News & Views Monday 18 th April to Sunday 24th April 2016  
Asylum and Immigration Court Fees Set to Rise by Over 500%

The proposed steep rise in application costs aimed at raising £37m a year is likely to serve as a deterrent to many, preventing those who have arrived in the UK with few resources from challenging decisions to deport them. Basic fees in the first-tier asylum and immigration tribunals should be increased from £80 to £490 for an application for a decision just on the legal papers, according to an MoJ consultation launched on Thursday. That is more than a fivefold rise. Fees for a full tribunal hearing should rise from £140 to £800, the MOJ suggests. An extra £455 fee is likely to be introduced to cover applications for permission to appeal to the upper tribunal against first-tier tribunal rulings. The MoJ said it was “no longer reasonable to expect the taxpayer to fund around 75% of the costs of immigration and asylum proceedings”. Earlier this year the justice secretary, Michael Gove, announced steep increases in probate fees.

Read more: Owen Bowcott, Guardian, 21/04/2016

Council of Europe Condemns EU's Refugee Deal With Turkey

Europe’s leading human rights body has issued a stinging indictment of the EU’s refugee deal with Turkey, which it said at worst exceeds the limits of what is permissible under international law. A report from the Council of Europe’s assembly listed numerous concerns on human rights, from keeping migrants in overcrowded and insanitary detention centres on the Greek islands to inadequate legal protection for people seeking to appeal against rejection of an asylum claim. The report also condemned Europe’s “shamefully slow” progress on relocating refugees from Greece to other countries. Only 937 out of a promised 160,000 had been found homes as of March. The EU-Turkey agreement “at best strains and at worst exceeds the limits of what is permissible under European and international law”, states the report by the Dutch parliamentarian Tineke Strik.

Read more: Jennifer Rankin, Guardian, 20/04/2016

Germany Unveils Integration Law For Refugees

Germany has announced new legal measures requiring migrants and refugees to integrate into society in return for being allowed to live and work in the country. Under the coalition government’s measures, announced on Thursday morning, asylum seekers face cuts to support if they reject mandatory integration measures such as language classes or lessons in German laws or cultural basics. According to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the aim of Germany’s first ever integration law is to make it easier for asylum seekers to gain access to the German labour market, with the government promising 100,000 new “working opportunities”, expected to include low-paid workfare jobs. A law requiring employers to give preference to German or EU job applicants over asylum seekers will be suspended for three years. The vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, described the agreement as a historic step, saying he was convinced that “in a few years’ time this law will be seen as a milestone for our immigration law”.

Read More: Philip Oltermann, Guardian, 14/04/2016

House of Commons Debates - Unaccompanied Children

Sadly, the issue of unaccompanied children has in many ways become a focal point of consideration in Parliament, not least in the House of Lords. We will shortly consider the amendment tabled by Lord Dubs in relation to the campaign for 3,000 unaccompanied children to be accepted in addition to previous requirements. This is the sad reality of the situation facing children as they take a precarious route across Europe. Only yesterday there was a report that 400 migrants and refugees died when their boat capsized; they were travelling from Egypt to Turkey. The reality is that today another two children will probably die while crossing the Mediterranean. That is the context and it is a focal point of concern.
The focus of this debate, although hon. Members will no doubt want to deal with issues around it, is our responsibilities for separated children as they arrive in this country, whether they come by means of a formal resettlement plan—we can talk further about where that could take us—or whether they come via irregular routes into the United Kingdom. I want to have a long-term plan. My hon. Friends will know all about the mantra of a long-term plan, particularly in relation to economic plans. I want to get that mantra into the parlance on this issue: would it not be wonderful if Parliament had a long-term plan for separated children? I look forward to hearing from my right hon. Friend the Minister about that. We need a long-term plan for some of the most vulnerable children.
Read more: Hansard, 19/04/2016

Government Loses Supreme Court Battle Over 'Residence Test' For Legal Aid

The Government has suffered a major defeat over its plans to restrict access to legal aid to people born outside the UK. The Supreme Court has ruled the former Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, acted "ultra vires" - meaning beyond his powers - when he amended the Legal Aid Act using secondary legislation to introduce a controversial “residence test” in 2012. The proposed test involves restricting civil legal aid, except in certain circumstances, to people who have lived in the UK, Crown dependencies or British overseas territories continuously for a period of 12 months or more at the time of applying. Human rights campaigners condemned the plans saying they would mean newly arrived refugees and their children would not be able to access vital legal support for family matters, health and housing. The hearing was expected to last two days with a judgment to follow later, but at the end of the first day the Supreme Court announced they were allowing the appeal against the measure, brought by legal charity Public Law Project (PLP), on the "ultra vires" issue. This hinged on whether Parliament had given Mr Grayling the power to amend the legislation in the way he did or not.
Read more: Caroline Mortimer, Independent, 19/04/2016

Theresa May to Put 72-Hour Limit on Detention of Pregnant Asylum Seekers

Theresa May will announce plans to place a 72-hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women at immigration centres after the House of Lords voted in favour of an all-out ban. Last year a report from the Inspectorate of Prisons found that 99 pregnant women had been detained at Yarl’s Wood detention centre – described as a place of “national concern” by chief prisons inspector Nick Hardwick. On 15 April, peers voted in favour of completely ending the practice. However, the home secretary wishes to retain the ability to hold pregnant women for a short period “in order to quickly remove them if they have no right to stay in the UK, or if they present a risk to the public”, a spokesman said. Under the compromise proposal, to be announced by the home secretary on Monday, detention could be extended beyond the 72-hour limit via ministerial authorisation, but only for up to a week in total.Theresa May will announce plans to place a 72-hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women at immigration centres after the House of Lords voted in favour of an all-out ban.

Read more: Daniel Boffey, Observer, 17/04/2016

Immigration Detention Theresa May Written Ministerial Statement:

The Government plans to end the routine detention of pregnant women. Similar to the arrangements put in place as part of the ending routine detention for families with children in 2014, the Government will table an amendment to the Immigration Bill, when it returns to this House shortly, placing a seventy-two hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women. This will be extendable to up to a week with Ministerial authorisation.

We have already made progress on this and the Government is clear that pregnant women should be detained only in exceptional circumstances. This is a difficult issue - we need to balance the welfare of pregnant women with the need to maintain a robust and workable immigration system and ensure that those with no right to be here leave the UK.
We expect people who do not have the right to stay here to leave voluntarily. As with the family returns process, we will be able to offer support to those who choose to leave voluntarily to ensure that individuals are able to exercise control over their departure.

However, we need to ensure that we are able to effectively manage returns for those who do not depart voluntarily. This new safeguard will ensure that detention for pregnant women will be used as a last resort and for very short periods – for example: immediately prior to a managed return; to prevent illegal entry at the border where a return can be arranged quickly, or if a pregnant woman presents a public risk.

Wider changes are underway to improve the welfare of all vulnerable people in detention through a series of reforms, including a new policy on “adults at risk.” The Immigration Minister set out details of these reforms in a Written Ministerial Statement on 14 January in response to the recommendations in Stephen Shaw’s report on the welfare of vulnerable people in detention.

The Government has listened carefully to concerns expressed in Parliament and by others and believes that the proposed amendment, combined with the wider reforms, strikes the right balance between protecting vulnerable women and maintaining effective and proportionate immigration control.

In due course the Government also intends to invite Stephen Shaw to carry out a short review in order to assess progress against the key actions from his previous report.

R (on the application of Nouazli) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent) – UKSC 2014/0139

On appeal from the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) (England and Wales)
This case considered whether the power under Reg.24(1) of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 ("EEA Regulations") to detain prior to a deportation decision discriminates without lawful justification against EEA nationals and their family members. The appellant, who is Algerian and married to an EEA national, was detained pursuant to Reg.24(1) of the EEA Regulations pending a decision being taken whether to deport him. There is no equivalent provision for pre-decision detention in relation to family members of British nationals or non-EEA nationals, unless the detainee has previously been sentenced to a minimum of 12 months in prison. The applicant contends that his detention was unlawful in that it was discriminatory and inconsistent with EU law.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses Mr Nouazli's appeal, thereby holding that the appellant's pre-decision detention was not unlawful. It further declines to make a preliminary reference to the CJEU.

£13.8 Million Paid out to 573 People Unlawfully Detained in IRCs

Tim Loughton:  To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much compensation her Department paid for the unlawful detention of individuals under immigration powers in each of the last three financial years; for what categories of reason compensation was so paid; and how many such payments were made for each such category of reason.

James Brokenshire: [Holding answer 18 April 2016]: Our records indicate that over the past 3 financial years (covering 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15), that a total of £13.8 million has been paid out to 573 claimants, as per the below table. All of whom were paid compensation following a period of unlawful detention.

House of Commons, 19/04/2016

Judgment in Case C-558/14  Mimoun Khachab vSubdelegación del Gobierno en Álava

 The Member States may refuse an application for family reunification if it is apparent from a prospective assessment that the sponsor will not have stable and regular resources which are sufficient in the year following the date of submission of the application

That assessment may be based on the pattern of the sponsor’s income in the six months preceding the date of submission of the application

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Unaccompanied Child Refugees to be Dispersed Across UK

A national dispersal scheme for unaccompanied child asylum seekers in Britain is to get under way in July as Home Office ministers prepare to announce a new scheme to take Syrian child refugees directly from camps in the Middle East. The number of unaccompanied child refugees in Britain has reached 4,029, with many concentrated in Kent and Croydon, where they first made their claims for asylum on arrival in Britain. The immigration minister, James Brokenshire, told MPs it was clear that a national response was needed to help councils such as Kent and Croydon “promote a fair and equitable distribution of cases across the country in a way that protects the best interests of those children”.
Read more; Guardian, 20/04/2016

Breast Ironing

Royston Smith: : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to prevent the practice of breast ironing in UK communities.

Karen Bradley: Breast ironing is a form of so called 'honour-based' violence (HBV) and this Government is clear that political or cultural sensitivities must not get in the way of preventing and uncovering practices like breast ironing. No one should suffer because of who they are or which community they are born into. As set out in the Government’s new Violence against Women and Girls Strategy, we will continue to challenge the cultural attitudes that may underpin harmful practices, and ensure professionals have the confidence to confront these issues, safeguard victims and bring perpetrators to justice. Where breast ironing is practised on girls it is child abuse and should be treated as such by all frontline professionals. The clear legal frameworks that apply to child abuse apply to breast ironing.

 Human rights in Europe: Do Not Leave the Battlefield

 “2015 was a year of fear and insecurity in Europe. The conflict in eastern Ukraine and ongoing economic malaise were overshadowed by a sense of vulnerability to terrorist threats and panic at the apparent inability to cope with the influx of asylum seekers”, said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while presenting his annual activity report for 2015. “The instinctive response has been to retreat back into one’s ‘national fortress’ and to restrict freedoms.”

“Ukraine continued to be the locus of a great deal of suffering. The conflict in the east of the country has by now claimed thousands of lives, many more people have been injured, and close to two million displaced. The rest of Europe cannot ignore the tragedy and hardship in Ukraine. We must all assist in achieving peace with justice.”

The continuing inflow of migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, was accompanied by a growing fear in many European countries, sometimes exacerbating doubts about Europe’s ability to manage diversity and feeding anti-Muslim prejudices. “Despite this unfavourable context, I sought to advocate a human rights approach vis-à-vis migrants. To this end, I examined allegations of pushbacks and ill-treatment at borders, access to international protection, reception conditions, treatment of vulnerable groups, as well as xenophobia towards the new arrivals.” The Commissioner stressed the need to develop safe legal passage options for migrants into Europe and the importance of creating effective integration policies for newcomers.

Read more: Nils Muižnieks, 18/04/2016

Australia: Asylum Seeker Fined for Attempted Suicide

An Iranian asylum seeker has been fined for trying to kill himself during an attempt to move him and his daughter from an Australian-funded detention centre on the island of Nauru. Sam Nemati, sole guardian of the eight-year-old girl, admitted the charge and was ordered to pay A$200 ($155; £109). Mr Nemati had been in the detention centre for two years. Prosecutors had originally sought a two-month custodial sentence for Mr Nemati, arguing that such a sentence could be used as a deterrent, Australian media report. "We are concerned that this method of protest is being used and want to stamp out this practice," prosecutors said.

The pair moved to Nibok Lodge in January, where Mr Nemati said his daughter would have more children to play with. However, the authorities said they were not authorised to live there, and moved to evict the pair on 21 January. Mr Nemati became distressed when officers began removing his belongings, and attempted to take his own life. He was taken to hospital for medical treatment before being charged and subsequently detained for two weeks in February.

The law against attempted suicide in Nauru is based on the 1899 Queensland Criminal Code. However, while Queensland has since repealed that particular law, attempted suicide remains illegal in Nauru. Other existing offences under the code include witchcraft, sorcery and fortune-telling.

Source: BBC News 15/04/2016

Bid to Deport Six Terror Suspects Blocked After UK Judges Cite Torture Fears In Algeria

Six men accused of having links to al Qaeda cannot be deported to Algeria because there is a “real risk” they would be tortured, UK judges ruled today in what marks a major defeat for the Home Office. Judges at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) ruled against Home Secretary Theresa May and found in favour of the six men who have been fighting deportation orders for 10 years. The Home Office argued they were a national security risk to Britain, but the Siac judges agreed with the men that their human rights would be at risk if returned to Algeria. “It is not inconceivable that these Appellants, if returned to Algeria, would be subject to ill-treatment infringing Article 3 [prohibition of torture under the European Convention on Human Rights]. There is a real risk of such a breach,” they ruled today. The six men are living under strict bail and curfew conditions at various locations in England. The men cannot be identified for legal reasons and the Home Secretary now has 10 days to appeal today’s decision. It is highly unusual for the Home Office to lose such appeals in Siac, which often hears evidence in secret. The ruling was announced by the UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on Twitter.

Read more: Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 18/04/2016

Last updated 22 April, 2016