British government, stop jailing tortured refugees, court decides


This 30 July 2017 video is called Turkish Soldiers Appear to be Torturing Syrian Refugees.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Government policy on tortured asylum seekers declared unlawful by High Court

Vulnerable individuals wrongly locked up while asylum claims are processed despite doctors submitting evidence of torture and ill-treatment to the Home Office, court rules

May Bulman, Social Affairs Correspondent

Tuesday 10 October 2017 11:41 BST

The High Court has declared the Government’s policy on torture victims is unlawful, after being told asylum seekers fleeing persecution were being wrongly detained.

In a move that could help prevent thousands of vulnerable people from being incarcerated in the UK’s notorious detention centres, the judge ruled individuals had been wrongly locked up during their asylum claims despite doctors submitting evidence of torture and ill-treatment to the Home Office.

The case was bought by seven survivors of torture who had been detained in the UK, including victims of sexual and physical abuse, trafficking, sexual exploitation, homophobic attacks and a child abused by loan sharks.

One of the claimants, a young man kidnapped and beaten with knives, sticks and a gun by the Taliban because he refused to be groomed into joining them, was told by the Home Office that his case did not meet the new definition of torture.

Apparently, Theresa May’s government‘s new definition of torture is: ‘It’s only torture if it is done by a government which is at odds with BP, Shell, or another British multinational corporation‘ [sarcasm off].

Another claimant, a Nepalese man who was beaten, cut and shot at by a terrorist group in his home country, in an ordeal lasting 15 days, was also told that his experiences do not meet the new definition of torture.

The ruling comes up after campaigners accused the Government of adopting an unreasonably narrow definition of torture in policy changes made last September, in which it sought to apply a United Nations political document drafted to prevent the perpetration of torture worldwide to a purely medical assessment.

The Home Office subsequently advised medical practitioners assessing individuals’ vulnerability to harm in detention that torture inflicted by non-state actors must not be considered torture in their examinations.

Judge Ouseley told the Home Office unambiguously that their new policy was “unlawful and their actions upon it too were unlawful”, saying the new policy had “no rational or evidence base”.

Medical Justice, a charity that sent volunteer doctors to assist two of the claimants in detention, said the Government dismissed warnings from them that the policy was likely to increase the risk of harm and fundamentally weaken protections for vulnerable detainees.

The Home Office admitted it unlawfully detained the seven detainee claimants and applied the policy wrongly in 57 per cent of 340 cases in its initial 10 weeks of implementation, describing it as a “bedding in” issue.

It comes a month after systemic failures were highlighted in BBC Panorama undercover footage of detainees appearing to be abused, including a guard throttling a detainee whilst threatening to kill him and a nurse colluding in falsifying the detainee’s medical records. Since the documentary was broadcasted, three detainees have died in immigration detention.

A damning report by senior civil servant Stephen Shaw into the welfare in detention of vulnerable people in 2016 meanwhile found that “many practices and processes associated with detention are in urgent need of reform”.

The Government publicly accepted the “broad thrust” of the report, only to quietly remove safeguards for victims of torture a few months later with the new policy.

Judge Ouseley was clear in his finding that the distinction between state and non-state torture when assessing particular vulnerability to harm in detention “has no rational or evidence base,” adding: “There is no evidence that such a distinction relates to the relevant vulnerability. The evidence rather is that it does not.”

He went further to say that the policy “would require medical practitioners to reach conclusions on political issues which they cannot rationally be asked to reach.”

The High Court judge also noted that, by irrationally excluding victims of torture by non-state actors, the policy “falls short of meeting the statutory purpose which it is required to meet,” meaning that the Home Office failed to carry out the express will of Parliament.

One of the claimants, who is unnamed but who was unlawfully detained and suffered mental health deterioration while held in detention, said after the hearing: “I welcome the decision and I am happy that the Judge accepted that the Home Office’s policy to narrow the definition of torture was unlawful.

“The Home Office said that detention will not affect me because I am not a victim of torture. It is difficult to believe that the Home Office could happily detain me knowing that I was tortured. It affected me greatly to be subjected to this unlawful policy. It has left a scar in my life that will never be healed.

“Although I welcome the decision, it is still upsetting that the Home Office, who should protect people like me, rejected me and put me in detention which reminded me of the ordeal I suffered in my country of origin.

“I hope that the decision will benefit other survivors of torture held in immigration detention and it will prevent the Home Office from implementing a policy that will hurt vulnerable individuals in the future.”

Medical Justice doctors accused the Home Office of “sheer contempt” for narrowing the definition of torture, and urged that its “systematic healthcare failings” in detention settings had led to heightened mistreatment of detainees.

“Narrowing the definition of torture by the Home Office demonstrates its sheer contempt for vulnerable detainees whose lives it is responsible for. The Home Office should have welcomed our evidence of the policy’s harm suffered by torture victims, not dismissed it,” a spokesperson said.

“There is ample justification for immediately releasing all detained adults at risk so they can access the care and support they need in the community. We believe that The Home Office’s denials of systemic healthcare failings for over a decade has enabled mistreatment of detainees and that its inability to stop abuse means that the only solution is to close immigration removal centres.”

Lewis Kett, one of the solicitors leading the challenge on behalf of the Duncan Lewis claimants, said: “Today’s judgment means that those making decisions to detain should now be able to focus on the real question: whether the individual is particularly vulnerable to harm in detention.

“This was supposed to be the intention of the Adults at Risk policy following the Shaw Report’s damning critique, but the Home Office got it spectacularly wrong. Our clients have now finally been vindicated on this point.”

See also here.

Advertisements

‘Stop deporting Afghan refugees to death’


This video from Germany says about itself:

31 May 2017

Clashes between police and students broke out at vocational school at Berliner Platz in Nuremberg, Wednesday after students blocked one of their fellow pupils, a 20-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, from being deported.

The school students surrounded the police car containing the student due for deportation to block his departure. The demonstration turned violent with police using tear gas and batons against the students, some were arrested.

A deportation of Afghan asylum seekers from Germany was planned on the same day, spurring protests around the country, but was cancelled following the detonation of a car bomb in Kabul killing some 80 people and injuring hundreds.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

‘Unclear why the Netherlands thinks Afghans can go back safely

Today, 15:58

“Ever since I’m back in Kabul, I’m homeless. I lived for a while under bridges, in old cars and garages. I traveled throughout Afghanistan to find relatives, but I did not find them. There are days and nights that I do not eat or drink. My life is very hard. Every day there are fights, explosions and killings.”

18-year-old Hamid told this to Amnesty International. Hamid – not his real name – fled to the Netherlands when he was 15, but was expelled when he was 18. Now he is living in the Afghan capital Kabul in need.

It is one of the stories that Amnesty noted of Afghans refouled by European countries. The human rights organization says that Norway, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands have jeopardized thousands of Afghans by sending them back to their country of origin.

In Europe, many tens of thousands of Afghan refugees reside. Their return was often refused by the Afghan government until last year. That is why the European Union and Afghanistan concluded a deal: until 2020, the country will receive 1.3 billion euros annually if Afghanistan will take back asylum seekers and economic migrants.

That while not all EU countries think it is safe in Afghanistan. The Netherlands is one of the few member states thinking that asylum seekers can be returned.

A view that is not entirely consistent with reality, says NOS correspondent Joeri Boom. In 2016 more than 11,000 civilians were injured or killed …

Boom: “Abductions, attacks, firefights, torture. It goes on day after day, even in the Afghan capital Kabul, which is considered safe by the Netherlands. In addition, many people are bombed by the Afghan Air Force, which is badly trained.”

And by the air forces of the USA and other NATO countries which are supposedly better trained.

Boom does not understand how the Netherlands has come to the conclusion that Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan are safe. “At least, no Dutch researchers have come to the country because it’s too dangerous, and the embassy staff do not move freely through Kabul, while that city should be safe according to the Netherlands. That’s a bit strange, I’d think.” …

The European countries mentioned in the Amnesty report, including the Netherlands, are members of NATO. The alliance started a war against the Taliban in 2001 and promised to build a democratic and safe state in Afghanistan.

Because of that promise, many Afghan youths got jobs with Western organizations while they knew they were in danger. But now there is still war in Afghanistan, and we can conclude that the Western project has failed, says Boom.

Thus, the question arises whether European countries are responsible for these Afghan youths who are at risk of being killed or detained by Taliban fighters. That’s an important issue, says Boom. “Actually, it’s a moral question.” ..

They wonder why the European countries are deporting them now. “These Afghans do not understand … “We have not started this war”, they say, “we want to build our lives: accept us.””

In September, the participation of Dutch soldiers in the NATO mission in Afghanistan was extended until 2018. There are about 100 Dutch soldiers in the country. Next year, the Netherlands will also send a surgical team at the request of the NATO alliance.

Amnesty International urges governments to adjust their policies immediately. According to the organization, it is widely reported in the media that it is too dangerous in Afghanistan. The returning of expelled asylum seekers to an unsafe country is an infringement of international law, Amnesty states.

The Dutch immigration authority IND was not accessible for comment.

Turkish government violating Syrian refugees’ rights


This video says about itself:

Stop shooting! Turkish border guards continue to shoot, beat and kill Syrian refugees – HRW

10 May 2016

Turkish border guards are continuing to shoot and abuse Syrian refugees who are crossing into the country, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). The rights group, citing the deaths of several asylum seekers, has called on Ankara to investigate. “Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Gerry Simpson.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Human rights violations in refugee camps in Turkey’

Today, 06:33

The situation for Syrian refugees in Turkish camps has not improved. According to researchers from the Free University [Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam in the Netherlands], human rights are still violated. The researchers wonder if returning refugees to Turkey [by the European Union] is legitimate. Amnesty International came to that conclusion before.

The researchers of the Vrije Universiteit investigated the circumstances in the camps, commissioned to do so by [refugee aid organisation] VluchtelingenWerk in the Netherlands. They spoke with lawyers representing the refugees.

According to the researchers, refugees often are not allowed to leave the camps, they are locked up in cells and hardly have any opportunities for contact with the outside world. Some camps are disguised detention centers, investigators say. …

Shocking

VluchtelingenWerk in The Netherlands responds alarmedly to the investigation. “I think it’s shocking to read that refugees in Turkey are barely getting access to asylum procedures and are locked into prisons“, said director Dorine Manson.

“Refugees are even forced to sign documents in a language they do not understand, declaring they ‘voluntarily’ want to return to their country of origin. It is therefore incomprehensible that the deal between the European Union and Turkey is depicted by the EU and its member states as a big success and is even seen as a blueprint for future deals with other countries.”

3 billion

In 2016, the European Union and Turkey concluded a treaty on the reception of mainly Syrian refugees. The agreement says that all refugees who enter Greece, and thus the EU, through Turkey will be returned.

… Turkey receives in return the 3 billion euros previously promised for the refugees’ reception sooner than planned.

Syrian refugee falsely accused of terrorism


As this video shows, hundreds of Syrian refugees in Arnhem city in the Netherlands have demonstrated against ISIS terrorism in Paris and in their homeland. They stated they wanted peace all over the world, not terrorism.

Their signs said things like: ‘I am Kurdish, I am against terrorism’ and pointed out that they fled Syria because of ISIS violence.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

Apology demanded as Yahyah Farroukh freed without charge

Saturday 23rd September 2017

THE employer of a Syrian refugee wrongfully arrested for “terrorism” demanded an apology from the police yesterday.

Suleman Sarwar, who manages the Aladdins chicken shop in Hounslow, said there had been “abuse, threats, anger, and hatred,” since Yahyah Farroukh was arrested at his place of work last Saturday over the Parsons Green Tube train bombing.

When Mr Farroukh’s mother heard of his arrest, she suffered a heart attack and reportedly remains in a critical condition in a hospital in Egypt after collapsing from shock.

Mr Farroukh, 21, was released without charge on Thursday.

Mr Sarwar is asking for a “fully unreserved apology” from the Metropolitan Police, saying: “The investigation brought Yahyah, his friends, family, place of employment and the wider Muslim community under scrutiny and indignity.

“Once again, the community has received backlash and animosity from the public.”

A spokesperson for anti-Islamophobia campaign group Mend said: “There is no justification for attacking the shop or the owner.

“Mr Farroukh’s release shows that there is no evidence against him to bring charges, so any reactions are unwarranted.”

Mend figures show that Islamophobic hate crimes have increased by around 17 per cent since last year.

In 2016, there were 1,800 such crimes, while there have been 1,260 so far this year.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said the bomb on the District line train, which failed to properly detonate but still injured 30 people, had been “packed with shrapnel.”

Eighteen-year-old Ahmed Hassan

an Iraqi orphan, whose parents had been killed in the Iraq war as far as I know

was charged yesterday with attempted murder and possessing explosives over the attack.

Mr Hassan, of Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, also faces a charge of using a chemical compound known as TATP to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.

He was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on October 13.

Police are continuing to question four people, including a 17-year-old boy arrested in Thornton Heath, south London.

A 48-year-old man arrested in Newport has been released without charge.

British government sends Afghan refugee to death illegally


This video says about itself:

Pilot refuses to return failed UK asylum seeker back to Afghanistan

31 August 2017

Samim Bigzad
– Received death threats from Taliban
– Applied for asylum in UK
– Has UK-based father who needs care
Detained without warning after asylum rejected

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

Kent asylum seeker returning to safety

Monday 18th September 2017

Samim Bigzad on his way home to Britain from Afghanistan

AN ASYLUM-SEEKER from Afghanistan who fears for his life was being flown back to Britain yesterday after the Home Office went against legal advice and deported him.

Samim Bigzad has been targeted by the Taliban, who threatened to behead him, because he has worked for a construction company with links to the Afghan government and the US military.

Campaigners from Kent Anti-Racism Network told the Star that before being deported last Tuesday he had been gagged to prevent a disturbance that would result in him being removed from the flight and, when he tried to call out, was punched in the head.

Until yesterday morning he was holed up in hotel rooms in Turkey and then the Afghan capital Kabul, where at one point a group of men with guns had demanded to know his whereabouts.

Legal experts and campaigners said Home Secretary Amber Rudd had defied the law by continuing with the extradition after ignoring two High Court orders preventing Mr Bigzad’s removal, with one judge branding it “prima facie contempt of court.”

Kent Anti-Racism Network’s Bridget Chapman said Ms Rudd had “applied to the court to have the previous two court orders overturned.”

Solicitor Jamie Bell told the Star that further attempts by the Home Office to prevent Mr Bigzad’s return were refused and he had started contempt of court proceedings against the Home Secretary.

As the Star went to press, following a third court order and a four-hour hearing, Mr Bigzad was in Istanbul waiting for a flight back to Britain.

The Home Office dragged its feet in responding to lawyers’ requests, Mr Bell said, but he now “eagerly and hopefully” awaited Mr Bigzad’s return and will continue representing him in his legal battle.

Ms Rudd appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, on which she said: “Deportation is an important part of managing our immigration process.”

Mr Marr attempted to draw her into commenting on being “in contempt of court,” and whether she would have to apologise.

She said she would abide by what courts asked her to do but refused to comment further, saying that the case was “ongoing.”

The Home Office also refused to comment on what it described as “ongoing legal proceedings.”

Foreign interference can ruin a nation, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai tells The Oslo Times.

African refugees abused in NATO’s ‘new’ Libya


This 12 April 2017 video is called Migrants being sold as ‘slaves’ in Libya, IOM reports.

Slavery in Libya was abolished in 1857; before, eg, the Dutch colonial empire abolished it. However, NATO’s 2011 ‘humanitarian’ war on Libya brought it back.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

‘Three-quarters of young African refugees abused and exploited’

Today, 01:19

Shocking figures about young people and children refugees going through Libya to Europe. About three-quarters of them are being abused, ill-treated and exploited. This is in a report published by Unicef ​​and the International Organization for Migration of the UN.

Children and young people who are fleeing to Europe are affected by various human rights violations, according to the report. Many single young people can only pay a boat trip after doing forced labour. They are regularly detained, beaten and abused sexually.

The report is based on talks with 22,000 migrants and refugees. Including 11,000 children and young people.

Vulnerable

Children and adolescents under the age of 25 especially get more violence and abuse. Young people with a low education level also appear to be more vulnerable to violence, as reported in the report. Especially the journey through Libya is dangerous because of the lawlessness and crime in the country.

Children and young people refugees from Central Africa are at the highest risk of exploitation and human trafficking. This is probably due to racism, say the researchers.