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This week’s editors

“Francesc”

Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Lost childhoods: age disputes in the UK asylum system

Children seeking asylum in the UK are regularly disbelieved about how old they are and can end up facing harmful, protracted disputes. The culture of disbelief so often criticised in the Home Office has now seeped into some local authorities.

The aid crisis for Syrian refugees

As the war is prolonged, families are exhausting their savings. Without a massive re-thinking of how aid is delivered and distributed, refugees in the region are going to look for ways to leave.

Lampedusa: Never again

The terrible migrant deaths off the Italian island have evoked horror across the continent. In a small camp in France, Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi talks to fellow countrymen and women who have survived: their hopes, dreams, and learning to feel unwelcome in Europe.

A crisis of harm in immigration detention

A young Guinean woman has become the sixth victim in three years of ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ in UK immigration detention, with the High Court ruling that detention explicitly caused the disintegration of her mental health.

One year on from the 'Go Home vans' flop: has the Home Office learned anything?

The UK government seems immune to criticism of its hostile approach to immigration, but the decision to return home for any migrant is not a simple one. Rather than obscuring evidence, the government must be transparent about what really constitutes a solution.

UK Detention Inquiry: a step in the right direction

A parliamentary inquiry, launched today, will hear from people directly affected by immigration detention. Will the mass incarceration of migrants finally be recognised as a political concern worthy of public scrutiny and debate, asks Eiri Ohtani.

'Don't even talk to them': Tunisia's forgotten refugees

When international organisations declare a crisis over and refugee camps are closed, what happens to those who remain? Oliver Tringham reports on a pilot community project to restore rights and create livelihoods for refugees forgotten in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Fleeing FGM: Bodies on the frontline

The UK’s commitment to protecting the rights of women and girls cannot be limited to international aid; it must recognise gender-based persecution and not expel any woman to a country where she risks her life, rights or freedom, says Lorna Gledhill. 

A call to action in memory of the woman I never knew

At least 20 people have died in immigration detention in the UK: how many more must die before the UK changes its detention policy? The public must shout louder, says Eiri Ohtani. 

Seeking safety in Algeria: Syrian refugee women’s resilience

For many Syrian women in Algeria, the gendered experience of violence and displacement has been compounded by the discrimination they now face as women refugees, says Latefa Guemar.

Knitted Together: Crafting a culture of welcome for refugee women

A group of women in the UK have created a piece of art to challenge the detention of refugee women. Craft can be a powerful and cross-cultural means to challenge segregation with solidarity, says Rachel Walker.

Due diligence for women's human rights: transgressing conventional lines

On international human rights day, Yakin Ertürk discusses the new vulnerabilities faced by women, including refugee womenand the new opportunities for remedy offered by the international human rights system.

Belonging in Northern Ireland: portraits of the individual migrant

A new art project is challenging Belfast’s reputation as the ‘race hate capital of the UK’, revealing an important gap between the presentation of migrants as a political category and their own experience and identities, says Sonia Banaszczyk.

Journeys of great uncertainty

Asylum seekers arriving in the UK are dispersed to make their own way to major cities in remote regions to be interviewed by the Home Office. Most arrive disorientated and harassed before a long interview that will determine their future. Acts of hospitality are lifelines in this hostile system.

Mazí Mas, “with us”

Women have played a seminal role in keeping food cultures all over the world alive. Nikandre Kopcke discusses her inspiration for setting up a pop-up restaurant which showcases the culinary talents and diverse cultural heritages of migrant women in London.

Law or compassion? The deportation of teenagers

In the past 5 years, over 500 young people who migrated as lone children have been removed after spending their formative years in the UK. We have a responsibility for their long term safety and flourishing, says Emily Bowerman.

Taking the mask off: Asylum seekers in Israel

‘In this land, rights are determined by being part of an ethnic tribe, not the human tribe’. In interview with Zina Smith, activist David Sheen argues that recent protests by African asylum seekers hold a mirror up to Israel.

Government in the dock: destitution and asylum in the UK

In a landmark legal case, Refugee Action is taking the British government to court next week to challenge policies which leave thousands of asylum seekers hungry and destitute.

Deported from Japan: until death do us part

February will see the final judgment in the case of Abubakar Awudu Suraj, a Ghanian national who died whilst being deported from Japan. An interview with his widow highlights States’ powers to regulate migrants' intimate relationships with their citizens.

Black, male, care leaver, seeking asylum: access to higher education in Britain

Despite their determination and aspiration, many young asylum seekers are being barred from higher education by multiple discriminations. The current inquiry on Race and Higher Education must recognise this fact.  

20 years of arbitrary detention in Britain

This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of Campsfield, the immigration removal centre which heralded a mass expansion of detention and opened the door for profit in immigration control in Britain. Yet outside the prison and within, there are voices of dissent, says Bill MacKeith.

Isa Muazu, the hunger striker and us, the monster

A man in detention in Britain is close to death having refused food and drink for over 80 days. The government’s response has been to issue an ‘end of life plan’. His death could be a death sentence for us all.

Who are the ‘illegals’?

The UK Immigration Bill has no clear targets: it gives ordinary individuals the power to decide. Will we use an accurate legal definition, or act on what we read in the papers and hear from the Home Secretary herself? Asks Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi

No accident: why have 19,142 died at Europe’s frontiers?

The recent deaths off the coast of Lampedusa are a gruesome consequence of EU border and immigration control policies that follow the logic of security and restrictionism over human rights and international maritime law, says Nina Perkowski.

Whose “Mission”? Celebrities, voice and refugees

A new Italian reality TV show is sending celebrities to refugee camps, but for refugees to be able to speak for themselves and convey the message they want to convey, the cameras must be given to refugees themselves, says Nath Gbikpi.

The future of Scottish immigration

The depiction of Scotland as being welcoming to newcomers is an important aspect of Scottish national identity, but what are the prospects for immigration reform in the case of Scottish independence? Joanna Wiseman reports from the Edinburgh Festival of Politics. 

Justice in the UK: back to the 1930s?

Proposals to cut legal aid and judicial review in Britain will make it harder for people fighting for their rights to challenge the government's cuts agenda, and will remove one of the few lifelines to justice for asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented workers, says Kate Blagojevic. 

US immigration bill: silence on the deportation of children

Unaccompanied minors best illustrate the need and mechanisms for true comprehensive immigration reform yet the proposed bill does little for this highly vulnerable, fastest growing subset of migrants to the US, says Elizabeth Kennedy.

Women of Senegal: agents of peace

The physical and moral suffering undergone by the valiant people of Casamance is incalculable and, as usual, it is the women and children who pay the highest price. From their position as victims, women have decided to become committed agents of peace, says Ndeye Marie Thiam.

UK immigration control: children in extreme distress

Alarming numbers of parents are being separated from their children indefinitely in the UK for the purposes of immigration control. It is difficult to imagine any other situation where children could have such scant attention paid to their welfare, says Sarah Campbell. 

Is there an alternative to locking up migrants in the UK?

If detention is a tool of war on irregular migration, then the damage on both sides is severe. But this war is not inevitable. There is a significant area of potential common interest in a fair system that works primarily by consent

Anti-deportation campaigns: ‘What kind of country do you want this to be?’

A new musical, Glasgow Girls, showcases the power of anti-deportation campaigns as both an expression of human solidarity and an essential device for holding states to account. But their key role, argues Jennifer Allsopp, is to build support for an asylum system that upholds the rights of all.

Double standards: dispersal and pregnant asylum seekers in Britain

The NHS prides itself on its high standard of maternity care, yet by transporting pregnant asylum seekers between cities, removing them from partners, support networks and trusted midwives, the UKBA is sending the message that these principles don’t apply to asylum seeking women

Detention and human rights in the UK: maintaining the presumption of liberty

Rigorous reviews by a genuinely independent panel could be a significant step away from the routine long-term detention of migrants in Britain, but only a time limit provides a sure safeguard, says Kate Blagojevic

Refugee studies: the challenge of translating hope into reality

It is one thing for rigorous research to influence policy, and another for that policy to then go an and achieve its intended positive outcome. James Souter argues that Refugee and Forced Migration studies has an important, yet ultimately subsidiary role in the task of improving the lives of refugees and forced migrants

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