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Monday 20th Febuary to Sunday 26th February 2023

Government ‘Monitoring’ Human Rights Lawyers

The government is “monitoring” human rights lawyers, a Home Office minister has admitted in Parliament. Immigration minister Robert Jenrick made the extraordinary statement during a debate in Parliament on Monday about far-right protests in Liverpool, after claiming that human right lawyers “exploit and abuse our laws”. It comes two years after Britain’s top lawyers warned the government that its inflammatory rhetoric about the legal profession was putting people at risk in the wake of a knife attack. Jenrick was responding to a question from Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, who had challenged him to provide evidence for his claim that lawyers were abusing the law.

The minister did not do so, but said: “We are monitoring the activities, as it so happens, of a small number of legal practitioners, but it is not appropriate for me to discuss that here.” Human rights lawyers said the comments could lead to more violence and demanded answers about the extent of the surveillance and its legality. Jenrick also confirmed that the Home Office was also monitoring the far-right organisations responsible for a riot outside a hotel used to temporarily house asylum seekers in Knowsley, Liverpool. It comes as the first stage of a years-long inquiry into state spying on activists and trade unions concludes this week.

Read More: Adam Bychawski, Open Democracy, https://rb.gy/xyyio2

EU: Respect for Human Rights Including the Prohibition of Ill-Treatment Under Threat

The respect for all human rights, including the prohibition of ill-treatment, might be threatened in the Europe of the 21st century. It is indicative that out of the 1059 judgments establishing at least one violation issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in 2022, more than 38 %, concerned different aspects of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.[1] 28% of the leading ECtHR cases pending execution under enhanced supervision before the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in 2021 concern actions of security forces, protection against ill-treatment or conditions of detention and medical care, topics covered by Article 3 of the ECtHR.[2]

Over 10,000 applications pending before the ECtHR by the end of 2022 concerned conflicts between different (member) States. These are complex cases and often entail aspects related to Article 3 of the ECHR.[3] A new module dedicated to prohibition of ill-treatment in times of conflict has been added, including gender impact and particularly relevant for war zones.

The case-law related to Article 3 ECHR has influenced, enriched and advanced the ECtHR jurisprudence and other relevant standards, including those set by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), particularly regarding the scope of this prohibition, its elements, positive and procedural obligations, and the interrelation with other human rights and freedoms.

Read more: Council of Europe, https://rb.gy/mhiyex

Humanitarian Visa’ Could Cut Number of Asylum Seekers Reaching UK by Boat

Suella Braverman is being urged to reduce the number of asylum seekers crossing the Channel in small boats by creating a new “humanitarian visa” that would cap numbers and create a legal avenue for accessing the UK. Rishi Sunak has made tackling Channel crossings one of his five priorities since entering Downing Street, despite concerns among his own ministers that it is not within his power to stop boats attempting the dangerous journey. The government is scrambling to examine a series of controversial measures that could be included in a forthcoming immigration bill, aimed at automatically blocking those who come to the UK on small boats from seeking asylum.

However, a growing cross-party group of political figures is backing a new specialised visa that would allow 40,000 people a year to seek asylum. The proposal has been drawn up by the independent thinktank British Future. It said that rather than ratcheting up expectations and rhetoric, a new visa stream would make asylum case processing and safe returns “faster and fairer”, while also saving money on hotel accommodation created by a backlog of cases. The plan would see a visa made available to anyone with a strong asylum claim or links to the UK, issued at British consulates at locations away from the French and Belgian coasts.

Read more: Michael Savage , Observer, https://rb.gy/0ivkbm

Trafficking Victims Should Get Leave During Their Asylum Claim

The Upper Tribunal has confirmed that a recognised victim of trafficking who is also an asylum seeker, partly fearing re-trafficking on return as well as political persecution, should have been granted permission to stay (leave to remain) whilst their asylum claim was pending, in line with findings in R (KTT) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 2722 (Admin). You can read more about the decision in KTT here.

In this case, R (on the application of SSA (Ethiopia)) v SSHD 2021-LON-001894, the tribunal clarified that the asylum claim need not be based entirely on fear of re-trafficking to get leave under ECAT, so long as the issue is put forward as one of the reasons the individual fears returning to their country of origin. This post also considers the impact of the new policy guidance on temporary permission to stay for victims of human trafficking on decisions.

Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/idtfvs

-But Racism Not Being Addressed

Families of Black people who die following police contact cannot get accountability for racism from a system that is not “fit for purpose”, a new report from INQUEST has revealed.  In ‘I can’t breathe’: Race, death and British Policing, INQUEST investigated the processes, procedures and evidence base of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and the coronial system to examine how accountability for racism is delivered.  This has been a long-standing problem in Britain, but concerns were heightened in the wake of the Geroge Floyd murder in 2020. INQUEST found a system which works against delivering accountability, that appeared blind to the evidence and where racial discrimination was not addressed meaningfully.  

The detailed report makes the following issues clear for the first time: Official data never before made public shows that Black people are seven times more likely to die than White people following the use of restraint by police. 

No death of a Black person following police custody or contact has led to officers being disciplined for racism, at a conduct or criminal level. 

Despite the stark racial disproportionality evidenced in data, none of the accountability processes effectively or substantially consider the potential role of racism in deaths.  

Read more: INQUEST, https://www.inquest.org.uk/

Not All Procedural Errors Need to be Remitted Says Upper Tribunal

The Upper Tribunal has watered down the effect of a recent decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of AEB v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022] EWCA Civ 1512. The Upper Tribunal’s judgment reaffirms that where an appellant has not had a fair hearing they will usually remit any appeal to the First-tier Tribunal for a rehearing. But it also confirms that not every finding of unfairness needs to be remitted. The nature of the unfairness and the extent of its impact need to be considered. The case is Begum (Remaking or remittal) [2023] UKUT 00046 (IAC).

At the end of last year, the Court of Appeal in AEB v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022] EWCA Civ 1152 confirmed the general position that the Upper Tribunal should generally continue to decide cases itself where an appeal has been allowed against the First-tier Tribunal’s decision.

Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/nwiu23





Asylum Backlog at Record High 166,000 People

Almost 110,000 have been waiting for six months or more, according to Home Office data published on Thursday 23rd February. New figures show almost 75,000 asylum claims in the UK in 2022, the highest for 19 years. The new figures show that, overall, more than three quarters (75%) of asylum decisions made in 2022 were in favour of granting asylum, the highest in more than 30 years. However the actual number of decisions made in 2022 was 10% below the level before the pandemic.

The 166,000 backlog includes people waiting for the outcome of appeals as well as for initial decisions. This figure is a rise of 60% on last year and is more than 160,000 for the first time. Of those whose applications were refused last year, 3,531 people were returned by the Home Office in the year to the end of September, marginally higher than the previous year. However these figures are far lower than for 2012 when there were 15,000 enforced returns, and 2004 when there were more than 21,000.

Readmore: Mark Easton, BBC News, https://rb.gy/8tm1ws

Asylum Claims For 12,000 to be Considered Without Face-To-Face Interview

A 10-page Home Office questionnaire will decide the cases of people from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen who applied before last July. The move aims to reduce the asylum backlog which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to end this year. The Home Office says this is not an asylum amnesty - but it will streamline the system for five nationalities.

Applicants from these countries already have 95% of their asylum claims accepted, says the Home Office. The usual security and criminal checks will still be conducted and biometrics taken, but, for the first time, there will be no face-to-face interviews, say officials. Instead, eligible asylum seekers must fill out a form and answer up to 40 questions. The questionnaire must be completed in English and returned within 20 working days, or the Home Office may consider the asylum application has been withdrawn. However, officials say there will be a follow-up notification if no reply is received, and every application will be considered on its own merits.

Read more: Mark Easton, BBC News, https://rb.gy/5fhyx8

Thousands of Refugee’s Stranded in ‘Unsafe’ Countries Because of UK failures

Watchdog says ineffective family reunion processes increases ‘risk that vulnerable people will resort to dangerous journeys’ - Thousands of refugee women and children are stuck in “unsafe situations” in countries including Afghanistan and Syria because of failures by the British government. Some desperate families are resorting to “irregular” routes, such as small boat crossings, to reach relatives in the UK because of huge delays to family reunion processes.

A damning report published on Tuesday 21st February, said that almost 8,000 people – the vast majority of whom are women and children – are stranded outside the UK in potential danger, while their loved ones suffer waits of up to two years to bring them to safety.

David Neal, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (ICIBI), said the Home Office had failed to give family reunion “appropriate attention” and processes had deteriorated in recent years. “Family reunion is one of the Home Office’s few safe and legal routes, and it is failing those who seek to rely on it, which is predominantly women and children.“

Read more: Lizzie Dearden, Independent, https://rb.gy/bmzpva

IRR: Calendar of Racism and Resistance (31 January – 14 February 2023)

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe. Asylum | Migration | Borders | Citizenship | Electoral Politics | Gover Ment Policy | Anti-Fascism And The Far Right | Policing | Prisons | Criminal Justice System | Counter-Terrorism And National Security | Education | Housing | Poverty | Welfare | Employment | Exploitation | Industrial Action | Racial Violence And Harassment

Read more: Institute of Race Relations, https://rb.gy/ifrmwj

Bulgarian Police Find 18 Migrants Dead in Abandoned Truck

Police have made four arrests after 18 people, including a child, were found dead in an abandoned truck in Bulgaria, its government says. The truck appeared to have been illegally transporting a group of migrants. Thirty-four people, including five children, were rushed to hospitals and some were in a critical condition. The people in the truck were cold, wet and had not eaten in days, he said. It is believed to be the deadliest incident involving migrants in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria has long struggled to deal with large numbers of people trying to enter the European Union from Turkey. The truck - found near the village of Lokorsko, 12 miles (20km) north-east of Bulgaria's capital, Sofia - was illegally transporting the migrants in hidden compartments in which they had suffocated, police said. Health Minister Asen Medzhidiev described the conditions inside the truck: "There has been a lack of oxygen to those who were locked in this truck. They were freezing, wet, they have not eaten for several days." Police believe those discovered were from Afghanistan and were being illegally smuggled to Serbia. One of the four people arrested had already been sentenced for human trafficking, Atanas Ilkov, a senior police official, told Reuters.

Read more: George Wright, BBC News, https://rb.gy/hmthj7

Anti-Immigration Protesters Clash With Police Outside Hotel Housing Asylum Seekers

Some of those protesting were involved in minor skirmishes with police, who kept them apart from counter-protesters. Anti-racism groups and trade unions were among those who had organised a counter-protest.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, the train drivers’ union, said in a statement: “These families have been forced to flee their homes and are seeking sanctuary here. Britain has a long, rich, and proud tradition of offering help – and offering a home – to the oppressed.

“It is deeply ironic that groups such as Yorkshire Rose, with an extreme right-wing agenda, forget that the people of this country were proud to stand up to fascism – and fight for freedom – during the Second World War.”

Anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate said anti-immigration groups had posed as journalists in their efforts to get close to hotels accommodating asylum seekers, and that they had proceeded to use abusive and threatening language towards residents and staff.

Read more: Ashley Pemberton, Idependent, https://rb.gy/owl2ll

New Guidance: EU Settlement Scheme: Derivative Right to Reside

New guidance has been published by the Home Office confirming how consideration will be given to whether an applicant to the EU Settlement Scheme is a person with a derivative right to reside.

A derivative right to reside in the UK was confirmed by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Chen and others (Free movement of persons) [2004] EUECJ C-200/02, Ibrahim C-310/08 and Teixeira C-480/08. Consideration of these cases was included in Withdrawal Agreement. And now, the EU Settlement Scheme makes separate provision for those with derivative right to reside based on the judgment of the CJEU in Zambrano and from 1 May 2019, a person with a ‘Zambrano right to reside’ has been able to apply under the Settlement Scheme. You can read more about the decision in Zambrano here, as well as reviewing a number of consequential cases here.

This new guidance confirms how to consider whether an applicant does have such rights to reside and will be used in decision-making straight away.

Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/wdcdwx







Opinions Regarding Immigration Bail

36 Deaths Across the UK Detention Estate

UK Human Rights and Democracy 2020

Hunger Strikes in Immigration Detention

Charter Flights January 2016 Through December 2020

A History of

Immigration Solicitors

Villainous Mr O