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UK ‘using misleading information’ to return Eritrean asylum seekers

Report says Home Office guidance that it was safe to send Eritreans home is based largely on discredited Danish report The Home Office is using misleading and biased information to decide the fate of Eritrean asylum

Report says Home Office guidance that it was safe to send Eritreans home is based largely on discredited Danish report

The Home Office is using misleading and biased information to decide the fate of Eritrean asylum seekers, an independent report has found, as its author claims the government distorted evidence to make it easier to reject them.

The report, published on Friday, analysed two Country Information Guidance (CIG) documents issued by the Home Office last year. The advice says that it is now safe to return asylum seekers to the east African country.

But an inquiry by the Independent Advisory Group on Country of Origin Information, has concluded the policy recommendations made in the documents are “completely divorced from relevant objective evidence”. Its report adds that unless the CIG advice is completely rewritten, the Home Office unit responsible for producing them will be “viewed as totally lacking credibility”.

Dr John Campbell, the author of the report, said the findings were damning. He alleges the documents rely heavily on a discredited Danish report, misquote sources, blur policy and “facts”, and fail to acknowledge significant human rights issues in the country.

He said: “The Home Office report does not conform to the professional standards which country information reports are expected to meet. Instead it is based on a highly selective use of information and it deliberately distorts information to support its own conclusions, namely that it is now safe for the UK to return Eritrean asylum seekers to their home country.”

There remain significant international concerns over human rights breaches inEritrea, including the forced conscription of children and elderly people into military service and the rape of female conscripts.

“An undergraduate would be failed for this sort of thing,” said Campbell, a reader in the anthropology of Africa and law at the University of London, who has been a country expert on asylum claims from Eritrea and Ethiopia since the mid-1990s.

The report concludes that “the only possible way forward for the Home Office is to completely rewrite both CIG reports”, including recommending that approximately 20% of one of the reports should be deleted.

Eritreans account for the largest group of people applying for asylum in the UK, with 3,726 Eritrean nationals applying in the year ending September 2015.

The Home Office advised it was not safe to return most asylum seekers to Eritrea until it controversially updated its country advice in March 2015, claiming that citizens who left Eritrea without permission – many of them to escape itsinfamous indefinite military service – would not face persecution if they returned. The advice resulted in the number of Eritreans granted protection in the UK plummeting from a 73% approval rate in the first quarter of 2015 to 34% in the second quarter.

The Home Office guidance also stated that Eritrea’s indefinite national service had been shortened to between 18 months and four years. However the independent report released on Friday is scathing of this claim, saying it is based upon assurances from the Eritrean government that have not been supported by any policy announcements or evidence.

Campbell’s report was critical of the Home Office for basing its guidance largely on a 2014 report commissioned for the Danish government, from which theresearchers involved and the Danish government have since distanced themselves.

“The CIGs have a total over-reliance on one source [the Danish report] which bucked the trend of all objective evidence on human rights in Eritrea,” said Campbell.

“I’ve looked at each of the arguments [the Home Office] have made and the forms of evidence they used. Not only have they misquoted sources but they’ve disregarded a whole range of material that bears on the question of whether it’s safe to return, such as: are there independent courts in Eritrea?”

The report also says the Home Office guidance ignores well substantiated evidence from various sources that children are forced to participate in the country’s indefinite military service and have been sent to war as child soldiers.

“Making decisions about whether or not to grant refugee protection is often a matter of life or death, yet the government’s own statistics reveal it gets a staggering number of decisions on Eritrean cases wrong,” said Maurice Wren, the chief executive of the Refugee Council.

“The government should not let its obsession with controlling immigration override its legal and moral responsibility to protect refugees.”

Campbell said: “There are roughly 2,000 Eritreans a month who are leaving their country. We’re talking about a lot of human lives. A lot of human suffering is being caused by this policy.”

According to Campbell, unless the Home Office revises its guidance, it will be left with a “dead policy”, which the asylum claims tribunal will not be able to use.

“They will have to revise it, absolutely. Increasingly the evidence I use is going to be used by other immigration lawyers and the sector will have a dead policy because the tribunal will not be upholding the guidance,” he said.

The Home Office has not responded to requests for comment.

The Guardian

Review overview
  • Zemen January 23, 2016

    I think all Eritreans should make a list of all the Eritrean government supporters specially those who recently have signed the form of saying that sour country is in perfect condition and give it to the home office to return this Eritreans who don’t have any issue and that way they can reduce the refugee from UK. Right? Hakay do?
    Awet Nhafash
    Temesgen Adom Keman ymlesu! Gremm Kemxia

    • k.tewolde January 23, 2016

      I agree Zemen, if they love the lying ,double dealing,combat dodging,Amir ass kissing,Adi halo hiding coward.If they say the the moribund regime is doing a good job taking care of its people, the place is a paradise,”the oasis of peace and stability in the horn” as some of them refer it,what are they doing scattered allover the globe? I wouldn’t, I will be at home in my KANSHELO kicking back, drinking home brewed coffee with my family chatting on top of my lung with no fear of someone eavesdropping.Those particular people they belong there with him, send them back.Let them worship the tyrant in close proximity,and kiss his hand and feet while at it.

    • Tesfaldet abraha January 23, 2016

      ZEMEN how idiot can you be to say you need list of ERITREAN GOV supportErs ZEMEN did you dream in your sleep you are SENTER or CONGRESS who gives you power to report list of gov supporters or you are taking DRUGS did you forget you are a refuge like evry one els making a living cleaning tables in restaurants

  • semere 2 January 23, 2016

    This is outrageous. Who does not know the dictator Isayas Afeworki and his brutal regime? The UN commission on Eritrea producing shocking reports about Eritrea just few months ago. The British should stop bragging about their intelligence superiority. But I suspect it may be deliberate move to reduce immigrants to the UK. In that case, let them say it openly.

  • OB delay fthi January 23, 2016

    This is totally a heist generalization which simply violates human rights principles. how on earth can the UK government get such untrustworthy information from free medias, about Eritrea and Eritreans which never relates with the actual oppression we are passing. This is absolutely absurd and undemocratic. Needs to be reviewed. Good job Mr Campbell.

  • Aziz Tewil January 23, 2016

    Sending Eritrean refugees back home could be a blessing in disguise. This could stop the flow of the youth out of the country. The vicious dictater is sleeping peacefully because there are only old people and children left in the country. Eritrea is like a heavily bleeding patient at the moment with injuries inflicted by a mad dictator. Eritrean problem can be solved only if the youngsters stay at home and look for a solution.

    • BerheTensea February 1, 2016

      You are 100% right. If the young people who are fleeing the largest prison in the world are sent back to Eritrea, from Europe or Britain are returned or not allowed to stay, this can ha appositive effect on the uncontrolled migration.
      The only solution for the youth to stay in Eritrea and try to con front and change the regime.
      The modern day Wube hates to see any young person in Asmara or other towns fearing opposition and great expectation on their part.
      The Anchuawa of Nacfa has created Sawa since day one to imprison the young.
      He creates wars then he uses them and at the same time declare that he was a great visionary for training hundreds of thousands that he uses in his endless wars.
      The sad reality is that the innocents then brag falsely that Iseyas was a visionary to expect the unexpected.
      Thousands have perished by unwanted and unjustified wars.
      The only solution is apprising by the young .
      Good job for Britain for trying to send and stop the flow of our resources the young.
      Death to the worst enemy of the Eritrean people

  • Yohannes Mehari January 23, 2016

    If the Eritrea regime allows independent international human rights groups to investigate the gross violation basic human right in Eritrean and witnessed, we will be happy the regime started to understand the value of human and it’d citizen. Why is the regime so worried about the work of independent human right and didn’t want to allow them to do their work and visit prisoners?

  • Tesfaldet abraha January 23, 2016

    a person name Semere say in his coment the UK shulde listen to the human rights commission report so what he is saying because of the human rights commission repot the UK not to return the asaylem sickers did Semere know evry thing the human rights commission say is lie for.example 1st the slavery in BISHA was lie 2nd all the refuges crossing the sea are not all ERITREANS the Austria PM say 40% of the refuges are ETHIOPIANS 3rd the ERITREA help ALSHEBAB is lie so Semere is saying UK shulde agree with human rights commission

  • Tesfaldet abraha January 23, 2016

    Men meraet misbelekin tqahala men SEB qosiruka EKA report list of supporters to report you are refuge like evry one els cleaning tables at restaurants

  • Amanuel January 24, 2016

    Tedaldet , you are not only deaf you are Also bind. The facts are overwhelming. If you have family in Eritrea ask your mother, I am sure you do not envelope have distance relative. The only relative you may have is the Iseyas.

  • Berhe Tensea February 2, 2016

    Assena, and justice seekers in UK MUST also identify asylum seekers who are sympathizers of the regime.
    Many young people who were tortured and risked their live to arrive Europe forget the hardship they faced and are willing to sleep with their abuser,
    This animal like creatures must be reported to the UK authorities as soon as possible.
    Europe has too many unwonted refugees, and they can reduce the load by removing potential PFDJ zombies.
    Zombies can forget their abuse just by hearing the news of ghayla and dankera.
    The PFDJ fully knows that the young people who were abused and used have some kind zar or kole that send .them wildly to those dance events.
    We must do everything to report the zombies to the authorities to be deported and then they can have great fun with their beloved blood sucker.