News & Views Monday 5th February to Sunday 11th February 2018  

Victims of Domestic Violence - Updated Guidance From Home Office

The Home Office introduced the Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (DDV) to assist women on a spousal visa or the five-year family migration route as the spouse, civil partner, or partner of someone who is British or present and settled in the UK fleeing domestic abuse who have no recourse to public funds (who are destitute and need financial help). This newly updated guidance addresses makes some amendments to the template used, clarifies the specified evidence to be produced and some administrative amendments to the destitution concession ie: fee waiver guidance

Read more: McGill & Co,

Growing Number of Refugees and Asylum Seekers Falling Into Poverty in Britain

The number of refugees and asylum seekers living in food poverty has soared by 20 per cent in a year, as thousands are left destitute even after being granted protection in the UK, The Independent can reveal. The Red Cross warns that a lack of government aid for asylum seekers and a sudden cut-off in support once they are granted refugee status is pushing a growing number of vulnerable people into destitution. The charity supported 15,000 people experiencing destitution last year, during which it recorded a 20 per cent rise in demand for food parcels and a 43 per cent increase in people needing baby packs since 2016 – with overall distributions now at a five-year high.

At least 23 per cent of people seeking its support have refugee status and therefore a legal right to protection and to remain in the UK, the charity said. Campaigners are now calling on ministers to extend the period of time newly recognised refugees continue to receive support, as many are becoming destitute on being granted leave to remain because their asylum support – which includes housing – comes to an end after 28 days.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Evidential Flexibility in the Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal considered the Home Office’s “evidential flexibility” policy earlier this week in Mudiyanselage v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWCA Civ 65, After comprehensively reviewing the history of the policy the court concludes that, when it comes to applications under the Points Based System, the policy applies only in the circumstances prescribed by the rules, namely:

where a documents missing from a sequence;
where a document in the wrong format;
where a document is a copy rather than an original; and
where a document does not contain all of the specified information.

The wider policy of requesting an entirely absent document is no longer in place following changes to the Home Office’s guidance which brings the guidance into line with the provisions of the rules. The decision in Mudiyanselage relates only to applications under the Points Based System. There are also evidential flexibility provisions contained within Appendix FM-SE of the rules, which applies to applications from the family members of British citizens. These provisions are of wider application, allowing a decision maker to request a document which is entirely absent. The same is true for the provisions of Appendix KoLL which specifies the documents required to demonstrate compliance with the knowledge of language and life requirement for indefinite leave to remain applications.

As such, there is scope in these types of applications to argue that a decision maker should have requested further documentation before refusing an application. However, the decision maker is not obliged to request further documents; it is an entirely discretionary power. This makes a decision not to apply the evidential flexibility provisions difficult to challenge. Where a decision maker has a wide discretionary power, the courts are often reluctant to interfere. It is, of course, always best to include all the required evidence with the initial application. However given the current complexity of the rules, it is all too easy to miss something.

Source: Iain Halliday, McGill & Co,

Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) – Finally In Force

Gherson have blogged previously on the introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders (“UWOs”) to the UK. These draconian new powers were finally brought into force on Wednesday 31 January 2018. UWOs allow the authorities to freeze and recover the property of individuals worth collectively more than £50,000, without any prior notification, if the relevant authorities assert that the known sources of income of the person would not have been sufficient to lawfully obtain the property. UWOs can be imposed on non-EU PEPs (politically exposed persons), anyone connected with non-EU PEPs, any person connected to serious crime or any person connected to a person connected to serious crime.  This includes corporate bodies and natural persons. If issued with an UWO, any property under the order will be frozen.  The individual or corporation who owns the property will be required to provide a statement confirming how the property was obtained and the nature of their interest in the property. If not provided, the investigator may apply to the court to recover the property as the proceeds of crime. Gherson remain extremely concerned by the introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders and will be monitoring their implementation carefully. The monetary threshold for imposing an UWO has been lowered from £100,000 when they were first proposed to £50,000 now. This obviously potentially widens the number of people who could find themselves affected by these orders.

Gherson Immigration:

CPIN Kenya: Background Information, Including Actors of Protection And Internal Relocation

Basis of claim
Whether, in general, a person who fears serious harm or persecution from non-state actors can obtain effective state protection and/or internally relocate within Kenya.

Published on Refworld, 02/02/2018

CPIN Iran: Background Information, Including Actors Of Protection and Internal Relocation

1.1 Summary of issues
1.1.1 Whether in general those at risk of persecution or serious harm from nonstate actors are able to seek effective state protection and/or internally relocate within Iran.

Published on Refworld, 02/02/2018

Health Charge for Temporary Migrants Will Increase to £400 a Year

The government plans to double the immigration health surcharge paid by temporary migrants to the UK. The surcharge will rise from £200 to £400 per year. The discounted rate for students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme will increase from £150 to £300. The annual charge is paid by people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who are seeking to live in the UK for 6 months or more to work, study or join family. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) estimates that the NHS spends £470 on average per person per year on treating surcharge payers. Projections suggest that the increased charges may provide around £220m extra every year, with this money going to NHS services.
Health Minister James O’Shaughnessy said: Our NHS is always there when you need it, paid for by British taxpayers. We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but it is only right that they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability. By increasing the surcharge so that it better reflects the actual costs of using health services, this government is providing an extra £220 million a year to support the NHS.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said: It is only right that people who come to the UK should contribute to the running of the NHS. The surcharge offers access to health care services that are far more comprehensive and at a much lower cost than many other countries. The income generated goes directly to NHS services, helping to protect and sustain our world-class healthcare system for everyone who uses it. The government plans to make the changes later this year in order to better reflect the actual costs to the NHS of treating those who pay the surcharge.

Source: Gov UK,

Early Day Motion 916: Capita and the Privatisation Of Public Services

That this House notes with concern the profit warning, mounting debts and massive pension deficit of outsourcing giant Capita, a company in whose hands the Government has left the handling of personal independence payments (PIP) for millions of citizens across the UK; acknowledges the dangerous complications this may cause to the Government's own recent promise to review 1.6 million PIP claims after agreeing not to reverse the High Court judgment on mental health; further notes that under Capita the assessment process has long been deficient; observes that 62 per cent of PIP rejections are overturned by tribunals; recognises that the deserving recipients of PIP whose fate the Government has left in Capita's private hands are among the most vulnerable in society; sees the pitiful performance of successive outsourcing companies as symbolic of the degradation of the UK's public services under successive governments; and calls on the Government to end its privatisation of public services.

House of Commons, 07/02/2018,

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM  916

To find your MP go here:

CPIN Eritrea: Religious Groups

1.1 Basis of claim

1.1.1 Fear of persecution or serious harm by the state because of a person’s religious faith or membership of a religious group.

Published on Refworld, 08/02/2018

Questioning 'Voluntary Returns' Open invitation

TCRC and RAPAR invite all voluntary/third sector/charitable groups and organisations to sit together, talk through, write down, agree and send our questions and concerns about voluntary return surgeries in the communities.

If any group in Greater Manchester - or from elsewhere in the UK - who can’t be at this meeting, have any clear questions/concerns already written down, please email them to or and we will bring those forward into the meeting.
Tuesday 13th February 6pm - 8pm.

TCRC 1st Floor, Richmond House, 11 Richmond Grove, Ardwick, Manchester, M13 0LN 

From RAPAR & Manchester TCRC

Future of Bail Addresses For Immigration Detainees In Doubt

Two weeks ago, the Home Office quietly abolished the system for providing bail addresses to migrants in detention. Whether anything is to replace it remains unclear. For the moment, migrants in detention who do not have their own accommodation face street homelessness or being stuck in detention. The changes have been in the offing for two years since the passage of the 2016 Immigration Act, which repealed the provisions under which people in detention can access accommodation in order to be released. Those provisions were a lifeline for many, because the Home Office and the courts would usually not release people without an address.

Read more: Detention Action,

Early Day Motion 905: International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers

That this House recognises International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers on 12 February 2018; understands that fewer than 20 countries worldwide still allow their armed forces to recruit young people aged 16; further understands that the UK is the only country in Europe and the only Permanent Member of the UN Security Council to recruit 16 year olds into the armed forces; notes that the British armed forces recruit around 2,000 16 and 17-year olds each year, of whom 80 per cent join the Army; further notes that young recruits are more likely than civilians of the same age or older enlistees to drink heavily, self-harm and suffer mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder; further recognises the criticisms of the UK's policy by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the House of Commons Defence Committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Children's Commissioners for the four jurisdictions of the UK and the Equality and Human Rights Commission; notes the work of Child Soldiers International, both in the UK and worldwide, advocating for children to enjoy their human rights, free from military use and exploitation; and urges the Government to launch a review of the minimum armed forces enlistment age.

House of Commons, 06/02/2018

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM 905

To find your MP go here:

More Than £500m Spent on UK Immigration Detention Over Four Years

More than half a billion pounds has been spent on immigration detention in four years, figures show, prompting renewed calls for a limit on length of time immigrants can be held in removal centres. The Government shelled out £523.5 million on detaining people for immigration reasons between April 2013 and March 2017, with an additional £16.2 million spent on damages awarded to immigrants who were detained unlawfully in the same period. The figures, revealed in response to a written question by the Liberal Democrats, have led to renewed criticism of Britain for being the only EU country without a statutory time limit for the detention of immigrants, with Tory MPs and lawyers now calling on ministers to impose a strict 28-day limit.

The practice has been blamed for inflicting mental breakdowns on people charged with no crime and given no release date, with last year seeing six people die in detention – the highest annual count on record. Survivors of torture, trafficking and rape are among the tens of thousands held in overcrowded centres. 

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Domestic Jurisprudence – Credibility, Burden Of Proof, Obligation To Assess

Effective access to justice relies on an individual having a voice in the proceedings concerning him or her. Solely focusing on the credibility of the appellant’s account and not having regard to objective evidence testifying to the appellant’s vulnerability or the risk to the appellant of return to Afghanistan has led to the proceedings being neither fair nor just. A material error of law has therefore been committed. 

UK - AM (Afghanistan) v SSHD, [2017] EWCA Civ 1123  /
The case concerned an Afghan national. The Court of Appeal held that effective access to justice relies on an individual having a voice in the proceedings concerning him or her. Solely focusing on the credibility of the appellant’s account and not having regard to objective evidence testifying to the appellant’s vulnerability or the risk to the appellant of return to Afghanistan has led to the proceedings being neither fair nor just. A material error of law has therefore been committed.

Read more: EDAL,

Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - February 2018

Deteriorated Situations: Somaliland, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Colombia, Venezuela, Syria, Yemen

Conflict Risk Alerts for February: Somaliland, Afghanistan, Syria

Resolution Opportunities for February: None

January saw violence rise in Afghanistan, likely to continue in February as conflict parties compete to gain the upper hand ahead of spring offensives. Clashes look set to escalate in north-west Syria, with the regime ramping up its push against rebels and Turkey launching an assault on Kurdish-held Afrin. In Yemen, southern separatists fought government forces, their erstwhile allies, to take control of Aden city in the south. In West Africa, both Mali and Niger experienced a rise in jihadist violence, in Nigeria deadly attacks between herders and farmers spiralled, and Equatorial Guinea said it had thwarted an attempted coup. In the Horn of Africa, Somaliland troops clashed with neighbouring Puntland’s forces and both sides looked to be preparing for more hostilities. In Colombia, peace talks between the government and the National Liberation Army were suspended following a spate of guerrilla attacks. The Venezuelan government’s announcement of early elections sparked a crisis of confidence in talks with the opposition. Meanwhile, peace talks between North and South Korea provide an opportunity for de-escalation, however the threat of war on the peninsula is higher now than at any time in recent history.

With peace talks stalled, Afghanistan experienced a rise in deadly attacks by all armed actors, at a tempo and intensity that could persist as conflict parties try to gain the upper hand ahead of spring offensives. The Afghan National Security Forces claimed to have killed about 2,000 Taliban and Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) fighters since late December, while attacks by the Taliban and the IS-KP have left scores dead. In one incident in Kabul claimed by the Taliban, a bomb in an ambulance killed more than 100. Recognising that Afghanistan risks facing escalating violence in 2018, Crisis Group has stressed that diplomatic channels should be preserved and a political settlement pursued.

In Syria’s north west, Turkey’s air and land offensive against Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) in Afrin, and regime advances against rebels in Hama and Idlib provinces, marked a severe escalation and paved the way for worse fighting in February. As we warned, Turkey’s offensive among a hostile population and in difficult territory could easily become a prolonged fight against a gritty insurgency, further strain its alliance with the YPG’s main backer, the U.S., and provoke Kurdish attacks at home. A deal would serve both sides better. In Yemen’s port city of Aden, southern separatists – nominally allied with the government in its fight against Huthi rebels – routed government forces from much of the city; dozens died in the fighting.

Suspected jihadist gunmen and suicide bombers in Mali upped deadly attacks against the military and French Barkhane forces, especially in Ménaka region in the east. In neighbouring Niger, Boko Haram militants increased attacks against the army in the south east, killing at least ten soldiers. To confront these rural insurgencies in the Sahel, in tandem with military efforts, authorities and foreign partners should promote local mediation and peacebuilding initiatives and, where possible, try to engage militant leaders. Nigeria’s expanding conflict between herding and farming communities spiralled in January with at least 200 killed across five states. Also in West Africa, Equatorial Guinea said it had foiled a coup attempt; 39 mercenaries were arrested in southern Cameroon.

Tensions between Somaliland and Puntland state in Somalia turned violent when on 8 January Somaliland troops seized the town of Tukaraq in the disputed Sool region, pushing out Puntland forces. With fighters exchanging fire on 28 January and both sides reportedly mobilising more manpower, February could see further hostilities.

In Colombia, amid a climate of mistrust at the negotiating table and a general atmosphere of public scepticism and apathy, peace talks between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group were suspended on 29 January following a spate of guerrilla attacks. In Venezuela, the government’s announcement that it will hold early elections “before 30 April”, in defiance of ongoing talks with the opposition, sparked a crisis of confidence in the talks, greatly reducing the prospects of a viable agreement to resolve the political standoff.

In Kosovo, the murder of moderate Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic in Mitrovica on 16 January triggered shock and condemnation within Kosovo and by the U.S., EU and others in the international community, who called for all sides to remain calm, exercise restraint and avoid dangerous rhetoric.

North and South Korea conducted multiple rounds of peace talks in January and agreed to conduct several joint activities in the coming months. This came after Seoul responded positively to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s offer of immediate and unconditional talks with South Korea in his annual New Year’s address. As Crisis Group reports state, the thaw in relations offers an opportunity to dial down tensions and reduce the immediate risk of conflict through some form of de-escalatory deal between the U.S. and North Korea. Nevertheless, the threat of catastrophic war on the peninsula is higher now than at any time in recent history, and escalation could quickly resume after the Olympics.

Source: International Crisis Group:

Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI Update Vol. 164

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 23 January and 6 February 2018.

Read more: ARC,