News roundup: OGNs, inspections, reports

Still Human’s new commentaries on three OGNs
Please find attached Still Human’s commentaries on the latest OGNs for Iran, Sri Lanka and Jamaica. The commentaries identify some inconsistencies and omissions between the available country of origin information and case law for these countries and the conclusions reached in the most recent OGNs. The commentaries are intended as a tool to assist legal practitioners and to help ensure that all relevant material is considered by decision-makers. All commentaries can be accessed at http://stillhumanstillhere.wordpress.com/resources

UKBA e-mail for feedback on telephone appointment line
UKBA recently wrote to ILPA recognising that people have had difficulties in accessing the telephone appointment line. UKBA are trying to correct this and would welcome feedback on people’s experience of the telephone appointment line at:  yyfma-ASUDO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Frontex 2011 report: Download the report.

First annual report of the United Kingdom’s National Preventive Mechanism: OPCAT [Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment] requires that States designate a ‘national preventive mechanism’ (NPM) to carry out visits to all places of detention, to monitor the treatment and conditions for detainees and to make recommendations regarding the prevention of ill-treatment. … NPM members who visit the immigration estate are especially concerned about the negative impact detention can have on children’s emotional wellbeing and their mental health, and their ties with the community. They are concerned that decisions to detain children, or to continue their detention, do not fully take account of the children’s best interests …” Download the report.

UKBA : Service Improvement Plan – Heathrow Termnal 5 STHF
“Toilets should be fitted with seats. – Reject – This has been rejected on cost grounds by BAA and UKBA. The toilets comply with Home Office standards for holding rooms. … Statistics should be kept on the numbers of children using the [British Airways] Skyflyers lounge as an alternative to detention. – Accept – TN5 CYP CIO has agreed to keep a weekly spreadsheet of all CYP cases that are put onto CID. Records will detail the place of detention, case reference number, name, age and details of why the lounge was considered more appropriate than the holding room.”  Download the Service Improvement Plan.

UKBA : Service Improvement Plan – Cayley House
“The chairs in the interview room should not be chained to the floor. – Reject – It is standard policy within Detention Services to have the chairs bolted to the floor in all interview rooms and holding rooms. … Vehicles with internal cages should not be used for journeys within the airport unless clearly justified by individual risk assessment. – Accept in principle – All vehicles currently in operation have been approved by UKBA.  Vehicles with mesh partitions are not used for children or vulnerable detainees.” Download the Service Improvement Plan.

UKBA : Dover Service Improvement Plan 
“When an allegation of assault has been made by a detainee, his removal should be delayed until a decision regarding prosecution has been made” – Reject. “The reasons for the discrepancies between UKBA and health care records of Rule 35 applications should be investigated and the findings acted on.” – Accept. “Restraints should not used during visits to outside medical or dental facilities unless in exceptional circumstances after a risk assessment.” – Reject. “Staff should not routinely carry extendable batons.” – Reject.  Download the report.

UKBA : Service Improvement Plan – Detainees Under Escort at Heathrow
“Detainees should not be transported in caged vans unless evidence of risk clearly justifies it.” – Accept in principle. “Escorting staff should only give information to detainees which they know to be true.” – Accept.  Download the Service Improvement Plan.

UKBA : Service Improvement Plan – Birmingham airport 
“Documents being faxed by a detainee should not be disclosed to an immigration officer.” – Accept in part.  Download the Service Improvement Plan.   

UKBA : Service Improvement Plan – Dallas Court
“The toilet area should be completely screened from the holding area – Reject – There are three underlying issues: safety, security and privacy of which, within reason, safety and security are paramount. The toilet in the holding area permits adequate privacy. The toilet is housed on the far wall of the holding room with the partition wall covering floor to ceiling, the door has gaps but this arrangement enables DCOs to be alerted to any possible self harm attempt by detainees.”  Download the Service Improvement Plan.

HMIP : Tinsley House February 2011
“… there was an objectionable and distressing practice, which should cease, of overseas escort staff taking additional detainees as ‘reserves’ to the airports for charter flights in case illness or appeal prevented a removal. This inhumane practice should cease.”  Download the report.

IMB : Report on Heathrow short-term holding facility – 2009/10
“We have continued to see people detained in unsuitable conditions. All are denied proper facilities for sleep. Access to proper facilities for washing is mostly a privilege, not a right. We have particular concerns about the detention of families and unaccompanied minors in these conditions. Unsuitability might be objectively tolerable if detention time in these conditions was very short. It is not.” Download the report.

HMIP : HMP Canterbury
“Late notice of removals by UKBA inhibited effective resettlement support to those being removed who, in any case, received much less tangible support than those released back into the community. Indeed, without the national policy and direction for foreign national prisoners that we have long sought, it is difficult to see how one small prison such as Canterbury can address the scale and complexity of their resettlement needs.” Download the report.

IMB Harmondsworth 2010 Annual Report
“Excessively long immigration detention must be reduced, says Watchdog … Of these seven had been held for more than two years and a further two for more than three years. The cost of detaining the longest-held detainee for 3 years and seven months reached ÂŁ144,000.”  Download the report.

IBM Yarl’s Wood : Annual Report 2010