Kate Blagojevic https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/12192/all cached version 08/02/2019 17:47:25 en When the penalty for overstaying your visa is death https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/kate-blagojevic/when-penalty-for-overstaying-your-visa-is-death <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>UK Parliamentarians plead for the life of Nigerian asylum-seeker Isa Muazu.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DSCF0112.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DSCF0112.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Lord Roberts at Harmondsworth (Simon Childs www.vice.com)</span></span></span></p><p>This morning Lord Roberts of Llandudno met with Home Secretary Theresa May to ask her to show mercy for Isa Muazu, a Nigerian asylum seeker who has been on hunger strike for more than 90 days.</p> <p>Roberts visited Muazu at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow yesterday. (There is an account of the meeting <a href="http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/isa-muazu-would-rather-die-than-be-deported">here</a>). The Liberal Democrat Peer was deeply shocked by Isa’s condition. "He looked as though he was about to die," Roberts said. “We've abolished capital punishment and slavery. But we're allowing a person to die for what is a very minor offence – for overstaying a visitors' pass by a little while.”</p> <p>Theresa May insists that healthcare is available in Nigeria. Instead of clemency, the Home Office has booked Isa on what we believe to be a special charter flight to Nigeria early on Friday morning. </p> <p>Independent doctors have assessed him as unfit to be in detention since October and unfit to fly. Isa, 45 years old, weighs just 50 kilos. He cannot see or stand. Slowly his organs are shutting down. He may die on the flight.<br /> <br /> Lord Roberts, 40 cross party MPs and Peers and more than 100 award-winning actors, writers, NGOs and community organisations have written to Theresa May asking her to show clemency and to release Isa in the UK so that he can get proper medical treatment and live. Liberty, Amnesty International, Dame Harriet Walter, Juliet Stevenson and Stella Duffy are among the signatories. Their letter, published in <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/26/release-isa-muazu-save-life">today's Guardian</a>, said:</p><blockquote><p>“Many people who end up in detention centres feel anxious, frightened and frustrated. Like Isa, many feel that their asylum claims have not been fairly heard and that they are losing their freedom only for the 'crime' of seeking safety in the UK. We are extremely concerned that Isa may die as a result of a hardened stance being taken towards migrants in the UK. We urgently call for clemency in this case. We ask that the Home Secretary reconsider Isa's case and act quickly to release him in the UK, so that another death in immigration detention can be avoided.”</p></blockquote><p> Speaking on this morning's BBC Today Programme, the EU employment commissioner Laszlo Andor warned that the UK <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/27/migration-uk-nasty-country-eu-commissioner">risks being seen as a &nbsp;‘nasty country</a>’ because of its policies towards migrants. That is exactly what Theresa May has been aiming for through the introduction of a raft of measures to turn the UK into a hostile environment. We've seen the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/les-back-and-shamser-sinha/go-home-vans-defeated-but">racist vans</a>, spurious attacks on <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/july-court-rejects-uk-gov-attempt-to-send-transplant-patient-to-her-death-">so-called 'health tourists'</a>, and proposals for doctors and landlords to become agents of immigration control.</p><p> Over the past two years, the High Courts declared that detention for four people with severe mental health issues was inhumane and degrading treatment. This year the Home Office changed its rules so that releasing hunger strikers from immigration detention required Ministerial approval. Such approval has not been forthcoming. <br /> <br /> This past July an English Inquest jury found that Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan man, had been <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/jul/09/jimmy-mubenga-unlawfully-killed-inquest-jury">"unlawfully killed"</a> on a plane at Heathrow during a forcible deportation attempt in October 2010. Another killing is underway, this time in slow motion. </p> <p>Today Lord Roberts and Julian Huppert MP created an online petition urging the Home Secretary to exercise clemency "so that another death or serious harm in immigration detention or during the removal process may be avoided." You can sign the petition <a href="http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57612">here</a>. Please consider writing to your MP to call on Theresa May asking for clemency for Isa Muazu.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/july-court-rejects-uk-gov-attempt-to-send-transplant-patient-to-her-death">JULY: Court rejects UK gov attempt to send transplant patient to her death — AUGUST: &#039;Free at last&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/natasha-tsangarides/pregnant-detained-and-subjected-to-force-in-uk">Pregnant, detained, and subjected to force in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/who-are-%E2%80%98illegals%E2%80%99">Who are the ‘illegals’?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/jimmy-mubenga-and-shame-of-british-airways">Jimmy Mubenga and the shame of British Airways</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/britain-has-become-open-prison-to-migrants">Britain has become an open prison to migrants</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/eiri-ohtani/isa-muazu-hunger-striker-and-us-monster">Isa Muazu, the hunger striker and us, the monster</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Shinealight uk ShineALight Shine A Light Kate Blagojevic Wed, 27 Nov 2013 19:55:29 +0000 Kate Blagojevic 77391 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Justice in the UK: back to the 1930s? https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/kate-blagojevic/justice-in-uk-back-to-1930s <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/birmingham-six-35-years-on-from-injustice-1826180.html">Birmingham six</a>, The <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7795117/The-Guildford-Four-in-the-name-of-justice.html">Guildford Four</a>, the families of <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jerome-phelps/lonely-death-of-jimmy-mubenga">Jimmy Mubenga</a> and <a href="http://www.justice4jean.org/">Jean Charles de Menezes</a> and <a href="http://www.stephenlawrence.org.uk/about-us/stephens-story/">Stephen Lawrence</a> and <a href="http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/hundreds-attend-legal-aid-protest-rally">many more</a> have fought for justice in Britain after wrong doing by the police, local or national government. The British public has keenly followed attempts to address these injustices, which have ranged from unlawful killing to wrongful imprisonment. All of these cases depended on the availability of well-qualified, dedicated lawyers who were able to access government legal aid funds to gather evidence to right the wrongs committed by public officials or contractors against individuals resident in the UK.</p> <p>Yet, given the sweeping reforms that it wants to implement with little parliamentary debate or scrutiny this autumn, the government seems convinced that the public neither loves, nor needs, legal aid ‘now it’s 64’. Thousands of people - citizens and migrants alike - could potentially suffer from miscarriages of justice in our prisons, immigration detention centres, youth offenders institutions, psychiatric units and on our streets at the hands of government agencies, from the Metropolitan Police’s <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/nov/23/jean-charles-de-menezes-settlement">anti-terrorism branch</a> to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13498461">Hillingdon Council</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Legal aid: a 64 year old tradition </strong><strong></strong></p> <p>Both legal aid and judicial review are currently under threat of the axe. Legal aid is the system that allows lawyers to work for people who cannot afford to pay their legal fees. It goes hand-in-hand with judicial review, the process by which ordinary people can take the government or the local government to court over a mistake or a bad decision. Together they play a crucial role in allowing ordinary people to fight for the rights to which they are entitled.</p> <p>Legal aid has historically been there to protect everyone in the UK by ensuring that each individual has access to justice. The modern system was created by the <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/legal-week/analysis/2097512/fourth-pillar-gravy-train-legal-aid-49">Legal Advice and Assistance Act 1949</a> as part of a series of ‘sweeping reforms’ to the welfare state introduced by Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour government. It meant that those who could not afford their legal fees no longer had to simply gamble on the <a href="http://www.savelegalaid.co.uk/history.html">good will</a> of lawyers for legal advice. Yet as Matt Foot, Criminal defence solicitor at Birnberg Peirce and Partners, has <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jul/02/legal-aid-cuts-widespread-miscarriages-justice">said</a> in relation to the proposed reforms, ‘this government is taking us back to the 1930s.’</p> <p>According to changes outlined in the reforms, in judicial review cases, legal aid will <a href="http://www.publiclawproject.org.uk/documents/Legal_Aid_Briefing_PLP.pdf">only be paid</a> for the work carried out after the High Court grants permission for the case to proceed to a full hearing. This means that solicitors (and barristers) will have to decide whether to carry out the work for a homeless family, or a person facing removal from the UK, or a disabled client refused community care services, at the risk of not being paid for the substantial work that goes into preparing their case before such permission is granted. </p> <p>Cases that settle before permission for a full hearing is granted will also not be eligible for legal aid. This means that perversely, even where the government agency backs down before the case comes to court, the lawyers, who have successfully defended their clients’ rights, will not be paid. This often happens when challenging a local government decision not to provide a service that is required, such as emergency housing, special education, adult and social care. As housing charity Shelter’s Ellie Robinson has <a href="http://blog.shelter.org.uk/page/3/">explained</a>, ‘Shelter advisors ask council officers to reconsider but if the local authority sticks to their guns, Shelter issues a Judicial Review. At which point either the local authority concede and accommodate the family, or the Court issues an emergency injunction forcing them to do so. The family now have a roof over their heads and are safe for the night so the Judicial Review is withdrawn.’ These cases will simply not be possible under the proposed reforms.</p> <p><strong>In defence of criminal defence</strong><strong></strong></p> <p>Another highly damaging aspect of the reforms is the introduction of competitive tendering for criminal defence work which will see contracts going to the cheapest bidder. There will be no safeguards to ensure that those accused of a crime are given a good quality service, and some fear that the resulting change in the way in which lawyers are paid could give them a financial incentive to get their client to plead guilty and to finish the case as early as possible. </p> <p>Moreover, it is likely that outside companies who are currently used in government tendering processes - <a href="http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/stobart-bid-pct-work">such as Eddie Stobart</a> (yes, the lorry company), ‘TescoLaw’, or G4S - will get the government legal aid contracts rather than specialised human rights and immigration solicitors.&nbsp;There is a distorted logic to this kind of joined-up working. G4S is a private security company that runs the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2013/jul/01/grayling-legal-aid-climbdown-client-choice">prisons</a> and <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/17/g4s-investigated-over-prisoner-collapse">police custody roles</a> in which many criminal legal aid clients will likely be held before and after they are advised to plead guilty. </p> <p><span>The cumulative effect of these proposals is that they will effectively remove the government from accountability to ordinary people who are fighting for their rights, services and justice. But they will also enable the government’s vicious cuts agenda to be implemented with fewer challenges. For example, many people who are facing eviction because they haven’t been able to keep up with rent after the introduction of the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/bedroom-tax">bedroom tax</a> or <a href="http://www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/benefit-cap/">benefits cap</a>, which has made them poorer. They will struggle to be able to find lawyers who will challenge local authority decisions to make them homeless.</span></p> <p><strong>The residence test </strong></p> <p>In addition to the targeting of individuals in the criminal justice system and those who are dependent on social housing and social care, one of the most divisive aspects of the proposed legal aid reforms is the creation of a ‘residence test’ which means that you will not be able to benefit from legal aid unless you live lawfully in the UK and have accrued at least 12 months of continuous ‘lawful residence’. This provision will exclude people who may have been in the country for several years, possibly with British children, who are waiting for an application for leave to remain to be decided by the Home Office. It will also exclude those who have been granted refugee status less than a year ago.&nbsp;Having one rule for migrants and one for everyone else <a href="http://www.savelegalaid.co.uk/thefuture">undermines</a> the principle of equality before the law. </p> <p>Thousands of other people who will fail the new ‘residence test’ include British babies under a year old, and also people like William who tells his story in <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/timelimit">this video</a>. William is in his 50s. He fled Liberia in the 1990s after his torture and the rape and murder of his fiancée. He has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and bipolar disorder. Thanks to legal aid, he has sued the government for <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kate-blagojevic/detention-and-human-rights-in-uk-maintaining-presumption-of-liberty">unlawful detention</a> and won compensation. He has fought for humanitarian protection in the UK and won. The proposed changes will mean that people like William (and also the family of Jean Charles de Menezes and Jimmy Mubenga) will no longer be able to fight for justice in the UK.</p> <p>The residence test will also affect survivors of trafficking and domestic violence, like <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/10/legal-aid-cuts-deny-women">Fatima</a> who after marrying her British husband in Pakistan came to the UK to&nbsp;join him. She found herself exploited and controlled by her mother-in-law, who forced her to cook and clean for the whole family, banned her from working outside the home, and would not let her out alone. She finally left when she discovered that her husband was having an affair and after her mother-in-law had tried to physically attack her. In response, her husband had her arrested by falsely claiming that she&nbsp;had threatened to kill him and informed the UK Border Agency that their marriage had broken down in an attempt to invalidate her spouse visa. ‘Without <a title="More from guardian.co.uk on Legal aid" href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/legal-aid">legal aid</a>, I don't know what I&nbsp;could have done’, says the former teacher a year later. Fatima turned to the charity <a href="http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/">Southall Black Sisters</a>, whose legal aid lawyers proved that she had been a victim of domestic violence and won her the right to remain in the UK. <strong></strong></p> <p>Many campaigners and NGOs have been wary about campaigning for the rights of migrants to access legal aid and have simply left them out of their lobbying efforts. They are undoubtedly worried about being sullied with the vitriol and ‘unwinnability’ factor that comes with standing up for ‘illegal immigrants’. A clear example of this was the wording of a very <a href="http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/48628">successful e-petition</a>: ‘The MOJ should not proceed with their plans to reduce access to justice by depriving <em>citizens</em> of legal aid or the right to representation by the Solicitor of their choice.’ With the residence test clearly attacking non-citizens access to legal aid, this was a contentious move. Whilst the petition was no doubt written with some urgency, and has certainly been successful in encouraging a parliamentary debate to happen, it is now crucial that migrants are not left behind by the campaign to save legal aid. The rights of migrants are so readily trampled on, and legal aid is one of the few life lines to justice for failed asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented workers.</p> <p>This is why with help from Detention Action, William has just started his first petition to fight for everyone’s right to legal aid including migrants and failed asylum seekers who are not lawfully resident. Because <a href="http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/chris-grayling-secretary-of-state-for-justice-don-t-destroy-uk-justice-drop-your-legal-aid-proposals">as William says</a>, ‘without legal aid, we have nothing, without legal aid, we are despairing at being detained with no time limit. And without legal aid more people will die either in detention or after being deported back to our torturers.’</p> <p><strong>An Ideological and populist agenda</strong></p> <p>When examining these proposals and their devastating impact, you have to conclude that upholding justice for anyone (citizens or non-citizens) is not a concern of the Secretary of State for Justice. But his concern is not cost either. The government has as-yet been unable to suggest a figure that introducing the residence test will save the taxpayer. Furthermore, new <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Nick-Armstrong-Costing-the-civil-legal-aid-proposals-130624.pdf">evidence</a> from Matrix Chambers show that the government’s estimated savings of £6 million are completely dwarfed by the knock-on costs of £30 million stemming from an increase in self-representation, an increase in court costs and implications for prison safety. Matrix Chambers has also predicted that removing legal aid from almost everyone in immigration detention will cost £10.8 million alone. This is because people are likely to be held for longer if they don’t have a solicitor working on their case, applying for bail or challenging detention. As is the case for prisoners and those dependent on social care, the attack on migrants’ rights by the government is simply ideological and populist.</p> <p>The British public has already faced substantial legal aid cuts targeting families, education, employment and immigration. But in the last round of cuts, legal aid for people whose lives and liberty were at stake was <a href="http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-legal-aid-reforms-wont-protect-the-needy/8844">carefully maintained</a>. Not any more. The government has become more and more brazen in its efforts to ensure that it is cocooned from public challenges and scrutiny, but now it has a free reign to ravage people’s lives with impunity. It is flexing the muscles which it has already used to divide and devastate our communities and lives with the cuts and reduced public services<strong>.</strong> Attempts to challenge lack of services or abuse by a public official or the police will become virtually impossible - ideal for a government seeking to place itself above challenge.&nbsp;<span>This isn’t just an attack on us as individuals or communities, or even society. It’s an assault on democracy.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-blagojevic/detention-and-human-rights-in-uk-maintaining-presumption-of-liberty">Detention and human rights in the UK: maintaining the presumption of liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nando-sigona/uk-migration-policy-we-need-to-talk-about-citizens">UK migration policy: we need to talk about citizens</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/deborah-padfield/legal-aid-reform-proposals-immoral-inefficient-and-anti-democratic">Legal aid reform proposals: immoral, inefficient and anti-democratic</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/jerome-phelps/is-there-alternative-to-locking-up-migrants-in-uk">Is there an alternative to locking up migrants in the UK?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/sarah-campbell/uk-immigration-control-children-in-extreme-distress">UK immigration control: children in extreme distress</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/alasdair-stuart/double-jeopardy-lgbti-refugees-in-britain">Double jeopardy: LGBTI refugees in Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nikandre-kopcke/anti-immigrant-sentiment-time-to-talk-about-gender">Anti-immigrant sentiment: time to talk about gender?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anna-dixie/double-standards-dispersal-and-pregnant-asylum-seekers-in-britain">Double standards: dispersal and pregnant asylum seekers in Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/whos-afraid-of-global-poor">Who&#039;s afraid of the &#039;global poor&#039;?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/anti-deportation-campaigns-%E2%80%98what-kind-of-country-do-you-want-this-to-be%E2%80%99">Anti-deportation campaigns: ‘What kind of country do you want this to be?’ </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/chris-nash/stateless-in-uk-amid-chaos-groundbreaking-step-forward">Stateless in the UK: amid the chaos, a groundbreaking step forward </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> England </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight England Democracy and government Equality voices from exile public service futures justice? institutions & power europe democratic society accountability Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter Kate Blagojevic Mon, 29 Jul 2013 08:43:33 +0000 Kate Blagojevic 74328 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Detention and human rights in the UK: maintaining the presumption of liberty https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kate-blagojevic/detention-and-human-rights-in-uk-maintaining-presumption-of-liberty <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The UK has - at points in our history - been <a href="http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/news/archive/news/2012/may/310512_news_story_Jubilee_letter_to_the_times">proud</a> to welcome refugees. The present day is, unfortunately, not one of those periods as we are unequivocally conforming to the global trend of attempting to control and repel migrants through increasingly draconian measures, such as <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/don-flynn/detention-is-essence-of-immigration-control">detention</a>. The UK now wins the less illustrious prize for <a href="http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/immigration-detention-uk">detaining</a> the highest number of asylum seekers, aside from Australia. The government’s determination to look tough on immigration is sullying the UK’s human rights record.</p> <p>For people who have experienced detention first hand our proud history means little. The present and the future of Britain’s immigration policy weigh heavily on their shoulders, with the threat of being re-detained experienced as a daily burden.&nbsp; The devastating speed of the process of <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/voices-from-detention/hussains-story">dehumanisation</a> from person to <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/voices-from-detention/alexs-story">ID number</a> to government statistic is fresh in their minds. The contrasting glacial pace of change is infuriating, frustrating, frightening. </p> <p>On 10 December, <a href="http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/">UN Human Rights Day</a>, a parliamentary meeting brought together MPs, NGOs, concerned individuals and people who have been detained. Each speaker outlined the violations of human rights that detaining people brings about. Roland Schilling, from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, discussed the cornerstones of human rights and how detention <a href="http://www.unhcr.org.uk/news-and-views/news-list/news-detail/article/unhcr-concerned-at-detention-of-asylum-seekers-and-releases-new-guidelines.html">flies in the face</a> of these principles: the prohibition against torture and inhumane treatment, the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned and the right to liberty. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Article 3 – the prohibition of torture</strong></p> <p>Over the last year, the High Court has <a href="http://detentionforum.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/briefing-paper-the-detention-of-vulnerable-people-human-rights-breaches-in-the-uk/">four times found</a> that the detention of vulnerable individuals amounted to cruel and degrading treatment that breached their human rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In one case, Hamish Arnott from Bhatt Murphy solicitors explained that the High Court described the UK Border Agency (UKBA) as having shown ‘callous indifference’ towards a man whose mental illness had led him to stop eating.&nbsp; According to the centre’s Healthcare Manager, he could die imminently and was unfit for detention. UKBA were busy preparing a press release in case he died, but failing to recognise the nature and extent of his illness.</p> <p>Given the high threshold that exists for the Court to rule that Article 3 has been violated, these cases may seem shocking, but it comes as no surprise to anyone who works with people who have been detained. Hamid, who was in detention for over three years, attended the parliamentary meeting. He said that when he was first detained he was surprised at the level of self harm, the visible progression of mental decline of those incarcerated alongside him. Suicide attempts, hunger striking, people crying in corridors and endless doses of anti-depressants became part of a <a href="http://www.no-deportations.org.uk/Media-1-2012/Self-Harm2012.html">normal day</a> for Hamid. </p> <h3><strong>Article 5 – Right to liberty and security of a person</strong></h3> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/pic det_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Art in detention. Source: Detention Action"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/pic det_0.jpg" alt="Art in detention. Source: Detention Action" title="Art in detention. Source: Detention Action" width="300" height="199" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Art in detention. Source: Detention Action</span></span></span></p><p>Immigration detention centres are prisons, with barbed wire and people locked in cells every day. The prison regime includes being held in a small cell for 23 hours a day when you first arrive in detention.&nbsp; Hamid remembers sleeping with his head next to the toilet. In the one hour you are allowed outside, he explains that all you can see around you is concrete, then barbed wire in a small court yard. It’s like walking into an ash tray, he recalls, with so many anxious smokers huddled together in the confined space. &nbsp;Rights to liberty and security of person and freedom of movement are expressed in all major <a href="http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm">international</a> and <a href="http://www.echr.coe.int/NR/rdonlyres/D5CC24A7-DC13-4318-B457-5C9014916D7A/0/Convention_ENG.pdf">regional</a> human rights conventions. According to UNHCR, the presumption of liberty should be the default position. But in practice, it is the presumption of detention that is practiced within UKBA. This is a practice that sees thousands of asylum seekers and migrants’ rights flouted every day.</p> <h3><strong>Article 8 – the right to respect to family and private life</strong></h3> <p>The right to family life is of crucial importance to people in detention but went unmentioned in the parliamentary meeting. It is both a much maligned but much needed human right that is <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jun/10/theresa-may-judges-human-rights">under attack</a>. For migrants who have lived in the UK for years, often since they were young children, the right to family life is paramount as their families and children are often British. <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/hour glass_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Source: Detention Action"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/hour glass_0.jpg" alt="Source: Detention Action" title="Source: Detention Action" width="101" height="150" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Source: Detention Action</span></span></span>The UKBA’s determination to deport such individuals after committing a criminal offence cannot be squared with their right to see their partners and children. Jay told me after the Parliamentary meeting, “My family came from Sri Lanka in 1985 because of the civil war. It was a given that kids where we lived would grow up to be Tamil Tigers and my Dad didn’t want that for us. We’ve settled in the UK and the rest of my family are now British citizens. But because I’ve committed crimes that’s not a possibility for me. UKBA tried to deport me twice to Sri Lanka – the country I left when I was five. After a last minute judicial review, which meant that I was taken off a charter flight only minutes before it took off, after more detention, and more money, I have eventually been granted Leave to Remain in the UK based on my right to family life.” </p> <p>Theresa May is currently <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jun/10/theresa-may-human-rights-lawyers">attempting</a> to force judges to ignore the right to family life in deportation cases. In case that doesn’t work, <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/08/foreign-national-prisoners-lose-legal-aid">cuts</a> to legal aid will mean that it will no longer be available. Put simply, people will not be able to afford to fight for their right to see their children. So the future looks particularly bleak for people who find themselves in Jay’s position.<strong></strong></p> <h3><strong>Momentum for change</strong></h3> <p>At the parliamentary meeting it was clear that everyone in the room was impatient for change. It is easy to become disappointed or disillusioned with the lack of progress. But last month, we saw unusually powerful criticism of long term detention from HM Inspectorate of Prisons in a report on Lincoln prison, where they found a <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/somalian-rapist-still-serving-time-in-lincoln-prison-nine-years-after-the-end-of-his-sentence-8399627.html">Somali man</a> who had been detained for nine years after the end of his prison sentence. The following day saw a joint report from the Inspectors of Prisons and of Borders and Immigration which <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/inspectors-recommend-an-independent-panel-to-review-long-term-detention-cases">criticised</a> the UKBA for routinely detaining people coming to the end of their prison sentences, rather than maintaining the presumption of liberty enshrined in human rights norms.</p> <p>The Inspectors found that up to 38% of people who had been held for 6 months in detention had not applied for bail to be released and a quarter had no legal representative. There is no automatic system for independent review of detention for months which turn into years. &nbsp;The Inspectorates propose an interesting solution: an independent panel to review all cases of long-term detention to consider whether “exceptional and clearly evidenced circumstances” apply that can justify continued incarceration.</p> <p>Could such a panel bring the expertise and evidence-based analysis that the UKBA so clearly lacks?&nbsp; Could it circumvent the politicisation that has infected the decision-making of an agency under constant and fierce pressure from Ministers and the tabloids?&nbsp; </p> <p>Rigorous reviews by a genuinely independent panel could potentially be a significant step away from routine long-term detention. But ultimately only a <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/timelimit/indefinite-detention-in-detail/takeaction">time limit</a> provides a sure safeguard against indefinite detention. In France, the limit on detention is 45 days. In Malta, there is a policy of automatic detention but a time limit of 18 months. In fact, the UK is one of only three countries in Europe that refuses to ratify the European legislation which imposes a time limit of 18 months on detention. </p> <p>The pace of change may be glacial but there is growing momentum for change which is giving rise to optimism that our future treatment of asylum seekers and migrants can restore our pride.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/natasha-tsangarides/pregnant-detained-and-subjected-to-force-in-uk">Pregnant, detained, and subjected to force in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/david-rhys-jones/inspectors-condemn-uk-s-detention-of-torture-survivors-and-victims-of-t">Inspectors condemn UK’s detention of torture survivors and victims of trafficking</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/warsan-shire/conversations-about-home-at-deportation-centre">Conversations about home (at a deportation centre)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/jerome-phelps/fast-track-to-despair">Fast track to despair</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/alasdair-stuart/double-jeopardy-lgbti-refugees-in-britain">Double jeopardy: LGBTI refugees in Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jerome-phelps/lonely-death-of-jimmy-mubenga">The lonely death of Jimmy Mubenga</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/britain-has-become-open-prison-to-migrants">Britain has become an open prison to migrants</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/don-flynn/detention-is-essence-of-immigration-control">Detention is the essence of immigration control</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/robert-lambert/re-thinking-detention-without-trial">Re-thinking detention without trial</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anna-musgrave/when-nowhere-is-safe">When nowhere is safe</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/tribunal-12-migrants%E2%80%99-rights-abuses-in-europe">Tribunal 12: migrants’ rights abuses in Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/outsourcing-responsibilities-australias-punitive-asylum-regime">Outsourcing responsibilities: Australia&#039;s punitive asylum regime </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nina-perkowski/migration-in-italy-%E2%80%98state-of-emergency%E2%80%99">Migration in Italy: a ‘State of Emergency’? 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institutions & power human rights european security voices from exile europe 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Kate Blagojevic Mon, 14 Jan 2013 10:33:36 +0000 Kate Blagojevic 70287 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Kate Blagojevic https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/kate-blagojevic <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kate Blagojevic </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Blagojevic </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-country"> <div class="field-label">Country:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> England </div> </div> </div> <p>Kate Blagojevic is the Communications Coordinator for Detention Forum - a coalition of detention support and campaigning groups. Kate has worked at the World Development Movement and campaigns against the UK government spending cuts in her spare time.</p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kate Blagojevic is Campaigns and Communications Officer at Detention Action where she volunteered for 2 years previously. </div> </div> </div> Kate Blagojevic Wed, 09 Jan 2013 16:09:45 +0000 Kate Blagojevic 70288 at https://www.opendemocracy.net