Posts Tagged ‘deportation’

The “Stansted 15” story ends ‘well’ but not good enough

February 7, 2019

PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

Kate AllenDirector of Amnesty International UK, wrote a blog post on 7 February 2019 in the Huffington post about the ‘Stansted 15’: 

After nearly two long years the news is that the Stansted 15 will not be going to jail. On Wednesday, the 15 arrived at Chelmsford Crown Court with their bags packed for their anticipated prison stints. Given that they were staring down the barrel of a possible life sentence, they were contemplating the worst. ..a happy ending? Well, not really.

This group of human rights defenders remain convicted of a serious terrorism-related offence. They were tried in relation to their attempt to prevent the deportation of a group of people at Stansted Airport in 2017. Their actions – which at no point harmed anyone – prevented the flight from leaving. Of the 60 individuals due to have been deported, at least two have since been granted permission to remain in the UK, with others still pursuing their claims.

Initially, we should recall, the Stansted 15 were charged with aggravated trespass, a relatively minor charge of the type that has often been used to prosecute people who have undertaken similar protests. But four months in, this was changed to “endangering safety at aerodromes” – a very serious terrorism-related charge which came onto the books following the Lockerbie bombings – and one which has a maximum penalty of life in prison.

….The way the Stansted 15 have been treated should be a matter of grave concern for anyone who cares about human rights in the UK. This case is a canary in the coalmine and we should be alert for the chilling effect this trial could have on peaceful protest in the UK….It’s easy to see how what has happened to them might give pause to others seeking to stand up against perceived injustice.

Throughout this case it’s been clear these are human rights defenders, motivated by conscience and compassion for their fellow humans. 

 

 

Emma Hughes grew up in Epsom and was one of 15 activists who helped block a charter flight at Heathrow airport in March 2017.  Emma Hughes is a charity worker who recently gave birth to a son, Fen. In December last year before learning of her sentence, she told the Surrey Comet that the trial and subsequent conviction, which she might have faced up to life imprisonment, had severely impacted her pregnancy. Hughes said: “My partner faces not just me going to jail but his first child as well. It’s very scary for everyone’s families as well as us.” 12 of the activists, including Hughes, received community service sentences, while three others were given suspended prison sentences.

Raj Chada, Partner from Hodge Jones & Allen, who represented all 15 of the defendants said: “While we are relieved that none of our clients face a custodial sentence, today is still a sad day for justice. Our clients prevented individuals being illegally removed from the UK and should never have been charged under counter terrorism legislation. We maintain that this was an abuse of power by the Attorney General and the CPS and will continue to fight in the appeal courts to get these wrongful convictions overturned.

Eleven of the people on the halted March 2017 flight are still in the UK and have been able to keep fighting their cases. The Stansted 15 have been described as‘heroes’ by one of those people, a man who has lived in the UK for over a decade. As he sat on the flight, waiting for it to leave, his mother and two children were also in Britain, as well as his pregnant partner. The delay to the flight meant that he was able to successfully appeal against his deportation and be at his partner’s side while she gave birth to their daughter. He wrote for the Guardian: “Without the Stansted 15 I wouldn’t have been playing football with my three-year-old in the park this week. It’s that simple. We now have a chance to live together as a family in Britain – and that is thanks to the people who laid down in front of the plane.”

It will be interesting to see what the UK Government will reply to the UN in a few weeks time. (see Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/07/un-tells-uk-stop-using-terror-charges-against-peaceful-protesters)

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/stansted-15-trial_uk_5c5bfdcee4b09293b20bbfbd

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/amy-hall/uk-human-rights-defenders-escape-jail-for-stopping-deportation-flight

UN Experts urge USA not to deport human rights defenders like Maru Mora Villalpando

February 14, 2018

On 14 February 2018 a group of four UN human rights experts urged the United States Government to respect the rights of human rights defenders, amid concern over action being taken against a Mexican woman who campaigns to protect migrants’ rights. Maru Mora Villalpando, who has been in the US since 1996, is facing deportation proceedings after fronting a high-profile campaign against alleged human rights violations at a US immigrants’ detention centre, operated by a private company on behalf of the US government. [Ms. Villalpando, whose 20-year-old daughter is a US citizen, is co-founder of a group which highlights human rights concerns about the Northwest Detention Centre in Tacoma, Washington.  She has raised the issue with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, alleging corporate involvement in human rights violations as well as expressing concern over hunger strikes and the deportation of migrants. The UN experts have been in contact with the Government regarding their concerns.]

Ms. Villalpando’s notice to appear at deportation proceedings, received without warning, seems to be related to her advocacy work on behalf of migrant detainees”, the experts said. “We urge the US Government to protect and ensure Ms. Villalpando’s rights as a defender and her right to family life”.

“The authorities should take all necessary measures to guarantee that no action, including detention and deportation, as means of retaliation, is taken against Ms. Villalpando for reporting cases of the detention of immigrants and alleged violations of their human rights, especially in view of the reported conditions in these centres of detention”. The experts said they were concerned that Ms. Villalpando’s case appeared to be part of a pattern. “Giving people notice of deportation proceedings appears to be a part of an increasing pattern of intimidation and retaliation against people defending migrants’ rights in the US”, the experts said.

The UN experts are: Ms. Elina Steinerte, Vice-Chair on Communications of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr. Felipe González MoralesSpecial Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ms. Anita Ramasastry, Chair person of UN Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22657&LangID=E

Qatar extradited human rights defender Otaibi to Saudi Arabia ignoring Norway’s grant of asylum

June 1, 2017

IMG_1127
On 31 May 2017 ALQST reported that Qatar has extradited the prominent Saudi human rights defender Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Otaibi to Saudi Arabia, even after Norway accepted his application for political asylum.  Otaibi was arrested at Doha International Airport on Wednesday 24 May, 2017 as he was about to travel with his wife to Norway, on travel documents provided by the Norwegians.  Days later, on Sunday, 28 May 28 3 a.m., Otaibi was deported overland to Saudi Arabia via the Salwa border crossing and delivered to the Saudi authorities, who sent him with an escort of Saudi security vehicles to the Dammam Prisons Department.
For more details see the piece referred to below:

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Thailand returns recognized refugees to China (and falsely claims they did not know about their status)

December 8, 2015

Anneliese Mcauliffe in Al Jazeera on 6 December 2015 reported that two Chinese human rights defenders recognised as UN refugees were forcibly deported from Thailand to China last month and have appeared on Chinese state-run television and confessed to human-trafficking offenses. CCTV reported that Jiang Yefei was arrested for “assisting others to illegally cross the national border”, and Dong Guangping was charged with using a trafficking network to flee China while awaiting trial on sedition charges. It was the first time the two men were seen since being taken from a detention centre in the Thai capital Bangkok in November and deported to China.

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Deportation of Human Rights Defenders: two European cases next to each other

September 1, 2015

Just two cases (unrelated) to show how media report differently (or not at all):

Antifascists hold an action protesting public events held on the occasion of the day of memory of the Latvian Legion Waffen-SS at the Freedom Monument in Riga
© SPUTNIK/ ILYA PITALEV Anti-Nazi Activism Now Seen As ‘National Security Threat’ in Lithuania

On 1 September Sputnik reports under the title “Moscow slammed Vilnius for persecution of human rights defenders” how Moscow is concerned about Lithuanian authorities’ recent decision to deport three rights activists. “Lithuanian authorities handed over decisions to three well-known Latvian human rights activists that they had to leave the country within 24 hours, with two being banned entry for five years,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “This shameless move by Lithuanian authorities, which can only be interpreted as persecution of human right defenders, causes serious concern.

Source: Russia Criticizes Lithuania’s ‘Shameless’ Deportation of Rights Activists

Then I remembered an old case from a Danish newspaper of 21 May 2015 which read: “Russia moves to deport Danish activist group“.

It said that 3 members of a Danish human rights group faced possible deportation after being accused of breaching immigration rules. The Danish, German and Latvian citizens were participating in a workshop jointly organized by the prominent Russian rights group Committee Against Torture and the Danish Institute Against Torture (Dignity). Migration officials had stormed the hotel venue in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fifth-biggest city, and demanded that the foreigners accompany them for questioning. A court in Nizhny ruled that German lecturer Uwe Harlacher, a psychologist, had entered the country with the wrong visa, said the head of the Committee Against Torture, Igor Kalyapin.
[Last year, four American students were deported after attending a leadership conference. Russian officials said they had tourist visas but were not engaged in tourism.]

Not enough detail in any of these cases to judge definitely who is right and wrong, but interesting to note how authorities like to play with rules which suit them.

MEA laureate Kasha urges UK Home Office not to deport Ugandan lesbian

December 12, 2014

Under the title “FAMED UGANDAN ACTIVIST URGES UK HOME OFFICE NOT TO DEPORT LESBIANMelanie Nathan reports in her post of 11 December 2014 on O-blog-dee-o-blog-da that Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, the MEA laureate of 2011 has intervened strongly with the UK not to force Judith Twikiriz back to Uganda. “The UK has been very supportive of the Uganda Gay rights movement and it will be an embarrassment that your office doesn’t live up to its expectations in protecting those that need the protection most from persecution” Kasha writes in her letter. She would be sent back to the country where she already experienced torture and where she now faces likely persecution. The letter contains detailed arguments against deportation.

2011 Laureate Kasha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COPY OF THE LETTER to be found in the original post:

 

 

 

via Famed Ugandan Activist Urges UK Home Office Not to Deport Lesbian | O-blog-dee-o-blog-da.

Human Rights Watch deconstructs case against UK withdrawal from European Human Rights

October 1, 2014

In the past year, some senior members of the UK government have been highly critical of the current human rights framework, claiming falsely that it mainly benefits criminals, terrorists, and undocumented migrants, and suggesting that the UK should replace the Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights. They have also hinted that the UK should withdraw from the European Convention so that it can more easily deport people. “To scrap the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention would be an extreme and reckless step, weakening rights protections for everyone in the UK” said Izza Leghtas, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It would gravely damage a system that has helped safeguard fundamental freedoms in some 47 European countries over six decades.”

In a Q&A released on 29 September, Human Rights Watch addresses some of the recurring criticisms of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention.

The Q&A responds to the criticism that human rights make it difficult to deport foreigners who have committed serious criminal offences. In fact, the UK already has legal powers to deport foreigners convicted of a serious criminal offence, but human rights law prohibits the deportation of a person in the limited cases where they would face a real risk of death, torture, or ill-treatment in the country of destination or have no prospect of a fair trial. Courts can also block a deportation if there would be a serious adverse impact on the deportee’s family, but in reaching such decisions courts must weigh the potential harm to the individual, the individual’s family (who may be British citizens), and the impact on society if he or she were allowed to remain.

The Q&A also addresses the criticism that the Human Rights Act is undemocratic. If a domestic court finds a UK law to be inconsistent with the Human Rights Act, it cannot strike down that law. It can only note that incompatibility and it is then for parliament to decide whether and how to change the law, in comparison to many other democratic countries where courts can strike down laws. As a last resort, people who invoke those rights unsuccessfully before UK judges can still seek to take their case to the court in Strasbourg, an arrangement approved by British governments for many decades.

The European Convention and the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights are binding on governments across the 47 countries that are part of the Council of Europe. The European Court has played a key role in protecting the rights of 800 million people across the Council of Europe region. Its rulings have been instrumental ending torture in police custody, ensuring victims of abuses by state authorities have access to justice and allowing people to express themselves freely. In many countries the court offers the only meaningful chance for justice for those whose rights are abused.

Reaffirming human rights at home is essential for any UK government that seeks to promote respect for human rights around the world. If the UK is to have any credibility on human rights in its foreign policy, it should strengthen, not weaken, its own human rights protections, Human Rights Watch said.

Attacks in the UK on the European Court of Human Rights undermine those efforts and provide succor to abusive governments in the Council of Europe that would prefer to ignore the European Court. The only European country currently not a member of the Council of Europe is Belarus. The only country to have withdrawn from the ECHR was Greece in 1969, while it was under a military dictatorship.

The UK’s withdrawal from the European Convention would be welcomed by abusive governments everywhere,” Leghtas said. “But it would gravely weaken an institution that has done so much to safeguard and advance basic freedoms across Europe and it would destroy the credibility of the UK when discussing human rights internationally.”

UK: Parties Should Commit to Rights | Human Rights Watch.

Philippines activist deported from India for working on disappearances

August 20, 2014

MARY AILEEN DIEZ BACALSO
The Kashmir Reader on 20 August 2014 reported that Mary Aileen Diez Bacalso, the Secretary General of Manila-based Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), was deported after her arrival at the Mumbai International Airport, India. “I’m sure that I was prevented from entering the country because of my work for the AFAD,  and for the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) on the issue of enforced disappearances, on the mass graves, and  on the persecution of human rights defenders in Kashmir,” Bacalso told over phone from Manila.Bacalso said it was not the first time that India denied a visa to an AFAD official from visiting the country. She said that the matter was reported to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances and to the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.
“And India ironically signed the International Convention for the Protection of all the persons from enforced disappearance. And in that convention it states that the families of the disappeared have the right to organize themselves and also to work for truth and justice…” she added.

The AFAD Secretary General explained that she was not on an official but a personal visit to Mumbai on her friend’s invitation.  “I was going to stay in Mumbai as a tourist for only four days. …I was not planning to go to Kashmir.”
Upon her arrival at the Mumbai airport on August 17 the officials told her that she had done something ‘bad’ during her five-day visit to India in November 2009. [Prior to her visit, the Indian embassy in Philippines told her travel agent that Philippine nationals can obtain a 20-day visa upon arrival

via HR activist says barred from India for working on Kashmir disappearances | Kashmir Reader.