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Friday, 05 October 2007 05:53

Gloria R Lalumia's World Media Watch for October 5, 2007

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH

Summaries are excerpted from the source articles; the featured article follows the summary section.

1//The Independent, UK
BRITISH GUARDS ‘ASSAULT AND RACIALLY ABUSE' DEPORTEES

Hundreds of failed asylum-seekers deported from the United Kingdom have been beaten and racially abused by British escort teams who are paid to take them back to their home countries. The scale of the alleged abuse has been uncovered in a joint investigation by The Independent and a group co-ordinating the representation and medical care of failed asylum-seekers. A dossier of 200 cases, collated by doctors, lawyers, immigration centre visitors and campaign groups over the past two years, has unearthed shocking claims of physical and mental mistreatment of some of the most vulnerable people in our asylum system. Many of the claims include allegations of physical and sexual assault and racist abuse which took place during the long journey from Britain to their home countries. ... The authors of the 200-case dossier accuse the Government of turning a blind eye to the abuse in order to meet arbitrary targets for the forced repatriation of asylum-seekers. They say some of the cases they are investigating are worse than the torture and abuse the refugee suffered before making their asylum claim in this country. In nearly every case, the allegation of mistreatment is made against private security contractors employed by the Government to carry out enforced removals of asylum-seekers. ... A spokesman for the Border and Immigration Agency which contracts the security companies to help carry out the removals said: "Any allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and all allegations of physical and racial abuse are referred to the police." Three security firms are on the Government's approved list for the forced removal of failed asylum-seekers. They are Group4Securicor, International Training Academy and GEO, an American company. A spokesman said Group4- Securicor was aware of complaints made but said they had never been proven - adding the company would condemn any such action. GEO and International Training Academy both declined to comment.

AN EXPANDED EXCERPT OF THIS FEATURED ARTICLE FOLLOWS THE SUMMARIES

2//The Guardian, UK
CAMERON BOUNCES BACK

The scale of the election gamble confronting Gordon Brown is revealed today in a Guardian ICM poll showing Labour and the Tories neck and neck, closing an eight-point gap since the Guardian polled at the start of the conference season. The poll was conducted after David Cameron had completed his much-hailed conference speech in Blackpool. But Labour aides said last night they had identified the source of the surge as the Tory announcement on inheritance tax and the promise that only millionaires. The poll shows the main two parties level after a summer and autumn in which Labour appeared to be pulling away from Mr Cameron, a trend that prompted Mr Brown's aides to urge him to call a November 1 poll next week. Last night Labour MPs in marginal seats were said to be very nervous about a snap election. The new ICM poll, from a sample of 1008 people, shows Labour on 38%, Conservatives 38% and Liberal Democrats 16%. Tory support has climbed six points since last month's Guardian/ICM poll, returning to the level it reached a year ago at the end of the party conference season. Today's figure is also the Conservative party's highest ICM score since March, when it held a strong lead over Labour as Tony Blair prepared to depart. Two other tests of opinion last night, one for YouGov conducted for Channel 4 and another by Populus for the Times, also reveal a dramatic tightening of the Labour lead. YouGov shows the Labour lead cut from eleven to four points with Labour on 40%, the Conservatives on 36% and the Lib Dems on 13%. Other parties are on 11%. Populus puts Labour on 39% (down two points), Tories 36% (up five) and Lib Dems 14% (down two). The Brown camp was not last night signalling that plans for the election will be definitely pulled in the wake of these polls, but his election team was suggesting more strongly than before that its private polling in the key marginal seats showed the Conservatives doing comparatively well.

3//Azzaman in English, Iraq
MINISTER HAILS 2008 BUDGET

There will a large increase in funding for municipal services in Iraq in 2008, said Finance Minister Baqer al-Zubaidi as he unveiled 2008 budget. Zubaidi said 2008 budget, estimated at $42 billion, is larger than 2007 due to the increase in oil prices. This year's budget has been estimated at $41 billion. Zubaidi made the remarks during a two-day conference in the southern city of Hilla held to discuss post-war reconstruction. He said allocations to upgrade public utilities in the provinces will surge by 30 percent in 2008 to reach $3.7 billion. ... Zubaidi said defense will remain the center-piece of budget allocations in 2008. He gave no figures but this year's defense allocations have believed to have devoured more than one third of the budget. "It is important that we supply and equip our armed forces in the ministries of interior and defense with the best weapons to enable them confront the danger of terrorism and crime," the minister said.

4//The Daily Times, Pakistan
TALIBAN COMMANDER SAYS HIS BOMBERS ARE WAITING FOR BENAZIR BHUTTO

Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud has threatened suicide attacks against PPP Chairwoman Benazir Bhutto, saying his bombers are waiting in the wings to "welcome" her when she returns, FATA Senator Saleh Shah told Daily Times on Thursday. Shah is a close friend of Mehsud and is currently trying to broker a deal between the Mehsuds and the government to secure the release of around 250 abducted soldiers. "My men will welcome Bhutto on her return. We don't accept President General Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto because they only protect the US interest and see things through its glasses. They're only acceptable if they wear the Pakistani glasses," Shah quoted Baitullah as saying. He said that Mehsud, who killed three soldiers out of the hostages and has threatened more executions, had a following of 35,000 highly trained and organised fighters, including a ‘suicide squad'. Shah said he was not optimistic about succeeding in negotiations for the release of the hostage soldiers.

5//The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea
INTER-KOREAN DECLARATION FOCUSES ON ECONOMIC PROJECTS

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on Thursday signed a declaration for advancement of South-North Korean relations, peace and prosperity, wrapping up Roh's three-day visit to the North. The declaration is an eight-point agreement. In the political and military areas, it envisages declaring the Korean War over and seeking a summit of the four parties involved to make that happen, holding frequent inter-Korean summits to discuss pending issues, holding inter-Korean prime ministers' talks in Seoul and inter-Korean defense ministers' talks in Pyongyang in November, and establishing a special "peace and cooperation zone" in the West Sea and a joint fisheries zone. There is no reference to the process of unification or a promise to abolish the National Security Law, as some had feared. The declaration simply says the two sides agreed to "overhaul their respective legislative and institutional apparatuses in a bid to develop inter-Korean relations in a reunification-oriented direction." ... With regard to the nuclear problem, the two leaders agreed "to work together to implement the Sept. 19, 2005 statement of principles and the Feb. 13, 2007 agreement achieved at the six-party talks." The document includes no separate declaration of intent from North Korea to denuclearize and dismantle its nuclear facilities. Roh made no mention of the North Korean nuclear issue during his stay in Pyongyang. Former unification minister Park Jae-kyu said, "The declaration calls the North Korean nuclear problem simply 'the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula,' not 'North Korean nuclear issue' or 'denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.' Therefore, the expression leaves room for North Korea to call for the inclusion of nuclear facilities in the South and nuclear weapons carried by the U.S. Forces Korea at the stage of dismantlement of its own nuclear facilities." Instead, the two leaders focused on economic cooperation and exchanges in the form of concrete aid to the North. They also agreed to restore the Kaesong-Sinuiju Railway and the Kaesong-Pyongyang Highway, start Mt. Baekdu tourism projects, open direct flights from Seoul to Mt. Baekdu. They are to let a joint support party for the 2008 Beijing Olympics travel along the cross-border Gyeongui Railway, establish cooperative complexes for shipbuilding in Anbyeon and Nampo, open freight railway services between Munsan and Bongdong, and jointly use the Han River estuary. Even a rough estimate of the budget required is at this stage nearly impossible, experts say, and it is unclear how the funds for these projects are to be raised. With only two months left before the presidential election, it will be difficult for the incumbent government to make a start on any of the projects.

FEATURED ARTICLE

1//The Independent, UK Published: 05 October 2007

BRITISH GUARDS ‘ASSAULT AND RACIALLY ABUSE' DEPORTEES

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor

Hundreds of failed asylum-seekers deported from the United Kingdom have been beaten and racially abused by British escort teams who are paid to take them back to their home countries,

The scale of the alleged abuse has been uncovered in a joint investigation by The Independent and a group co-ordinating the representation and medical care of failed asylum-seekers.

A dossier of 200 cases, collated by doctors, lawyers, immigration centre visitors and campaign groups over the past two years, has unearthed shocking claims of physical and mental mistreatment of some of the most vulnerable people in our asylum system.

Many of the claims include allegations of physical and sexual assault and racist abuse which took place during the long journey from Britain to their home countries.

One of the cases of alleged abuse is that of Armand Tchuibeu, a Cameroon national who claimed asylum in the United Kingdom in February 2000. His application was refused last year. He was then arrested and prepared for removal.

On 29 January 2007 he was collected from Tinsley House removal centre in East Sussex by four escort officers who drove him to Heathrow to catch a 9pm flight to Cameroon, as pictured on the front page from CCTV footage inside the van.

He claims handcuffs were applied to his right arm. Mr Tchuibeu says he told the guards that there was no need to handcuff him as he had no intention of obstructing his removal. But he alleges that officers started to manhandle him and, while his arms were held, one of the officers punched him in his ribs and on his neck and told him words to the effect "You will go to your fucking country today, we will fucking show you what illegal people deserve in our country". Another officer is alleged to have held his head down so they could apply a leg strap.

Eventually, Mr Tchuibeu convinced the escort officers he had been injured and the deportation was aborted. Mr Tchuibeu was taken to the Hillingdon Hospital where he was examined and treated. His knee was placed in a cylinder cast which he wore for four weeks.

Mr Tchuibeu, who is being represented by the London solicitors Birnberg Peirce, is now bringing a civil claim for assault against the security company.

The authors of the 200-case dossier accuse the Government of turning a blind eye to the abuse in order to meet arbitrary targets for the forced repatriation of asylum-seekers.

They say some of the cases they are investigating are worse than the torture and abuse the refugee suffered before making their asylum claim in this country.

In nearly every case, the allegation of mistreatment is made against private security contractors employed by the Government to carry out enforced removals of asylum-seekers.

Mr Tchuibeu appears to be far from an isolated case.

(SNIP)

Last month Mr Tchuibeu was returned to the Cameroon. After a police investigation, no one has been charged with an offence. The company denies the allegations of brutality made against its staff.

A spokesman for the Border and Immigration Agency which contracts the security companies to help carry out the removals said: "Any allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and all allegations of physical and racial abuse are referred to the police."

Three security firms are on the Government's approved list for the forced removal of failed asylum-seekers. They are Group4Securicor, International Training Academy and GEO, an American company

A spokesman said Group4- Securicor was aware of complaints made but said they had never been proven - adding the company would condemn any such action. GEO and International Training Academy both declined to comment.

(MORE)

Copyright 2007, Gloria R. Lalumia

WORLD MEDIA WATCH