News & Views Monday 20th August to Sunday 2nd September 2018  

CCRC Refers For Appeal the Travel Document Conviction of Ms F

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred for appeal the travel document offence of Ms F.

Ms F arrived in the UK from Iran without a passport or any other form of immigration document, and was charged with failing to produce an immigration document contrary section 2(1) of the Asylum and Immigration (treatment of claimants) Act 2004.

Ms F pleaded guilty in the magistrates’ court, apparently on the advice of her legal representatives. She was sentenced to 16 weeks’ imprisonment. The Home Office subsequently granted Ms F indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Because she pleaded guilty in the magistrates’ court, Ms F had no right of appeal and so she applied to the Commission to contest her criminal conviction.

Having considered the case, the Commission has decided to refer it for appeal at the Crown Court. The referral is made on the basis that Ms F could not have made an informed choice as to plea because it appears that the legal advice she received was incorrect and she should have been advised that she was entitled to rely on the statutory defence available under section 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) etc. Act 2004; namely that she had a reasonable excuse for not having a travel document.

The Commission therefore considers there is a real possibility that the relevant Crown Court will conclude that, in all the circumstances, it should allow the applicant to vacate her guilty plea on the basis that she was deprived of a defence that was likely to have succeeded.

In light of the circumstances of her arrival and seeking asylum in the UK, the Commission has agreed to conceal the identity of Ms F.

This case is one of a number involving asylum seekers and refugees that the Commission has referred to the appeal courts in recent years. Several other cases raising similar issues are currently being investigated by the Commission.

Two articles written by the Commission discussing other cases and explaining the issues and the law in this area can be seen on the Law Society Gazette website at:

and at:

Source: CCRC.

Call For Immigration Exemption in UK's Data Protection Act to be Scrapped

Campaign groups have today launched a legal challenge against an exemption in the UK's Data Protection Act that could prevent citizens gaining access to immigration data held on them. The Open Rights Group and EU citizens' group, the3million, have argued that, as it stands, many people would not be able to access data that the Home Office holds on them – information which is often crucial when applying for a new immigration status. After successfully crowdfunding for the cash to bring the case, the3million said a judicial review had been launched today 28/08/2018.

The specific issue is with an exemption for immigration (schedule 2, part 1, paragraph 4), which removes some data rights if that data is processed for the "maintenance of effective immigration control", or if it is deemed likely to prejudice that. That includes the right to access data, to restrict processing, to object to processing and the right to erasure, which are provided for in the General Data Protection Regulation.

As well as arguing that "immigration control" has been poorly defined in the act, the groups have claimed that the exemption creates an imbalance in different groups' data rights. It also prevents people – whether that is the EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit or those involved in the next Windrush scandal – gaining the information they need to appeal government decisions related to immigration status. For instance, lawyers handling appeals for asylum seekers often rely on this right to access in order to get hold of people's immigration histories and challenge the Home Office's decision.

Read more: Rebecca Hill, The Register,

Immigration Rules Have More Than Doubled In Length Since 2010

Home Office officials have made more than 5,700 changes to the immigration rules since 2010, a Guardian analysis has revealed, making the visa system nearly impossible to navigate, according to senior judges and lawyers. The rules have more than doubled in length to almost 375,000 words, resulting in a complex system which has been called “something of a disgrace” by Lord Justice Irwin and prompting a radical overhaul.

More than 1,300 changes were made in 2012 alone, coinciding with Theresa May’s introduction of the hostile environment policy when she was home secretary. The the new home secretary, Sajid Javid, signalled a change in tone but has yet to substantially change course on policy. The analysis shows that at some points the Home Office introduced changes at dizzying speed, publishing new sets of changes a week apart or less on seven occasions. One document was published in March 2014 with 22 changes, only to be superseded three days later by a second version containing another 250 changes. The overall number of changes made to the rules since 2010 spans almost 600,000 words, running to a length greater than Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace.

Read more: Guardian,

Cuts to Migrant Projects Fuel Local Tensions, Warns Report

Repeated calls from ministers for migrants to integrate have been undermined by major cuts in key programmes designed to help them settle, a new study has warned. A failure to help is also locking many new arrivals into low-paid work and helping to raise local tensions, according to a study by the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank (IPPR). It found there had been dramatic cuts in funding for English lessons and other help, and that more than 37% of EU migrants are overqualified for their jobs in the UK.

The study found that the annual budget for teaching English had fallen by almost two-thirds in less than a decade, from around £46 per head in 2009 to £16 in 2017. It also found that funding for integration efforts, aimed at local authorities with high levels of migration, had dropped by almost a third, from £8 per migrant in 2009 to £5.63 in 2017. Additionally, there was evidence that local councils with the highest levels of migration have been disadvantaged most, as their funding had not kept pace with population growth.

David Cameron was among those to raise concerns about integration levels when he was prime minister. However, as recently as the end of last year the government’s former integration tsar, Louise Casey, said the government had done “absolutely nothing” about community cohesion.

Read more: Michael Savage, Guardian,

Germany Mulls Year of National Service for Young People and Migrants

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party is floating the idea of a new form of compulsory national service in Germany for all young people and migrants. For over 50 years, all German men were obliged to spend a year in the army after leaving school. Those who could not, or would not, volunteered their time in community service instead. The scheme was abolished in 2011, but the belief that young people should dedicate a year to national service persists in many conservative circles. Now, the CDU leadership, keen to reunite the party around traditional core values, is revisiting the concept. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the CDU general secretary, suggested earlier this month that all young men and women should complete a compulsory “service year”. The plan, if implemented, would also apply to all adult asylum seekers and refugees, she added.

The programme would see some young people join the military or the fire service, or help with disaster relief. The CDU hopes others would choose to volunteer as care workers, thereby helping address chronic staff shortages in care homes and hospices. The proposal came after Kramp-Karrenbauer – among the favourites to succeed Merkel as the head of the party – conducted a “listening tour” of the CDU grassroots, gathering ideas for a new manifesto to be presented at the forthcoming party conference in December.

Read more: Josie Le Blond, Guardian,

Home Office Attempts to Deport Families ‘Harmful’ to Children and ‘Often Ineffective’

Campaigners say detaining families with no likely chance of removing them feeds into hostile environment and amounts to 'brutal and unnecessary' tactic to drive down immigration. Attempts by the Home Office to deport families by detaining them in dawn raids are harmful to children – as well as being a largely ineffective practice, the prisons watchdog has warned. The chief inspector of prisons said he was “troubled” by a recent inspection into the practice, which observed children being woken early in the morning by arrest teams and escorted on long journeys before being detained with their “often very distressed” parents. Some were forced to go through the “traumatic process” of witnessing parents being restrained, contributing to the “considerable human impact” the removal process had on children, inspectors found. he report by the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, which looked at the care of families held at immigration facilities near Gatwick, found that as well as being harmful for children, detaining families was “costly” and “often ineffective”, with 80 per cent of detainees released back into the community within three days.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

HO Paid Bonuses to Private Firm That Detained and Removed Citizens

The Home Office paid bonuses to the private firm responsible for removing Windrush citizens, on exceeding its deportation targets, newly released documents show. Letters from the Home Office to a parliamentary committee also reveal the department may be withholding crucial evidence about wrongful detentions and removals from an inquiry into the scandal. Figures released by the home secretary after a request by the Joint Committee on Human Rights show the department’s contract with outsourcing company Capita gave the company a bonus payment of 2.5 per cent, above a certain target for removals from the UK. This increased to 12.5 per cent if the total exceeded the target by 10 per cent.

Harriet Harman, chair of the committee, wrote to Sajid Javid last month seeking details of the contract with Capita, which was contracted to deal with people who applied for leave to remain in the UK but had been refused – a position many of the Windrush citizens found themselves in.  The home secretary responded that Capita operated an “outcome-based payment mechanism” between 2012 and 2016, with no individual bonuses for staff. There were, however, overall incentives to beat removal targets, he added.

After the firm waived concerns about commercial sensitivity, the Home Office sent the committee the section of the contract detailing the incentive scheme, which showed the it was paid between £10.58 and £22.63 per person contacted who left the UK voluntarily. Separate documents released by Mr Javid to the Committee also reveal that the department is producing only “case summaries” for the individuals identified to be shared with the independent reviewer, Wendy Williams, for further examination.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Sadiq Khan: Protect Victims of Serious Crime Whose Immigration Status is Insecure

London’s independent Victims’ Commissioner has found that victims of crimes such as domestic and sexual abuse fail to report them out of fear of the immigration authorities. The Victims’ Commissioner has been working closely with victims who are too frightened to report crimes and who are forced to remain in abusive relationships because of their immigration status. In one case (of many), the husband reportedly controlled all of the household’s finances, kept one of twin babies at home when the wife was allowed out to ensure she would not flee and regularly abused her. The husband told the wife that if she phoned the police she would be arrested and deported because she was an illegal immigrant and could only stay in the UK as long as she was married to him. He also said the court would award the custody of the children to him because she had no money and could not speak English.

When she eventually summoned up the courage to contact the police, they confirmed her fears by telling her she had no rights. She thereafter became the offender in an immigration case and not the victim in a domestic abuse case. In light of incidents such as this, the Metropolitan Police Service has agreed to work with the Victims’ Commissioner to improve how cases are handled, for example by introducing a set of guidelines and principles on how to respond to victims with insecure immigration status for all immigration officials.

Further, Sadiq Khan and London’s independent Victims’ Commissioner made a joint call this month on the Home Secretary to act urgently to protect victims of crime with insecure immigration status. They have called for:
  • The reinstatement of legal aid for immigration cases to ensure those with insecure status can access independent advice and support; 

  • Victims of violence to be entitled to financial support and safe accommodation in order to leave an abusive relationship, irrespective of their immigrations status; and 

  • Operational guidelines on how to respond to victims with insecure immigration status, including prioritising safety and support over immigration offences.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

Misery as Strategy: The Human Cost of Conflict

In conflicts across the world, levels of displacement and hunger are increasing. The tactics used by leaders, governments and non-state armed groups have much to do with that misery.

From Syria to Yemen, from South Sudan to Venezuela, war and political crisis are causing human anguish on a scale unseen in a generation.

That conflict and crisis take a high human toll is hardly new, of course. Yet the scope of suffering today is striking. The number of people displaced globally by conflict and persecution stood at 65.6 million at the end of 2016, the greatest number since World War II. Figures released earlier this month show that there were 11.8 million new internal displacements in 2017, nearly double the 6.9 million in 2016. The number of people facing acute hunger globally due largely to conflict and instability reached almost 74 million across eighteen countries in 2017. The trend is clear: war and crisis are destroying more lives and livelihoods, pushing more people toward starvation and driving more people from their homes.

So, what is happening? First is simply that the last decade has seen an increase in conflict and political violence. While data and definitions vary, and data deficiencies and gaps exist, studies generally point to upward trends. But deepening human misery comes not only from more war and violence. It also comes from the manner in which many actors – whether leaders, governments or non-state armed groups – are pursuing military and political objectives. Too often these actors gain from human deprivation. Sometimes they deliberately inflict pain on civilians, attacking, forcibly displacing or otherwise controlling populations, including by determining whether, where and how they get access to aid. At other times, they use heavy-handed military or political tactics without attention to the enormous suffering they are causing.

Read more: IRIN,