News & Views Monday 1st Feruary to Sunday 7th February 2016

Criminals With UK Children Cannot Be Automatically Deported

The EU's top court has told the home secretary, Theresa May, she cannot deport a Moroccan mother with a British-born son simply because she has a criminal record. The advocate general of the European court of justice has told May that it will be contrary to EU law if she automatically expels or refuses a residence permit to a non-EU national with a criminal record who is a parent of a child who is an EU citizen. The preliminary opinion of the court's advocate general, Maciej Szpunar, however, adds that while, in principle, deportation in such cases was contrary to EU law, he agreed with UK representations that there should be exceptional circumstances when a convicted criminal could still be deported depending on the seriousness of the offences involved. The intervention by the EU's most senior court is likely to be taken by Eurosceptic campaigners as evidence of unwarranted interference by Europe in the powers of the British home secretary to deport convicted foreign criminals even if it does allow her to press ahead with the Moroccan woman's deportation.
Read more: Alan Travis, Guardian, 04/02/2016

In the matter of B (a child) – UKSC 2015/0214

This case considers whether a child’s habitual residence ceased when taken from the United Kingdom and whether the Court of Appeal was wrong to decline to exercise the inherent jurisdiction to order the child’s return to the UK. The appellant and the respondent were in a same-sex relationship which broke down in late 2011. Their daughter, B was conceived by IVF and was born in April 2008. The respondent is B’s biological mother and sole legal parent. The appellant considers herself to be a de facto parent. B, who is now aged 7, was taken from the United Kingdom to Pakistan by the respondent in February 2014. Following this, the appellant commenced Children Act proceedings, and applied for B to be made a ward of the court and to be returned to the UK. The High Court and Court of Appeal considered that it did not have jurisdiction to entertain the proceedings as B was not habitually resident in the UK when the Children Act proceedings were commenced. The courts declined to exercise the inherent jurisdiction to order B’s return to the UK. The appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court allows the appeal on the Appellant’s application under the Children Act 1989 by a majority of 3:2, on the basis that B remained habitually resident in England on 13 February 2014.

Full judgment can be Downloaded here . . . .

Zimbabwean National, Not willing to Leave UK Voluntarily Cannot be Detained

Babbage, R v Secretary of SSHD[2016] EWHC 148 (Admin) (01 February 2016)
 1. The Claimant is a Zimbabwean national, with no right to remain in the UK, who has committed serious offences in this country and whose home country will only accept returning nationals if they have a passport or wish to return. For reasons I explain below, it is my judgment that the Claimant would be likely, if released, to abscond and to commit further offences. The question which arises here is whether the Home Secretary can justify the Claimant's continued detention when he has made it clear he will not agree to his return home.

 2. As is explained below, my answer to that question is "no". That being so, on 15 December 2015, I ordered the Defendant to release the Claimant from detention by 4pm on 16 December. My primary reason for doing so was that there have been no reasonable prospects of returning the Claimant to Zimbabwe since, at least, August 2015. I now set out, in full, my reasons for reaching that conclusion.

 Published on Bailii, 01/02/2016

A briefing note by Bhatt Murphy Solicitors explaining the decision

Drop all Charges Against Abdul Haroun, the Refugee Who Walked Through the Channel Tunnel

A petition has been set up, it reads: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) must drop all charges and must not proceed with the case against Abdul Haroun because the prosecution is not in the public interest and because proceeding with the trial is an abuse of the law and the legal process.

Abdul Haroun is to face trial at a court in Canterbury for allegedly causing obstruction to a railway engine or carriage, which is an offence under the Malicious Damage Act 1861, after he walked through the Channel Tunnel for close to 12 hours, in near total darkness, evading high-speed trains, before being arrested by British police close to the end of the tunnel at Folkestone.

June 20, the day that has been given as the provisional start date of the trial, is also the first day of Refugee Week 2016.

The Home Office gave him refugee status on Christmas Eve.

Given that there are no safe or legal routes into Britain for people seeking refuge, in prosecuting Abdul Haroun for walking through the tunnel, the CPS is, in effect, prosecuting him for irregular entry.

Both international and domestic law say Britain must not prosecute refugees for irregular entry.

The petition is accessible at http://chn.ge/1nNF9jN

Offenders: Deportation

Charlotte Leslie:  To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what provision is made for victims
of crimes committed by foreign prisoners to access information about the progress of their deportation.

James Brokenshire: [Holding answer 26 January 2016]: A victim may contact the Home Office directly or make a request via their Victim Liaison Officer (VLO) for information on the progress of a foreign prisoner’s deportation. The Home Office will inform the victim or their VLO on whether deportation is being pursued or has been enforced.

Written Answer: [23716], 27/01/2016

Early Day Motion 1037: LGBT History Month (No. 2)

That this House notes that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) History Month takes place in February and welcomes 2016's theme of Religion, Belief and Philosophy; celebrates the seismic shift in legal equality for LGBT people under successive Labour governments from 1997 to 2010, including the abolition of Section 28, the equalisation of the age of consent, the lifting of the ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces, the introduction of civil partnerships, the outlawing of discrimination in the provision of goods and services, the introduction of the Gender Recognition Act, the introduction of statutory rights for lesbian couples to access fertility treatment, increased sentencing for homophobic hate crimes and government-led initiatives to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools; further celebrates the shift in public attitudes towards LGBT equality and the action taken since by successive governments across the UK to further LGBT equality, including the introduction of equal marriage rights; congratulates Sue Sanders, Tony Fenwick and the LGBT History Month team and other LGBT equality charities and pioneers for their ongoing work to improve the life chances and opportunities for LGBT people; further notes that there is still a great deal more work to do to ensure that all LGBT people are treated with dignity and respect; welcomes the groundbreaking report by the Women and Equalities Select Committee on trans equality; and encourages the Government to take further steps to end discrimination and bigotry against LGBT people in the UK and around the world.

Primary sponsor: Streeting, Wes - Sponsors: Smeeth, Ruth Phillips, Jess Jones, Gerald Kyle, Peter Twigg, Stephen

House of Commons: 01.02.2016

Arrests After Dover Immigration Demo Rise to 17

A total of 17 people have been arrested after anti-immigration demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed in Dover, police have said. Police arrested seven people after a demonstration and march to the Eastern Docks and a separate protest in the town centre on Saturday,  One man has been charged with possessing a bladed instrument.  Ten people were also arrested after a disturbance at the nearby Maidstone services on the M20, Kent Police said. One person was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and a further nine were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder. All ten have been released on bail.
Read more: BBC News, 01/02/2016

Far-Right and Anti-Fascist Protesters Clash in Dover

Several people have been hurt and three people arrested after far-right and anti-fascist protesters clashed during opposing demonstrations in Dover. Witnesses said bricks were thrown and fights broke out close to Dover Priory station after hundreds of anti-fascists travelled to the city to oppose a demonstration against refugees. Police said one person sustained a broken arm and five others had minor injuries. Vyara Gylsen, who joined the demonstration on the anti-fascist side, said fighting broke out when a band of far-right protesters found a way around the police lines separating the two groups. Far-right protesters attacked using metal poles, sticks and bottles, she said, while anti-fascists fought back with bricks and flares until police were able to separate the groups.

Read more: Damien Gayle, Guardian, 30/01/2016

Torture Victims Face Two-Year Delays in UK Asylum Claims

Torture victims who claim asylum in Britain are facing delays of more than two years before their cases are resolved, according to a report by the official immigration and borders watchdog. The delays to torture survivors' applications are caused by Home Office unwillingness to accept evidence supporting their claims from bodies other than Freedom from Torture and the Helen Bamber Foundation, the chief inspector of borders and immigration said. The inspector's report also disclosed that 85% of 1,400 reports by qualified medical practitioners raising concerns about detention of a possible torture survivor have been rejected by the Home Office. The handling of torture survivor cases are the most serious failings in the chief inspector, David Bolt's report on asylum casework. The inspection was carried out between March and July 2015 just before a sharp increase in asylum applications amid the migration crisis.
Read more: Alan Travis, Guardian, 04/02/2016

EDM 1070: Humanitarian Situation in South Eastern Turkey

That this House notes the ongoing conflict in South Eastern Turkey; further notes with concern reports of civilian deaths and a deteriorating humanitarian situation in predominantly Kurdish areas; notes the disproportionate use of curfews as part of the Turkish government's response to the crisis and the suspension and detention by the Turkish government of moderate Kurdish politicians who could act as key interlocutors in the peace process; understands that some people in the region have been denied access to available humanitarian and medical aid; notes with concern restrictions on access of journalists to the region to report on the conflict; and urges the Government to step up its efforts to help bring about peace and stability in the area.

Primary sponsor: McGarry, Natalie, Co-Sponors - Paterson, Steven Crawley, Angela Boswell, Phil Edwards, Jonathan Newlands, Gavin

House of Commons 03.02.2016

Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons Review

Lord Beecham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government which, if any, of the recommendations of the report on the welfare of immigration detainees by Stephen Shaw have been rejected, and on what grounds. [HL5084]

Lord Bates: The Government’s position on the Stephen Shaw review was set out in the Written Ministerial Statement laid on 14 January 2016.

The Government accepts the broad thrust of Mr Shaw’s recommendations. In particular the Government accepts Mr Shaw’s recommendations to adopt a wider definition of those at risk, including victims of sexual violence, individuals with mental health issues, pregnant women, those with learning difficulties, post-traumatic stress disorder and elderly people, and to recognise the dynamic nature of vulnerabilities. We will introduce a new “adult at risk” concept into decision-making on immigration detention with a clear presumption that people who are at risk should not be detained, building on the existing legal framework.

A more detailed mental health needs assessment in immigration removal centres, using the expertise of the Centre for Mental Health, will be carried out and is expected to report in March 2016. NHS commissioners will use that assessment to consider and revisit current provision to ensure healthcare needs are being met appropriately. The Government will also publish a joint Department of Health, NHS and Home Office mental health action plan in April 2016.

We will also be considering a number of operational recommendations made by Mr Shaw, on a case by case basis, taking account of available resources.

House of Lords: HL5084  03/02/2016

When is a 'Foreign Criminal' not a 'Foreign Criminal'
 [Head note: A person sentenced to a term of 12 months imprisonment made up of consecutive terms is not a 'foreign criminal' within the meaning of the deportation provisions of the Immigration Rules and is not therefore subject to paragraph 398 of those Rules.]
OLO and Others (para 398 - "foreign criminal") [2016] UKUT 56 (IAC) (15 January 2016)

Early Day Motion 1043: Family and Business Visas For Indians

That this House notes that since 2012 immigration rules have more than tripled the amount of money required under financial (minimum income) rules; is concerned that such stringent requirements have been accompanied by a reduction in the variety of income sources which may be considered;

 is further concerned that such a sum is pushed to an onerously high rate when there are children to be taken care of;

 further notes that this rate is significantly higher than the minimum wage;

 worries that the UK has now been ranked as the least family-friendly country to migrate to;

notes that while the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced relaxed visas for Chinese business leaders,

such a proposal for Indians has not been forthcoming;

notes that the long-standing relationship between the UK and India is being put in jeopardy not long after the Indian Prime Minister called the UK India's route into the EU;

and calls on UKVI and the Government to assess and reform the unfair system they have implemented.

Primary sponsor: Sharma, Virendra

House of Commons: 01.02.2016

If minded: Put your MP to work demand they sign EDM 1043

You can contact your MP for free, through: WriteToThem.Com

Oppose Restrictions on Migrants' Access to Healthcare

Monday 8th February 6:30 pm, Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James' Street Sheffield S1 2EW (doors open at 6:0 0pm for refreshments)

The Department of Health has recently announced proposals to charge overseas visitors and migrants for their use of primary and emergency healthcare. These proposals are contained in recent Immigration Bills which seek to create a "hostile environment" for many migrants and visitors to the UK Under these new proposals, those who are currently chargeable for secondary (ie specialist) healthcare will become chargeable for all the care they receive from the NHS, apart from GP and nurse consultations. This will include introducing charges in primary care (apart from GP and nurse consultations), community care and emergency care (including ambulance services, A&E and walk-in centres).

This will involve health workers acting as border guards, checking patients' immigration status before treating them, a proposed role the British Medical Association have condemned. Charging procedures in the NHS are already deterring vulnerable people seeking protection from accessing medical help, with significant consequences for their own health and wellbeing as well as public health.

Read more: South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group

Human Rights Watch World Report 2016 ‘Politics of Fear’ Threatens Rights

In the 659-page World Report 2016, its 26th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that the spread of terrorist attacks beyond the Middle East and the huge flows of refugees spawned by repression and conflict led many governments to curtail rights in misguided efforts to protect their security. At the same time, authoritarian governments throughout the world, fearful of peaceful dissent that is often magnified by social media, embarked on the most intense crackdown on independent groups in recent times.

Policymakers in the United States have used the terrorism threat to try to reverse recent modest restrictions on intelligence agencies’ ability to engage in mass surveillance, while the United Kingdom and France have sought to expand monitoring powers. That would significantly undermine privacy rights without any demonstrated increase in the ability to curb terrorism.
Popular movements launched by civil society organizations with the aid of social media left many authoritarian governments running scared. The precedents of the Arab uprisings, Hong Kong’s “umbrella protests,” and Ukraine’s Maidan movement sparked a determination among many autocrats to prevent people from banding together to make their voices heard.

Abusive governments have tried to smother civic groups by enacting laws that restrict their activities and cut off their needed international funding. Russia and China are among the worst offenders. Repression of this intensity – including shuttering critical groups in Russia and arresting rights lawyers and activists in China – has not been seen in decades, Human Rights Watch said. Turkey’s ruling party has presided over an intense crackdown, targeting activists and media critical of the government.

Ethiopia and India, often using nationalistic rhetoric, have restricted foreign funding to fend off independent monitoring of government rights violations. Bolivia, Cambodia, Ecuador, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Morocco, Sudan, and Venezuela have enacted vague and overly broad laws to rein in activists and undermine independent groups’ ability to operate. Western governments have been slow to speak out against these global threats.

Read more: Human Rights Watch, 27/01/2016

Last updated 24 August, 2017