ELENA Weekly Legal Update - 20 June 2014
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20 June 2014


European Court of Human Rights

European Court of Human Rights

Upcoming judgments of interest

Tuesday 24 June 2014

- Ukaj v. Switzerland (no. 32493/08) [Article 8] (separation from family by expulsion to Kosovo after prison sentence - alleged breach of right to family life)

- Yarashonen v. Turkey (no. 72710/11) [Articles 3, 5 and 13] (lawfulness of detention of Chechen, lack of reasons for detention, right to challenge detention and obtain compensation, and detention conditions)

Thursday 26 June 2014

- De los Santos and de la Cruz v. Greece (nos. 2134/12 and 2161/12) [Article 3] (detention conditions for Dominican Republic nationals pending removal – premises of Thessaloniki department for illegal immigration and Aliens Directorate of Attica in Aug-Sept 2011)

- M.E. v. Sweden (no. 71398/12) [Articles 3 and 8] (proposed return of Libyan national - alleged risk of persecution based on sexual orientation and prior involvement in illegal weapons smuggling, and separation from partner)

Read the forthcoming judgments press release of the European Court of Human Rights.

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United Nations

UNHCR: Updated position on returns to Southern and Central Somalia

UNHCR’s updated position on returns to Southern and Central Somalia recommends that Somali asylum seekers from areas currently or recently affected by military action and/or consequent displacement, or from areas under the control of non-State groups, are likely to have a well-founded fear of persecution and therefore meet the criteria for refugee status.

Reasserting UNHCR’s position in their previous update in January 2014, the new update notes that the criteria for refugee status may also be met by a Somali applicant from an area under effective Government control and not affected by military operations, if they meet one of the potential risk profiles listed in the January 2014 paper, e.g. a perceived supporter of anti-government groups.

UNHCR notes that the security situation in Southern and Central Somalia is reported to have deteriorated since the January 2014 update, which recorded the weak capacity of the State to protect civilians, massive displacement, weakened community structures, gross human rights violations and the breakdown of law and order. These are the ‘devastating consequences’ of the protracted conflict between government forces and non-state armed groups, which have effective control over large parts of the region.

The military offensive against non-State groups has resulted in the displacement of 73,000 people since March 2014. Criminal harassment and extortion of money from displaced persons is reported along transit routes between key towns. Areas where the State has re-established control are ‘expected to remain fragile for some time’, as justice and security structures require re-building.

UNHCR highlights that, since December 2013, over 34,000 Somalis, including children, elderly people, registered asylum seekers and recognised refugees, have been deported from different countries to Somalia.

This update also recommends that any Somali considering a spontaneous and organised voluntary return to Somalia should be provided with as much detailed information on the situation in their place of origin as possible, in order for them to make a fully informed choice.

Read the UNHCR update on Somalia.

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APT, IDC & UNHCR: Manual on monitoring immigration detention 

A new Practical Manual on Monitoring Immigration Detention by the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), the International Detention Coalition (IDC) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) sets out to provide a practical tool for building and strengthening monitoring and/or inspection capacities of organisations and individuals visiting places of immigration detention.

The manual offers a step-by-step guide to identifying and documenting situations where immigration detention conditions fail to meet minimum international standards. Guidelines are provided on how to prepare for, conduct, and follow-up on a visit to an immigration detention facility in order to assess the conditions of detention, the treatment of detainees and their access to care, advice, family and an effective complaints mechanism. Guidance on the visit encompasses assessment of the physical place of detention, observing procedures, interviews with the detainees themselves and facility staff, and access to administrative information. Advice is offered on how to monitor the law and practice of detention, in order to determine the existence of arbitrary and unlawful detention, in particular prolonged or indefinite custody. 

The manual also highlights which aspects of immigration detention to monitor, including detention procedures and recourse to alternatives to detention, access to a lawyer, access to asylum/protection procedures, requests and complaints mechanisms, and removal procedures. For each aspect, the manual provides useful references and sample questions.

Specific monitoring guidance is provided with respect to the risk of ill-treatment, including solitary confinement and use of force, safeguards such as disciplinary procedures and external inspection, healthcare and special needs, and material conditions, including accommodation arrangements, food and drinking water, hygiene, and clothing. The manual advises on the necessary questions to be asked regarding activities for detainees, including communication with the outside world, education, work, exercise and leisure, religious practice, and counselling.

Read the manual and the press releases of the APT, IDC, and UNHCR.

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Asylum Research Consultancy & Dutch Council for Refugees: COI forum

Asylum Research Consultancy and the Dutch Council for Refugees have established a country of origin information (COI) forum, a free online tool for COI researchers and users of COI working in refugee status determination, including legal practitioners, to share publications and ideas on COI research and sources, as well as to develop shared resources. The forum is part of the ecoi.net community platform and is free and open to all organisations and individuals. However, membership is subject to moderator approval, and the forum is a confidential private discussion group only for the use of its members.

More information about the forum and registration instructions can be found on the ecoi.net website. Questions and requests for further assistance can be directed to info@asylumresearchconsultancy.com.

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The purpose of the ELENA legal updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE/ELENA. The contents of this publication can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission, UNHCR, or ECRE/ELENA and in no way purport to provide an exhaustive update on asylum law developments across Europe. For more up to date information, additions, corrections and comments please contact Matthew Fraser (mfraser@ecre.org) or Julia Zelvenska (jzelvenskaya@ecre.org).

Supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme of the European Union and UNHCR