Discrimination - Roma
Following an increase in the preceding months in verbal and physical attacks, in June over 100 Roma fled their homes in Belfast.
Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants
In October, contrary to the advice of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, the government attempted to forcibly return 44 Iraqis to Baghdad. On arrival the Iraqi authorities accepted only 10 and the other 34 Iraqis were flown back to the UK and detained on arrival.
In November, the government conceded that all non-Arab Darfuris, regardless of their political or other affiliations, were at risk of persecution in Darfur and that internal relocation elsewhere in Sudan was not currently available.
In December, the Royal Colleges of Paediatrics and Child Health, General Practitioners and Psychiatrists issued a joint statement calling for an immediate end to the administrative detention of children under Immigration Act powers on the basis that it was "shameful", "damaging", and "permanently harmful to children's health".
In July, the Chief Inspector of Prisons of England and Wales found that conditions at a privately run immigration detention centre, Tinsley House, near London, were "wholly unacceptable" for women and children and that conditions had worsened since the last inspection to an "encroaching ‘prison culture'". Concern was expressed about the detention of families for over 72 hours, and some for many weeks.
Violence against women and girls
In November, the government launched a strategy to address violence against women in line with commitments made under the 1995 United Nations Beijing Platform for Action.
In November, the government announced a three month pilot project to address the human rights crisis facing women at risk of violence and who have insecure immigration status.
Amnesty International visits/reports
Amnesty International delegates observed court proceedings in England throughout the year, including challenges to "control orders", appeals against deportations with assurances, and legal actions brought against the government by former Guantánamo detainees.
United Kingdom: The case of Binyam Mohamed - "championing the rule of law"? (10 February 2009)
UK/Northern Ireland: Patrick Finucane - twenty years on, still no inquiry (11 February 2009)
Independent investigation into alleged UK involvement in torture long overdue (10 August 2009)