News & Views Monday 25th July to Sunday 31st July 2016  
Community Sponsorship of Refugees

A new programme was launched by the new Secretary of State for the Home Department, Amber Rudd, this Tuesday (19th July) introducing community sponsorship of refugees. The new scheme arose from the general eagerness of the British public to help refugees as a result of the Syrian crisis and the willingness of the Government to channel offers of assistance into a structured programme.
The full community sponsorship programme will enable community groups to welcome refugee families in the UK, starting with vulnerable children and Syrians under the UNHCR's resettlement programmes. Community sponsors will be responsible for helping families settle into the UK and will be able to offer assistance on a range on different topics, such as housing, registration with medical and social service or arranging English language tuition. In turn, sponsoring organisations will have to be vetted by the Home Office to ensure that they are able to provide appropriate support and that they will not pose a risk to the resettled family.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

JCWI Survey – Right to Rent Scheme

Almost 6 months on from the national roll-out of the 'right to rent' scheme (requiring landlords and agents to check the immigration status of prospective tenants) and with the Government’s intention for a further roll-out in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the planned introduction of criminal penalties for landlords and agents, there is an urgent need for clear and accurate information about how the scheme is running, its effectiveness, and the impact on landlords, agents and tenants. Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) continues to monitor and evaluate the scheme. To this end, we have created two surveys: One for ‘landlords and agents’ and one for ‘tenants and lodgers’. The surveys should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. 
  1. Landlords & Agents surve:
  1. Tenants & Lodgers survey:
With Thanks, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

SSHD (Appellant) v Franco Vomero (Italy) (Respondent) – UKSC 2012/0226

On appeal from the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) (England and Wales)

The respondent, an Italian national, arrived in the UK in 1985. In 2002, he was convicted of manslaughter by reason of provocation, and sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. Following his release, the appellant ordered his deportation. The respondent appealed this decision to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal on the basis that, as he had been resident in the United Kingdom for a continuous period of at least ten years, he could only be removed on "imperative ground of public security" pursuant to Reg.21(4) of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, and that there were no such imperative grounds. This appeal considered whether the periods of time spent in prison have an effect on the concepts of lawful residence and/or residence in articles 7, 16, 17 and/or 28 of the Citizenship Directive; specifically whether these matters are acte claire or require further guidance from the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The Supreme Court refers several questions to the Court of Justice for determination.

• Judgment (PDF) Press summary (PDF)

Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI Update Volume 130

This document provides an update of UK Country Guidance case law, UK Home Office publications and developments in refugee producing countries (focusing on those which generate the most asylum seekers in the UK) between 12 July and 25 July 2016.

Foulon and Bouvet v France 

Mr Didier Foulon and his daughter Emilie were the applicants in the first case. Mr Foulon is a French National and his daughter Emilie was born in Bombay, India. In the second case the applicants were Mr Philippe Bouvet, a French National, and his twin sons Adrien and Romain Bouvet, who were also born in Bombay. In both cases the applicants were unable to obtain recognition under French law of their biological affiliation. The French authorities were refusing to transcribe birth certificates issued in India, due to their use of Gestational Surrogacy Agreements (GPA) in India, which are unlawful in France. The Court de Cassation in both cases provided reasons for the refusal to transcribe the certificates, partly on the basis of fraude à la loi (evasion of the law) due to the conclusion of the unlawful GPA agreements. A violation of Article 8 was found (right to respect for private life) with respect to Emilie Foulon and Adrien and Romain Bouvet.

Source UK Human Rights Blog

Migrant Children Are Being Failed by UK

The UK is shirking its responsibility to care for thousands of unaccompanied migrant children, dismissing them as “somebody else’s problem”, a report has concluded. Unaccompanied migrant children have been systematically failed by the EU and its member states, including the UK, and as a result, thousands are living in “squalid” conditions, treated with suspicion by authorities and preyed upon by traffickers and people smugglers, according to the House of Lords EU home affairs subcommittee report. More than 10,000 children are estimated to have gone missing. The UK’s reluctance to take its share of these children is “deplorable”, says the report, entitled Children in crisis: unaccompanied migrant children in the EU.

Read more: Amelia Gentleman, Guardian,

Asylum: Religious Freedom

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what representations she has received on reforming the questions asked on asylum applications related to persecution related to religious beliefs.

Mr Robert Goodwill: In June 2016 The Home Office received the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion’s report, ‘Fleeing persecution: Asylum claims in the UK on religious freedom grounds’. We are carefully considering the report and its recommendations and will provide a response in due course, including whether we will consider whether any changes to the way we handle religious-based claims are appropriate.

The report acknowledges the progress made by the Home Office with regards to guidance and training provided to its staff but highlighted the Group’s view that there were some discrepancies between the Home Office policy and practice. The Home Office carefully considers all asylum claims on their individual merits and grants protection for those who genuinely need it, in accordance with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In every asylum case the particular circumstances of the individual are considered in light of published country information, which includes issues relating specifically to religious freedoms.

Published guidance on the interviewing and consideration of religious claims is regularly reviewed and takes into consideration the views of religious groups and other stakeholders.


Home Office - New Guidance Processing Children’s Asylum Claims

Asylum policy guidance used by UK Visas and Immigration to process asylum claims from unaccompanied asylum seeking children and children making asylum claims in their own right. This guidance sets out how Home Office staff and caseworkers should deal with UASC and other children making a claim for asylum in their own right.  An asylum claim can be made by or on behalf of a child in their own right whether accompanied or unaccompanied, and must only be processed by an appropriately trained caseworker.

Home Office publication download here:

Hundreds of Eritreans' Asylum Applications Still 'Incorrectly Refused'

Hundreds of asylum applications from Eritreans are being incorrectly refused by the government owing to its “unacceptable” policy on accepting refugees from the country, MPs have said.  The home affairs select committee has called on the Home Office to explain why it still has not updated its guidance on asylum seekers from Eritrea, even though it has acknowledged the guidance to be wrong.
The cross-party committee of MPs noted in a report published on Wednesday that 86% of appeals from Eritrean asylum seekers were decided in their favour in the first quarter of 2016. “This suggests to us that the Home Office country guidance for Eritrea was wrong and applications for asylum from Eritrean nationals have been incorrectly refused,” said the report. “This is the third consecutive report in which we have commented on the approach of the Home Office to asylum-seeking Eritreans. It is unacceptable that the Home Office is still getting so many of its decisions regarding nationals of this country wrong.”

Read more: Kate Lyons, Guardian,

Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre – Progress, But More To Do

Conditions had improved at Colnbrook, and detainees were able to move more freely around the centre, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the immigration removal centre near Heathrow Airport. Colnbrook originally opened in 2004 and was managed by Serco until mid-2014, when Mitie Care and Custody won the contract to run the centre. At the time of its inspection it held 339 detainees and there was provision to detain up to 27 women. In the period leading up to the inspection, the centre had faced some significant challenges, including escapes from custody.
 Inspectors were pleased to find that: * the introduction of free flow movement around the centre for detainees, achieved without compromising security, was a significant achievement and contributed to a calmer atmosphere; * the use of Rule 35 reports, produced by a medical practitioner to report on the case of an individual whom they believe may have been vulnerable or a torture survivor, was now more effective;  * detainees had better access to a number of planned recreational activities and although the range of education was limited, teaching and learning were good; and * the welfare team was effective and did good work with a large number of detainees, receiving good support from third sector agencies.
 However, inspectors were concerned to find that: *some areas of the centre were in need of refurbishment and the induction unit in particular was very poor;  * chronic staffing shortages affected the continuity and consistency of health care; and * although care for those with severe mental health needs was generally good, it was concerning that people with such severe illnesses were in immigration detention at all.

 Peter Clarke said:  “It was pleasing to see the progress that has been made at Colnbrook, although much remains to be done. The next inspection of Colnbrook will show whether improvements had been sustained and built upon.

Download the full report:

EEA/Swiss Nationals - Permanent Residence and British Citizenship

If you are a national of a country which is a member state of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, or the family member of such a person, you will automatically have permanent residence status after exercising EEA free movement rights in the UK for any continuous period of 5 years ending on or after 30 April 2006.  To evidence that you hold permanent residence status, you should apply for a Permanent Residence Card. Since November 2015, you must obtain a Permanent Residence Card before you can apply for British Citizenship.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

Judicial Review in the Upper Tribunal

A significant practical problem is the lack of direction on how to actually make an application at the Upper Tribunal. At a time of increasing numbers of distressed applicants all looking to have their accounts heard, this causes considerable distress not just to the applicant’s but also to those representing them.

The Upper Tribunal website says that the completed claim form should be ‘sent’ to the Upper Tribunal at Field House. No indication as to the method in which it needs to be issued, is given. Furthermore, the website simply states that the issuing counter closes at 4:15 pm. One would only assume that this meant all judicial review applications needed to be lodged before this time.

Read more: Roshni Jobanputra, Duncan Lewis,

Somalian Journalist Defeats Theresa May

The respondent MSM had worked as a DJ at a Somalian Radio Station from May 2011 until September 2013. In October 2013 he arrived in the UK and applied for asylum on the basis that he was at risk of persecution on return to Somalia for reasons of political opinion and, in particular, due to his profession as a journalist.  He claimed that he had received death threats from Al-Shabaab, which forced him to leave Somalia.

The Secretary of State refused MSM’s application for asylum, essentially on the basis that his claims about Al-Shabaab were not regarded as credible.  MSM’s appeal was dismissed by the First-tier Tribunal (FtT) judge on the basis that MSM’s evidence about coming to the adverse attention of Al-Shabaab was “a total fabrication”. Furthermore he found that the principles in HJ(Iran) (homosexual refugees cannot be expected to hide their sexuality – see our post) did not apply because that case concerned a situation in which in order to avoid the well-founded fear of persecution the application would have to deny himself a fundamental right under the Refugee Convention, namely his innate sexual orientation.  The right to practise one’s profession is not such a right and it was therefore reasonable to expect MSM to revert to teaching as a means of supporting himself while thereby avoiding persecution.

MSM successfully appealed against the FtT’s determination.  The Upper Tribunal preserved the findings of fact rejecting MSM’s claims in relation to the threats.  However, it accepted MSM’s claim that “the pursuit of his chosen career in journalism will involve the expression of political opinions and [it is] at least partially driven by political conviction related to conditions prevailing in Somalia”. The tribunal concluded that if MSM returned to Somalia and continued in his profession there was a real risk he would be persecuted for his political opinion. The tribunal rejected the Secretary of State’s argument that the right in question was the right to practise one’s chosen profession, which is not protected by the Convention. The tribunal made clear that it was a “case of risk arising out of imputed political opinion” and that “the fact that the imputation of the political opinion arises in the context of the appellant’s chosen profession is immaterial and incidental”. As for the modification of conduct question, the tribunal rejected the Secretary of State’s argument that this would not involve the forfeiture of a fundamental human right on the basis that the underlying right was freedom of expression.

Read more: UK Human Rights Blog,

Early Day Motion 376: Human Rights In Kashmir

That this House condemns recent attacks on civilian protestors in Kashmir, many of whom are children, from Indian armed forces with the use of pellet guns in particular causing many injuries; urges the Government to remind the Indian government of its human rights obligations and ask it to withdraw the Indian Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1990, to bring it in line with the responsibility of the Geneva Convention which applies to 500,000 troops in occupied Kashmir; and calls on the UN to intervene in order to assess the situation and act as observers and peacekeepers and to apply sanctions on trade, defence and arms if the above minimum conditions are not met.

House of commons: 21.07.2016