The Children’s Commissioner for England has released a report on the treatment of unaccompanied children arriving in south-east England. ‘Landing in Dover’ raises a number of serious concerns and makes suggestions to ensure greater child protection.
The report reveals the existence of a so called ‘gentleman’s agreement’ operating at the south coast ports whereby an unaccompanied child who did not make an immediate asylum claim would be returned to France within 24 hours of arrival in the UK with no welfare or other assessment and no referral to social services.
The report also uncovers a ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ between the border forces of the UK and France. According to this agreement, unaccompanied children not claiming asylum can be immediately returned to France. Since 1995, potential victims of child trafficking will have simply been sent back to Calais, hardly acting to safeguard their welfare.
Migrants’ benefits stats: investigation launched after complaints
An investigation has been launched after complaints about a government study into migrants and benefits. The BBC reported on Friday that the head of the UK Statistics Authority has been asked to look into how the figures were compiled and presented.
Last week the government published figures on migrants claiming benefits. The report revealed that migrants are less likely to claim benefits, and place a less than proportionate burden on the welfare state and public services. Net contributors to the public purse. But you would never guess that from the Government’s announcement and much of the reporting.
For some analysis, try Jonathan Portes, or Barbara Ellen in the Guardian, Matt Cavanagh on Dog-whistling on migrants and benefits in the New Statesman, and Why Government’s immigration stats don’t add up in the Independent.
Europe: human rights crisis
Intolerance towards migrants and minorities in Europe is widespread. Fears about loss of culture, terrorism, crime, and competition for economic resources all help explain rising intolerance in Europe. European governments have responded in ways that are deeply corrosive of respect for universal rights. Rather than emphasizing that Europe’s history has been shaped by migration, pointing to the many contributions made by minorities and migrants and forcefully condemning racism and intolerance, they have played on these fears.
If these dangerous ideas—that some deserve fewer rights than others, and that the democratic will of the majority can choose to set aside rights for minorities—are left unchecked, the ideals of those who tore down the Berlin Wall will be betrayed, and the loss incalculable.
– - – - -
Commissioner Cecilia Malmström wrote an opinion article in The Times of Malta of 19 January: “Refugees: How Europe failed- European promises of solidarity with people in need were tested in 2011. It is worrying to note that Europe, collectively, did not pass the test. Now, all member states of the European Union must take responsibility and make sure that 2012 will be a better year for asylum matters.
- – - – -
Contrasting the sinking of the Costa Concordia (and the extensive media coverage) with the more common and numerous sinking of migrant boats. Without minimising the loss of lives on board the Costa Concordia, and the ongoing efforts by Italian rescuers who continue to put their lives in danger as they search the wreckage, the striking contrast in the media coverage is worth noting.
International: China, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq
The Chinese government’s use of illegal enforced disappearances to silence dissenters was just one of several ominous setbacks to human rights protections in 2011, Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2012, released today.
– - – - -
Nigeria: Scores dead in north as Islamist militants terrorise the country
Guardian, 21 January 2012
More than 170 people have died in the northern Nigerian city of Kano after a series of attacks by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. In a series of attacks on Friday, as residents were leaving mosques, five police buildings, two immigration offices and the local headquarters of the national intelligence services were targeted.
Nigeria: Frontex signs Working Arrangement
Frontex news release, 19 January 2011
Frontex and representatives of the Nigerian Immigration Service signed a working arrangement at Frontex’s Warsaw HQ on January 19.
– - – - -
More Afghans fled the country and sought asylum abroad in 2011 than in any other year since the start of the decade-long war, suggesting that many are looking for their own exit strategy as international troops prepare to withdraw.
– - – - -
Iranian authorities in 2011 carried out more than 600 executions and imprisoned more journalists and bloggers than any other country, according to the Human Rights Watch World Report 2012 Iran chapter.
– - – - -
Iraq cracked down harshly during 2011 on freedom of expression and assembly by intimidating, beating, and detaining activists, demonstrators, and journalists, according to the Human Rights Watch World Report 2012.
Iraq: People consider fleeing as violence increases
IRIN, UN news service, 19 January 2012
Suicide attacks, assassinations and bombings in Iraq have claimed the lives of at least 265 people and injured hundreds of others since 18 December, the date the USA withdrew all but 200 of its troops from the country. The wave of attacks, has alarmed many who fear the country could descend into chaos once more, with the government itself acknowledging it is not capable of ensuring security on its own.
The Government has finally gotten around to amending the Immigration Rules to make them a bit less human rightsy looking. This follows a number of pledges from David Cameron, Theresa May and Damian Green to do so. Paragraph 395C of the rules is to be deleted. It is, though, a futile exercise in window dressing. The rule has benefitted not a single person as far as I am aware and the UK’s human rights obligations are unaffected by the change.
Parliament: cost of running detention centre
Priti Patel (Witham, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost to the public purse of running the Morton Hall immigration removal centre was in the latest period in which figures are available.
Damian Green (Minister of State (Immigration), Home Office; Ashford, Conservative)
Morton Hall is in its first year of operation as an immigration removal centre since it was previously used as a female prison under the Ministry of Justice.
The estimated cost to the public purse in the financial year 2011-12 is the £10,680,000 which UK Border Agency will pay to the National Offender Management Service under the service level agreement for the running of Morton Hall immigration removal centre. The UK Border Agency will also pay £491,244 to the National Offender Management Service in 2011-12 for the start-up costs.
Research: UN seeks input for Report on Detention
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants has launched an open call for submissions to assist the drafting of the Rapporteur’s first report concerning immigration detention. Submissions can encompass materials already made public as well as newly written reports about detention concerns or good practices regarding alternatives to detention.
The deadline for submissions is 30 January 2012
Press release – 19 January 2012
Demonstrators’ call for Campsfield to be closed 10 years after Home Secretary announced centre’s closureCampaigners calling for the closure of Campsfield Immigration Removal Centre near Kidlington will demonstrate outside the main gates off Langford Lane at 12 noon on Saturday 28 January.
Spokesperson Bill MacKeith said:
‘In 2002, the Home Secretary announced that he would close Campsfield because it was ‘not fit for the 21st century’. He reversed that announcement after the 14 February 2002 fire at Yarl’s Wood created an unplanned reduction in detention places.
‘But Campsfield has not changed, it is no more fit for this century now than it was then.
‘Of course we argue that all the other immigration centres are unfit for the 21st century too!’
A Campaign benefit will take place on the evening of Saturday 10 March, when leading singer/songwriters Robb Johnson and Tracy Curtis will perform at the Folly Bridge Inn. Among raffle prizes on the night will be copies of books by Mark Haddon signed by the author. Tickets: 01865 427799.
Contact: Bill MacKeith
tel. 01865 558145 / 01993 703994
– - – - – – - – - -
No Accommodation National Conference 2012
Sheffield, 4 February
NACCOM is an informal network of agencies providing accommodation for migrants who have no recourse to public funds.
Please note, this conference is for activists only – those registering must either be
- already actively involved with a NACCOM project.
- interested in becoming involved with an existing project.
- interested in starting a new project.
More details here
– - – - – – - – - -
No Borders convergence
London, 13 Feb – 18 Feb
No Borders London, along with Goldsmiths students and other groups, are organising a week-long convergence aiming to share our knowledge andexperiences in relation to people’s freedom of movement and the restrictions on it, and to share skills, network, strategise and take action. It will create a temporary space for the production of counter-narratives and practices to the very idea of governing people’s movement through border controls.
More details here