Asylum Update – 31st March 2008

IAC report
The Independent Asylum Commission has released its interim findings with widespread media coverage. Executive summary here
See BBC and Daily Mail reports.
ICAR briefings for the Commission here

New asylum model
Research carried out by Bail for Immigration Detainees on the one year anniversary of the New Asylum Model concludes that “asylum claims heard in detention are set up to fail”.
BID March 2008 briefing paper on the detained fast track.
Related news: 150 detainees enter hunger strike

Integration

The Employability Forum have released a report on the recent conference addressing the Home Office proposal of a new National Integration Model for refugees.

Mental health
A new study commissioned by Positive Mental Attitudes, NHS Glasgow and Clyde and East Glasgow Community Health and Care Partnership examines attitudes amongst refugees in Glasgow towards the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Public services
London Asylum Seekers Consortium have published a new report entitled A Warm Welcome? Public Services and Managing Migration in London.

News
Protestors charged for preventing dawn raids on asylum seeker families
– 2,000 Iraqi interpreters chosen for asylum in Britain and Canada. See ICAR blog
– Government responds to Children’s Society and Refugee Council views on Clan Ebor.
– President Sarkozy calls on UK to sign up to European immigration and asylum pact.

Iraqi interpreters and resettlement

The Home Office has revealed a resettlement plan for 2,000 Iraqis that had been involved with providing assistance to the British Army over the last five years. This represents some success those campaigning on behalf of these individuals yet the criteria attached to the way in which the resettled will be selected raises questions about resettlement policy more generally. How should individuals be selected for resettlement programmes that will only ever be able to provide a solution for a fraction of forced migrants or refugees in camps around the world? I have discussed previously the preference of some states to select on the basis of ‘capacity to integrate’ rather than purely on need, with the argument being that resettlement is more likely to provide a ‘durable solution’ to people with a the right ‘integration characteristics’; provision of ‘effective protection’ to those most in need of it becomes a secondary concern of resettlement policy. Does this approach to Iraqi resettlement suggest that any future expansion of the UK’s resettlement programmes would follow the same principles?

Asylum Update – 26th March 2008

UNHCR
New publications include
– Asylum levels and trends in industrialized countries (2007). Shows a rise in asylum applications to industrialized countries for first time in five years, largely due to increase in Iraqi applicants.
compilation of case law on refugee protection in international law. Brings together 70 of the most important judgments/decisions.
country updates from the Strengthening Protection Capacity Project, on different states’ capacities to receive and protect refugees.
– Afghanistan country briefing folder

Iraqi refugees
A new ECRE survey looks at access of Iraqi asylum seekers to EU and their treatment once there. On Iraqi refugee crisis see also new reports from IOM and International Rescue Committee

Coventry
report
ICAR consultation on attitudes and relations amongst and between the host population, asylum seekers and refugees and other new migrants.
Full report and summary available here

ASP/IAP news
The Asylum Support Partnership now replaces the Inter Agency Partnership. Their latest newsletter covers the destitution tally results, removals to Zimbabwe, and more.

Children and destitution
New Children’s Society study on destitution among asylum seeking and refugee children.

Conference
On sub-saharan migrants in transit in Morocco en route to EU. Organized by the Migrants Rights Network and Moroccan organisation ABCDS. London, 1st April. More information here

Asylum Update – 17th March 2008

Female asylum seekers
This report by Asylum Aid, the European Women’s Lobby and the Refugee Women’s Resource argues for gender guidelines to implement the EU qualification directive and the asylum procedures directive.

Border controls
A new report from the European Council on Refugees and Exiles examines the impact of tighter EU border controls on the ability of refugees to seek asylum in Europe.

Citizenship review

Lord Goldsmith’s Citizenship Review recommends reconsideration of the work prohibition placed on asylum seekers, and of the five year limit to refugee status.
Press coverage of government response here
See also ippr paper on issues raised by the review.

Country reports
The USA Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor has released its annual publication ‘Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2007’

Bail system
A new joint report by Bail for Immigration Detainees and the Refugee Council examines the bail application process by video link for detained asylum seekers and migrants.

UNHCR
New publications include
strategy paper on UNHCR’s role in support of the return and reintegration of displaced populations
– Ivory Coast country briefing
submission to the Labour Party’s second year policy consultation process

Scottish directory
Positive Action in Housing is publishing a new Scottish-wide directory of services, organisations etc relevant to new migrant, refugee, and minority ethnic communities. For inclusion fill this form.

Call for articles
Forced Migration Review seeks contributions to forthcoming features on climate change and displacement (deadline 1st April) and statelessness.

IAC event
The Independent Asylum Commission’s interim findings will be presented at the House of Commons on 27th March at 11:00, in the first of three launch events across the country. Email the IAC to reserve a place.

Defining Britishness

Last night, Bernard Crick and Anne Phillips spoke at the LSE on Britishness and ‘British values’. If you are familiar with the work of either you will not have been surprised about the content of proceedings. Crick laboured, with validity, the point about the historically multi-national nature of Britain and the confusion this has caused; Phillips expressed her concern that talk of certain values being distinctly British represents a move towards assimilation though through the language of integration and cohesion.

However, one interesting, nuanced difference emerged between the two speakers. Phillips was critical of the idea of there being anything specifically British about those that we see as core values – human rights, equality, respect for difference and the rule of law. She suggested that to call these ‘British values’ belied their universality and suggesting that all newcomers needed to be taught them assumed a patronising tone of superiority. Crick politely took issue with this: in laying out these values we are not suggesting they are exclusively British, nor that as a set of values they are morally superior to any other set of values. But, the combination of values is British and is the one that Britons currently believe are most suited to the social, political and historical contexts of Britain. Were Britons not to believe this then these values would evolve (as they have in the past and as they will in the future) through democratic processes.

Bikhu Parekh, I think, has caught the nub of Crick’s argument: ‘we can have a British statement of values; but not a statement of British values’. Overall, however, there was agreement that any definition of Britishness should remain narrowly political and civic and that talk about socio-cultural British values is not in fact very British.

Climate change and migration

This time it is the turn of the EU to offer warnings of the migration effects of climate change. Two senior foreign policy advisors have suggested that Europe needs to brace itself for what the Guardian confusingly calls ‘a new kind of refugee – the environmental migrant’.

I have discussed at length the legal complexity and lack of conceptual clarity attached to this issue before as well as the fact that such stark warnings ignore mitigation and adaptation to the effects of climate change. Migrants, whatever the relative voluntariness, make choices to migrate based on a complex set of causes; isolating these causes is incredibly difficult. What marks out refugees from other migrants is that it is legally deemed that their home state is no longer willing to provide them with protection or is in fact the architect of their persecution. As Richard Black argues persuasively in this paper, the same cannot be said of individuals whose choice to move is affected primarily by environmental considerations. It is difficult to see how the effects of climate change could be conceptualised in any different way. It may be the case that economic pressures generated by environmental change may reduce the capacity of governments to protect their people but this is an issue of economics, development and financial aid not one of persecution that requires protection in the form of an international legal response.

Asylum Update – 10th March 2008

Return and torture
The European Court on Human Rights has reasserted the absolute nature of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights in its ruling in the Saadi v. Italy case. See press release and Amnesty comment. During the proceedings the UK had argued that in cases of national security, states should be allowed to deport foreign nationals even if there is a risk of torture or ill-treatment on return. Through the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill it is seeking to extend NASS conditions, previously reserved for asylum seekers, to anyone who cannot be deported for such reasons. See IRR commentary

Imkaan paper
A Right to Exist
is a new research paper on recent trends within the delivery of services and safe spaces to Black, Asian minority ethnic and refugee (BAMER) women and children within the UK, written by Anjum Mouj for Imkaan

Destitution
‘The Destitution Tally: an indication of the extent of destitution among asylum seekers and refugees’ is a new study by the Asylum Support Programme Inter-Agency Partnership.

Frontex report
The House of Lords European Union Committee has published the ‘9th Report of Session 2007-08 – FRONTEX: the EU external borders agency – Report with Evidence’.

Children’s commissioner’s report
The Children’s Commissioner Professor Sir Al Aynsley has released a report with recommendations into the treatment of unaccompanied children seeking asylum at the BIA Screening Unit in Croydon.

Refugee Council
Now available: Refugee Council response to BIA statistics review and submission to Lord Goldsmith QC’s Citizenship Review.

Asylum Rights Watch
A summary of this survey of asylum seekers’ experiences has been released by Asylum Aid

Kenya in Crisis
A new report from the International Crisis Group.

UNHCR
Handbook for the Protection of Women and Girls January 2008 now available here