Responsibility for Windrush deportations rests “squarely on Theresa May’s shoulders” – Caroline Lucas

From Morning Star: Responsibility for the Windrush scandal falls “squarely on the shoulders” of Theresa May for ignoring a report warning her what would happen, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas charged yesterday.

The Brighton Pavilion MP had tabled a written question asking if Ms May, as home secretary, had acted on the Legal Action Group’s prescient October 2014 report Chasing Status.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes responded: ”No specific action was taken as a result of this report.”

The report recommended a number of measures which could have prevented the Windrush scandal, including to set up a special unit to fast-track cases of people living in Britain on January 1 1973.

It also called for the restoration of legal aid for these cases, allowing Commonwealth-born citizens to work, access the the NHS and claim benefits and for Home Office proof of residence standards to be revised.

Another of the report’s recommendations was for “greater openness” from the Home Office about its archiving and destruction policies, and for it to accept that some immigration records could be rendered inaccurate or incomplete over time.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

MPs condemn Home Office over detained Windrush pair

From The Guardian: The Home Office behaved in a “shocking” manner towards two Windrush citizens, Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan, both of whom were wrongly sent to immigration detention centres before a planned removal from the UK, despite being continuously resident for around 50 years, a committee of MPs and peers has ruled.

The Home Office displayed an “inadequate regard for the human rights” of those wrongly detained as a result of immigration enforcement, the report by the joint committee on human rights concluded.

Harriet Harman, the committee’s chair, said: “What happened to these two people was a total violation of their human rights by the state’s most powerful government department. It needs to face up to what happened before it can even begin to acknowledge the scale of the problem and stop it happening again.”

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Rodents, bedbugs, mould: UK asylum housing still a hostile environment

From openDemocracy: Mothers with babies in a Manchester hostel run by Serco have shown their dirty and dangerous living conditions. Carole showed a video on her phone of two mice running around her bed in the middle of the night. I could hear her frustrated voice: “I can’t sleep, I can’t sleep.” The kitchen ceiling showed evidence of water leakage from the flats above — presenting risks of electrocution and fire.

[Read full article on openDemocracy…]

Theresa May to oppose MPs’ vote on Northern Ireland abortion law

From The Guardian: Theresa May will oppose plans to let MPs vote to liberalise Northern Ireland’s oppressive abortion laws, Downing Street has signalled.

The landslide vote in favour of liberalising abortion laws in the Irish Republic has put the spotlight on Northern Ireland, which will be the only place in Britain and Ireland where abortion is in most circumstances illegal. The 1967 Abortion Act was never extended to the region, and abortion is only allowed if the life or mental health of the mother is at risk.

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The Tories’ “hostile environment” sees at least 1,000 skilled migrants wrongly facing deportation

From Morning Star: Politicians and experts have slammed the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy as at least 1,000 highly skilled migrants are wrongly facing deportation.

The specialists, who are seeking indefinite leave to remain in Britain, are being denied their right to work under a section of the Immigration Act designed to tackle terrorism and threats to national security.

Immigration experts say the highly skilled workers, who include teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers and IT professionals, are being refused indefinite leave to remain because they are accused of lying in their applications, according to the Guardian.

They have come under scrutiny for making minor and legal amendments to their tax records or having discrepancies in declared income.

In one case an applicant’s tax returns were scrutinised by three different appeal courts where no evidence of irregularities was found. Basic tax errors allegedly made by the Home Office itself are also used as the basis for refusal.

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Amber Rudd resigns hours after Guardian publishes deportation targets letter

From The Guardian: Amber Rudd has resigned as home secretary, after repeatedly struggling to account for her role in the unjust treatment of Windrush Generation migrants.

The home secretary was forced to step down after a series of revelations in the Guardian over Windrush culminated in a leak on Friday that appeared to show she was aware of targets for removing illegal migrants from Britain.

The pressure increased late on Sunday afternoon as the Guardian revealed that in a leaked 2017 letter to Theresa May, Amber Rudd had told the prime minister of her intention to increase deportations by 10% – seemingly at odds with her recent denials that she was aware of deportation targets.

Rudd was facing a bruising appearance in the House of Commons on Monday. Downing Street sources said that in preparing for her statement, new information had become available which convinced Rudd she had inadvertently misled parliament – and she had therefore phoned the prime minister on Sunday to tender her resignation.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Home secretary ignores court order and sends asylum seeker to Kabul

From The Guardian: An asylum seeker is holed up in a hotel room in Kabul in fear for his life after the home secretary breached a high court order not to remove him from the UK and instead put him on a plane back to Afghanistan.

Samim Bigzad, 23, says he is a prime target for the Taliban because he worked in construction for the Afghan government and American companies before he sought sanctuary in the UK.

Now he is back in Kabul he is even more fearful after a group of armed men in plain clothes arrived at the hotel on Wednesday and demanded to know his whereabouts.

Two high court judges have made separate orders calling for Bigzad to be brought back to the UK as a matter of urgency. The second states that the home secretary, Amber Rudd, is in contempt of court for breaching the first order not to remove Bigzad.

“I am very scared,” Bigzad said in a call from his hotel room in Kabul. “The people who work at the hotel are bringing food to me and have told me I must not leave this room at all. I think the hotel staff have a gun for protection if the men come back and try to force their way in.”

The first high court order preventing the asylum seeker’s removal was issued on Tuesday evening by Mr Justice Morris. By that time Bigzad had already been removed from the UK by the Home Office and had been put on to a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul. From there he was due to board a connecting flight to Kabul.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Judge condemns Amber Rudd for ignoring orders to release torture victim

From The Guardian: A high court judge has said she is “deeply concerned” about the behaviour of Amber Rudd for failing to release a survivor of torture from detention despite repeated court orders requiring her to do so.

“The court is deeply concerned,” said Mrs Justice Nicola Davies DBE. “Four weeks have elapsed since an order was made.”

She added that the home secretary had failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for the delays in releasing the man from detention.

It is unusual for a high court judge to condemn a senior government minister in such strong terms. In a mark of her disquiet about the secretary of state’s conduct she not only awarded costs against her but also made an indemnity order – something reserved for conduct or circumstances that take a case “out of the norm” and a mark of disapproval by a judge.

The asylum seeker from Chad, who cannot be named for legal reasons, first applied for bail so that he could be released from immigration detention in April 2017. He experienced persecution both in his home country and on his journey to reach Europe when he was imprisoned in Libya.

UK’s U-Turn On Abortion for Northern Ireland’s Women

From Human Rights Watch: The UK government just took an important step in announcing – following a campaign and under pressure from parliament – that the National Health Service (NHS) will carry out abortions at no cost to pregnant women and girls from Northern Ireland who travel to England for the procedure. The decision follows a recent UK Supreme Court judgment that, under devolved health services, women living in Northern Ireland aren’t entitled to free abortions on the NHS in England.

But while the government announcement is positive, it is also a partial and unsatisfactory solution to a problem that should not exist. Women and girls should be able to access safe abortion in Northern Ireland, and the UK government has failed in its obligations to fulfil this right there for too long.

Abortion has been legal in most of the UK since 1967, but the law explicitly excluded Northern Ireland, where it remains criminalized except when the health or life of the woman is at grave risk – denying thousands of women their reproductive rights.

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