Statewatch article: RefNo# 28370
Immigration - in brief
Statewatch Supplement; August 2008
Spain: Mobilisation against detention centres

On 12 April 2008, around 2,000 people demonstrated under the slogan "No to immigrant detention centres, close our Guantánamos". The demonstration ended at the Aluche (Madrid) detention centre, where five migrants have been on hunger strike in protest at their conditions since 10 April. On 15 April, almost 100 NGOs submitted a petition to the State District Attorney's Office calling for the investigation of alleged "serious violations of human rights" at the Aluche centre. The signatories demanded that the district attorney implement "urgent" protection measures. In the formal complaint they said that responsibility for "any tragedy", particularly one involving those on hunger-strike, would be attributed to the district attorney's office itself.

Netherlands: Two deaths and attempted suicide in detention

Failure to provide adequate health care in Dutch immigration detention centres has led to two deaths within the last two months. On the night of 2-3 February 2008 the Algerian, Rachid Abdelsalam, died of heart failure on the Rotterdam-based immigration detention boat, Bibby Stockholm. His heart irregularities were apparently treated with cough medicine. At the end of March, an Egyptian man, Ahmad Mahmud El Sabah, also died on a Rotterdam detention boat because of lack of adequate health care, according to his fellow detainees. On 18 April a Ghanian failed asylum seeker attempted to commit suicide in the detention boat in Zaandam, and had to be resuscitated by prison guards. It was the fourth time he had been locked up in immigration detention and over intermittent periods he was treated for depression and diagnosed as suicidal. After his failed suicide attempt, the authorities locked him up in isolation on the prison ship. 10.2.08,, 18.4.08

UK/Nigeria: Call for boycott of "world's favourite airline"

Nigerians in the UK, and British supporters, are calling for a boycott of British Airways, following the forced deportation of Augustine Eme to Nigeria and the harassment of passengers who spoke out against the abuse he received. Eme, an independence activist from Biafra whose brother was killed and wife and mother are "missing", is reported to have been restrained by five police officers during his expulsion in March. Complaints by the Nigerian passengers led to one man, Ayodeji Omotade, being arrested before all 136 economy class passengers were ejected from the plane, which eventually left for Lagos with only Eme and the first class passengers on board; BA accused the economy passengers of being a "security risk". On 4 July Omatade was charged with threatening, abusive, insulting or disorderly behaviour towards members of the crew under the Civil Aviation Act. An article in The Independent newspaper of April 26 exposed the "casual racism" of BA, in which Captain Doug Maughn, a pilot with 28 years flying experience, said that pejorative racist remarks made by his colleagues "are so common that they are treated as normal".

Respect Nigerians Coalition website:

UK: Border Agency plans massive expansion of detention centres

In May the UK Border Agency announced a massive expansion of Britain's immigration detention centre capacity which will increase by 60%. This will mean an increase of between 1,300 and 1,500 places for immigration detainees by 2012 with the stated intention of fast-tracking asylum seekers for deportation. Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, described the move as "disappointing". She continued: "These are people who are detained on arrival, who have committed no crime, and who are often extremely vulnerable, yet who are locked up in circumstances where there is little access to information and not knowing how long they will be imprisoned." The Immigration minister, Liam Byrne, claimed that holding more asylum seekers in detention and fast tracking their cases would allow them to be decided more quickly, but Covey has pointed out that: "there are people in the fast track system who are being wrongly refused safety here."

Refugee Council:; Home Office press release "Immigration detention capacity to grow substantially" 13.5.08.

Germany: Doctors facilitate deportations

Aliens' authorities in the regional state of North-Rhine Westphalia use doctors who are known to issue medical "fit-to-fly" certificates to facilitate deportations of rejected asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. Some doctors even advertise this service - the issuing of permits that certify persons are fit to be imprisoned and/or transported - online. The Green faction in the city council of Düsseldorf was particularly critical of authorities that ask doctors to assess certain health aspects that earlier medical examinations found to constitute a reason for not deporting the person in question, in order to revoke these findings. For example, one doctor was asked to examine the psychological state of a Serbian woman who was unable to be deported on grounds of severe depression, with a view to disproving the earlier medical decision. Monika Düker, legal spokeswoman of the Green faction thinks this a "clear violation of the law" and demanded that the regional interior minister, Ingo Wolf (Liberal party), order an independent committee of medical experts to oversee certificates of cases where medical interpretations can differ, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of torture or persecution.

Süddeutsche Zeitung 16.4.08.

UK: Shocking "state-sanctioned" violence by security teams

A new report, Outsourcing Abuse, by the law firm Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, documents the "shocking" abuse of hundreds of asylum seekers forced by the government into the hands of private security companies. The report is based on the findings of 300 cases between January 2004 and June 2008, alleging physical assaults and racist violence, and throws into question the role of private security guards in the UK's deportation machine. Injuries ranged from bruises to wounds inflicted through deliberate beatings by the guards. The report says: "The dossier provides evidence of widespread and seemingly systematic abuse of one of the most vulnerable communities of people in our society, who have fled their own countries seeking safety and refuge". The authors' conclude that "...the evidence in this report reveals what may amount to state sanctioned violence, for which ultimate responsibility lies with the Home Office". However, the former Chief Inspector of Prisons, David Ramsbotham. who has written a forward to the study, and described its findings as "disturbing", has expressed doubts that it would be taken seriously by the government.

Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Medical Justice, National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns "Outsourcing Torture: the use and misuse of state-sanctioned force during the detention and removal of asylum seekers" July 2008, See: ,a href="">

ILO Convention on Domestic Workers

In March 2008, the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Governing Body approved the proposal for the ILO to place decent work for domestic workers on the agenda of their international labour Conference in 2010 with a view to developing ILO instruments, possibly in the form of a Convention supplemented by a Recommendation, to provide appropriate guidance to constituents on policy and practice in the area of domestic work. Trade union and migrant support groups who have lobbied for an ILO mechanism on the protection of migrant and domestic workers rights are calling on civil society, labour and migrant rights groups to start discussions on the planned Convention.

More information is available on:§ion=monitorarchive&news_id=256

Southall Black Sisters Overcome Council Threat

On 18 July at the High Court Ealing Council withdrew their case after one and a half days of the hearing when it failed to justify its decision to cut funding to SBS and replace it with a generic borough wide service on domestic violence. The SBS said: " When we began the process of challenging Ealing Council ...we were not sure where our journey would lead us. We received tremendous support from our users and many, many other individuals and organisations along the way. It is impossible to list everyone who supported us but we really would not have come this far without such encouragement and support. Above all, the support that we received reminded us of our responsibility in building a civil society based on the principles of justice, equality and humanity. We thank you all for making this victory possible."

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