbrook Short Term 0 0 0 0 0
Larne House 0 0 0 0 0
Pennine House 0 0 0 0 0
Pre-Departure Accommodation (6)(8)
Cedars 1 0 0 0 1
Sub-total children in Cedars and Tinsley House (Family Unit) (6)(8) 4 0 1 1 6
Sub-total children in other IRC and STHF (7)(9) 0 0 0 1 1
Total   4 0 1 2 7
(1) Some children may be recorded more than once if, for example, the child has entered on more than one separate occasion in the
time period shown, such as a child who has left detention, but has subsequently been re-detained.
(2) Age at the start of their period of detention based on recorded date of birth. Sometimes an individual is detained as an adult and evidence
subsequently emerges that they are under 18 (referred to as “age disputed cases”). These are counted above once their date of birth shows
that they are a child.
(3) Figures may include: children stopped at the border with their families, individuals detained as adults and subsequently accepted as being under 18,
children of a Foreign National Offender under the Early Release Scheme and children being returned under the family returns process after advice
has been sought from the Independent Family Returns Panel.  Further details available in the User Guide to Home Office Immigration Statistics.–9 
(4) Figures exclude children recorded as enteringpolice cells, Prison Service establishments and short term holding rooms at ports and airports
(for less than 24 hours), those recorded as detained under both criminal and immigration powers and their dependants.
(5) Figures include dependants and may include children detained for less than 24 hours.
(6) The maximum length of time that families with children under 18 may be held in the family unit at Tinsley House or in pre-departure accommodation
is 72 hours (or 7 days with ministerial approval).
(7) Short Term Holding Facilities suitable for up to 7 days detention, excluding police cells and short term holding rooms at ports and airports
(for less than 24 hours).
(8) Pre-departure accommodation is used only for families being returned as part of the family returns process and after advice has been sought from
the Independent Family Returns Panel. Introduced in August 2011.
(9) IRC = Immigration Removal Centre. STHF = Short-term holding facility. Excludes Tinsley House Family Unit
Monthly children entering detention table
In 2010, the Coalition Programme for Government made a commitment to end the detentionof children
(i.e. persons aged under 18) for immigration purposes. Following a Home Office review, where “detention” was
defined as the holding of children with families in immigration removal centres such as Yarl’s Wood, on 1 March
2011, the Government introduced its new approach to returning families without permission to be in the UK (The
Family Returns Process). The final stage of this process includes the possibility of requiring families to stay in
pre-departure accommodation as a last resort if they fail to co-operate with other options to leave the UK.
For further information see the User Guide to Home Office Immigration Statistics (hyperlink above).
The Home Office have released National Statistics on adults and children entering detention
held solely under Immigration Act powers going back to Quarter 1 2009. They have been released
quarterly and are available in Immigration Statistics, on GOV.UK website 
The latest edition current to this release is Immigration Statistics: October – December 2013,
released on 27 February 2014. Statistics on people entering detention are shown in Tables dt_01 to dt_04_q.
All the statistics on detention are released quarterly alongside other statistics related to migration to
allow a more coherent picture of immigration statistics. They cover a wide range of data and avoid confusion
caused by frequent publications which may give conflicting messages. However, there has been a
recent increase in public and parliamentary interest in the numbers of children entering detention, held
solely under Immigration Act powers, as evidenced for example by a greater number of Parliamentary
Questions and Freedom of Information Act requests on this subject. In order to service this latest
interest and a desire for more frequent information it was decided to release monthly figures on children
entering detention, held solely under Immigration Act powers.
Notes on the table provided
Figures are likely to be revised in the subsequent Immigration Statistics release following individuals being
age assessed as either adults or children. Therefore they should be seen as provisional and to be
superseded by the quarterly figures on children entering detention which will continue to be released
in Immigration Statistics.

Asylum seekers in the UK: Let them work and let them eat

March 28, 2014 by  
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open democracyROGER ROBERTS AND RUTH LISTER 19 March 2014

A new Bill would remove most grounds of appeal for immigration decisions, turn landlords into immigration police and extend charges for NHS care. On Monday Peers challenged the government to exercise some humanity.
  • The Immigration Bill, having passed through the Commons, is being scrutinised in the House of Lords again (Clare Sambrook writes). On Monday 17 March the Liberal Democrat Roger Roberts (Lord Roberts of Llandudnoand Labour’s Peer Ruth Lister (Baroness Lister of Burtersett) were among those urging amendments that would give asylum seekers the right to work (if the Home Office took more than six months to decide upon their asylum claim), and end the policy of enforced destitution for failed asylum seekers. 
  • Lord Roberts of Llandudno Our progress as humanity has always been a continuous struggle to overcome discrimination and inequality. One can name Wilberforce, Lincoln, Pankhurst, Gandhi, Mandela and so many others who have contributed to ensuring that nobody suffers because of discrimination. All people are of equal value. The struggle continues. People are people wherever they are, and should be treated with respect and dignity.

However, there are some failed asylum seekers who cannot be returned home. . .about 3,000 such people living in the United Kingdom. They cannot work. They have no access to benefits and would, in many cases, be destitute were it not for support from government and voluntary agencies. This Section 4 support from the Government is entirely separate from normal asylum support for people whose claims are pending. Under Section 4, a person will receive £5 per day, or about £36 per week. Out of this, they must pay for food, clothing, toiletries and other essential living needs. We are glad that housing and utilities are provided separately. [Technicalities explained in the end note]. Read more

Why the Jimmy Mubenga trial matters. By ex-Chief Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham

March 28, 2014 by  
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JIMMYMUBENGA_4Open Democracy - DAVID RAMSBOTHAM 21 March 2014

On Thursday the Crown Prosecution Service announced that three former G4S guards, Stuart Tribelnig, Terry Hughes and Colin Kaler, would stand trial for the manslaughter of Jimmy Mubenga on a BA plane in October 2010. Long before Mubenga’s death, Lord Ramsbotham was among those who warned repeatedly that Home Office contractors used dangerous methods of restraint.

When, in 2012, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that it had decided not to bring any charges against the three G4S detainee custody officers, under whose restraint Jimmy Mubenga, who was being returned to Angola, died in an airliner at Heathrow, I described the decision as ‘perverse’.

I did so because, at the time, I was chairing a National Independent Inquiry into Enforced Removals, during which we had been told that the restraint techniques used on Jimmy Mubenga, had also been used by G4S staff in Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, resulting in the death of 15 year old Gareth Myatt in 2004.  Read more

UN: Syria asylum claims in rich nations more than double in 2013

March 22, 2014 by  
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UN Human Rightssm21 March 2014 – A new report issued today by the United Nations refugee agency found a sharp rise in asylum claims in 44 industrialized countries over the course of last year, driven primarily by the crisis in Syria.

According to “Asylum Trends 2013,” 612,700 people applied for asylum in North America, Europe, East Asia and the Pacific last year – the highest total for any year since 2001.

Afghanistan, which in the previous two years was the world’s principal country of origin for asylum-seekers, ranked third in terms of new claims behind Syria and Russia, a news release issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) pointed out.

Among the top 10 countries of origin, six are experiencing violence or conflict – Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan. Read more

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