LATEST NEWS UPDATE 1/6/2014 1pm – Article published on AlJazeera ”UK Asylum Seeker claims harrowing deportation”
UK Home Office continues to ignore advice from UNHCR that forced removals to Somalia are unsafe and a campaign against removals to Somalia has been underway since Febraury this year.
The lawyer of a recent removal to Mogadishu on 3rd May said that despite objective evidence clearly indicating returns to Somalia are unsafe there is presently ‘no barriers to removal’ under UK Home Office policy. Canada is not removing individuals to Somalia, and the United Nations has called for an end to removals to Somalia yet the UK is not following this advisement.
The next known removal of a Somali national is on Tuesday 3rd June 2014. He is anxiously awaiting this date, detained in Dover Immigration Removal centre. This will be the second attempt to remove this particular individual who earlier this year was handcuffed and forcibly taken as far as Istanbul before legal action resulted in the detainee being returned to the UK and released from immigration detention. However, just a short few months later he was again detained when reporting at his local Home Office reporting centre.
An individual returned to Mogadishu two weeks ago reports ill-treatment during return via Turkish Airlines Flight TK1988 on 3rd May. Turkish Airlines denies any disturbing behaviour on board the flight where three escorts forcibly removed the Somali national.
Recent changes to the UK Home Office operational guidance notes in April this year have enabled this and other returns to go ahead. Present HO practice of removing individuals to Mogadishu is claimed in these notes as possible due to a perceived lack of general risk in the area.
Refugee Action the organisation that facilitates the Choices assisted voluntary return (AVR) program reports security concerns preventing the option AVR being open to Somalia, the only country where returns are possible yet not offered. Lou Calvey, Director of Operations, at Refugee Action reports:
‘Refugee Action are concerned to learn that the Home Office have recommenced forcible removals to South and Central Somalia in the face of serious security concerns…Based on the risks reported on South and Central Somalia Refugee Action’s Choices service do not facilitate voluntary returns here as explained on the Choices website.”
Home Office spokesperson, in response to ill-treatment of the 3rd May removal to Mogadishu, contradicts the present policy of the AVR program:
“Those in the country illegally are given every opportunity to leave voluntarily and we offer them advice and support if they choose to do so. However, where individuals refuse to return by themselves, our only option is to enforce their removal.”
A Country Guidance case outlining issues of returns to Somalia is believed to be ongoing and campaigners, including The Unity Centre and Stop Somali Removals Campaign call for an immediate halt to forced removals to Mogadishu in the meantime. We also call for an investigation into ill-treatment of returnees to Mogadishu. Lead immigration Solicitor from Duncan Lewis, Bernadette Adusei stated in November 2013 about what was to become the latest guidance case on the present human rights situation in Somalia, “The decision of this case will impact on many thousands of cases involving Somali citizens presently in the UK who may be forced to return home by the Home Office. There is already strong evidence from leading Country experts to suggest that an individual’s life will be put to risk if removal to Mogadishu takes place. Key human rights organisations are assisting in providing statistics and evidence in the case.” (see http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/11/prweb11324828.htm)
It has been suggested by Paul Morris, a volunteer at the Somali Adult Social Care Agency in Manchester that a European Court of Human Rights judgement in a Swedish case, September 2013, where returns to Mogadishu were allowed where a returnee was deemed not at specific risk. This mirroring the updated made to UK Home Office operational guidance notes two months ago.
Morris told Al Jazeera earlier that the case: “[Is] based on a fact-finding mission by a few Nordic bureaucrats who went for about a week and produced a report. It’s fatuous…The judgment came out at the beginning of September. Two weeks later the Westgate attack happened in Nairobi, and Al-Shabab proved its power.”
Al Shabab commander Ali Mohamed Hussein reported last year that Somalian’s returning from the West will be viewed as individuals who have given up their religion and are a valid military target. He states: “They are working for the infidels, and since they are working for the infidels, they are the same as the infidels they are working for as far as we are concerned.”
Previous media coverage of this ongoing issue:
Immigrant Stories: The secret deportation programme to Somalia by Ian Dunt 6 March 2014
Somali’s fear ‘death sentence’ deportations by Simon Hooper 22 March 2014
For more information or to arrange an interview with Somali detainees or to join the campaign calling for an immediate halt to removals to Mogadishu please contact Jasmine Sallis at The Unity Centre on 0141 427 7992 OR 0744 861 7766.
You can also find StopSomali Removals on Facebook