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Home Office Planned Speedy Removal Of Vietnamese Trafficking Victims

Home Office planned speedy removal of Vietnamese trafficking victims

The Home Office detained more than 100 Vietnamese nationals who arrived on small boats in May but planned to speedily remove them from the UK despite them being potential victims of trafficking.

In an exercise codenamed Operation Ammonite, the Home Office chartered two deportation flights to Vietnam, one in April of this year and one in July. The flights carried 27 and 21 deportees respectively. However the Home Office plan was to fill the second plane with many more Vietnamese nationals.

In recent months government officials and NGOs have observed a sharp increase in the number of Vietnamese nationals crossing the Channel on small boats. This is thought to be partly due to a reduction in the number of lorries on the roads and a fear among Vietnamese nationals of travelling in lorries after the tragedy that claimed 39 lives of Vietnamese migrants in 2019.

Internal documents seen by the Guardian marked “Home Office confidential” refer to Operation Ammonite. The documents are dated mid-May 2021. One refers to the “seventh batch of a further 20 individuals accepted for DAC (Detained Asylum Casework)”.

This is a fast-track system of immigration detention where people can be swiftly removed from the UK because their cases are deemed to have no merit and do not require detailed investigation. Lawyers have said the Home Office’s own guidance suggests the procedure should not be used for such cases.

Lawyers believe that more than 140 Vietnamese nationals were detained over three days from 11 to 14 May, a large number of any one nationality to be detained over such a short period.

People who are detained who have lived in the UK for several years, who speak English and who have strong community networks, are more able to raise the alarm and seek legal and other assistance if sent to a detention centre.

But this group of Vietnamese nationals, likely to owe large sums to the smugglers who brought them to the UK and unlikely to speak English, were more likely to slip under the radar.

However, once they did make contact with lawyers and NGOs they were identified en masse as potential victims of trafficking, were released from detention and not put on the deportation flights as the Home Office had planned.

Many of those identified as potential trafficking victims disappeared shortly after being freed. They are thought to have fallen back into the hands of traffickers and forced to work in cannabis farms or nail bars to pay off debts they owe for their passage to the UK.

Tom Nunn of Duncan Lewis solicitors, who dealt with some of the cases, expressed alarm at the mass detentions.

“The DAC process can only be used for cases [the] Home Office believes are doomed to fail based on their reasons for claiming asylum. The Home Office’s own internal guidance suggests that this process cannot be used for Vietnamese nationals who are in fear of moneylenders or traffickers. All of those we came into contact with were claiming asylum for these reasons.”

He added that the Home Office attempted to rush as many vulnerable trafficking victims as possible out of the UK.

“We suspect that not a single person who was detained as part of this strategy was removed on any of the charter flights.

“The main impact of this policy has been to ensure that many of these individuals are now back in the hands of their traffickers. The next contact they have with a lawyer is likely to be when they are arrested following raids on the cannabis houses run by the traffickers.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Human trafficking has absolutely no place in our society and we are committed to fortifying our immigration system against these heinous crimes, whilst ensuring victims are protected and offenders prosecuted. Our published policies clearly set out when we can detain individuals, including when any individual can be detained while awaiting consideration of their asylum claim.”

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I Will Soon Start Signing Death Warrants- Bala Mohammed

Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed has disclosed that he will soon start to sign death warrants.

Mohammed made this known on Friday in Bauchi while signing the Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill and a bill for the establishment of the Bauchi state penal code, into law.

In Nigeria, state governors are legally backed to sign the death warrants.

Since 2012, no governor has been reported to have signed death warrants.

“We will soon be signing some death sentences because there are many and because of justice which has to be taken to a logical conclusion

“I know some governors are running away from signing the death sentences because they exercise restraints on the basis that there may be some element of error.

“But to me, I will leave it to my lord (the chief judge) who will prosecute. It’s not my fault. If it is brought to my attention, I will do it.”

“As for the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act, we know that we are the first in the northern part of the country to enact the law, which is a member’s bill incidentally from the honourable speaker, and it has earned us a lot of respect in the country.

“But because of some noticed gaps, it was taken back and it was corrected. We thank the house for making the corrections.”

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Court Sacks 13 Ebonyi LG Bosses, 171 Councilors

A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki has again nullified the Ebonyi Local Government Elections and sacked all the 13 Council chairmen in the state.

The court also sacked all the councilors and 171 ward chairmen of the state.

The court had on Aug. 25, nullified the council polls of May 31.

Ruling on the matter with suit NO: FHC/AI/CS/224/2022 on Friday, Justice Fatun Riman ordered the seizure of the monthly federal allocation of the chairmen pending when rightful Chief Executives were elected into office.

Fatun restated that the councils election by the State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) on May 31 was illegal and unconstitutional.

Mr Mudi Erenede, Counsel to the plaintiff said he was happy over the judgment and commended the court.

“In the judgement today, the court has agreed that the Ebonyi State High court has no powers to override or set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court because it is not an Appeal Court.

“Those people, who are parading themselves as chairmen are not there legally.

“They were appointed by whoever that appointed them. CBN, Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance are all defendants in this suits,” he stated.

The counsel to Ebonyi State Government, Mr Roy Nweze, said there was no need responding to a judgment that had already been delivered by the court.

Nweze said that the matter would be appealed without delay.

(NAN)

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Naval College Graduates 245 Officers, Personnel

The newly graduated personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 of the Nigerian Naval Engineering College (NNEC), Sapele in Delta, have been urged to remain committed to the service of the nation.

Rear Adm. Monday Unurhiere, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Naval Training Command, made the plea at the graduation ceremony of the 245 Under Training Personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 in Sapele.

Unurhiere, represented by Rear Adm. Baratuaipri Iyalla, said that the call became necessary in view of the security, economic and social challenges currently facing the country.

The naval chief urged the graduands to make deliberate efforts to improve themselves on the job by way of taking advantage of modern technology and also tapping into the wealth of experience of their superiors.

“Let me remind you that as officers of the Nigerian Navy, you are charged with enormous responsibility and your unswerving allegiance is to the Nation.

“The confidence reposed in you must not be taking for granted, especially at this time that our national aspirations are being threatened by numerous security, economic and social challenges.

“As such, you may find yourself being called upon to serve beyond your technical capability due to the prevailing situation in the country,” he said.

Unurhiere acknowledged the efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, for creating the enabling environment for training and continued financial support to NNEC.

According to him, this has helped the College to contribute more to the technological advancement of Nigerian Navy and the nation at large.

He urged the graduands, especially the under training personnel, to maintain the current tempo in sustaining training and other naval activities.

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