Rwanda Asylum Plan: UK Ministers Partially Lose Rwanda Secrecy Bid
Ministers have partially lost an attempt to keep secret a series of comments about Rwanda from an adviser. The High Court said on Wednesday some of what the adviser had told ministers must be disclosed in a major court case over the Rwandan refugee policy.
Lawyers for the government had argued disclosing the comments would damage relations with the African country. The adviser had warned ministers Rwanda's government tortured and killed political opponents, the court heard. While that warning of political violence was disclosed in court on Tuesday, further comments from the expert remain secret. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) adviser had looked at revisions to the government's own report into Rwanda's human rights record.
That document was being updated as ministers planned to send asylum seekers on a flight to Rwanda under the controversial relocation scheme announced in April. The one-way plan, worth at least £120m to Rwanda, aims to discourage illegal crossings of the English Channel - but it is on ice until the High Court rules whether it is legal.
Dominic Casciani, BBC News, https://rb.gy/cltrca
Challenge to Home Office Dispersel Policy
The High Court has granted permission to proceed with a challenge to an undisclosed Home Office policy which states that asylum seekers can only be dispersed from temporary hotel accommodation on an “expedited” basis if there are “exceptional circumstances.”
The Claimant, a destitute asylum seeker and single mother with a baby and young child, had been placed in small, single room “full board” hotel accommodation with her children for several months. The food was inadequate and lacking nutrition, and the hotel refused to provide her with baby food. However, the Home Office refused to move her to long-term accommodation, on the basis that her case did not disclose “exceptional circumstances” justifying a departure from chronological dispersal.
She brought a claim for judicial review on the following grounds: The Home Office introduced an unlawful unpublished policy that requires “exceptional circumstances” to be shown before an asylum seeking family can be dispersed from interim accommodation on an “expedited” basis. The undisclosed policy unlawfully fettered the discretion of the Home Office to disperse asylum seekers sooner than in chronological order.
In operating an “exceptional circumstances” policy, and in the Claimant’s specific case, the Home Office failed to have due regard to the best interests of children, contrary to s.55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. The decision to accommodate the Claimant and her family in a small hotel room with inadequate food breached the duty to provide adequate accommodation and moreover failed to take into account the family’s individual circumstances as material considerations.
Read more: DPG Law, 16/08/2022, https://rb.gy/keud7z
Child Asylum Seekers Going Missing From UK Hotels
They are disappearing at a rate of one a week, rom Home Office hotels after being left at risk of exploitation and human trafficking, charities have warned. Data obtained by The Independent and other organisations shows, and the whereabouts of dozens of vulnerable teenagers is unknown. An open letter signed by 60 charities and campaigners said children as young as 11 had gone missing, adding: “Our concern for these children cannot be overstated. “Already vulnerable, separated and traumatised, isolated from family support networks, they are at the greatest risk of exploitation and trafficking. Some may have already been trafficked and are at significant risk of being re-trafficked. They need – and are entitled to – care in supportive foster or residential homes, with skilled professionals to help them recover in safety.”
A freedom of information request by the Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (Ecpat) charity showed that 45 unaccompanied child asylum seekers went missing from hotels between June last year and the end of March, while a separate request by The Independent showed the figure was 16 from July and November last year. The Home Office dramatically increased its use of hotels as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers at the start of the Covid pandemic, and again for the influx of refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine. As of the end of June, 355 unaccompanied child asylum seekers between the ages of 11 and 18 were being kept in hotels.
Read more: Lizzie Dearden, Independent, https://rb.gy/63m05k
Who's Your Daddy Now - The Right to Know Your Parent
“What, after all, to any child, to any parent, never mind to future generations and indeed to society at large, can be more important, emotionally, psychologically, socially and legally, than the answer to the question: Who is my parent? Is this my child?”
Declaration of Parentage?
Section 55A of the Family Law Act (1986) provides that a person may apply to the High Court or the Family court for a declaration as to whether the subject of the application is or is not the parent of the applicant or another person.
Section 14A of the Births and Deaths Registration Act (1953) permits the re-registration of a birth under limited circumstances, one being where the court has made a declaration of parentage. When a birth is re-registered, the birth certificate is amended (i.e., to add the newly discovered parent), but the original entry is not erased.
The court has jurisdiction and, therefore, will only consider applications under s55A if either of the named persons are domiciled in or have habitual residence in England and Wales on the date of the application.
The court will also refuse to hear an application unless it considers that the applicant has “sufficient personal interest in the determination of the application.”
Section 55A (4) sets out the “exceptions”, or rather cases where such “personal interest” is assumed. Cases falling into this category are those where:
The applicant is applying to be declared the parent of a child named in their application.
The applicant is applying for someone else they name in their application to be declared their parent.
Or the applicant is seeking to have another person named as the parent of their child.
The court has further powers to refuse to hear an application under section 55A (5) if a named person is a child and the court does not consider that a determination would be in their best interests.
Transparency Project: https://rb.gy/fyiqqq
Shajmin Akter Parul Forces Home Office to Provide Suitable Accommodation
Shajmin Akter Parul, applied for a judicial review for the failure of the Defendant, the Secretary of State for the Home Department ("SSHD"), to provide her with suitable accommodation in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets ("Tower Hamlets"), pursuant to section 4, Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 ("section 4" and "the 1999 Act"), and in accordance with the Defendant's agreement to provide self-contained accommodation on the ground floor, or on an upper floor with access via a lift, in Tower Hamlets, within a reasonable time period. The Defendant agreed to provide such accommodation in a 3 March 2022 Pre-Action Protocol ("PAP") letter ("the 3 March 2022 letter"). The single ground of challenge is that the failure to provide such accommodation is unlawful on four bases: (1) it breaches the Defendant's duty to source accommodation within a reasonable period of time; (2) it breaches the Defendant's own guidance; (3) it breaches the Defendant's statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments under sections 20 and 29(7), Equality Act 2010 ("the Equality Act"); and / or (4) it is unreasonable.
The Defendant's position was that, while she agrees that the Claimant should be rehoused in suitable accommodation in Tower Hamlets, she denies that the delay in finding the Claimant accommodation has been unreasonable. Through the 3 March 2022 letter, the Defendant agreed to move the Claimant to be close to the support network of her family and physicians treating her many medical conditions, in particular, specialists at The Royal London Hospital ("RLH"), in Tower Hamlets, which is where her epilepsy is treated and managed. From 26 March 2021, the Claimant has been, and continues to be, housed in a property in Lambeth. The Defendant's position is that suitable accommodation has not been arranged because none is available.
The judge allowed the claim, finding that the Secretary of State has failed to relocate the Claimant within a reasonable period of time, in breach of her section 4(2) duty. and concluded that a mandatory order is appropriate. I direct that the Defendant secure suitable accommodation for the Claimant by no later than eight weeks of the date of the order.
Deportation Delays “Lead to Self-Harm”
Inside Time: Foreign national prisoners who are being held beyond their release dates whilst the Home Office attempts to deport them are self-harming out of frustration, a watchdog has warned. The Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Risley in Cheshire – a regional hub for overseas citizens serving sentences in the UK – highlighted the trend in its annual report published last month. It said: “The board must note the increase, in recent months, of self-harm by foreign national prisoners, who feel that their deportation to their home countries is taking too long and they do not understand the reason for the long delay.” The IMB added: “While immigration surgeries took place once a month on all wings, legal advice on immigration issues was not always easily accessible for many prisoners. This resulted in a high level of frustration, which, together with long repatriation delays, manifested itself in a rising number of incidents of self-harm among this section of the prison population.”
Almost a quarter of Risley’s 1,000 residents are foreign nationals. In a letter to the IMB responding to its concerns, then-Prisons Minister Victoria Atkins said: “I share your concerns about the self-harm rates among the foreign national population and recognise that they are at higher risk of suicide and self-harm and have specific vulnerabilities.” The minister said officials were making “every effort” to ensure that deportation took place as soon as prison terms were completed – or where this was not possible, that an assessment was made as to whether the individual could be moved to an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC). Atkins added that those kept in prison “are there because they have been assessed as unsuitable for the conditions of IRCs, because they pose a high-risk or high harm to others”. She said such residents had their status “regularly reviewed”.
Making Refugee Family Reunion Applications Outside the Normal Rules
The current immigration rules on when a refugee may be joined by family members — often referred to as refugee family reunion — are woefully outdated and simply do not reflect the nature of modern families. Reform is long overdue. But in the meantime, it is feasible to make successful applications for discretion to be exercised outside the rules. This blog post offers lawyers and advisors some tips on how to go about it.
The relevant part of the rules, Part 11, is limited to spouses or partners who have lived akin to spouses for two years, children and most recently adult children in exceptional circumstances (see para 352DB). These rules fail to recognise other meaningful familial relationships a refugee has. At the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) we are seeing more and more referrals, particularly from Afghan refugees. They are often desperate to sponsor siblings, parents and other relatives who are either internationally displaced or in very dangerous situations within Afghanistan. None of these relationships is currently covered by the rules, but it does not mean they cannot be made.
What application to make. The Home Office say that “Applicants overseas must apply on the application form for the route which most closely matches their circumstances and pay the relevant fees and charges” Given that there is no route available, this can become a problem.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/tagtwd
A Decade of Lost Care and Relationships for Adult Dependent’s
The pandemic threw into sharp focus the overlooked and marginalised needs of the frail and bereaved elderly parents applying to be regarded as part of their settled families in the UK. The 2012 version of the Adult Dependent Rules for adult parents, siblings and others marked a tightening of UK migration criteria, requiring applicants to demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided in the UK by their relative here because no such care is available in the country of origin.
These harsh immigration rules might be said to run contrary to normal government policy. In 2013, the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt made several calls for families to look at how they treat elderly people saying that Britain has to decide as a nation that “loneliness and isolation” among elderly people is “something that we actually want to do something about”. Entering old age “should not involve waving goodbye to one’s dignity,” Jeremy Hunt told delegates at the 2013 National Children and Adults Services (NCAS) conference. There is a collective “national shame” in ignoring the emotional needs of people in care homes or isolated in their own homes. (Telegraph 23 October 2013).
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/xfjjou