News & Views Monday 3rd Setemberto Sunday 9th September 2018  

Home Office Backed 'Slave Labour' Pay For Immigration Detainees

The Home Office says the menial work is provided on a voluntary basis to meet “recreational and intellectual” needs and provide “relief from boredom”. However, without the detainees to do the work, the Home Office would have to pay more than seven times as much to external workers. Although Home Office officials and detention centre contractors have expressed support for a pay rise, ministers decided the recommended increase from £1 to £1.15 was not necessary. The rate has remained the same since 2008.

The Home Office says the menial work is provided on a voluntary basis to meet “recreational and intellectual” needs and provide “relief from boredom”. However, without the detainees to do the work, the Home Office would have to pay more than seven times as much to external workers.

The detainees’ lawyers say the home secretary is acting unlawfully under detention centre rules and the internal pay review conducted by the Home Office is irrational and is in breach of equality legislation. Toufique Hossain from Duncan Lewis solicitors, who is bringing the legal action, said: “For several years, the Home Office has exploited immigrants that the government has detained. Cleaner, barber, kitchen assistant, interpreter, librarian … these are just a few of the jobs, essential to the day-to-day running of detention centres, which are carried out by detainees.  “Indefensibly, the Home Office has set a maximum pay cap for such work at £1 per hour. After we threatened legal action, the Home Office finally reviewed this policy at ministerial level, but callously chose to maintain the cap. We now seek judicial scrutiny of this immoral and obscene practice.”

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - September 2018

Deteriorated Situations: Chad, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Russia/North Caucasus, Venezuela, Syria, Libya

Conflict Risk Alerts for September: Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Yemen, Libya

In August, the Syrian regime and its allies upped attacks in the north west, pointing to an imminent offensive on rebel-held Idlib province, home to nearly three million people. Fierce militia fighting erupted in Libya’s capital and could escalate in the coming weeks. The UN’s consultations with Yemen’s belligerents in September could re-energise peace talks; but failure could trigger more violence. In DR Congo, the government’s determination to bar the main opposition contenders from December’s presidential poll could provoke more protests, while Zimbabwe’s elections left the country even more divided. Uganda’s detention of a popular challenger sparked protests, which the authorities put down with force. Mob violence rose in eastern Ethiopia, and Chad responded with force to a rebel attack. In Chechnya, boys reportedly carried out attacks on police after pledging allegiance to Islamic State. The exodus of Venezuelans to neighbouring countries presented a growing regional threat, with the government’s new economic reform package making things worse. A forthcoming referendum in Macedonia could bring the country another step closer to resolution of its longstanding name dispute with Greece.

Source: International Crisis Group,

JR Launched to Remove Immigration Exemption in UK Data Protection Act

On 28 August 2018, campaign groups launched a legal challenge against an exemption in the UK’s Data Protection Act that could prevent individuals from gaining access to immigration data held on them. The Open Rights Group and the EU citizens’ group “the3million", are arguing that as the Data Protection Act currently stands many people are unable to access data that the Home Office holds on them. This is problematic as the data in question is often crucial for applications to the Home Office for new leave or extensions of existing leave. After a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds necessary to bring the case to Court, the3million group announced on 28 August 2018 that a Judicial Review had finally been launched.

The specific issue comes from an exemption in the UK Data Protection Act for immigration, which removes certain data rights if that data is processed for the “maintenance of effective immigration control”, or if it is deemed likely to prejudice such immigration control. The exemption includes the right to access data, to restrict processing, to object to processing and the right to deletion, which are all provided for in the General Data Protection Regulation.

The group states that the exemption creates an imbalance in the different groups’ data rights, as well as arguing that “immigration control” has not been defined in the act with sufficient clarity. An exemption like this prevents people, whether EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit, or the next generation of Windrush migrants, from obtaining the information they need to appeal government decisions relating to their immigration status.

For example, immigration lawyers dealing with appeals from asylum seekers will often have to rely on the right to access data in order to obtain their clients’ immigration histories, in order to then challenge the Home Office’s decision. The group said: “According to the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, the Home Office has a 10% error rate in immigration checks”. “This exemption would allow these mistakes to go unchallenged. These errors could lead to an application being refused or even deportation”, they continued. The Judicial Review seeks to have this exemption entirely removed from the act, on the grounds that it is incompatible with the GDPR and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

Surge in Applications for British Citizenship From EU Nationals Ahead of Brexit

Applications for British citizenship have risen sharply as EU nationals move to secure their position ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU. The Home Office has stated this is likely to be linked to “perceived uncertainty” following the referendum result.

On 23 August the Home Office released its immigration statistics for the year ending June 2018. These figures revealed applications for British citizenship have increased by 47% compared to the previous year, with a total of 42,037 applications being submitted over the course of the year. EU nationals now account for almost 30% of all citizenship applications compared with just 11% in June 2016.  Overall the number of EU nationals being granted British citizenship almost doubled between 2016 and 2017, increasing from 16,967 to 31,464. The surge in applications comes at a time where net migration of EU citizens fell to its lowest level in six years. In the year ending March 2018 just 87,000 EU nationals migrated to the UK, down from 189,000 in the year ending June 2016.

The decrease in EU migrants will fuel fears that Brexit will lead to skills shortages in particular sectors of the economy. A recent survey of 2,000 UK companies revealed employers are experiencing “supply shock” as fewer EU citizens are choosing to come to the UK for work and as a result companies are struggling to fill vacancies. Phoebe Griffith of the Institute for Public Policy Research has said the “figures confirm there has been a sustained fall in net migration of EU citizens since the EU referendum” and called for a new net migration target to “stop the brain drain of skilled EU workers”.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

CPIN: Afghanistan: Hazaras

Basis of claim
1.1.1 Fear of persecution and/or serious harm by state or non-state actors because the person is of Hazara ethnicity.

1.2 Points to note

1.2.1 In the context of Afghanistan, ethnicity and religion are often interlinked. The majority of ethnic Hazaras are Shia Muslims and 90% of Shia Muslims are Hazaras. Hazaras can usually be recognised by their physical appearance (see Background and Demography).

1.2.2 For information on the general security and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, see the Country Policy and Information Note on Afghanistan: Security and humanitarian situation.

Published on Refworld, 03/09/2018

Home Office Loses 75% of its Appeals Against Immigration Rulings

Nearly three-quarters of final immigration court appeals brought by the Home Office against rulings allowing asylum seekers and other migrants to stay in the UK are dismissed, according to figures seen by the Guardian. The low success rate raises concerns the Home Office is putting people through lengthy and expensive court processes when it has little chance of winning. One lawyer said the figures, which will be associated with the “hostile environment” policy, showed the government was needlessly “stopping people getting on with their lives”.

People seeking refuge in the UK are initially given a decision by the Home Office on whether they will be allowed to stay. If their application is rejected, they are entitled to appeal against that decision in an immigration court. In the year from April 2017 to March 2018, 11,974 cases were determined in court, with 4,332 of the Home Office’s decisions being overturned. Of those decisions granting leave to remain, the Home Office then referred 1,235 to the upper tribunal for further appeal, with 900 (73%) rejected by an independent judge, according to a freedom of information response.

The figures will add to concerns about the treatment of people brought to the immigration court, with lengthy delays often part of the process. People can wait more than a year for an initial appeal to be heard. If the judge then rules they can stay in the UK and the Home Office appeals against that, it may be another year or more before the second hearing. Advocates for asylum seekers say that during that time people cannot get on with their lives: they are often prevented from working, accessing healthcare or renting a home during this time and are subjected to enormous anxiety. For those who are already vulnerable and traumatised, there are concerns the delay and uncertainty may further damage their mental and physical health.

Source: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Unlawful Detention: Failure to Apply Rule 34 in KG

In a case brought by Duncan Lewis, a court ruled that a physical and mental examination must be arranged for every detainee to take place within 24 hours of their admission to a detention centre, unless the detainee does not consent to the examination. On 13 July 2018 the Administrative Court ruled that the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) unlawfully detained a client of Duncan Lewis because he failed to provide the client with a medical examination by a doctor within 24 hours of his admission to either Campsfield IRC or Harmondsworth IRC.

Under the Detention Centre Rules 2001, every detainee is entitled to a physical and mental examination by a doctor within 24 hours of admission. The court found that in this case, the Claimant had not received an examination within 24 hours, and that there was no evidence that the Claimant refused to consent to such an examination. The Claimant did not receive an examination until one month after he was first detained. This examination led to a report being sent to the Secretary of State indicating that the Claimant was not fit for detention. The Claimant was released from detention shortly after.

The court ruled that the onus was on the SSHD to provide a medical examination to “every” detainee within 24 hours, absent a refusal of consent: “20. …There is no indication that [the Claimant] refused consent to see a general practitioner for a Rule 34 examination (see Rule 34 (ii)). Rule 34 (i) requires every detained person to be given a physical and mental examination within 24 hours of admission. That it is to say that it must be arranged for every detainee and is only not to go ahead if the detained person does not consent to the examination…”

The court also confirmed that the initial health screening carried out by a nurse upon the Claimant’s arrival to Harmondsworth IRC did not amount to a Rule 34 assessment. The court ruled that in this case the Claimant had been unlawfully detained from 24 hours after his admission to immigration detention until his release because of the breach of the Detention Centre Rules. The court further held that the Claimant was entitled to substantial damages for the entirety of the time he was unlawfully detained, minus the four days required for his release to be processed administratively.

Source: Duncan Lewis Solicitors,

Myanmar’s Stalled Transition

What’s new? Aung San Suu Kyi’s government is halfway through its first term, in what was to be a crucial phase in Myanmar’s transition away from authoritarian military rule. Thus far, however, her government is a disappointment – seemingly inept at governance and complicit in the forced mass flight of Rohingya Muslims.

Why does it matter? On a range of key issues, from the economy to talks with ethnic armed groups, the government appears stuck, unable to formulate and carry out strategy or unwilling to make difficult decisions. Of most immediate concern, the Rohingya crisis has no resolution in sight.

What should be done? The policy challenge is to achieve tangible progress while maintaining a principled stand on crimes against humanity. External pressure can be important but is unlikely by itself to produce results. Robust diplomatic engagement, including by the UN special envoy, will be required to translate such pressure into meaningful change.

In 2011, Myanmar embarked on a remarkable and largely unanticipated transition away from 50 years of isolationist and authoritarian military rule. The transition culminated in broadly free and fair elections in 2015, a landslide victory for the National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party, and the peaceful transfer of power to an administration headed de facto by Aung San Suu Kyi – the military regime’s long-time nemesis and an international democracy icon.

Rarely has the reputation of a leader fallen so far, so fast. The sky-high expectations of what Aung San Suu Kyi could achieve were never justified, given the enormous structural obstacles and the uncomfortable power-sharing arrangement with the military, imposed by the constitution. Even against more realistic benchmarks, however, the new government has underperformed on the peace process, governance and the economy. The military’s brutal maltreatment of the Rohingya – involving crimes against humanity and which a UN report released on 27 August has said merit investigation for genocide – and the Suu Kyi government’s acquiescence therein, became a defining new crisis.

Read more International Crisis Group,

EU Settlement Scheme

On 21 June 2018 the Home Office published its “Statement of Intent” introducing the requirements and application procedures under the new “EU Settlement Scheme”. The scheme will be open fully by 30 March 2019 and the deadline for applications for “settled” and “pre-settled” status for those EU citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK by the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020 will be 30 June 2021. 

For the purposes of the scheme, the definition of “resident in the UK” will include those people who are in the UK before midnight on 31 December 2020 and will also cover people who were previously resident in the UK but who will be outside the UK on that date, provided they have maintained the continuity of their residence in the UK. 

Those who have already been granted permanent residence documentation under the current free movement rules or those applicants who do not yet hold such documentation but have completed 5 years continuous residence in the UK, may have broken the continuity of their residence by having been absent from the UK for more than 5 consecutive years at any point since they last acquired the right of permanent residence in the UK or last completed a period of 5 years continuous residence in the UK. 

Persons who have completed a continuous period of 5 years as a relevant EU citizen (or their family member) will be eligible to apply for “settled” status – indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Applicants who have been continuously resident in the UK for less than 5 years up to the date of the application, will be eligible for 5 years limited leave to remain in the UK.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

End Borders Between Health Workers and Patients in the UK

Early Day Motion 1582: Return Of Ebola Medals

That this House applauds the decision of Helena Robinson, a postdoctoral research officer at Bangor University, who, along with 19 colleagues on 24 July 2018 handed back medals to the Government that had been awarded for work in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak; supports the decision to return these medals in protest at the Government's hostile environment policies and denial of health care to patients in the UK who are unable to prove their immigration status; respects the integrity of these professionals who crossed borders to help patients in desperate need, and now act to stand against the Government-imposed borders between health workers and patients in the UK; and calls on the Government to put an end to their hostile environment policies and their unyielding attacks on the most vulnerable in our society.

Hansard, 05/09/2018

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM 1582
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