News & Views Monday 17th August to Sunday 23rd August 2020


Yarl's Wood IRC: Women no Longer Held as Centre Repurposed For Channel Migrants

Yarl's Wood is no longer being used as an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) for women and has been repurposed to house Channel migrants, the BBC understands. Sources suggest the last few female detainees left the site, near Milton Ernest, Bedfordshire, last week. In May, the population of Yarl's Wood and other IRCs was reduced dramatically as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now the centre is being used to house dozens of Channel migrants to check their health and immigration status. It is thought a lack of capacity in Dover is also behind the move. The Home Office said it would continue to seek the removal of women who were in the country illegally.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: "Owing to action as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of women in detention in the UK is low. "We are currently housing this small group in immigration detention accommodation with facilities for women other than Yarl's Wood." The former shadow home secretary, Diane Abbot, said Yarl's Wood had been "jinxed from the start" after a major fire in 2002. She said when she visited the centre last year she found many women were being "held without good reason". "Had I become Home Secretary, I would have definitely closed the place," she added.

BBC News,

R (
Application of TN (Vietnam)) (AP) (Appellant) v SSHD and Another

On appeal from the Court of Appeal Civil Division (England and Wales). TN is a Vietnamese national. She initially arrived in the United Kingdom in December 2003 and claimed asylum on several occasions before being removed to Vietnam in 2012. She returned to the UK in May 2014 and made fresh claims of asylum. Amongst other things, TN alleged that she had been a victim of trafficking and sexual abuse. On 14 August 2014, TN’s asylum claim was rejected. Her appeal, which was determined under the 2005 Rules, was dismissed by the FTT a week later. The FTT found that TN’s account was not credible because she had given conflicting evidence and there were discrepancies in her account.

TN seeks an order quashing this decision. There are no material differences between the 2005 Rules and the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Rules 2014 (the 2014 Rules). In R (Detention Action) v First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) [2015] EWCA Civ 840 the 2014 Rules were held by the Court of Appeal to be ultra vires and quashed.

The issues are: This appeal concerns the legal consequences of a ruling that the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (Fast Track Procedure) Rules 2005 (the 2005 Rules) were ultra vires. The UKSC is asked to decide: (1) Are individual appeal decisions taken under the 2005 Rules automatically a nullity? (2) If not, what is the correct approach to take when considering individual applications to quash or set aside appeal decisions taken under the 2005 Rules? (3) Was there procedural unfairness on the facts of TN’s case?

Permission to appeal has been granted on this case.

Domestic Violence Concession: for the Few, Not the Many

The UK’s long-awaited Domestic Abuse Bill has reached the House of Lords stage of its progress towards becoming law. In the House of Commons, MPs had considered an amendment to lift the no recourse to public funds rule for migrant survivors of domestic abuse. This amendment was proposed to fill the void faced by many migrant women and men who are not eligible for the Home Office’s domestic violence concession due to being on the wrong type of visa. MPs said no (330 to 207) to this amendment, voting largely along party lines. Whilst many have been hailing the Domestic Abuse Bill as a “landmark” cross-party success, many black and minority ethnic-led specialist women’s services argue that it fails to account for one of the most vulnerable groups in our society: migrant survivors of domestic abuse who do not have recourse to public funds.

What is the domestic violence concession? Survivors of domestic abuse who intend to apply for settlement under the Immigration Rules are eligible for three months’ leave to remain outside of the Rules. This scheme, formally called the destitute domestic violence concession, enables victims to access public funds to aid their escape and protection from ongoing abuse. Many will apply for the concession as a first step, before going on to make the full settlement application. The concession was introduced in 2012 following persistent campaigning by Southall Black Sisters (an organisation which works to support African-Caribbean and Asian women against gender-related violence) and other organisations. The idea was to ensure that migrants were not forced to stay in abusive relationships because they did not have recourse to public funds. The reality is that the concession has an extremely limited reach. It only applies to those who have been granted leave to enter/remain in the UK on a spouse visa.

Read more: Freemovement,




Out of Country Appeals do not Breach GDPR, says Court of Appeal

In Johnson v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 1032, the Court of Appeal has determined that there is no breach of the General Data Protection Regulation involved in hearing human rights appeals from abroad via video link. Mr Johnson was deported to Jamaica in 2017 and mounted an audacious attempt to secure his return to the UK by objecting to this use of his personal data, arguing that his appeal must therefore take place in the UK. The court dismissed the claim, pointing to the specific GDPR exception for legal proceedings: paragraph 14(3) of schedule 2 provides “as regards personal data … the listed GDPR provisions do not apply to the extent that the application of those provisions would be likely to prejudice … judicial proceedings”. In my judgment preventing the hearing of the appeal would prejudice judicial proceedings, and the restriction of the right to object is necessary and proportionate for the same reasons. Therefore, in my judgment, the appellant is not entitled to object to the processing of his data in the use of video link, and by transferring a bundle to the British High Commission.

The court also accepted assurances from the High Commission that the data would be deleted within seven days of the appeal. Lord Justice Dingemans declined to rule on whether data going to the High Commission amounted to a transfer to a third country, which raised complicated international law issues about the status of embassies and consulates, but decided that it would be proportionate anyway because of the legal proceedings exception.

Read more: Freemovement,

Refugee Rights Under Threat From Channel Boats Hysteria – and Brexit

Human beings crossing the English Channel are making headlines again. The number of people who reach the UK via this extremely difficult, dangerous but lawful route is minuscule, and the total number claiming international protection here insignificant compared with the situation in many other countries, yet these stories continue to be at the centre of media attention. The Prime Minister recently weighed in on the matter, referring to people seeking protection as “stupid“. Meanwhile, the Home Office has been attacking the lawyers who represent them. It is no surprise that the government has chosen to militarise the seas, rather than deal with the root causes. One element of the government’s response has, unlike the RAF planes now patrolling the Channel, flown under the radar. But it is even more alarming because of what it might mean for the future of human rights in the UK.

Threats to sabotage the asylum process: Priti Patel, the home secretary, is working on a ‘fair borders bill’ due to be introduced this year, according to Whitehall officials preparing the draft legislation. It is intended to stop people drawing the asylum application process out by making them submit all their grounds for refugee status when they apply, rather than being able to submit new reasons later. Foregoing the lessons learned from the Windrush scandal, this would make the asylum process a much more hostile proposition for those who successfully enter the UK to request international protection. The idea is to require a person applying for asylum to include all the reasons for doing so in their application immediately and prevent them from introducing further information as their application progresses.

Read more: Freemovement,

Coronavirus and the UK Immigration System

This is where we keep tabs on changes to UK immigration laws, rules and procedures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve been trying to keep this post continually up to date rather than covering new coronavirus developments as separate blog posts that may become rapidly out of date. Material that has been added or updated from one version of this post to the next is labelled NEW or UPDATED. Use the page contents to jump quickly to a particular section. For a while there, we were updating this page every couple of days, but things are starting to settle down and updates are accordingly less frequent. In between updates, you can keep an eye on the now weighty collections of coronavirus guidance from the Home Office and the Judicial Office. Some people who were in the UK when the pandemic hit were unable to leave before the expiry of their visa because of travel restrictions. The government had been extending people’s visas through a simplified online application process, but that concession is now coming to an end.

Read more: Freemovement,