UKBA Messaging Migrants via Capita

The UKBA contracted a private company called Capita to track down illegal migrants. 

Capita are currently sending out text messages to persons suspected of being in the UK illegally. The messages ask the individuals to leave the UK as soon as possible. A BBC report confirmed Capita are sending messages in error, such errors including asking a British woman, and a man with a valid visa (who has also invested £1M in a UK business) to leave. Capita responded by saying that some information provided by the UKBA, upon which they base their messages, may be inaccurate. 

Not withstanding the fact that the UKBA passed on incorrect data, this action may also be contrary to their duties under the Data Protection Act. Relevant support groups have been in touch with Ofcom and the Information Commission, as well as informing the UKBA that they may be liable to harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act. 

If you receive a text message you should complain to the UKBA via their online form found here.

More when we have it.

Forced Returns to Italy

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Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The case of R (Mahlu) v SSHD (CO/11265/2011) involved an asylum applicant challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to remove him to Italy under the Dublin Regulations.

Dublin II Regulations allow EU countries to return asylum seekers back to Italy (or any other European Country) if that is the place they launched their first asylum application.

The quality and conditions of the asylum process are subject to a Court of Appeal hearing which is due to take place in September 2012. The court sided with Mahlu and granted a stay against his removal to Italy pending the decision of the Court of Appeal. The court also decided that this decision can be cited in any other cases in which the Secretary of State is attempting removal to Italy.

More when we have it.

Greece: New Asylum Services

The Greek government has established three new asylum services - the Initial Reception Service, the Asylum Service and the Appeals Authority.

Their new Initial Reception Services is established to provide services to third country nationals who are arrested due to illegal entry or stay in Greece, under conditions that guarantee human dignity and their rights. The services includes identification, registration, medical screening and support, advice on their rights and entitlements, and the referral of vulnerable persons.

The Asylum Service will receive asylum seekers and decide their cases. The Appeals Authority aim to overcome the shortcomings of the past which has resulted in criticisms from both the domestic and the international community.

More when we have it.

Forced Returns of Tamils to Sri Lanka

The Human Rights Watch has asked the UK government to halt deportations of Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka. The UK Border Agency's Operational Guidance Note fails to make reference to the return of Tamils despite accepting torture is widespread. Those individuals forcibly removed on passenger flights are not met by British Embassy staff and their situation thereafter is not monitored.

The Human Rights Watch documented eight recent cases of arrest, severe torture, rape and interrogation upon return, supported by medical evidence. Following this report Freedom of Torture also called on the UK government to stop all forcible removals of Tamils to Sri Lanka.

A copy of the Human Rights Watch report can be found
here.

Campaign to end detention of refugee and asylum-seeking children

A campaign to urge States to pledge to end the detention of refugee and asylum-seeking children took place during a Ministerial meeting of UN Member States 7 – 8 December. Those involved in the campaign includes 50 NGOs including ECRE Members, national Amnesty International sections and IDC Members in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Poland.

Unsurprisingly, the UK government does not support the campaign.

All those that do firmly believe that children, and in particular unaccompanied or separated children, should never be detained solely for immigration purposes given that immigration detention cannot be said to be in their best interests.

The campaign continues.

Lindholme Immigration Removal Centre Closure

Lindholme IRC, located approximately 10 miles north of Doncaster, is part of Lindholme Prison and is run by the Prison Service. The UK Border Agency leased the centre in 2000 in order to detain adult males over the age of 21. Following a request by the Prison Service for the UK Border Agency return Lindholme IRC back to them a managed reduction in the numbers of detainees will take place during a wind-down of the centre. The aim is to close the centre by 31 January 2012.

Detainees will not be released, but will instead be transferred to other centres.

Zimbabwe

Ministers have today made a written statement to Parliament announcing that the UKBA will be resuming enforced returns of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe. Read More...