|Refugee Week: Seven Myths About Asylum Seekers Busted
It is Refugee Week and while celebrations are now taking place around the country in a nod to the positive contribution of refugees to the UK, many stereotypes still surround them and those still trying to get leave to remain, asylum seekers. Charitable organisation Destitute Asylum Seekers Huddersfield (DASH) have helped the Huddersfield Examiner compile a list of myth-busting facts about those who come to our country to escape violence, persecution and even death.
Read more: Huddersfield Examiner, http://tinyurl.com/hv3shw3
Mainstream Politicians Legitimising Extremist Anti-Immigrant Views
Mainstream politicians are legitimising extremist anti-immigrant views by “aping” far-right rhetoric, the bereaved husband of killed MP Jo Cox has said. Ms Cox was stabbed and shot to death outside her constituency surgery in West Yorkshire on Thursday by a man eyewitnesses said shouted “Britain first”. Investigations suggest that the man arrested by police over her death, Thomas Mair, appears to have had links to white supremacist and far-right groups.
Brendan Cox wrote a paper on the subject of anti-immigration sentiment a few weeks before his wife’s death and has circulated it after her killing. He argued that mainstream politicians had reinforced the frame of right-wing populists on immigration and had been “fanning the flames of resentment”. “Petrified by the rise of the populists they try to neuter them by taking their ground and aping their rhetoric,” he said. Far from closing down the debates, these steps legitimise their views, reinforce their frames and pull the debate further to the extremes (Sarkozy and the continuing rise of Front National is a case in point).”
Read more: Joe Stone, Independent, http://tinyurl.com/z5s28t9
MSF Rejects EU Funding in Protest at Refugee Deal
The aid group Médecins Sans Frontières will no longer take money from any member of the EU, including Britain, in protest at the way Europe has responded to the refugee crisis. The decision could see the organisation miss out on €60m (£47m), the amount MSF was given by EU members, EU institutions and Norway in 2015. MSF says it can no longer take money from countries and institutions that are “intensifying attempts to push people and their suffering away from European shores. This decision will take effect immediately and will apply to MSF’s projects worldwide.”
In particular, MSF has criticised the EU-Turkey deportation deal, the agreement created in March that is meant to ensure the deportation of almost all asylum seekers arriving by boat to Greece, and which has seen thousands of people stranded in legal limbo in squalid conditions on the Greek islands. MSF has also condemned Europe’s ongoing attempts to pay dictatorships in Africa to stem migration flows before they reach Europe. MSF says these moves risk stranding refugees in precarious conditions – just as the EU-Turkey deal has contributed to the trapping of thousands inside war-torn Syria.
Read more: Patrick Kingsley, Guardian, http://tinyurl.com/h9jmuao
IM and AI (Risks - membership of Beja Tribe, Beja Congress and JEM : Sudan)
IM and AI (Risks - membership of Beja Tribe, Beja Congress and JEM : Sudan)(CG)  UKUT 188 (IAC) (14 April 2016)
1. In order for a person to be at risk on return to Sudan there must be evidence known to the Sudanese authorities which implicates the claimant in activity which they are likely to perceive as a potential threat to the regime to the extent that, on return to Khartoum there is a risk to the claimant that he will be targeted by the authorities. The task of the decision maker is to identify such a person and this requires as comprehensive an assessment as possible about the individual concerned.
2. The evidence draws a clear distinction between those who are arrested, detained for a short period, questioned, probably intimidated, possibly rough handled without having suffered (or being at risk of suffering) serious harm and those who face the much graver risk of serious harm. The distinction does not depend upon the individual being classified, for example, as a teacher or a journalist (relevant as these matters are) but is the result of a finely balanced fact-finding exercise encompassing all the information that can be gleaned about him. The decision maker is required to place the individual in the airport on return or back home in his community and assess how the authorities are likely to re-act on the strength of the information known to them about him.
3. Distinctions must be drawn with those whose political activity is not particularly great or who do not have great influence. Whilst it does not take much for the NISS to open a file, the very fact that so many are identified as potential targets inevitably requires NISS to distinguish between those whom they view as a real threat and those whom they do not.
4. It will not be enough to make out a risk that the authorities' interest will be limited to the extremely common phenomenon of arrest and detention which though intimidating (and designed to be intimidating) does not cross the threshold into persecution.
5. The purpose of the targeting is likely to be obtaining information about the claimant's own activities or the activities of his friends and associates.
6. The evidence establishes the targeting is not random but the result of suspicion based upon information in the authorities' possession, although it may be limited.
7. Caution should be exercised when the claim is based on a single incident. Statistically, a single incident must reduce the likelihood of the Sudanese authorities becoming aware of it or treating the claimant as of significant interest.
8. Where the claim is based on events in Sudan in which the claimant has come to the attention of the authorities, the nature of the claimant's involvement, the likelihood of this being perceived as in opposition to the government, his treatment in detention, the length of detention and any relevant surrounding circumstances and the likelihood of the event or the detention being made the subject of a record are all likely to be material factors.
9. Where the claim is based on events outside Sudan, the evidence of the claimant having come to the attention of Sudanese intelligence is bound to be more difficult to establish. However it is clear that the Sudanese authorities place reliance upon information-gathering about the activities of members of the diaspora which includes covert surveillance. The nature and extent of the claimant's activities, when and where, will inform the decision maker when he comes to decide whether it is likely those activities will attract the attention of the authorities, bearing in mind the likelihood that the authorities will have to distinguish amongst a potentially large group of individuals between those who merit being targeted and those that do not.
10. The decision maker must seek to build up as comprehensive a picture as possible of the claimant taking into account all relevant material including that which may not have been established even to the lower standard of proof.
11. Once a composite assessment of the evidence has been made, it will be for the decision maker to determine whether there is a real risk that the claimant will come to the attention of the authorities on return in such a way as amounts to more than the routine commonplace detention but meets the threshold of a real risk of serious harm.
12. Where a claimant has not been believed in all or part of his evidence, the decision maker will have to assess how this impacts on the requirement to establish that a Convention claim has been made out. He will not have the comprehensive, composite picture he would otherwise have had. There are likely to be shortfalls in the evidence that the decision maker is unable to speculate upon. The final analysis will remain the same: has the claimant established there is a real risk that he, the claimant, will come to the attention of the authorities on return in such a way as amounts to more than the routine commonplace detention and release but meets the threshold of serious harm.]
Decision and Reasons
Introduction and Immigration History
1. Both appellants are citizens of Sudan whose appeals are being re-determined for the purposes of providing Country Guidance as to the risks faced by those returning to Sudan. The appeal was heard on 28 and 29 July 2015 at which point the hearing was adjourned because Mr Thomann for the Secretary of State was aware that the Country of Origin Information (COI) Service of the Home Office was finalising additional Country Information, now known as Country Information and Guidance (CIG). This material, as the name suggests, is a mixture of COI material and Guidance. The Guidance does not form part of the COI and has been described as policy guidance. The documents are thematic. Two such products were published. One was entitled Sudan : Treatment on return; the other - Sudan : Treatment of persons involved in 'sur place' activity in the UK published in August 2015. In addition, the adjournment permitted the Secretary of State to produce a translation of a Swedish report of October 2010 which recorded the findings of a fact-finding mission made as long ago as October 2009. In the meantime, the appellants' expert produced additional material relating to the hacking of electronic communications by the Sudanese authorities. The hearing resumed on 4 November 2015.
1. In each case the Judge made an error on a point of law and the original decision of the appeal is set aside.
2. In the case of IM, we re-make the decision in the following terms: the appeal is allowed on asylum grounds and on Article 3 grounds.
3. In the case of AI, we re-make the decision in the following terms: the appeal is dismissed on all the grounds advanced.
Published on Bailii, 21/06/2016
|Home Office Loses Test Case on Asylum Seekers 'Who Look 18 or Older'
A test case judgment has been handed down in the high court preventing the Home Office from detaining child asylum seekers just because officials think they look 18 or older. According to current Home Office policy, an asylum seeker who tells the Home Office they are a child can be locked up in an adult immigration centre if the official processing their case believes they are 18 or over. A group of lawyers launched a legal challenge against the policy saying it was unlawful, estimating 100 children had been wrongly detained as adults. The case, known as AA v the Secretary of State for the Home Department and heard by Mr Justice Silber, related to a 16-year-old asylum seeker who fled persecution in Sudan and was detained by the Home Office for 13 days from February last year. On Monday 20/06/2016, the court found in favour of the child known as AA, concluding that for the purposes of immigration detention the age of an individual is a matter of “‘objective fact’ and cannot be based on physical appearance or demeanour”.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, http://tinyurl.com/zpjnfbk
Asylum Requests Plummet Across Europe
Some 287,000 people made their first application for asylum in the EU in the first quarter of this year, a fall of 33 percent from the last quarter of 2015, Eurostat figures show. Syrians continue to be the most common nationality asking for protection, making up a third of all requests, the EU's statistical office said on Thursday (16 June). Iraqis and Afghans remained the second and third largest groups, with around 35,000 applications each. The three nationalities account for 60 percent of all first-time applicants. The highest number of applications were still filed in Germany, which has taken in over a million migrants since last summer. Almost 175,000 first-time applicants were registered there, 61 percent of all the first-time applicants in the EU. Italy received 22,300 requests, followed by France with 18,000 claims. Austria registered 13,900 applications and the UK received 10,100 claims.
Read more: Eszter Zalan, Euro Observer, http://tinyurl.com/jfv964f
UK Aid Convoy For Calais Refugees: Refused Entry Into France
An aid convoy of about 250 vehicles that was held at the port of Dover after being refused entry to France by authorities was travelling to protest outside the French embassy in London on Saturday evening. The convoy, organised by a number of campaign groups including the People’s Assembly and the Stop the War Coalition, left London on Saturday morning before being prevented from boarding ferries from the Kent port to Calais by French officials. The lorries, cars and minibuses were carrying aid donations for people living in the Calais refugee camp.
Pictures and video footage from the port showed people chanting and holding signs saying “refugees welcome” and “solidarity with refugees” during an impromptu rally. John Rees, one of the organisers of the convoy and a representative of the People’s Assembly, told the Guardian that hundreds of cars were heading to the French embassy to protest about not being allowed into the country. “We’re going to dump some of the aid on the embassy steps and say, ‘you stopped us from delivering this, you deliver it’,” he said.
Read more: Gurdian, http://tinyurl.com/jd35szd
UK 'Needs to do More For Refugees'
The UK government needs to do more to respond to the refugee crisis, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has said. Dr Williams, who is now the chairman of the charity Christian Aid, said the rhetoric in the media which suggested the UK was "full" was "unfounded". "The UK must not turn a blind eye to this crisis. We must do more," he said. The government said it had pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 - and about 1,600 had already arrived. Dr Williams, who made his comments ahead of Refugee Week which begins on Monday, said the refugee crisis was the biggest displacement of people to Europe since the Second World War. "Desperate people who have been driven out of their homes by war are being forced to make dangerous journeys in search of sanctuary. Yet many countries are closing their borders and putting up barbed wire," he said. "The UK must not turn a blind eye to this crisis. We can and must do more to respond."
Read more: BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36568862
Taiwo (Appellant) v Olaigbe and another (Respondents) – UKSC 2014/0105
Onu (Appellant) v Akwiwu and another (Respondents) – UKSC 2016/0024
On appeal from the Court of Appeal (Civil division) (England and Wales)
The issue in these cases is whether mistreatment of a person because of their position as a vulnerable migrant domestic worker dependant on their employers for their continued employment and residence in the UK constitutes direct or indirect discrimination and/or harassment contrary to the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Equality Act 2010.
In the case of Taiwo v Olaigbe, the appellant is a Nigerian worker who came to the United Kingdom on a migrant domestic worker visa to work for the respondents. She was badly mistreated and brought claims for racial discrimination, failure to pay the national minimum wage, breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998 and failure to provide written particulars of employment. All her claims succeeded except for the claim for race discrimination.
In the case of Onu v Akwiwu, Ms Onu began to work for Mr and Mrs Akwiwu in Nigeria in 2007. When they came to the UK in 2008 they applied for a domestic worker visa for her. Ms Onu worked for them in London until June 2010 when she fled their home. During her employment she had responsibility for their older daughter, and was required to cook, clean, launder and iron. She did not have appropriate or separate accommodation of her own. Mr and Mrs Akwiwu took away Ms Onu's passport and paid her between £50 and £150 per month. Ms Onu was subject to threats and abuse from Mr and Mrs Akwiwu. She was told that if she tried to run away she would be arrested and sent to prison, and was made to watch news stories about immigration issues. Ms Onu succeeded against her employers in her claims of unfair dismissal, victimisation, failure to pay minimum wage and unlawful deduction from wages. She appealed against the Court of Appeal's finding that there was no discrimination.
The Supreme Court unanimously grants permission to appeal to Ms Onu but dismisses her appeal and Ms Taiwo's appeal. It holds that Ms Taiwo and Ms Onu have not suffered race discrimination because the reason for their abuse by the respondents was not nationality but their vulnerability as a particular kind of migrant worker.
MP (Sri Lanka) (Appellant) v SSHD (Respondent) – UKSC 2015/0027
On appeal from the Court of Appeal (Civil division) (England and Wales)
This case considers whether humanitarian protection should be granted to protect an applicant's Article 3 rights in circumstances where the Article 3 risk arises in connection with mental illness caused by previous torture in the home state. The appellant is a Sri Lankan national who arrived in the UK in January 2005 aged 28. He was given leave to enter as a student and his leave to remain was extended to 30 September 2008. His application for an extension was refused. He claimed asylum on 5 January 2009 on the grounds that he had been a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelan and had been detained and tortured by Sri Lankan security forces. He contended that on return he was likely to suffer similar ill-treatment.
The issue is whether he is a "person eligible for subsidiary protection" under the EU Council Directive 2004/83/EC. He is such a person if there are substantial grounds for believing that upon return to Sri Lanka he will "face a real risk of suffering serious harm… and is unable, or, owing to such risk, unwilling to avail himself or herself the protection of that country" (article 2(e)). Serious harm in this case means, under article 15(b), "torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". The appellant requested a reference to the CJEU to determine the question.
The Supreme Court finds that none of the authorities are precisely on point, and therefore the following question will be referred to the CJEU: "Does article 2(e), read with article 15(b), of the Qualification Directive cover a real risk of serious harm to the physical or psychological health of the applicant if returned to the country of origin, resulting from previous torture or inhuman or degrading treatment for which the country of origin was responsible?"
MS (Uganda) (Appellant) v SSHD (Respondent) – UKSC 2014/0153
On appeal from the Court of Appeal (Civil division) (England and Wales)
Section 83 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 grants a right of appeal to an applicant whose asylum application has been rejected but who has been granted leave to remain in the UK for a period exceeding one year. Does this right include an applicant who has been granted leave to remain in the UK for such a period when there is less than a year left to the applicant's leave from the date of his rejection? The appellant, a citizen of Uganda, was granted limited leave to remain in the UK as a student. With less than a year left before that time expired he applied to be accepted as a refugee on the basis that his brother was suspected of involvement in terrorist activities against the Ugandan government and he therefore faced a real risk of persecution were he to be returned. Section 83 reads that a person may appeal to the Tribunal against the rejection of his asylum claim if "(a) his claim has been rejected by the Secretary of State, but (b) he has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a period exceeding one year (or for periods exceeding one year in aggregate)."
The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses the MS's appeal.