News & Views Monday 12th October to Sunday 18th October 2020


When Will There be Unlawful Detention Under the Detained Fast Track System?

The Court of Appeal has delivered a judgment in PN (Uganda) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 1213 regarding unlawful detention under the Detained Fast Track system, which indicates that a fact sensitive approach must be adopted to each case. This judgment is likely to be particularly relevant in giving guidance to practitioners whose client has previously lost an appeal under the Detained Fast Track Rules who are considering or working on claims for damages for unlawful detention.

Legal Background: In July 2015 the Court of Appeal declared that the Detained Fast Track system, which provided strict time limits for preparing appeals alongside mandatory detention, was unlawful. This was primarily because “the time limits are so tight as to make it impossible for there to be a fair hearing of appeals in a significant number of cases” ([45], per Lord Dyson). It did not, however, say what would happen to appeals that had been decided under this system, where wrong results may have been reached owing to this unfair procedure.

Read more: Paul Erdunast, UK Human Rights Blog,

Home Office Evicting Asylum Seekers in Areas With Local Lockdowns In Breach Of Its Own Guidance

Eviction notices have been issued in Liverpool, Yorkshire and the West Midlands over the past week

Asylum seekers in areas under local lockdown are being evicted by the Home Office – despite the department’s own guidance saying they should not be forced to leave their homes while coronavirus restrictions are in place, The Independent has learnt. Ministers are facing legal action after asylum seekers were served notice to leave their asylum accommodation in Manchester, where Covid-19 rates have been rising and local lockdown measures are being enforced.

But the move goes against criteria set out by the Home Office stating that people should not be evicted if they are in local authorities subject to regional lockdowns. The Independent is also aware of eviction notices being issued in Liverpool, Yorkshire and the West Midlands over the past week – all areas where local restrictions have been put in place as a result of outbreaks of Covid-19.

Charities and lawyers warned that evicting people to the streets when infections were rising was dangerous for both the asylum seekers and the wider community, particularly when night shelters and support networks usually available to homeless migrants are not currently operating. Asylum seekers who have received eviction notices told The Independent they felt “confused and scared”, saying they were having to choose between being sent back to their home countries from where they fled persecution, or become homeless in the UK when support services are limited and coronavirus is on the rise.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Court of Appeal Confirms Change of Course in Deportation Appeals

In AA (Nigeria) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 1296 the Court of Appeal has considered its first deportation appeal since the important case of HA (Iraq) v SSHD [2020] EWCA Civ 1176. It confirms that the “unduly harsh” test set out in KO (Nigeria) v SSHD [2018] UKSC 53 should be viewed through the prism of HA (Iraq). The judgment also identifies four key authorities for the immigration tribunal to consider in deportation cases and suggests that citing other cases will usually be unnecessary.

Appeal against deportation allowed
In allowing the appeal and reinstating the determination of the First-tier Tribunal, the Court of Appeal held that the Upper Tribunal had basically just disagreed with the assessment of the lower court, and had not properly identified any other material error of law (paragraph 33): The reasons given for there being an error of law really matter, and the only error of law which the Upper Tribunal identified in this case is one of perversity.And on that supposed error, the court held, the Upper Tribunal’s view was “unsustainable”: the conclusion was open to the First-Tier Tribunal to reach on the evidence before it.

Read more: Freemovement,

Immigration Health Surcharge Rises to £624 from 27 October 2020

The Immigration Health Surcharge will increase from £400 a year to £624 a year on 27 October 2020. The Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2020 (SI 2020 No. 1086) was made today, 6 October, and comes into force 21 days later. As a result, UK immigration applications sent in before the 27th will be hundreds of pounds cheaper than those completed after that date. The order also provides that applicants for a Health and Care visa are exempt from paying the surcharge. A reduced rate of £470 will apply to students, dependants of students, Youth Mobility visa holders and anyone under 18.

The Conservatives first promised to increase the surcharge during the 2019 general election campaign and gave more details in the March 2020 budget. A draft order originally set the date of increase as 1 October but was later replaced by the version that has just passed into law. Migrants already pay for the NHS through their taxes, so what the surcharge really represents is a tax on UK visas. It is levied in addition to Home Office administration fees.

Read more: Freemovement,




Revealed: the Squalor Inside Ex-MoD Camps Being Used to House Refugees

Images of the “unsanitary and unsuitable” living quarters inside the disused army training camps show crowded dormitories where it appears challenging to socially distance. The British Red Cross said that the Ministry of Defence sites, surrounded by barbed wire and high fences, were not fit to house vulnerable and traumatised asylum seekers who had fled conflict. So far two sites – in Penally, Pembrokeshire, and Folkestone, Kent – which together could house more than 600 asylum seekers while their claims are being processed, have been converted.

Jennifer Blair of the Helen Bamber Foundation, which supports refugees who have endured extreme cruelty, said the pictures from inside the military camps prompted fresh disquiet. “For a start, there’s a lack of privacy for showers and sleeping, and for survivors of rape and abuse that is unacceptable. The Welsh site in particular looks really rundown, with bunk beds and concerns over social distancing. It is unacceptable to house survivors of torture and human trafficking in unsanitary and unsuitable conditions. The use of barracks as refugee camps has been done without adequate risk assessment, proper vulnerability screening and specialist trauma-informed healthcare.”

Read more: Mark Townsend, Guardian,

From Covid19 to Black Lives Matter – Confronting Trump & Johnson's Racist Offensive

Stand Up To Racism International Conference 2020

The conference comes at a crucial and heightened moment, following intense months for the anti racist movement in the midst of the global Covid19 pandemic, where we have seen the shockingly disproportionate BAME deaths during the crisis. We have seen, and of course been part of, the emergence of an inspiring and combative #BlackLivesMatter movement in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. Both have laid bare the deep institutionalised racism at the heart of society, and we have seen hundreds and thousands of people joining the anti racist movement actively.

The intensification in recent weeks of the scapegoating of refugees and migrants in the mainstream media and across the political establishment, and the horror of tragic and needless deaths as well as the fire that has ravaged Greece’s largest refugee camp in Lesvos, has also underlined the need for a mass anti racist movement that can oppose division. The conference will take place over Saturday 17 October, and Sunday 18 October, with workshops running (online via Zoom) from 3pm on the Saturday, a major international angled rally on the Saturday at 5pm, and a major domestic angled rally taking place on the Sunday at 5pm.

Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 October

Book now to reserve your place

Comment: as Domestic Abuse Rises, the Police Are Still Betraying Migrant Victims

The rise in reports of domestic abuse during lockdown is horrifying. Worldwide, the situation is so bad that it’s been dubbed a “shadow pandemic“. In the UK, calls to domestic abuse helplines have risen by a terrifying 80%. In response, police forces across the country have urged people experiencing abuse to come forward, launching a nationwide You Are Not Alone campaign in April. But what if the thing stopping you from coming forward to the police to seek support is the police themselves? For people with insecure immigration status, reporting abuse often means having your details passed on to the Home Office. The authorities who victims turn to for help are liable to victimise them further, sending them to detention, potentially taking them away from children and eventually deporting them from their homes.

In 2015, nearly 3,500 victims or witnesses of crimes had their details passed to the Home Office. People who have gone to the police to report being kidnapped and raped have been placed in handcuffs and detained. Even the police acknowledge the deterrent effect of this policy — in the same breath as they urge victims to come forward. Just a week before the police launched their campaign urging people experiencing domestic abuse to speak up, they published guidance acknowledging that their own policies on data-sharing with the Home Office actively prevent people from doing so.

Read more: Freemovement,

It Just Got Even More Difficult for EU Nationals to get British Citizenship

On 30 September 2020 the Home Office updated its good character policy for naturalisation to make it even harder for EU nationals to become British citizens. The new policy doubles the period of time, from five years to ten years, during which certain EU citizens in the UK must have held comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI) or a European health insurance card (EHIC) issued by an EU country, in order to qualify for citizenship. The Home Office had recently updated a different nationality policy along similar lines. It has evidently decided to double down despite the controversy provoked by the previous change. Before we discuss the latest policy update in detail, some important points:

Read more: Freemovement,

Albanian Asylum Claims: Making a Difference

All asylum seekers, including children and young people, find that the starting point for any official making a decision in their case is to doubt their narratives and subject them to disbelief and incredulity. Even in this climate of disbelief, Albanian asylum claims have been singled out for particular hostility. Breaking the Chains — a partnership project between the Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU) at Islington Law Centre and Shpresa Programme — is dedicated to improving outcomes for Albanian children and young people seeking asylum. It has just launched an interim evaluation report presenting key findings from Year 1 of the project.
This article gives an overview of the problem, the project and the findings of the evaluation.

Read more: Freemovement,