Court Upholds UK Cap on Number of Child Refugees
The government’s decision to cap the number of unaccompanied child refugees who can be brought into the UK has been upheld by the court of appeal. But three senior judges said there had been a breach of the “duty of fairness” in the process because those refused entry were not given any reasons for being denied permission. The limit of 480 asylum seekers under the age of 18 was set by the Home Office after the government was forced to accept a parliamentary amendment by the Labour peer Lord Dubs.
The decision by the judges, Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Hickinbottom, opens the way for children refused entry to bring individual challenges about the way their applications were handled. The judges ruled that there was nothing wrong with the consultation carried out by the government, by which it arrived at the 480 figure. Giving reasons for the court’s ruling, Hickinbottom said: “In my judgment, the reasons given for rejecting a child … were patently inadequate.” Children who had their applications rejected will now be entitled to receive those reasons and can appeal against those decisions.
Read more: Owen Bowcott, Guardian, https://bit.ly/2ybNW64
Anti-Deportation Activists Face Jail Time Under Terror Legislation
A group of anti-deportation activists face lengthy jail terms—including the possibility of life behind bars—as their trial begins on Monday 1st October.
The 15 defendants attempted to block the take-off of a charter plane at Stansted Airport in Essex in March last year.
There were 57 migrants, who the British government deemed “illegal”, being sent back to Nigeria and Ghana on the jet. And there was double that number of security guards on board.
The protest took place in an aircraft parking bay far away from the runways and the main terminal. The activists dressed in bright pink to ensure they were visible. None were armed or posed a danger to others.
But the Crown Prosecution Service brought charges against them using the Aviation and Maritime Security Act. This is a piece of terrorism legislation which has never been used against political protest before.
The Act allows for lengthy sentences, including life imprisonment, with the trial expected to last for up to six weeks.
No Need to Show Current Risk of Harm for Citizenship Deprivation
The Court of Appeal has handed down its latest judgment relating to deprivation of British citizenship on “conducive to the public good” grounds. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Mr Pham against a decision by the Secretary of State for the Home Department (“Home Secretary”) to deprive him of his citizenship. The court considered five issues relating to the question of whether a Deprivation Order can be made where the appellant no longer poses a current risk of harm to the UK, and the leading judgment was given by Lady Justice Arden.
The appellant, Mr Pham, was born in Vietnam in 1983. He moved to the UK in the late 1980s and acquired British citizenship in 1995. In September 2011, the UK Home Secretary decided to deprive the appellant of his British citizenship due to his suspected involvement in terrorist activities. There was evidence that the appellant had travelled to Yemen in 2011, stayed there for six months and had received terrorist training, including weapons training, and that he had also engaged in terrorism activities. The main reason given by the Secretary of State in 2011 for the Deprivation Order was as follows: “The Security Service assess that you are involved in terrorism-related activities and have links to a number of Islamist extremists”. Mr Pham appealed against the Deprivation Order to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). A stream of litigation followed, challenging whether the Secretary of State’s Deprivation Order made Mr Pham stateless. Eventually the Supreme Court held that strictly as a matter of law, he had not been made stateless by this decision.
Read more: Gherson Immigration, https://is.gd/UueEME
U.S. Detention of Children Getting Worse
Images of children sitting alone in chain-link cages, recordings of their frightened cries, and officials’ mocking reactions generated outrage across the country this summer. The Trump Administration responded by reversing its policy of forcibly separating immigrant families at the border—but what it substituted has been no better: it merely changed the way children are harmed.
These more recent measures include moving to permit indefinite family detention, creating procedures that have led to a sharp increase in the detention of unaccompanied children, and reversing established rules for asylum under US law. According to the New York Times, the numbers of migrant children in federal shelters have increased fivefold, reaching a total of 12,800 in September compared to 2,400 in custody in May, 2017.
More than 100 children remain separated from their parents despite court orders for their reunification.
Each of these policies damages children, deploying them as pawns to punish people who enter the US irregularly, and as a deterrent to others who might try. And it is taking place at the cost of millions diverted from disaster relief funds, the US Coast Guard, law enforcement training, and other programs.
Read more: Human Rights Watch, https://is.gd/inaWxV
Human Trafficking: is Our System for Combating it Fit for Purpose?
Ultimately, though, however good the legal framework is (and it is pretty good already) the real challenge is implementation. If we are to defeat the scourge of human trafficking and modern-day slavery, and ensure the UK is a safe haven for victims and an unsafe place for traffickers, we will need more attention to detail and more joined-up thinking from local authorities. Given how overstretched police and council budgets have become, and how overworked many police officers and social workers are, this is no small ask. But the stakes are too high for victims of trafficking: it must be a higher priority to get this right.
Admirably, the UK has been at the forefront of international efforts to crack down on human trafficking. More than £150m of development aid has been committed to tackle modern slavery, and the British government has been vocal in diplomatic efforts and foreign policy about doing more to address the problem. Domestically there has been new legislation to consolidate criminal offences for various forms of trafficking or exploitation, with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (and similar legislation for the devolved administrations — the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Acts in Northern Ireland and Scotland).
However, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) isn’t working quite as intended.
First, there is a problem of lack of resources and delays in the system. In 2017 there were 5,145 referrals, but by the end of the year only 665 had led to a positive conclusive grounds decision and 1,049 a negative decision, with 3,273 still waiting.
Second, the NRM system sometimes isn’t triggered even where it is pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that it should be.
Third, even where the NRM decision-making process itself is effective, the support provided to VOTs is inconsistent in quality and local authorities can make bad mistakes.
Fourth, there can be major failures to share information between public authorities, leading to VOTs being lost and re-trafficked, even after they have been identified by the system which is supposed to protect them.
Read more: UK Human Rights Blog, https://is.gd/F4GtAl
Family Reunification Trumps Rigid EU Regulations
In recent years it has become the norm for children, or young adults (those under the age of 18), to make the emotionally and physically difficult journey, unaccompanied, to European countries bordering the Mediterranean. They do this seeking to be reunited with their family members already in the United Kingdom. The Dublin Regulations represent the body of EU law determining which EU Member State is responsible for examining an application for international protection submitted by asylum seekers. However, since the landmark 2016 UK Upper Tribunal and subsequent Court of Appeal ruling in ZAT and Others, the state of affairs relating to family reunification has improved. The regulations note:
“If an unaccompanied child applies for asylum in one state, he ‘shall’ have his application examined in the Member state where a parent, responsible adult, sibling, adult aunt, uncle or grandparent is legally present, provided this is in his ‘best interest’” (Article 8(1)(2)).
A recent case which has suggested that the notion of family reunification trumps the rigid Dublin Regulations began in 2005 when a stateless man from Kuwait sought asylum in the United Kingdom. He succeeded in his asylum claim and became a British citizen in 2013. Once this process was complete he applied for his wife and child to join him in the UK. After many refusals on the grounds that he was no longer a refugee and did not satisfy the requirements for dependent family members, the family were allowed to relocate to the UK to join their father/husband as refugees under the Dublin Regulations. Daniel Rourke, who represented the family, stated:
“Following the judgement, on 26 April 2018, the Home Office agreed to accept responsibility for the asylum claims of the mother and daughter under Article 17(2) of the Dublin III Regulations. It was a relief to the family that they were able to be reunited in the UK several weeks later, shortly before the birth of the couple’s second child”. (Daniel Rourke, Migrants Law Project).
Although this process was severely delayed and refused before its successful resolution, it does show that there can be a future for families divided during their plight to gain asylum. These developments may lead in the future to processes which take family rights more into consideration when reviewing applications.
Posted by: Gherson Immigration, https://is.gd/ebBXgG