News & Views Monday 6th May to Sunday 12th June 2016  
Court of Appeal Re-iterates the Difficulty of Fighting Deportation

A Vietnamese national with a history of serious offending has lost his fight against deportation despite having a British partner and two British children. The Upper Tribunal had protected him from deportation but the Court of Appeal in SSHD v CT (Vietnam) allowed the Secretary of State's appeal.

The Respondent had been convicted of a number of offences including attempted murder and possession of a firearm with intent to danger life, apparently after shooting someone in the stomach following a drunken brawl in 1997. Later, in 2006 he had been convicted of conspiracy to cultivate and supply cannabis and a further offence relating to possession of a firearm and ammunition.

The Court of Appeal emphasised that when it came to making deportation decisions the 'starting point in considering exceptional circumstances [that bar deportation] is not neutral... Rather, the scales are heavily weighted in favour of deportation and something very compelling is required to swing the outcome in favour of a foreign criminal whom Parliament has said should be deported' and that when someone had been sentenced to at least four years' imprisonment 'it will almost always be proportionate to deport, even taking into account as a primary consideration the best interests of a child.'

The Court noted the lengthy sentences imposed and the apparent inconsistencies between the sentencing remarks of the judge in the criminal proceedings, and the Respondent's account. The Respondent's compliance with supervision orders was found to be nothing exceptional and the Court was unhappy that he was found to have a low risk of reoffending despite a history of doing just that. They were also, understandably, perturbed that the First-tier Tribunal regarded it as mitigatory that the offences were committed within the context of the Vietnamese community, the wider public not being immediately at risk. It seems remarkable that a tribunal would be willing to endorse the idea that crimes committed within an ethnic minority community are somehow less serious.

The judgment acknowledged that the deportation of the Respondent would be detrimental to his British Citizen children but emphasized that '[s]omething more is required to weigh in the balance and nothing of substance offered'. The judgment is another example (see also, Bassade v SSHD) of Courts and Tribunals taking a tough line against foreign national offenders.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration

Home Office Criticised by All-Party Parliamentary Group On International Religious Freedom

The All-party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom have criticised how the Home Office interview asylum seekers whose claims are based on converting to Christianity. According to their findings, asylum seekers were being tested on 'bible trivia' rather than focusing on questions, which displayed a deeper understanding on the essence of religion, faith and conversion. Examples include an Iranian asylum seeker whose claim was rejected after his interview. During the interview, he was asked a range of questions including the colour of the bible's front cover and to recite the Ten Commandments. Baroness Berridge who led the group's inquiry was concerned, not only, that genuine converts may have their asylum claims unfairly rejected - but that non-genuine converts may be able to pass an interview by studying 'bible trivia'. She stated: "The problem with those questions is that if you are not genuine you can learn the answers, and if you are genuine, you may not know the answers," she said."When the system did move on to ask about the lived reality of people's faith, we then found that caseworkers, who are making decisions which can be life or death for people, were not properly supported and trained properly." The Home Office has confirmed that they will assess the Parliamentary Group's report in the light of their findings.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

Do Not Deport Kamsan Sivakumar Back io Sri Lanka

To: Secretary of State at The Home Office

Stop Kamsan Sivakumar's deportation and grant him asylum in the U.K

Why is this important?

In 2012, at age 18 I was trafficked by a group of smugglers from UK to France who were attempting to take me out of the UK. They gave me a false passport and told me to use it. The Police arrested me for using a false document. After I realised what the smugglers were trying to do, I spoke to the police and became a witness in an international case against trafficking. I testified against the smugglers in court. The Home Office and Kent police were very grateful for my evidence as it secured the imprisonment of five international people smugglers.

However, the Home Office is now trying to deport me as they claim that, because I used a false document and in consequence was sentenced to 12 months in prison and automatic deportation, that I am a danger to the public. I would like to take this opportunity to explain to the public that, far from being a danger, I am an active community member, I have a strong friendship and support network here, I volunteer at several local charities (including the British Red Cross, the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux) and I have testified against criminals in this country thus reducing a public threat.

If I am deported to Sri Lanka, I would again face torture from Sri Lankan authorities on my return. I now also face the second worry of being hunted down by those I testified against in Crown Court, as they are Sri Lankan nationals, and after serving their sentences here in the UK they will also be deported to Sri Lanka.

Please Sign My Petition...

Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees

Crisis Watch Issue 154 - May 2016 - Trends

Deteriorated Situations: Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Turkey, Venezuela

Improved Situations: None

June 2016 Outlook

Conflict Risk Alert: Haiti, Libya, Venezuela

Conflict Resolution Opportunity: Yemen

The month of May 2016, saw Venezuela’s political, economic and humanitarian crisis worsen amid heightened tensions between the government and opposition, a situation which could lead to state collapse and regional destabilisation. Another major setback in electing a new president in Haiti prompted fears of further civil unrest. In West Africa, deadly violence in central Mali and south-east Nigeria spiked, while a power struggle in Guinea-Bissau led to a dangerous standoff. In Libya, factions for and against the fledgling Government of National Accord (GNA) advanced on Sirte to expel the Islamic State (IS), risking clashes over oil facilities, while Turkey saw heightened political polarisation and an increase in violence in Kurdish areas. Ongoing peace talks, despite slow progress and ongoing violence, remain the best chance to end major combat in Yemen.

In Venezuela, political tensions between the government led by President Maduro and the opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance over attempts to trigger a presidential recall referendum intensified. Maduro’s decision on 16 May to issue a wide-ranging State of Exception and Economic Emergency decree suspending constitutional guarantees in order to combat what he called attempts by the opposition and foreign allies to overthrow the government was firmly condemned by the opposition. Senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles called on Venezuelans not to obey it, and told Maduro to “bring out the tanks” if he intended to enforce it. He warned the army to choose between allegiance to Maduro or the constitution. Public anger over the lack of food and other basic goods grew, with increased incidents of looting. Members of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) met on 1 June to discuss the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, after the OAS secretary general invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Crisis Group has called on Latin American leaders to support international mediation if genuine political dialogue between the two sides is not in sight.

Elsewhere in the region, a commission finding that Haiti’s long-delayed presidential election last October was marred by massive irregularities and must be held again threw the country into further uncertainty and prompted fears of civil unrest in the weeks to come.

In West Africa, in Mali’s central Mopti region a rise in clashes between ethnic Fulani and Bambara armed groups, and suspected jihadists' attack on international forces, together left some 35 people dead. Meanwhile, violence continued in the north in part as armed groups jostled to benefit from the promised disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration program – a critical component of the June 2015 Bamako peace accord. In Guinea-Bissau, the power struggle between President Vaz and the dominant faction of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) worsened. On 26 May, Vaz decided to create a “government of presidential initiative” and appointed PAIGC dissident Baciro Djá as the new Prime Minister. The mainstream PAIGC rejected the move as unconstitutional and called for protests which led to clashes between protestors and security forces.

In Nigeria, while ongoing army operations seem to have the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency on the back foot in the north east, security problems elsewhere have worsened. In the Niger Delta, the little-known militant group Niger Delta Avengers claimed six attacks on major oil and gas facilities, which significantly cut the country’s oil output and electricity supply. In the wider south east, security forces fought Biafran separatists in several cities on 30 May, leaving at least twenty dead, and in the centre, clashes between farmers and Fulani herdsmen killed at least 28. As Crisis Group has warned, unless the Buhari government explores existing political mechanisms to address discontent in the south east, Niger Delta and elsewhere, its gains against Boko Haram will be short-lived and the country could face even more deadly violence.

In Libya, west-based factions supporting the nascent Government of National Accord (GNA) and east-based factions opposing it mobilised troops, ostensibly to retake Sirte from the Islamic State (IS). Their advance could lead to worse fighting in the coming weeks over control of oil facilities in the Gulf of Sirte area. Despite international support for Prime Minister-designate Faez Serraj and the UN-backed Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), there is still much animosity in the east toward the LPA and Serraj and growing support for General Haftar’s rival Libyan National Army (LNA) after its recent military advances in Benghazi and Derna.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, the abrupt departure of Prime Minister Davuto?lu raised concerns about increasing political polarisation, amid signs that further moves are imminent to consolidate President Erdo?an’s de facto leading executive role. The lifting of immunities of parliamentarians facing criminal charges, which could lead to the expulsion of People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MPs from parliament, alongside an increase in civilian casualties from Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacks in the south east, make the return to negotiations between the Kurdish movement and Turkey’s political leadership even more remote.

In Yemen, repeated ceasefire violations by Huthi/Saleh forces and government troops backed by the Saudi-led coalition, and the coalition’s dangerous military build-up east of the capital, threatened the peace talks in Kuwait. Yet, slow progress aside, the UN-backed talks remain the best chance to end major combat and restart a meaningful political process.

Source: Crisis Watch 154

Refugee Family Reunion Rules

“The lack of safe and legal routes to Europe, or within Europe, for those fleeing conflict and persecution is forcing children into the hands of traffickers and smugglers, and putting the lives of refugee and migrant children at risk. Restrictions in the current UK refugee family reunion rules for unaccompanied children alongside delays in expediting the Dublin III procedure for family reunion are combining to mean that children are often stranded alone in Europe, or facing even longer stays in makeshift camps, with many risking their lives in efforts to join family members in the absence of a belief that the system will support them.”

UNICEF says—this is its first ask in regard to the rules—the Government must provide safe and legal routes to family reunion by applying the UK’s rules and practices on refugee family reunion more flexibly and widening those rules to ensure that children can be reunited with extended family members; and by implementing the EU’s Dublin III regulation as intended, enabling unaccompanied and separated children to have their asylum applications transferred to countries where they have family members to join. I hope that the Minister will address that ask from UNICEF when he replies to the debate.

Westminster Hall Debate, 09/06/2016

Crimes Against Asylum Seekers in Germany ‘Increase Sharply’

Hate crimes against asylum seekers have soared in Germany during the EU’s refugee crisis, it’s emerged. Amnesty International says reported incidents rose from 199 in 2014 to 1,295 the following year, a hike of 550%. That increase is more than three-and-a-half times the rise in the number of first-time asylum applications in Germany over the same period. There were 172,495 applications in 2014, rising by 155% to 441,800 the next year, according to the EU statistics office, Eurostat. Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s EU researcher, said: “With hate crimes on the rise in Germany, long-standing and well-documented shortcomings in the response of law enforcement agencies to racist violence must be addressed. “German federal and state authorities need to put in place comprehensive risk assessment strategies to prevent attacks against asylum shelters. Further police protection is urgently needed for shelters identified at highest risk of attack.”

Read more: Chris Harris, Euro News,

Imprisoning Woman Trying to Illegally Enter UK Was Wrong, EU Rules

France was wrong to imprison a Ghanian woman who was arrested at the Channel tunnel during an attempt to enter Britain illegally using a false passport, the EU’s most senior court has ruled. The European court of justice said on Tuesday that the EU directive on returning irregular migrants prevents any member state imposing a prison sentence on a non-EU migrant who is in the country illegally, and whom they have not attempted to return.

Selina Affum had false travel documents when she was stopped by French police on a coach travelling to London from Ghent, in Belgium, in 2013.“After presenting a Belgian passport with the name and photograph of another person, and lacking any other identity or travel document in her name she was initially placed in police custody on the grounds of illegal entry to French territory. The French authorities then requested Belgium to readmit her to its territory,” said the ruling, adding that Affum was challenging her detention.

Read more: Alan Travis, Guardian,

HO CIG - Vietnam: Trafficking

1.1 Basis of Claim

1.1.1 Fear of persecution or serious harm by traffickers or other non-state actors because the person is a (potential) victim of trafficking or re-trafficking.

1.2 Other points to note

1.2.1 Only trained specialists in the UK’s designated competent authorities can decide whether or not there are reasonable grounds to accept the person as a victim of trafficking. Therefore, if it has not already been done, decision makers dealing with the asylum claim must make an appropriate referral to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). The case will then be routed to a ‘competent authority’. For guidance on handling trafficking cases, see the Victims of human trafficking: competent authority guidance.

Published on Refworld: 07/06/2016

Meaning of the Term "Unduly Harsh" In Paragraph 399 of the Immigration Rules

MM (Uganda) & ANR Appellants - and – SSHD

  1. These are two appeals which Underhill LJ has directed to be heard together. Their principal focus is the meaning of the term "unduly harsh" in paragraph 399 of the Immigration Rules and section 117C(5) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.
  1. The context is the statutory regime for the removal of foreign criminals from the United Kingdom pursuant to section 32 of the UK Borders Act 2007. A foreign criminal as defined by section 32(1) is liable to automatic deportation by the Secretary of State under section 32(5) but he may avoid deportation if in reliance on Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention he can show that the effect on a qualifying child or partner would be "unduly harsh". I will set out the statutory provisions below. There are conflicting decisions of the Upper Tribunal on the meaning of the term "unduly harsh". A number of prospective appeals in this court await our judgment in these two cases. MM is the Secretary of State's appeal with permission granted by Sir Maurice Kay on 24 April 2015. In KO the foreign criminal is the appellant with permission granted by the Upper Tribunal on 29 October 2015.

Published on Bailli, 07/06/2016

Arrests at Brighton Anti-Immigration Demo

Twelve people have been arrested after police received reports of assault and criminal damage involving a large group of masked men in Brighton. Sussex Police said the arrests were made in London Road in connection with an anti-immigration demonstration in nearby Ship Street at 09:00 BST. A spokesman said further arrests were expected to follow. A rival march took place after pro-refugee demonstrators met at Brighton station and headed to the seafront. Police said officers had enforced Section 60AA of the Public Order Act, which gives them the right to remove people's face masks if they are felt likely to be involved in criminal activity or violence and to be concealing their identity. Police said on Thursday they were aware of demonstrations being advertised on social media but no group had notified them of the event. BBC South East correspondent Mark Norman later tweeted that the pro-refugee march ended back at the station, where all was calm. But he said anti-fascists on the seafront confronted a group attending a Great Skinhead Reunion Weekend.

Source: BBC News,

MPs Split Over Report Blaming EU for Failure to Deport Offenders

A Commons committee report blaming Britain’s membership of the European Union for the government’s failure to deport 13,000 foreign offenders was only passed on the casting vote of its chairman, Keith Vaz. The claim that the government’s record on deporting foreign national criminals would lead the public “to question the point of Britain remaining a member of the EU” split the Commons home affairs committee down the middle, with a 4-4 deadlock broken by Vaz’s casting vote. The committee’s endorsement of an anti-EU position on such an emotive issue was seized on by the justice minister and leave campaigner Dominic Raab, who claimed that even a leading Labour remain campaigner, Chuka Umunna, who sits on the committee, was now questioning staying in the EU. Umunna was not present when the vote was taken on the key passage in the report.
Read more: Guardian,

UN Inquiry Finds Crimes Against Humanity in Eritrea

Geneva (8 June 2016) – Crimes against humanity have been committed in a widespread and systematic manner in Eritrean detention facilities, military training camps and other locations across the country over the past 25 years, according to a new report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, released Wednesday. Crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, persecution, rape, murder and other inhumane acts have been committed as part of a campaign to instil fear in, deter opposition from and ultimately to control the Eritrean civilian population since Eritrean authorities took control of Eritrean territory in 1991, the report says.

“Eritrea is an authoritarian State. There is no independent judiciary, no national assembly and there are no other democratic institutions in Eritrea. This has created a governance and rule of law vacuum, resulting in a climate of impunity for crimes against humanity to be perpetrated over a quarter of a century. These crimes are still occurring today,” said Mike Smith, chair of the Commission of Inquiry. There is no genuine prospect of the Eritrean judicial system holding perpetrators to account in a fair and transparent manner. The perpetrators of these crimes must face justice and the victims’ voices must be heard. The international community should now take steps, including using the International Criminal Court, national courts and other available mechanisms to ensure there is accountability for the atrocities being committed in Eritrea,” said Smith.

The report highlights that “Eritreans also continue to be subjected to indefinite national service, arbitrary detention, reprisals for the alleged conduct of family members, discrimination on religious or ethnic grounds, sexual and gender-based violence and killings.” The indefinite duration of military and national service programmes are frequently cited by Eritreans as the main reason for fleeing the country. In 2015, 47,025 Eritreans applied for asylum in Europe, many making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in unsafe boats, exploited by smugglers in search of safety.

Read more: UNHR,


Last updated 10 June, 2016