Posts Tagged ‘asylum’
Talk given at an Anti Deportation Ireland public meeting, 11 April 2013
Culture of incarceration
According to a recent book on coercive confinement in Ireland, Ireland locked up one in 100 of its citizens in Magdalene laundries, industrial schools, mental hospitals and ‘mother and baby’ homes, where women pregnant out of wedlock were locked up and forced to give their babies for adoption. At any given time between 1926 and 1951 there were about 31,000 people in these institutions – only a small fraction of whom had committed any crime. This also applied to children – one child in every hundred was enslaved in an industrial school. Children in industrial schools, run by female and male Catholic orders, were treated with cruelty, not given proper food or education, made to work for the nuns or the brothers and were often physically and sexually abused. Their sole ‘crime’ was belonging to what would now be called ‘problem families’.
This history of incarceration, Fintan O’Toole writes, was Ireland’s way of establishing religious, social and moral “purity” by locking up and “correcting” potential deviants. This level of “coercive confinement” is extreme for any democratic society. In 1931, the Soviet gulags held about 200,000 prisoners – from a population of 165 million. The Irish system held 31,000 people – from a population of three million.
And this continues today. Between 2000 and 2012 Ireland locked up in direct provision hostels 51,000 asylum seekers, whose sole ‘crime’ was legally applying for Geneva Convention refugee status. In total, between 1991 and 2012 there were 68,847 asylum applications, of which only 4,130 or 6 per cent received positive answers. In November 2012, the last month for which figures are available, 4,822 people were incarcerated in these hostels, 75 per cent from Africa. Although intended to hold people for a maximum of six months, the average length of stay in these ‘holding camps’ is 44 months – almost four years, and many have been incarcerated for up to six years. Read the rest of this entry »
The death a couple of weeks ago of Immanuel Marcel Landa, an elderly Congolese man, in Mosney, the 49th person to die in the direct provision system since 2000, focused my mind, yet again, on the invisible plight of Ireland’s asylum seekers. Ireland’s impetus to control asylum seekers rarely links the conflict zones which produce asylum seekers with their human consequences. Instead, the racial state demonises asylum seekers, stems their flow, often preventing them from landing to present their applications, all in order to regain control.
Asylum applications in Ireland have been going down ever since their peak in 2002 at 11,634; the number of applications received in 2011, 1,250, represented a 28% decrease on the corresponding figure of 1,939 in 2010. In 2012 (by June) only 458 asylum applications were made. The government seems delighted with the decrease in asylum applications. In 2010 Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern commended ‘the ongoing work within INIS, including the asylum agencies, to combat abuse while at the same time ensuring fairness and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of procedures in this area’. At 1.5% at first instance and 6% on appeal, Ireland is distinguished by the lowest acceptance rate in the EU, where the average is 27%. Read the rest of this entry »
Earlier this month, a group of 21 Eritrean asylum seekers, including a pregnant woman and a child of 14, were trapped between the security fences along the Israeli-Egyptian border. Israel refused to examine their asylum applications and mandated the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to guard them. IDF soldiers were under orders not to enable them to receive any food or medical assistance for a whole week, and instructed to provide them with ‘as little water as possible’, despite aid being offered by Israeli human rights organisations. The tragedy, in full view of the media, ended with the Prime Minister’s Office ignoring a pending Supreme Court ruling and ordering that the men be returned to Egypt, where they are likely to be captured by organ hunters, and the two women and child be put in an Israeli jail. Read the rest of this entry »
Two things happened on this year’s World Refugee Day. While Sophie Magennis, head of the UNHCR office in Ireland, wrote on the continued relevance of asylum, another mass deportation to Nigeria took place after many direct provision centres were raided at dawn by the GNIB.
Magennis reminded Irish Times readers that worldwide 42 million people ended 2011 as refugees, internally displaced, or seeking asylum, and that humanitarian catastrophes in Afghanistan (the largest producer of refugees), Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, continue to produce refugees.
Though the UNHCR has been working with the Irish government (some say too closely), Magennis criticised the inhumane direct provision system and advocated a ‘single procedure’ in the determination of asylum cases. In the current system people seeking asylum in Ireland are first interviewed by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner to determine whether they were persecuted on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a social group or political opinion. Only after this procedure ends must applicants raise their fear of returning home where they may be tortured or killed. Magennis and the UNHCR recommend a ‘single procedure’ to determine both persecution and protection, which, she believes, the new version of the Immigration Residence and Protection due before the Dáil, will address. Read the rest of this entry »
On 20 June, International Refugee Day, Another mass deportation to Nigeria from Ireland took place.
According to Joe Moore of Anti Deportation Ireland (ADI: Hostels were raided at 5am approx this morning. The information I have to date is:
Carriick-on-Suir, one woman and her three children taken
Ashbourne House, Cork, one woman and her three children taken, she has been in Ireland for 6 years.
Portlaoise, two women, with three children each, all taken. One of the women has recently had a serious stomach operation. She became so distraught when the GNIB entered her room, that she attempted to harm herself with a knife. She was dragged outside, naked from the waist up, where she was severely beaten, peppered sprayed and handcuffed. As a result of the beating her operation scar opened. She was taken to hospital but after a short time she was brought back to the hostel, and she and her three children was taken to the airport by the GNIB. Her lawyer is in the High Court now trying to get her released.
The lawyer failed in reversing this deportation and the woman was on the plane!!