Conditions at UK immigration removal centre ‘worst inspectors have seen’

9 July 2024: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor: Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre: drugs, despair and decrepit conditions

Report on an unannounced inspection of Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (12–29 February 2024)

A copy of the full report, published on 9 July 2024, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre – HM Inspectorate of Prisons (justiceinspectorates.gov.uk)

Inspectors returning to Harmondsworth IRC found the worst conditions they have seen in immigration detention.

Much of the accommodation was decrepit, violence and other unacceptable behaviour such as drug use had substantially increased and there had been numerous serious attempts at suicide in the centre.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor was so concerned that he wrote to the then Home Secretary shortly after the inspection setting out the many failures at the centre. He has received no response.

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JCWI: We Move A manifesto for migrant justice

JCWI: We Move A manifesto for migrant justice:

Right now, migrants in our communities are under attack. But we know that things don’t have to be this way.

We can and must fight for justice for people who move. This manifesto lays out a roadmap towards achieving the fairer society we all deserve.

This manifesto calls for:
1. Rights – Everyone should be able to thrive, no matter where we’re from
2. Safety – We must welcome people who seek sanctuary on our shores
3. Dignity – We all deserve to live with dignity and feel safe in our homes
and workplaces
4. Justice – We should all be able to defend our rights and hold the government
accountable
5. Community – We all deserve to find care and belonging

Read more here: https://jcwi.org.uk/manifesto/

Leaders should finally tell us the truth about migration: it’s here for good

7 June 2024: Guardian: Leaders should finally tell us the truth about migration: it’s here for good

It’s time to resist the right’s narrative of immigration as aberration. Nations thrive on it – and they always have done

The state is an invention. It’s a bureaucratic tool of governance for an arbitrarily defined landmass; an artifice made convincing through emotive storytelling. Although many countries have their “long, long ago” symbolic foundation story, in truth the vast majority of them have only existed as independent constitutions for a matter of decades. We, the nationals, are the result of millennia of migrations of ancestral hunter-gatherers, herders, farmers, merchants, students, industrialists; of colonists and colonisers; of people invading, fleeing, crusading, exploring, roaming, slave-trading; uprooted for war, work, fortune and love. The dense interconnectedness of the human family, our genetic similarity, means that in terms of our biology, there are no different races. We can all claim ancestry from across the world.

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Fears of new Windrush as thousands of UK immigrants face ‘cliff edge’ visa change

19 May 2024: Guardian: Fears of new Windrush as thousands of UK immigrants face ‘cliff edge’ visa change

Campaigners say move to electronic permits by end of the year is a ‘recipe for disaster’ that could leave immigrants without proof of status

Lawyers and migrant rights campaigners have warned that the government is heading for a repeat of the Windrush scandal after imposing a “cliff edge” deadline for immigrants to switch to new digital visas.

By the end of this year an estimated 500,000 or more non-EU immigrants with leave to remain in the UK will need to replace their physical biometric residence permits (BRPs) – which demonstrate proof of their right to reside, rent, work and claim benefits – with digital e-visas.

In order to access their e-visa, people will need to open a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) digital account. The Home Office has recently emailed invitations for a trial group of BRP holders to open digital accounts, but as many migrants used their solicitors’ email address as their Home Office contact, many have gone to lawyers rather than the immigrants themselves.

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‘Safety of Rwanda’ Bill

13 May 2024: Irish Times: UK Rwanda deportation law provisions should not apply in Northern Ireland, judge rules

High Court finds measures in UK government’s legislation undermine human rights protections guaranteed under post-Brexit arrangements

Mr Justice Humphreys delivered judgment at Belfast High Court on Monday in two challenges against the Act that focused on the peace process human rights protections guaranteed by the Windsor Framework.

The judge found that several elements of the Act do cause a “significant” diminution of the rights enjoyed by asylum seekers residing in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

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Regret: Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules

Thanks to John O for this information: 2 May 2024: Regret: Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules

Lord Oates: That this House regrets the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 556), published on 19 February, in particular, the provisions preventing overseas care workers from bringing family to the United Kingdom, as this will

(1) deprive migrant care workers of the basic right of caring for their own children,

(2) increase workers’ dependency on their sponsors by removing the safety net of a Toggle showing location of partner’s income, and

(3) make it harder for workers to report and change sponsors, increasing the risk of exploitation.

Before I go into further detail on this point, I express particular regret at the notion that carers arriving in the UK will no longer be able to bring their children with them. This troubles me deeply. We are asking care workers to care for our loved ones, but we are denying them the right to do the same in respect of their own children and partners. 

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#Refugees4Palestine join Workers’ May Day calls across the UK to #StopArmingIsreal

From our signatory organisation RAPAR:

1 May 2024: RAPAR Members from around the globe have put together their statement making explicit the relationship between the colonialist forces that lie behind the exploitation and oppression in their home countries that have led to them having to flee – from Congo, Zimbabwe, Iran, Eritrea, Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone and Cameroon to name but a few – and the Imperialist forces directly and indirectly responsible for the current genocide being carried out in Gaza. 

Launching the hashtag #Refugees4Palestine, RAPAR stands alongside British trade unionists and community-based organisations calling for a #FreePalestine and to #StopArmingIsreal. 

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Sunak to give Rwanda £50m if deportation bill passed into law

Following the passing of the ‘safety of Rwanda’ Bill … and no ICIBI to oversee what is happening!

30 April: Guardian: Rwandan opposition leader voices doubts Kigali will stick to UK asylum deal

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza says her banning shows Rwandan government does not adhere to international law

A Rwandan opposition leader who has been banned from standing for election has cast doubt on whether her government will stick to the terms of the deportation deal agreed with Rishi Sunak.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza told the Guardian that the Rwandan government’s refusal to allow her to stand or leave the country to see her ill husband showed that the government under Paul Kagame did not adhere to international law.

On Tuesday, she launched a claim in the east African court of justice, saying she should be allowed to oppose the president in July’s general election.

In the UK, Sunak has been building towards operationalising plans to forcibly remove UK asylum seekers to Rwanda.

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Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees – April 2024

8 April 2024: Crisis Watch: Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees – April 2024

Deteriorated Situations: Afghanistan / Pakistan / South China Sea / Venezuela / Haiti / Somalia / Bosnia And Herzegovina / Russia (Internal) / Israel/Palestine

Violence escalated in Haiti after the country’s two largest gang coalitions launched coordinated attacks across the capital Port-au-Prince to deter an international security mission from deploying. Gangs targeted critical sites, freed over 4,700 inmates and forced tens of thousands to flee.

Electoral authorities in Venezuela blocked the opposition coalition from registering their banned candidate María Corina Machado or her replacement, in an apparent bid to strengthen President Maduro’s hand in the lead-up to July elections. 

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Urgent notice: Home Office offers of ‘voluntary departure’ to Rwanda

14 March 2024:We have received reports that the Home Office is calling people to offer ‘voluntary departure’ to Rwanda. 

This scheme is separate to the initial Rwanda policy (which was defeated in the Supreme Court), the Rwanda Treaty which was recently signed by the Home Secretary, and the Safety of Rwanda Bill which is currently being rushed through Parliament. 

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Home Office immigration database errors hit more than 76,000 people

14 March 2024: Guardian: Exclusive: Names, photos and migration status being mixed up, preventing people applying for jobs and housing

Major flaws in a huge Home Office immigration database have resulted in more than 76,000 people being listed with incorrect names, photographs or immigration status.

Leaked internal documents reveal the scale of the database fiasco at the Home Office, which has recently been criticised for delays in immigration application processing, long queues at borders and the distribution of incorrect identity cards.

The Home Office has been relatively silent about the database failures, referring vaguely to them as “IT issues”. Ministers have denied there is a “systemic” problem with Atlas, the tool used by border officials and immigration officers which operates off the flawed database.

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People seeking asylum in London face malnutrition, but there is scope for local action

12 March 2024: Sustain: People seeking asylum in London face malnutrition, but there is scope for local action

New report finds food insecurity and malnutrition are commonplace for people seeking asylum in London, and outlines key areas for local action.

New report, Food experiences of people seeking asylum in London: areas for local action, published today by Sustain, finds serious issues with food access for people seeking asylum in London. Key areas for local action are outlined, with recommendations of how councils can work with local actors to improve the situation.

Serious concerns were raised about food provided in catered accommodation, with evidence of poor food safety and lack of provision for people with medical conditions and allergies, in some cases leading to hospitalisation. Key issues were raised around unsafe infant feeding with parents lacking access to equipment to sterilise and store bottles, and food being inappropriate for children, who were losing significant amounts of weight. People want to have choice over what they eat and be able to cook their own meals. This was particularly important to mothers, who were deeply impacted by not being able to provide for their children, who were becoming malnourished.

Sustain worked with Jesuit Refugee Service UK and Life Seekers Aid to conduct the research between October 2023 and February 2024. This included focus groups with people with lived experience of the asylum system, interviews with local authorities, healthcare providers and voluntary and community sector organisations, and a workshop with local authorities.

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Looking tough on migration is eroding human rights

6 March 2024: Politico: Looking tough on migration is eroding human rights

Curtailing migrant rights may help score quick political gains, but electoral success doesn’t give governments carte blanche to place themselves above the law.

Europe’s insistence on looking tough on migration is endangering rule of law across the Continent.

Pursuing ever more stringent asylum and migration policies, European countries are not only perpetuating human rights violations against asylum seekers and migrants; they are also dismantling collective human rights safeguards, as well as eroding wider legal and democratic checks and balances that protect all our rights.

The upcoming adoption of the United Kingdom’s Safety of Rwanda Bill, currently working its way through the House of Lords, is perhaps the starkest illustration of this dangerous trajectory.

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