That ‘No Torture’ Memorandum Scam Again

Those cover-your-ass pieces of worthless paper the UK use to pretend they are not outsourcing torture and in which we are a world leader, this time in Afghanistan-

RAWA:- Britain ‘hands over prisoners in Afghanistan to face torture’. British troops are handing over Taliban suspects to the Afghan security service to face “horrible abuse” and torture, the High Court has been told. By Duncan Gardham

Government denials of such abuse are the result of a “head in the sand” attitude, partly borne out of a close intelligence relationship with the Afghans, the judges were told.

They are the latest allegations of British complicity in torture following investigations into MI5 and MI6.
Human rights lawyers have assembled details of nine cases involving allegations of beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, electrocution, and whipping with rubber cables.

They are arguing that Britain has breached the Human Rights Act by handing over prisoners to a country known to participate in torture.

They say the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), the domestic security service, had a reputation for mistreating prisoners and British officers should have known what was happening.

The Ministry of Defence is opposing the application for judicial review and Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, has said that detention is an important and necessary ability for British forces operating in Afghanistan, and safeguards are in place to prevent mistreatment.

But Michael Fordham QC told the court that the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office were seeking to protect their detainee transfer policy by adopting the approach “of seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil”.

In legal documents put before the court he said there are many reputable reports that torture and ill-treatment is “endemic” in the NDS “even at a very high level”, which has been described as a relic from the days of Soviet occupation.

The NDS was said to have been created in the image of the KGB and allegedly still has a reputation for torturing and killing.

Mr Fordham said the British government had chosen to rely on a “manifestly unsafe” memorandum of understanding with the Afghan authorities that international human rights obligations would be observed by the NDS.

But Britain adopted a “head in the sand” because it did not want to uncover evidence of human rights abuses and therefore refused to investigate thoroughly, he said, adding that the fact the NDS supplied intelligence to the UK was no secret.

Green Candidate Wins Colombian Debate, Clegg Is An Alien

Via Otto @ IKN

Green party candidate Antanas Mockus was also interrogated by the other parties’ representatives.

Asked by Cambio Radical’s Vargas Lleras how he would tackle guerrilla activity, especially drug-trafficking, on the border with Venezuela, Mockus replied that a “pedagogical process” was needed and that action should “always be respectful.”

A question posed to all candidates was whether they would permit a repeat of the Colombian army’s attack of FARC guerrillas on Ecuadorian soil two years ago, which resulted in the death of the group’s second-in-command Raul Reyes. Sanin and Santos replied that they would consider similar action.

The remaining candidates said that they would not authorize such a bombardment, which killed 25 people and sparked a diplomatic row with Ecuador.

According to Mockus, who is a self-proclaimed pacifist, the action was “unacceptable” and “the results [of the attack] did not justify the means.”

“At the time I said that the actions had damaged international rights,” said Petro on the raid, while Vargas Lleras admitted that he had supported the operation at the time but would not authorize any such attack on Venezuelan territory.

Closing the debate, Mockus – who was voted the debate’s winner by readers of El Espectador – spoke of his education policies as a means to national prosperit

Meanwhile in the UK, the main two parties are so panicked by Clegg’s popularity a birther movement has been started. No really it is that dumb, unlikely as it is I would not mind Clegg as PM of a Lib/Lab coalition not because I think he will be that much better (he is a Little Orange booker), but because once in power he will behave as all others have, supporters will get disappointed and then the mass of people who realise that what is wrong is not down to which party is in power will grow. The consensus triangulated centre right/right neoliberal corporatocracy can keep up this pantomime indefinitely as long as the supply of chumps = the tiny percentage needed for a party to win an election. Having experienced some more mass media today I see little chance of that small number being threatened as they appear to have replaced journalism with W.C. Fields 3 laws of the grift

“You can’t cheat an honest man; never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump”

Posted in Politics. Tags: . 2 Comments »

UK Military Test Flying Israeli Drone Over Wales

Before the ash of doom cleared the flight schedules the ‘Watchkeeper‘ drone was successfully test flown on Wedenesday over Welsh skies (ht2 Mike)-

The UK tentacle of French arms giant Thales is delighted today to announce that its new “Watchkeeper” drone aircraft for the British Army has made its first flight in UK airspace. The machine first flew in 2008, above Israel, where the Hermes 450 it is based on is made.

The 20-minute Watchkeeper flight took place yesterday at the new ParcAberporth drone-drome in Wales, operated by controversial MoD selloff bonanza firm Qinetiq, which it is hoped will become a huge economic boon for Wales as the UK robocraft business booms in future. For now though, the main job it has is testing Watchkeeper.

The Watchkeeper itself is a modification of the Hermes 450 craft from Elbit of Israel, which the British Army is already using in Afghanistan under a lease deal with Elbit and Thales. Watchkeeper is superior to a basic Hermes 450, however, as it carries a ground-moving-target-indicator radar (developed with the help of Thales’ French operations) in addition to its electro-optical spyeye package.

The plan is for the British Watchkeepers and their engines to be made (or assembled, anyway) in Blighty. The aircraft will be put together at a company in Leicester called U-TacS, 51 per cent owned by Elbit – thus, Israeli-controlled. The UK engine-making factory will be fully Israeli-owned.

Apart from Thales’ I-MASTER Franco-UK radar, various other European components will replace the ones used by Israel in the Hermes 450. This process is described by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Thales as essentially endowing Britain with a new unmanned-aircraft manufacturing base boasting 2000+ well-paid, skilled British jobs. This is the main reason why it is taking years and costing hundreds of millions to field a fairly ordinary radar+EO surveillance aircraft.

So I guess there’s still a ways to go on BDS where the MOD are involved…(it’s almost as if the military and the UK government are not at the forefront of human rights, quick someone call the Decents and alert their superior moral senses, the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan may possibly not be about building creches). The base for this testing is the UAV centre at ParcAberporth (& Google map). Of course the skilled jobs are trumpeted and with little choice the fact it is making a living out of death does not get a look in, you can’t pay a mortgage with good intentions, thus capitalism marches on with its evil flying robots of death. Protests in 2004 against the site of course fell on deaf ears when corporate profit and political influence peddling in the war-on-terro era trumps all notions of…well morality-

“We are very unhappy at the proposal and we know many local people are also concerned about it,” said Rod Stallard, vice-chairman of CND Cymru yesterday. “It’s been stated by the US Navy that this type of aircraft will have an armed offence capability by 2015. We don’t think Wales should be used as the site for producing such an offensive weapon. To have public money pumped into something like this is ridiculous. We should be supporting local businesses, not giving public money to multi-national companies to produce killing machines. It’s not for rural Wales, or for anywhere else.”

Local resident Keith Haworth said there were a number of questions about the project that needed to be answered.

He added, “Wales may want to be seen as the new Celtic Tiger, but is investment in remote-controlled weapons delivery technology the face a peace-orientated nation wishes to present to the world?”

ParcAberporth was created under the auspice of the legendarily corrupt patronage machine/quango the Welsh Development Agency  which is now simply the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department of Economy and Transport and the privatised Qinetiq, which was sold off cheap to the Empire’s corporate war machine. Rod Stallard had it right ‘To have public money pumped into something like this is ridiculous. We should be supporting local businesses, not giving public money to multi-national companies to produce killing machines.’ Thankfully we have an election now where we can vote and change all that… oh I am funny.

Death By Medical Neglect & A Riot, But Look- Shiny GE

At Oakington Migrant Detention Centre (named second worst and ‘unsafe’ in an official report by the Chief prison inspector Anne Owers) a man died (believed to be a Kenyan national), there was a riot and our supposedly over stretched security forces rustled up 150 riot officers to kidnap protesters and disperse them to prisons. However as there is a nice shiny General Election campaign going on and the only look in for migrants is which party victimises them to best electoral effect, so y’know, whatever huh? Details are sketchy, the Beeb have, as is their current style, taken the official information and relayed it as fact, some more detailed reporting has been done by a local paper Cambridge News, but first the Guardian report of the death-

One source told the Guardian that the man, who is thought to have had a heart attack, had asked for Panadol repeatedly and was seen “crawling around the floor in pain” before he died. The source claimed the man’s pleas for help were refused by staff at the centre, which is run by the private security company G4S for the UK Border Agency.

Dashty Jamal, general secretary of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, told the Guardian he had spoken to detainees and had also been told the man died of a heart attack: “He was asking for a doctor. It’s very hard to get a doctor there. He had a heart attack and he died.”

After that protest at the neglect and death, Cambridge News-

RIOT police were deployed to Oakington Immigration Centre when violent scenes erupted and a detainee’s body was held hostage. A mob of upset inmates smashed down the gates of one compound as anger flared after the death of a 40-year-old yesterday morning. Detainees prevented police invest¬igators from going into the dormitory where the body of the man lay. More than 180 inmates held a courtyard protest demanding better treatment and calling for an inquiry as tensions mounted.

A News photographer was able to take a picture of scenes within the compound after being taken up in an aircraft. The protesters were angry about the circumstances surrounding the death of the man, thought to be a Kenyan national, who had become ill. He died in the early hours of the morning from what is believed to be a heart attack.

Inmates also threatened to go on hunger strike claiming the man’s death could have been prevented.

Around 150 police including riot control officers poured into the centre. The coroner’s van waited at the centre all day during the standoff as police negotiators spoke to inmates. Officers eventually persuaded inmates to allow officers into the dormitory and the body was later taken away by officials from the coroner’s office.

A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire police said: “Officers did negotiate with inmates to enter the dormitory where the body was so that scenes of crimes investigators could enter.

“Police wanted to enter peacefully and were allowed in after negotiations. The body has now been taken from the centre and a post-mortem will be held tomorrow.”

One inmate told the News earlier in the day: “There are about 200 people all very upset. The authorities have done nothing to help him and now he is dead. I think there will be a riot here.”

From the Morning Star

Medical Justice, a campaign group which works closely with asylum-seekers in detention, said that it had repeatedly warned the government about conditions in Oakington and other centres. Medical Justice clinical director Dr Frank Arnold said: “If reports are true that adequate health care was denied to this man, we are sadly not surprised.

“Actually, we are surprised a detainee hasn’t died sooner – our volunteer doctors who visit detainees have come across hundreds of cases where medication and access to hospital has been denied. We have warned the government and the private companies it contracts the running of detention centres to about the many cases of dangerous medical mismanagement we have seen. We call for the immediate closure of Oakington. Our volunteer doctors have found that the harm being caused by immigration removal centres is so widespread that the only solution is to close them down.”

In 2008, Oakington was singled out for serious criticism by the prison inspectorate. Inspectors found that staff at the facility had used excessive force, maintained poor facilities and that there was a rising level of self-harm among detainees.

In January this year, a Bolivian family who had been detained at Oakington for 42 days received a settlement of £100,000 from the Home Office after it admitted falsely imprisoning them. Solicitors for Carmen Quiroga and her four children said Ms Quiroga had suffered verbal abuse and threats from staff, and was denied access to medicine and children’s food. On one occasion, she was struck by a guard in front of her children for failing to maintain eye contact.

Subsequently the authorities got the camp and the media locked down and the story became ‘ringleaders’ and injured security forces, I find it unlikely no detainees have been injured but news is coming through official channels so clearly they will not volunteer that information-

A NUMBER of security staff and a police officer were injured in a move to take out 60 detainees from Oakington immigration centre. A detainee speaking to the News shortly before the action said they feared the UK Border Agency was removing “ring-leaders” of a protest over the death of a fellow inmate on Thursday. The death of the 40-year-old man, bellieved to be a Kenyan national, prompted a huge disturbance at the centre near Cambridge.

The move on Friday night led to minor injuries among officers and it is thought the removed detainees are being taken to prisons. A Home Office spokesperson said a “number of ringleaders have been removed from Oakington”.

“The death of the man on Thursday is not being treated as suspicious, but a Home Office spokesman said he believed detainees had used the death “as a way of protesting, trying to get their point of view across”.

So they reckon to have gotten away with it, refusing a man medical care quite possibly causing his death, justifiably angry and desperate detainees showing solidarity and protesting are pejoratively called ‘ringleaders’ and massive security force response to spirit them away to unnamed prisons. Now is there something wrong with me that I find this not acceptable activity for this country a supposed open democracy that is actually undergoing an election campaign at present so such news should have greater impact not less. Of course -greater- would rely 0n any of the parties valuing migrants and not using them as scapegoats for the negative ‘externalities’ of their neoliberal approaches to economic and social policies from which none of the the parties significantly deviate (not significantly enough to justify the interest and enjoyment exhibited by GE obsessed new and old media). Death, riot and imprisonment without trial, happening right now, anyone want to give a shit about that? Huh? Anyone? Hello…?

PS. Cambridge Migrant Solidarity will be holding a demonstration in solidarity with the detainees in Oakington this Sunday between 12 noon and 2pm. If you would like to join people cycling from Cambridge, meet on Parkside (next to Parker’s Piece), by coach bay 16 at 10am. There will be transport available for people from Cambridge leaving from the same meet up point at Parkside at 10:30am. There will be transport available for people travelling from outside Cambridge, leaving from Cambridge train station at 11:30. Please call or text 078 7979 3739 now, if you would like transport at either time, so we can make sure we arrange enough to get everyone there. There are no public transport services near the Removal Centre (it is not in Oakington village).

Friday! Jamie Kilstein

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Freedom’s On The March

Prosthetic legs line a wall in Kabul, Afghanistan ©Lynsey Addario / VII Network

The Obama Torture Regime

Hilary Andersson BBC News, Bagram:- Afghan prisoners are being abused in a “secret jail” at Bagram airbase, according to nine witnesses whose stories the BBC has documented. The abuses are all said to have taken place since US President Barack Obama was elected, promising to end torture.

The US military has denied the existence of a secret detention site and promised to look into allegations. Bagram was the site of a controversial jail holding hundreds of inmates, who have now been moved to another complex. The old prison was notorious for allegations of prisoner torture and abuse. But witnesses told the BBC in interviews or written testimony that abuses continue in a hidden facility.

“They call it the Black Hole,” said Sher Agha who spent six days in the facility last autumn. “When they released us they told us we should not tell our stories to outsiders because that will harm us.”

Sher Agha and others we interviewed complained their cells were very cold. “When I wanted to sleep and started shivering with cold I started reciting the holy Koran,” he said. But sleep, according to the prisoners interviewed, is deliberately prevented in this detention site.

“I could not sleep, nobody could sleep because there was a machine that was making noise,” said Mirwais, who said he was held in the secret jail for 24 days. There was a small camera in my cell, and if you were sleeping they’d come in and disturb you,” he added.

The prisoners, who were interviewed separately, all told very similar stories. Most of them said they had been beaten by American soldiers at the point of arrest before being taken to the prison. Mirwais had half a row of teeth missing, which he said was from being struck with the butt of a gun by an American soldier. No-one said they were visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross during their detention at the site, and they all said that their families did not know where they were.

In the small concrete cells, the prisoners said, a light was on all the time. They said they could not tell if it was night or day and described this as very disturbing. Mirwais said he was made to dance to music by American soldiers every time he wanted to use the toilet. The ex-prisoners said they were imprisoned at the secret jail before being taken to the main detention centre at the Bagram airbase, a new complex called The Detention Facility in Parwan.

Bagram’s prisoners were moved to the Parwan complex from the old notorious Bagram prison site on the airbase earlier this year. In 2002, two prisoners were killed in the Bagram prison while in US custody after being suspended from the ceilings of their cells and brutally beaten. The BBC was allowed into the new Bagram prison for an hour. This was one of the first opportunities any outsider has had to set eyes on Bagram’s interned prisoners since a jail was first established at Bagram soon after 9/11. In the new jail, prisoners were being moved around in wheelchairs with goggles and headphones on. The goggles were blacked out, and the purpose of the headphones was to block out all sound. Each prisoner was handcuffed and had their legs shackled.

Prisoners are kept in 56 cells, which the prisoners refer to as “cages”. The front of the cells are made of mesh, the ceiling is clear, and the other three walls are solid. Guards can see down into the cells above. The BBC was told by the military to wear protective eye glasses whilst walking past the mesh cells as prisoners sometimes throw excrement or semen at the guards. Prisoner accounts we logged painted a much better picture of the Parwan Detention Facility.

The US military itself has admitted that about 80% of those at Bagram are probably not hardened terrorists. It is the process of giving every detainee an internal military trial of sorts, called a Detainee Review Board. The prisoners are represented by soldiers who are not lawyers.

“To this date, no prisoner has ever seen a lawyer in Bagram”, said Tina Foster, who represents several of Bagram’s prisoners in cases she has filed in on their behalf in the US. Guantanamo Bay’s prisoners are able to see their lawyers. About 100 prisoners have been released through this process, but due to an increased intake, the number of prisoners at Parwan is now 800, up from about 650 in September 2009.

The BBC put the allegations of ongoing abuses as a secret site on the airbase to the US military at Bagram. The military categorically denied the existence of a secret detention site. “I’ve never heard of it. This is the only detention facility in Afghanistan” said Vice Admiral Robert Harward who is in charge of the Detention Facility in Parwan. The US military promised to investigate any allegations of abuse.

Great Moments In Online Polling

An Online YouGov oracle survey today:-

Posted in Media. Tags: . 2 Comments »

People Worth Voting For: Salma Yaqoob

If we want change, we have to engage. As the great anti-slavery campaigner Fredrick Douglas said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.” That struggle is waged outside parliament, for example, by workers in trade unions campaigning for decent wages and conditions, by people trying to raise awareness and solidarity about climate change, or Third World Debt, or Palestine.

But that struggle can also waged inside Parliament as well. One of the great weaknesses of the anti-war movement was that while we had plenty of supporters on the streets, we had few inside the House of Commons. That needs to change. Parliament needs to be more representative of the people.

On May 6 this country will elect a new parliament. If you want Britain to be more committed to values of peace, justice and equality, you need to put politicians into parliament who will advocate on your behalf. But in order to vote you have got to be registered to vote. The closing date to register is April 20. The General Election is an opportunity to effect change. My advice would be, don’t waste it.

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No Signal

Oddly the Mexican government cutting off 24 million mobile phones has failed to fire the civil liberty neurons of those US liberty lovers who quake with outrage every time Hugo Chávez (or sometimes Morales but they aren’t that well informed so mostly they stick with a name they know- Brand Chávez) launches bellicose rhetoric back at the Empire. What must it mean?

DN:- LAURA CARLSEN: Well, in March of 2005, NAFTA was extended into the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and this was an unprecedented move for a trade agreement to go into the security area, but it’s something that the Bush administration had been wanting to do for a long time. Essentially, the idea was to push the borders out of the United States and create a North American security perimeter that would include Canada and Mexico. In this way, the Bush government, what it sought to do was to apply the radical national security doctrine to Mexican territory as well. This is a big problem for Mexico, because it not only violates national sovereignty, but it also imposes on Mexico the security priorities of the United States government at a time when those are very belligerent and aggressive priorities throughout the world.

In the case of Plan Mexico, it’s a perfect example of the result of those policies. Essentially, it’s very important what Avi says, that it’s not just a counter-narcotics program, it’s a regional cooperation security initiative that includes counter-narcotics, counterterrorism and border security. So it lumps these together and basically gets a greater military presence for the United States within Mexico, not actual troops, but in terms of its intervention in the Mexican national security apparatus, and imposes the agenda of the United States government on that country.

AVI LEWIS: [inaudible] Sorry, just to jump in. There’s a fellow named Thomas Shannon, who’s a senior State Department official—

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Avi Lewis.

AVI LEWIS: A senior State Department official named Thomas Shannon, who’s deeply involved in the Security and Prosperity Partnership, I think kind of let the cat out of the bag in a speech this past spring, when he was talking about the SPP and North America as a shared economic space, which is the current lingo for this worldview. And he said explicitly, “What we’re doing, in some way, in a certain respect, is armoring NAFTA.” And I think when you look at the intersection of the economic agenda, the cover of the war on drugs, the immigration and border hysteria underneath it, Plan Mexico represents exactly that, the armoring of NAFTA. And, of course, it’s not talked about in those ways when it’s approved by Congress, when Democrats and Republicans reach across the aisle to support it.

Posted in Imperialism. Tags: . 6 Comments »

On The Bright Side Neither Brown, Cameron & Clegg Presided Over The Murder Of 2,000 Citizens

The comparison doesn’t mean much, as is their wont, each country has its own specific conditions, for example the UK prefers to kill defenceless civilians on foreign fields, that way you get to travel to somewhere warmer and serve the establishment’s blood lust. Although must be said New Labour have been big fans of the death squads. But spare a thought for Colombians, the front runner in their presidential election Juan Manuel Santos a ‘centrist‘ conservative and Uribe & US approved former defence minister presided over a military that killed a couple of thousand civilians, made it look like they were guerrillas and the US Plan Colombia dollars kept rolling in. Although in better news, the Green candidate Antanas Mockus (ht2 Otto), is in second place!

(IPS) – The front-runner in the polls for Colombia’s presidential elections, Juan Manuel Santos, has come under fire from his rivals for his role in the scandal over young civilians killed by the army and passed off as guerrilla casualties, which broke out while he was defence minister.

“All you have to do is look at the statistics: the period when the highest number of non-combat killings was…when Santos was minister,” the opposition Liberal Party’s presidential candidate Rafael Pardo said in early March.

Santos, who was defence minister from July 2006 to May 2009, is the candidate backed by right-wing President Álvaro Uribe, in office since 2002.

The scandal, which broke out in September 2008, led to the removal of three generals and 24 other officers and noncommissioned officers, as well as the November 2008 resignation of then army chief Gen. Mario Montoya, regarded as one of the promoters of the so-called “body count” system, which used incentives like weekend passes, cash bonuses, promotions and trips abroad to reward soldiers and officers for “results” in the counterinsurgency effort.

The magnitude of the phenomenon was such that more than 60 prosecutors have been assigned to the nearly 1,300 cases involving the murders of over 2,000 civilians – including 59 minors and 122 women – who were presented as battlefield casualties.

MORE

PS. Though as Commenter Mike points out

No, not 2,000:

This research coincides with the Office for National Statistics announcement today that there were 22‚400 excess winter deaths of older people last year.

From:
http://www.ageconcern.org.uk/AgeConcern/worry-warm-winter-271108.asp
Old figures admittedly, but politicians still kill thousands each year in this country with their genocide by omission policies.

Upsurge In Asylum Seekers In Industrialised World Is A Myth

It is a glaring fact the top three sources of asylum claims are from countries where the war-on-terror™ is being conducted, so a very important component of the demagogic attacks on asylum seekers is nationalists wanting to silence witnesses and survivors of the war crimes being committed in our names. Yes, I mean you Phil Woolas. Asylum policy as part of the war strategy, the collective punishment of entire civilian populations including denying them safe haven. Yes there are many other factors (resource curse, Capital predation, corruption) but as this shows there is not a ‘swamping’ and if you wanted solutions not blowing the shit out of peoples homes should figure somewhat higher than locking up children, unless of course we happily welcome being despotic imperial scum (or the Good Old Days as it is known to the Establishment).

UNHCR:- The overall number of asylum seekers in industrialized nations was stable in 2009, according to the UNHCR provisional statistical report that measures asylum levels and trends in industrialized nations.

“The notion that there is a flood of asylum seekers into richer countries is a myth,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “Despite what some populists claim, our data shows that the numbers have remained stable.”

Compared to 2008, the overall number of asylum seekers remained the same with 377,000 applications, despite significant regional disparities highlighted by the report. The number of asylum applications increased in 19 countries, while they fell in the other 25. Of note was the Nordic region that recorded a 13 percent increase with 51,100 new applicants, the highest in six years. By contrast, the number of applications in southern Europe went down by 33 percent with 50,100 claims, driven by significant declines in Italy (-42%), Turkey (-40%) and Greece (-20%).

Afghan claims on the rise

Afghans topped the list of asylum applicants with 26,800 submissions representing a 45 per cent increase over 2008. Iraqis dropped to second place with some 24,000 claims, while Somalis moved to third position with 22,600 asylum applications. Among the top countries of origin were also the Russian Federation, China, Serbia, and Nigeria.

The yearly UNHCR report analyses asylum levels and trends in the 27 European Union member states, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey. It also covers the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

The United States stayed the main destination country for the fourth year, with 13 percent of the claims representing an estimated 49,000 people, in particular from China. Second was France, receiving 42,000 new applications in 2009, a 19 percent hike compared to 2008, due to increasing claims from citizens of Serbia originating predominantly from Kosovo. Canada, while still ranking third among receiving countries, saw the number of asylum applications decrease by 10 percent in 2009 down to 33,000 after a drop in Mexican and Haitian claims. Following was The United Kingdom which also registered a drop in claims with 29,800 applications, one of the lowest in 15 years. On the other hand, claims in Germany increased by 25 percent with 27,600 applications recorded in 2009, making it the fifth largest receiving country. Together, these five top destination countries received 48 percent of the total claims recorded in 2009.

In terms of regions of origin, nearly half of the total 377,000 applicants originate from Asia and the Middle East (45%), followed by Africa (29%), Europe (15.5%), and the Americas (9%).

Posted in Migrant Rights, War On Terror Era. Tags: . Comments Off on Upsurge In Asylum Seekers In Industrialised World Is A Myth

UK Is Worst For Making Fake ‘No Torture’ Deals

The UK has today been singled out for heavy criticism in a new report from Amnesty International on the practice among European countries of striking “no torture” deals with foreign countries as a means to deport people it labels a threat to national security.

In a 36-page report – Dangerous Deals: Europe’s reliance on ‘diplomatic assurances’ against torture – Amnesty documents how European governments are attempting to send foreigners alleged to be security threats to countries where they’re at risk of torture or other ill-treatment in exchange for unreliable, unenforceable “diplomatic assurances” that they will be treated humanely.

Describing the UK as “the most influential and aggressive” promoter of the policy of seeking “diplomatic assurances”, Amnesty is calling on the UK and 11 other European countries to immediately end the practice.

The call comes as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission is set to deliberate on the case of an Ethiopian national threatened with deportation based on a “memorandum of understanding” between the UK and Ethiopia that purportedly promises that the man will not be tortured on return. However, Amnesty has documented serious human rights abuses in Ethiopia and believes that diplomatic deals with Ethiopia are an extremely unreliable guide to future treatment in that country.

MORE

PDF here

Kissinger Shits In The Woods

Otto is rightly not surprised by-

As secretary of state, Henry Kissinger canceled a U.S. warning against carrying out international political assassinations that was to have gone to Chile and two neighboring nations just days before a former ambassador was killed by Chilean agents on Washington’s Embassy Row in 1976, a newly released State Department cable shows.

A Tiny Revolution has the pictorial, Jeff Kaye has background if you need it, but Python’s got the song-

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Dawkins & Hitchens Copy Me

Arrest The Pope, well Game On. While I said it on the 10th March better late than never eh fellas? However I would like for this considered attempt to not become a divisive Dawkos & Hitchites vs. Teh Religious, this is not simply religion that has enabled the paedophile mafia, it is Conservatism, the most potent and dangerous mix of ideologies has been the Right & God (whatever the flavour). That it found its ultimate expression in the abuse of the most defenceless children is entirely in keeping with that mix, it is predation, privilege & greed. The Vatican privileges its priests above the rights of the laity, using god as the cover for rigid hierarchies, since the inception of the church  figures within it warned about this and the abuse of those under the church’s power. This is not news or a surprise and when it is presented as such that indicates immediately the dishonesty and bad faith being engaged in by the leadership. This arrest idea might fall to just being a gimmick, the law is not applied to the elite, but it should be a serious change in the institutional position of religion, the god trump card should not be used to create an exceptional para legal world where rights are dependent on what some man (and it is usually a man) says god told him was right.

And if they do get the Pope, then let’s make Blair the next target, deal? Take it away Beau Bo D’or