EU ‘failed’ on Libya’s refugees

September 23, 2011 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 


European Union countries have “shamefully failed” to help thousands of refugees stranded near Libya’s borders, Amnesty International says.

It says they have failed to resettle some 5,000 mainly sub-Saharan Africans who face persecution in their nations.

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Source:BBC News

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Amnesty campaign on forced removals

July 9, 2011 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 


Source: Free Movement

Amnesty International has launched a campaign to change the way that the UK Border Agency conducts forced removals. The practices used by the private security contractors who do the dirty work for the Border Agency was highlighted earlier this year by the tragic death of Jimmy Mubenga. As he slowly died of suffocation on the plane, crying out for help, it seems that no-one on the flight intervened and the security guards carried on regardless.

Follow this link to participate in the campaign, over on the Amnesty website. The campaign is accompanied by a new briefing, Out of Control: The case for a complete overhaul of enforced removals by private security companies. More information can be found in articles on the Amnesty website itself and on the newly launched HuffPost UK.

Some may be rolling their eyes at this campaign and consider the private security contractors to be a necessary evil, but the plain fact is that the death of Jimmy Mubenga was not inevitable. He died because of poor training and the use of techniques that were abandoned by the police decades ago. More deaths will inevitably follow if nothing is done.

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Amnesty slams Greek authorities for ‘treating migrants as criminals’

July 31, 2010 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 


(Ekklesia) The Greek authorities should immediately review their policy of locking up asylum-seekers and irregular migrants, including many unaccompanied children, Amnesty International said in a new report today (27 July).

The report reveals that many are held in poor conditions in border guard stations and immigration detention centres with limited or no access to legal, social and medical aid.

The report’s approach is clear from its title, “Greece: Irregular migrants and asylum-seekers routinely detained in substandard conditions”. It reveals that in the vast majority of detention facilities visited by Amnesty International delegates, conditions ranged from inadequate to very poor. Those detained told Amnesty of instances of ill-treatment by coastguards and police.

“Asylum-seekers and irregular migrants are not criminals,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director, “Yet, the Greek authorities treat them as such, disregarding their rights under international law”.

She added, “Currently, migrants are detained as a matter of course, without regard to whether such measure is necessary. Detention of asylum-seekers and migrants on the grounds of their irregular status should always be a measure of last resort.”

Detention prior to deportation can last for up to six months in Greece for asylum-seekers and irregular migrants. Greek law also makes irregular entry into and exit out of the country a criminal offence.

Tens of thousands of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers arrive in Greece each year. The vast majority of asylum-seekers and individuals fleeing war-torn countries reach the country through the Greek-Turkish land and sea borders. They are mostly Afghan, Somali, Palestinian, Iraqi and Eritrean.

“After an often-hazardous journey, migrants end up in detention centres without access to a lawyer, interpreters or social workers,” explained Duckworth, “As a result, their circumstances are not assessed correctly and many in need of international protection may be sent back to the places they have fled, while others may be deprived of appropriate care and support”.

Irregular migrants and asylum-seekers are not informed about the length of their detention or about their future. Amnesty reports that they can be kept for long periods of time in overcrowded facilities with unaccompanied minors being detained among the adults. Those detained have limited access to medical assistance and hygiene products.

Few asylum-seekers are recognised as refugees by the Greek authorities. From the over 30,000 asylum applications examined in 2009, only 36 were granted refugee protection status while 128 were granted subsidiary protection status.

The duration and poor conditions of their detention provoked irregular migrants and asylum-seekers to stage protests in Venna, north-east Greece in February 2010. Likewise, in April 2010, irregular migrants went on hunger strike on the island of Samos to protest against their length of detention.

Duckworth insisted, “Detention cannot be used as a tool to control migration. The onus is on the authorities to demonstrate in each individual case that such detention is necessary and proportionate to the objective to be achieved and that alternatives will not be effective.”

Amnesty International believes the plans being developed by the Greek authorities to establish screening centres should include alternative approaches, such as those running open or semi-open centres for people arriving in the country. They say the authorities need to ensure that irregular migrants and asylum-seekers arriving at those centres have access to free legal assistance and interpreters in languages they understand, as well as medical assistance.

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Amnesty International Reports on State of Human Rights

May 27, 2010 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 


The regional overview for Africa, published in “The State of the World’s Human Rights,” Amnesty International’s report for 2010:

“No one ever asked the Sudanese themselves if they want the arrest warrant against their President. [But] undoubtedly, yes: it’s time.”

This Sudanese activist reflected the feelings of many in the region when the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its arrest warrant against President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan in March. President Al Bashir was accused, as indirect perpetrator, of war crimes – specifically attacking civilians and pillaging – and crimes against humanity – specifically for murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape. This was a powerful and welcome signal sent to those suspected of being responsible for gross human rights violations: that nobody is above the law, and that the rights of victims should be upheld.

Members of civil society in Africa frequently stressed the importance of strengthening international justice, and called on the African Union (AU) and its member states to work with the ICC, but in July, the AU Assembly adopted a resolution stipulating it would not collaborate with the Court in surrendering President Al Bashir. The AU also reiterated its request to the UN Security Council to suspend the ICC proceedings against President Al Bashir, and expressed its intention to limit the Prosecutor’s discretion to initiate investigations and prosecutions. Although some AU states seemed to disagree with the position taken by the AU as a whole, their voices were drowned out by the more vocal opponents of the ICC.

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Hague must prioritise human rights

May 26, 2010 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 


By Kate Allen

The new foreign secretary can make the UK into a force for good in the world – he should start by reading Amnesty’s new report.

When the one-time foreign secretary Robin Cook became leader of the Commons in 2001 he famously “read himself into” his new role with a marathon 48-hour briefing session. As William Hague takes the measure of his new foreign secretary job, I urge him to steel himself for the challenges ahead with a little light reading: the new Amnesty International report 2010 (subtitled “The State of the World’s Human Rights”) published later this week.

Hague may not wish to devour our – often grim – 400-page opus in one weekend, but here are some reasons why he should place it on a handy bookshelf in his office.

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Human Rights Group: Mass Evictions Pending

July 25, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 


[insert caption here]

(VOA) – A human rights group is warning of another round of mass evictions in Zimbabwe’s capital.

Amnesty International says thousands of people in Harare may soon be kicked out of their stalls and homes.  It says most of those facing possible eviction were also targeted by the government in 2005, when hundreds of thousands of people were evicted.

“We’ve spoken very recently to the deputy mayor of the Harare City Council and it appears that an estimated 200 people from an informal settlement in the suburb of Gunhill…and then thousands of informal traders from across the city face being forcibly evicted,” says the London-based Amy Agnew, Amnesty’s campaigner for Zimbabwe.

Signs of pending evictions

“There have been a series of articles in the state newspaper, which is often a mouthpiece for…the intentions of the government,” she says.  “And we had this conversation directly with the deputy mayor himself, who confirmed that these are the plans.  And without putting a timeline on them [the deputy mayor] said that this was in line to take place.”

None of those facing possible eviction have received any notice or due process, says Agnew.

“The deputy mayor told Amnesty International that city authorities are considering evicting these people from what they call illegal settlements and marketplaces to restore order.”

She says the official said the people posed a health hazard.

Happening again?

“What we know is that most of the people at risk of these evictions were victims of Operation

Zimbabwe: Operation Murambatsvina at Cowdray Park. Photo from Amnesty International
Zimbabwe: Operation Murambatsvina at Cowdray Park. Photo from Amnesty International

Murambatsvina, which was the program of mass forced evictions…in 2005, implemented by the Zimbabwean government,” Agnew says.

An estimated 700,000 people were evicted from makeshift homes and stalls at that time.

“Some of them were actually put back to the settlements where they were forcibly evicted from, she says. “So the government came in, forcibly evicted them, trashed their homes and sent them off, many of them to their rural areas.”

But many returned

“Some…were then told to come back to the rubble of their former homes and rebuild.  Others stayed with relatives.  Others continue to live in absolute destitution…as a result of those evictions,’ she says.

Four years later, she says, they have not received any compensation.

“The government has an obligation not to carry out these kinds of evictions until all other feasible alternatives have been explored and until there’s been some kind of genuine consultation with the affected communities,” she says.

Before any eviction takes place, she says, there must be adequate notice and no one should be made homeless.

Read Related Article:
Another Operation Murambatsvina to be Unleashed - TERRAVIVA AFRICA

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Secretary General Dedicates Classic Police Song to Zimbabwe

June 27, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 


By Sarah Hager

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan met with Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai this week as he was wrapping up his world tour and she had just returned from a high level mission to Zimbabwe.

As far as I can tell from the picture, there wasn’t actually a karaoke machine in the room, but Khan told Tsvangirai that Amnesty will be watching Zimbabwe closely over the next 100 days, looking for improvements in human rights. Only not in a stalker, creepy way as in the song, but more in line with the on going efforts of Amnesty International to bring to light the conditions that have occurred on the ground in Zimbabwe in recent years.

The severity of the degradation in human rights was on dramatic display during Khan’s visit last week, when civil activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise staged two protests, one in Bulawayo and one in Harare. Both protests were violently broken up by riot police, resulting in serious injuries. The Harare protest occurred near where Khan was holding a press conference. Not smart to try to convince the world you are making progress on human rights issues and then beat up mothers with their babies and grandmothers in front of the head of one of the world’s largest human rights organization.

While Tsvangirai was in the US, he secured a commitment from Obama for “humanitarian plus” aid. This means increased aid to help the people in Zimbabwe with things like education and healthcare by giving the money to organizations in Zimbabwe as opposed to the government itself. All total, Tsvangirai secured pledges from donor governments amounting to around $180 million to provide some relief in Zimbabwe. This is no where near the amounts needed to begin to rebuild the country, but donor governments remain leery of the ability of the Zimbabwe government to handle direct developmental funding in a tranparent manner. Especially when the same week the new aid commitments are being announced, legislation is introduced in Zimbabwe’s Parliament to provide $30,000 loans to all Parliamentarians to buy brand new cars.

Amnesty International USA endorses the decision of the US government to increase funds that will improve the lives of the citizens of Zimbabwe. The US and international community have an obligation to protect and promote economic, social and cultural rights around the world. But Zimbabwe, we’ll be watching you.

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Amnesty: Human rights in Zimbabwe still “grim”

June 18, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 


(AP) — Amnesty International’s chief said Thursday the situation in Zimbabwe remains grim despite promises of reform and that some in President Robert Mugabe’s party still regard violence as a legitimate political tool.

Irene Khan, the first secretary general of the human rights watchdog to visit Zimbabwe, complained that the southern African country’s four-month-old unity government was not pursuing human rights abusers.

“Progress on human rights has been woefully slow. Although the level of political violence is significantly lower than last year, the human rights situation remains precarious,” Khan told reporters after six days in Zimbabwe.

Minutes after she spoke and just a few hundred yards (meters) away, police beat peaceful protesters from local human rights groups.

Khan had been promised a meeting with Mugabe during her visit but didn’t get one — even though the longtime, increasingly autocratic leader was championed as an Amnesty “prisoner of conscience” during his anti-colonial campaign in the 1960s and `70s.

Khan was to see Mugabe’s former rival and current governing partner, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, on Friday in London. Tsvangirai was a trip to Europe and the United States, trying to repair Zimbabwe’s ties with the West and convince potential donors change was coming.

Khan said her delegation found, after talks with officials in the coalition from both Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, “no real sense of urgency to bring about human rights changes.”

“Senior ministers confirmed that addressing impunity is not a priority for the government right now,” she said.

No serious efforts were made to reform security and military services accused of intimidating and attacking Mugabe’s opponents, Khan said.

“No major investigation or prosecution has been brought against those responsible for state-sponsored political violence in recent years. Some elements of ZANU-PF still see the use of violence as a legitimate tool to crush political opponents,” she said.

Some officials told Amnesty reform was hindered by the economic meltdown and the lack of resources.

“Ending attacks on human rights defenders, lifting restrictions on the media and allowing public protests do not require money — they only require political will,” Khan said. “Lack of resources is no excuse.”

Police broke up a peaceful demonstration in the nation’s second city of Bulawayo on Wednesday and seven demonstrators were still in jail Thursday, she said.

WOZA, the organization that staged the Bulawayo protest, said Thursday that lawyers secured the release of one of eight arrested Wednesday because he was on anti-AIDS medication, but all eight were expected to appear in court Friday on charges of disturbing the peace. WOZA said more members were beaten and at least six arrested during a march in Harare Thursday.

Seven activists of Tsvangirai’s party who disappeared during a series of abductions allegedly committed by Mugabe’s security agents last year, are still missing. The Home Affairs ministry in charge of police told Khan they were not found in police custody.

Prosecutions also are continuing against 15 political activists abducted and held in isolation, some for several months, Khan said. There also has been intimidation, harassment and threats against human rights activists, journalists and lawyers, she said.

Also read related stories:
Zimbabwe police still harass us : (BBC News)
Without justice there can be no real healing in Zimbabwe: (Amnesty International)

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Amnesty for migrants could raise £3 billion in UK

June 16, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 


(Ekklesia) – Campaigners, including many church groups, have been encouraged by a study showing that an amnesty for many of the 600,000 unregistered and therefore illegal migrants in Britain could provide a £3 million boost to the economy.

The London School of Economics work, commissioned by the London Mayor Boris Johnson, also dismisses fears that an amnesty would cause further large-scale illegal migration.

Most of the people who are in the UK illegally are a combination of refused refugees and visa overstayers. Many are afraid to go back, or do not want to go back because they have jobs and livelihoods in the UK. Many currently use false documents but pay taxes and contribute to economic growth. Some are refugees prevented from working who are asking for the dignity of being allowed to do so.

“Far from a financial burden, as some suggest, this new research has found an amnesty could be worth up to £3 billion a year to the country’s economy,” the study says.

The London Mayor welcomed the report and its findings, saying that the debate had been dominated for too long by false information and lack of hard evidence.

Churches have been campaigning for a number of years for a migrant amnesty. Last month, thousands attended simultaneous services in London celebrating the place of migrants.

The Strangers into Citizens ‘Day of Action and Celebration’ on Bank Holiday Monday (4th May) included a series of simultaneous religious services at Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Methodist Central Hall as well as a rally in Trafalgar Square.

Strangers Into Citizens, which began in 2006 following a call by Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor at the first Mass for Migrant Workers, has been calling for the Government to implement a one-off regularisation measure which would allow refused asylum seekers and visa overstayers who have put down roots in Britain to become legal.

The latest research from the LSE puts the number of illegal migrants in Britain at 618,000, with more than two-thirds in London. Previous estimates had put the figure at 750,000.

The study suggests that £846 million a year would be raised in taxes if their position was regularised.

However, not all illegal migrants would be eligible. The study suggests that about two-thirds would qualify for an amnesty which granted legal status to those who have been resident for at least five years.

The estimates suggest that regularisation could raise an individual’s earnings by 25 per cent and employment rates by 6 per cent. This would mean an additional boost of £3 billion a year to the national gross domestic product.

The Home Office has admitted the impossibility of forcibly removing so many visa overstayers and refused asylum seekers. In other countries such as the US, France, Spain, Italy and Greece amnesties and regularisation programmes have been used.

Also read related story about immigration:
Bible is “ultimate immigration handbook,” says WCC chief : (Ekklesia)

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The think-tank that dreamt up its ‘£1m per immigrant’ figure

May 12, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 


By Tom Whipple

If I compare Migration Watch, the “independent non-political think-tank”, to the BNP, it is — you must understand — only for illustrative purposes. Both face a similar problem. The BNP wants to convince people that it is a serious political party. Migration Watch, which campaigns for stricter immigration control, wants to convince people that it is a serious academic think-tank.

It has had moderate success. When, last week, it published a report stating that each illegal immigrant given legal status would cost £1 million over his or her lifetime, it featured in The Times and on the front page of the Daily Express.

This is an impressive calculation to make. You have to project 40 years into the future, taking into account the differential earning power of people with widely different qualifications — as well as predicting changes in benefits. One crude way of doing it would be to look at first-generation immigrants who arrived in the Sixties, and see how they have fared. But that would require a lot of work.

How did Migration Watch do it? Simple. It assumed that each immigrant is a 25-year-old male who over 40 years will never be promoted and never earn above the minimum wage, who will marry and have two children, but whose wife will never work.

Was this misleading? “No,” says Sir Andrew Green, the Migration Watch chairman. “The example was only for illustrative purposes.” So we can’t make any wider conclusions? “It was for illustrative purposes.” When your report said that “an amnesty for illegal immigrants would cost taxpayers, on average, an extra £1 million over the lifetime of each immigrant,” was that correct? “It was for illustrative purposes.”

The report refers to a person who may or may not exist, who seems to have been chosen precisely because he represents a worst reasonable-case scenario. There are two conclusions. Either Migration Watch is incompetent or it is malicious. Those on the Left might like to believe the latter. But there is one final calculation that could resolve the dilemma.

Migration Watch knows that a feckless immigrant costs more if he lives in London rather than outside: it estimates £1.1m versus £0.9m. It is very difficult to produce a nationwide figure from this data, as it requires knowledge of the settlement patterns of illegal immigrants. But Migration Watch was diligent. It carefully weighted the data, summed across the population densities, and reached the figure of £1m.

Only kidding. It added 1.1 to 0.9 and divided by two.- The Times

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