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News & Views Monday 20th January to Sunday 26th January 2020

 

Swansea Charity Worker Who Fled DR Congo Wins Asylum Fight

A charity worker who was threatened with deportation to the Democratic Republic of Congo has won his fight to stay in the UK. Otis Bolamu had said his life would be in danger if he was forced to return to his home country. He was detained in December 2018, but was released on appeal after thousands signed a petition to let him stay. His lawyers, Duncan Lewis, confirmed he had been "finally granted asylum".

In a message on Facebook Mr Bolamu thanked the people of Swansea, where he volunteers at an Oxfam charity bookshop. "I just want to stop and say thank you for the power of people," he said. People were so kind, campaigning for me to come out of detention. And when I came back, they did not stop. Still they helped me and supported me. They said we will not rest. We will not celebrate until he has refugee status. Now I have it. Now we can party."

Read more: BBC News, https://is.gd/sAWJfW



Legal Challenge to Gap in Support for Victims of Trafficking Following Grant of Refugee Status

Once an individual is granted refugee status, they usually have a non-extendable 28 days in which to leave asylum support, as per Home Office policy. As it often takes in excess of 35 days from application for an individual to receive mainstream benefits, this can lead to a gap in support with potentially serious consequences for individuals.

We recently issued proceedings in relation to this gap in support for a confirmed victim of trafficking, who was receiving support by way of asylum support, and who was to lose his accommodation after being granted refugee status, with no alternative being put in place. The SSHD conceded that the duty to support and assist confirmed victims of trafficking does not cease following a grant of asylum, and instead continues on a needs basis, as required by Article 12 European Convention Against Trafficking. In our client’s case this requires the SSHD to continue the client’s asylum support until alternative support is put in place. Please read the 
order and statement of reasons to this effect.

While there remains a gap in support for non-victims of trafficking confirmed asylum seekers, which Duncan Lewis is also currently challenging with counsel, Raza Halim of Garden Court Chambers, we hope that this case will enable us to ensure that there is no gap in support for victims of trafficking as they move between asylum support to other forms of support.

Read more: Duncan Lewis, https://is.gd/1Cd4mi



Climate Refugees Can't be Returned Home, Says Landmark UN Human Rights Ruling

It is unlawful for governments to return people to countries where their lives might be threatened by the climate crisis, a landmark ruling by the United Nations human rights committee has found. The judgment – which is the first of its kind – represents a legal “tipping point” and a moment that “opens the doorway” to future protection claims for people whose lives and wellbeing have been threatened due to global heating, experts say. Tens of millions of people are expected to be displaced by global heating in the next decade.

The judgment relates to the case of Ioane Teitiota, a man from the Pacific nation of Kiribati, which is considered one of the countries most threatened by rising sea levels. He applied for protection in New Zealand in 2013, claiming his and his family’s lives were at risk. The committee heard evidence of overcrowding on the island of South Tarawa, where Teitiota lived, saying that the population there had increased from 1,641 in 1947 to 50,000 in 2010 due to sea level rising leading to other islands becoming uninhabitable, which had led to violence and social tensions.

Read more: Kate Lyons, Guardian, https://is.gd/felQaA





The Children Who Can’t Afford To Be British

The Home Office charges £1,012 to children born in the UK who need to apply for British citizenship. The High Court recently found this to be unlawful but for these children, the story remains the same.

Daniel first noticed it when his friends started talking about the holidays they’d been on. It got worse when the school he was at began taking its pupils on trips abroad. Unlike his friends, Daniel, who is 13-years old, doesn’t have a passport, so even if his family could afford to go abroad, he wouldn’t be able to join them. Unlike his friends, Daniel isn’t a British citizen, even though he was born here and has never been anywhere else in his life. “Because he isn’t a citizen he feels like an outsider”, says his father Femi (names have been changed), who came to this country from Nigeria almost 15 years ago, “there are discussions he can’t be involved in”.

Daniel is not an immigrant. He was born in the UK and because he has spent more than ten years in Britain he has the right to go through the registration process and become a British citizen. He loves playing football and his father says he likes the school he goes to in Wigan, where they live. That he isn’t already a British citizen is surprising to many. The problem for Daniel, his family and many thousands of others living in low to middle income households is the £1012 fee the Home Office charges children to register as British citizens. The current administrative cost to the Home Office of processing a child’s registration fee is £372, leaving a £640 profit on each application. Despite being nothing to do with immigration, this money subsidises the immigration system.

Read more: Open Democracy, https://is.gd/5a1qub




Disclosure of Documents From Asylum Proceedings Into Private Law Proceedings

(R v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Disclosure of Asylum Documents) [2019] EWHC 3147 (Fam)

Judgment has been handed down in the following reported case in which Bindmans’ family team represented the father. The judgment gives important guidance as to when disclosure from immigration proceedings can be disclosed in private law proceedings about children in the family court. The court considered the following question:

Do the public interest policy and principles of asylum proceedings prevent the family court from ordering disclosure and inspection of documents into proceedings under the Children Act 1989?

The court determined that the answer was no: public interest policy principles would not prevent the family court from ordering disclosure of asylum documents within private law proceedings in an appropriate case.

Summary:

Within this ongoing case, the father sought disclosure of documents pertaining to the mother’s previous asylum claim, of which she was successful on appeal from the upper tribunal. The father submitted that the material was relevant, contemporaneous evidence that he should be entitled to rely on as part of the fact-finding process within private law proceedings, in order to challenge serious allegations made against him by the mother, which also formed part of her asylum claim. The mother refused to disclose the documents on the basis of confidentiality and the Secretary of State for the Home Department intervened and opposed disclosure on public interest grounds. The same issue in the current case was considered within previous proceedings pursuant to the 1980 Hague Convention and disclosure was originally refused: H (A Child) [2019] EWHC 1509 (Fam).

 

Read more: Hannah Marshall, Bindmans Solicitors, https://is.gd/oiM0s2


 
Chinese Government Poses Global Threat to Human Rights

The Chinese government is carrying out an intense attack on the global system for defending human rights, Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch, said today in releasing Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2020. Decades of progress that have allowed people around the world to speak freely, live without fear of arbitrary imprisonment and torture, and enjoy other human rights are at risk, Roth said.

At home, the Chinese government has created a vast surveillance state in its efforts to achieve total social control. It is now increasingly using its economic and diplomatic clout to fend off global efforts abroad to hold it to account for its repression. To preserve the international human rights system as a meaningful check on repression, governments should band together to counter Beijing’s attacks.

“Beijing has long suppressed domestic critics,” Roth said. “Now the Chinese government is trying to extend that censorship to the rest of the world. To protect everyone’s future, governments need to act together to resist Beijing’s assault on the international human rights system.”

Read more: Human Rights Watch, https://is.gd/cnSfGH