News & Views Monday 11th June to Sunday 17th June 2018  

Immigration Officers Compete on Arrest Numbers to Win Cake

PCS calls for end to ‘grotesque’ practice of incentivising staff to make more arrests Immigration officers are being encouraged to compete to arrest the highest number of suspected illegal migrants and can be rewarded with chocolate cake or a box of Roses, according to a trade union. The names and occasionally the photographs of the most successful officers are fixed to the wall of their offices by managers, in an echo of an employee of the month award, according to the PCS union.  Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the union, which represents many of the officers, is demanding that the Home Office curtails the informal practice in the wake of the Windrush scandal.  He said the schemes were supposed to incentivise officers but may be seen as evidence that staff are still under pressure from the Home Office to apprehend suspects in significant numbers.

Read more: Rajeev Syal, Guardian,

Cameroon: A Turn For The Worse: Violence and Human Rights Violations In Anglophone Cameroon

Since late 2016, Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have endured turmoil and violence in what has become a human rights crisis. This report documents the human rights violations, including unlawful killings, destruction of private property, arbitrary arrests and torture committed by the Cameroonian security forces during military operations conducted in the Anglophone regions. It also documents how armed separatist groups calling for secession and embracing an armed struggle, carried out violent attacks against the Cameroonian security forces, state emblems, including schools, and ordinary people.

Towards the end of 2017, the situation quickly deteriorated. In October, demonstrations organized across  the Anglophone regions to celebrate the symbolic independence from the country's French-speaking areas  were met with unlawful and excessive and deadly force. Cameroonian security forces shot dead 20 peaceful  protesters, by firing indiscriminately on crowds, including from helicopters. Dozens of wounded protesters  ran away from hospitals in mid-treatment out of fear of being arrested. Hundreds were arrested, and  thousands fled their homes, becoming internally displaced or refugees in Nigeria.

Amnesty International:

Online Petition: Stop the removal of Duc Kien Nguyen

Duc was trafficked into the UK from Vietnam and was forced to work in an illegal cannabis farm. He was arrested in a raid and subsequently imprisoned. He now faces deportation following crimes he was forced to commit to a country where he risks persecution of gang violence.

These are Duc's own words about his situation: "Hello, i just wanted to briefly my life since i arrived to the UK I was forced to a house where i have to grow cannabis without a chance to escape because of gangster and underworld groups I was arrested and served 6 months in prison, during this time i have lodged a claim for asylum and i worked hard to gain money to pay for the charged from court. after 6 months in prison i was detained in detention for 1 year and a half, I was converted to Christianity during the time. During the time in both prison and detention i have tried my best to do anything which helpful for you and your country as to repay for the harm i have done earlier and became a good Christian. I did as much helpful thing as possible and it was so impressed in the prison officer's eyes i have got a lot of praises come from them.

I was released and relocated in Glasgow at this time i still attend church of Scotland every Sunday and i was volunteering at Lambhill stables the whole weekday, i love this organization they were reserving the wildlife and did a lot of thing helpful for social and i like to do that too. I like to do something helpful for you UK that was the truth.

But Now I was refused my claim asylum and have no right to appeal, the HO have arranged my flight to return to VN on 13 of June. I don't wish this happen, i like to cancel my flight and i like to go to judicial review. I did something which against Vietnam's government. I was in debt with a huge amount of money from gangster in VN and i would be kill if i have to return to VN not only by the government but by gangsters in VN as well."

 Please sign this petition and contact your local MP, Caroline Nokes and Sajid Javid to demand that Duc is not removed from the UK!

You can sign the petition here:

Government Urged to Do More to End Discrimination in British Nationality Law

A new report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights was issued last month, discussing discrimination within British nationality law. According to the report, the government has proposed changes aimed at eliminating this discrimination although the Committee felt that the government is not doing enough. The report noted that discrimination on the grounds of a parent’s gender or marital status persists in some areas of citizenship law.

In principle, British nationality is governed by the British Nationality Act 1981, which came into force in 1983. Until the year 2000, passing on British citizenship to children was more difficult for unmarried couples or women. Section 4 of the act was subsequently heavily amended in order to address this issue and Sections 4C, 4F, 4G, 4H, and 4I were added, however, citizenship is not automatically granted under these amendments. Those applying for registration must still satisfy the Home Office’s good character requirement.

In October 2016, the Supreme Court found that the good character requirement was incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998 in the case of R (on the application of Johnson) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department. This prompted parliament to draft the British Nationality Act 1981 (Remedial) Order 2018, so that the good character requirement can be removed entirely from Section 4 applications. The Government expects that the remedial order will be passed in early 2019.

Nevertheless, the Committee found that there is still likely to be persistent discrimination in acquiring British nationality “depending on whether a person’s father or mother was a British Overseas Territories Citizen, or whether or not their parents were married”. Furthermore, the Committee advised that this type of discrimination in the British Nationality Act “should be remedied for all types of British nationality and we recommend that the Home Secretary take urgent steps to bring forward legislation to do so”.

In the meantime, the Home Office has confirmed that applications for registration as a British citizen under Sections 4C, 4F, 4G, 4H and 4I where the only concern about an applicant is in respect of good character are on hold until the remedial order comes into force.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration, 1106/2018,

Gay Asylum Seeker Faces Deportation From UK to Nigeria

A Nigerian asylum seeker who fled to Britain to avoid prosecution for being gay is facing deportation after being held for six months in an immigration detention centre. The threat hanging over Adeniyi Raji, 43, who received death threats on social media, highlights the increasing number of claims to the Home Office by individuals from countries where homosexuality is outlawed.  In Nigeria, homosexual acts are punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Gay marriage and displays of same-sex affection are also outlawed. After Pakistan and Bangladesh, it is the country that produces the largest number of asylum claims based on sexual orientation. Home Office figures published last year show there were 362 such applications from Nigerians in the 21 months from July 2015 to March 2017. Of those, only 63 were allowed to remain in the UK after a tribunal hearing; the rest, 81%, were refused permission to stay.

Read more: Owen Bowcott, Guardian,

ROO (Nigeria), R (on the application of) v SSHD

The High Court ruled in favour of the Claimant by concluding that the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) had failed to exercise ‘anxious scrutiny’ before certifying her asylum claim under s.96 (2) Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (NIAA). The court also found that the SSHD’s subsequent paragraph 353 refusal was irrational as it had ‘the flavour of someone trying to find justifications for upholding their earlier decision’.

This case concerns a female Nigerian national who claimed asylum on the basis that she was a lesbian: her account was that her family had caught her with another girl when she was a teenager and tortured her. She was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) as a means of punishment/control and she subsequently lived discreetly in Nigeria due to fear. She came to the UK to study and was pressurised by her family to get married. She decided to marry an EEA national in the UK, rather than return to Nigeria. The marriage broke down and she made an application for leave to remain on the basis of private life. This was refused with an out-of-country right of appeal. She remained in the UK, until the immigration authorities found her.

Her claim was rejected by the Defendant on credibility grounds and certified under section 96 NIAA 2002, on the basis that she previously had been served a one-stop notice and had not claimed asylum earlier. After the decision to certify her claim was made, a Rule 35(3) report confirmed that she may be a victim of torture and an Adult at Risk at Level 2.

Judicial Review proceedings were issued to challenge the SSHD’s decision to certify the Claimant’s asylum claim and their decision to detain her under the Detained Asylum Casework process despite her vulnerabilities and the complexity of her claim. During the course of the proceedings, the SSHD invited the Claimant to submit further evidence in relation to her claim and released her from detention as her removal was no longer imminent. The evidence later submitted by the Claimant consisted of detailed statements from the Claimant and her solicitor, along with expert medical evidence which confirmed that the Claimant was most likely a victim of an unsuccessful FGM procedure, that she was a likely victim of torture as she had 46 visible recorded scars on her body, and that she was suffering from severe depressive disorder with psychotic symptoms associated with PTSD.

Read more: Duncan Lewis,

Immigrants 'Treated as Commodities' During Removal Flights From UK

Immigrants have been “treated as commodities” during deportation flights from the UK, according to a damning assessment of charter flights used by the Home Office to facilitate enforced removals. Returnees were confined for hours in coaches with inadequate sanitation and subjected to “excessive and ill-judged” use of restraint, the prisons watchdog said. The report, by the Independent Monitoring Board Charter Flight Monitoring Team (CFMT), reveals that deportation flights have departed from Britain with as many as three staff for every foreign national on board. On one journey to Germany in June last year, there were 90 escorting officers for 30 individuals and all detainees were put in restraints – in what the watchdog blasted as “inhumane”.

In light of the new report, CFMT leader Lou Lockhart-Mummery said: “The escorts generally behaved professionally and respectfully, except during the operation to Germany. Over the year we observed some aspects of good practice. “However, we consider that the approach would be greatly improved if the dignity of the individual returnee was acknowledged in all aspects of the removal process on the day and if the use of force or restraint was consistently based on a well-judged individual risk assessment and was continually reviewed.” A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The dignity and welfare of all those in our care is of the utmost importance and the Independent Monitoring Board rightly observed that returnees are generally treated kindly and with respect.“However, we are taking the concerns raised by the inspectors very seriously.“

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Home Office Accused of Incompetence Over Deportation of Highly Skilled Migrants

A group of around twenty MPs and a member of the House of Lords are to establish separate pressure groups to persuade the Home Office to stop deporting highly skilled migrants using paragraph 322(5) of the Immigration Rules (“the Rules”). The controversial paragraph comes with devastating consequences, as migrants immediately become ineligible for any other UK visa and many are given just fourteen days to leave the UK. In addition, people deported under this terrorism-associated paragraph will have a ‘black mark’ on their immigration history and are likely to struggle to ever get a visa to visit or work anywhere else in the world.

Applications by Tier 1 (General) Migrants for Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) are being refused due to allegations of discrepancies in their taxes. Usually this arises from material differences between the earnings declared to the Home Office as part of an application for leave to remain in the UK and to HMRC as part of their tax returns during the same period. According to the support group Highly Skilled Migrants at least 1,000 highly skilled migrants are wrongly facing deportation for making minor amendments to their tax records, even though HMRC has not fined or pursued criminal cases against them.

This use of paragraph 322(5) of the Rules to refuse an ILR application is troubling as the paragraph was designed to tackle terrorism and those judged to be a threat to national security. Errors in tax returns or failure to declare earnings were not supposed to be caught out under this provision. By relying on paragraph 322(5), as opposed to 322(2), of the Rules, the Home Office appears to be avoiding the need to prove the applicant’s dishonest intent to deceive the Home Office or HMRC. Calling the use of paragraph 322(5) “draconian”, Lord Dick Taverne QC has stated that “there is no justification and no humanity” in the Home Office’s use of the paragraph.  Whilst Steve Reed MP, who is setting up the group of MPs, has stated, “it’s now clear the government’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy goes far wider than the Windrush scandal”.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

8 Deaths in Immigration Detention March 2017 to March 2018

In the period 1 March 2017 to 1 March 2018 there have been 8 deaths of individuals while detained in an immigration removal centre under immigration powers or shortly after release. Of these deaths none has yet been determined by a coroner to be a self-inflicted death.

Any death in immigration detention is subject to investigation by the police, the coroner (or Procurator Fiscal in Scotland) and the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman. Staff at all immigration removal centres are trained to identify those at risk of self-harm so that action can be taken to minimise the risk. All incidents of self harm are treated very seriously and every step is taken to prevent incidents of this nature. Formal risk assessments on initial detention and systems for raising concerns at any subsequent point feed into established self-harm procedures in every IRC, which are in turn underpinned by the Home Office Operating Standard on the prevention of self-harm and Detention Services Order 06/2008 Assessment Care in Detention Teamwork (ACDT).

Hansard 11/06/2017,

Right To Rent Rules Discriminate Against Foreign Nationals

Legal challenges have been launched against the Home Office over its ‘Right to Rent’ rules, requiring landlords to check the immigration status of tenants. The ‘Right to Rent’ scheme was introduced across England in 2016 and legally requires landlords to confirm that potential tenants have a right to live in the UK. The reasoning behind the scheme is that if those who are in the UK illegally are unable to find housing, they are more likely to voluntarily leave the country. Landlords who fail to comply face a fine of up to £3,000 or up to 5 years in prison. Critics claim that this forces landlords to act as border guards and that the rules have led to widespread discrimination against non-UK nationals.

The Home Office is now facing two legal challenges that seek to reverse this aspect of its ‘hostile environment policy’. One case concerns a woman who applied to extend her student visa but the Home Office lost her passport and she has been unable to obtain a replacement passport from her country of origin. She is now applying to remain in the UK as a stateless person but in the meantime her immigration status is uncertain. As a result her landlord is now evicting her from her accommodation.

The other case is being brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), following research that it carried out last year revealing that the ‘Right to Rent’ policy has resulted in widespread discrimination. JCWI’s research found that 51% of landlords would be less likely to let a property to a foreign national due to the right to rent rules and 48% said that they would not rent to foreign nationals because of the risk of criminal sanctions. The Council is calling for a full evaluation of the scheme and its effects.

According to Chai Patel, legal policy director at JCWI, “the problem with it, apart from the inhumanity of that proposition, is that there’s no evidence it works. The Home Office hasn’t shown that the scheme will do anything to increase voluntary departures, which have actually reduced since the scheme came into force”. MPs have also raised concerns that the policy forces those with uncertain immigration status to rent from ‘rogue landlords’, who are likely to take advantage of people by offering poor quality, poorly maintained accommodation at unreasonable prices.

 Phillippa Kaufmann QC, representing JCWI, has said that the ‘Right to Rent’ policy is unjustified as the government is not able to prove that it is having “the desired effect of prompting illegal migrants to leave, rather than going underground to be exploited by rogue landlords”. The Home Office has refused to comment on this matter.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations 2018 - Motion to Regret

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: That this House regrets that the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations 2018 include a £39 increase in the fee for registering children entitled to British citizenship, given that only £372 of the proposed £1,012 fee is attributable to administrative costs; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to withdraw the fee increase until they have (1) published a children's best interests impact assessment of the fee level, and (2) established an independent review of fees for registering children as British citizens, in the light of the report of the Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement (HL Paper 118) (SI 2018/330).

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, this is the first time I have moved a regret Motion, and I do so because of my concern for an estimated 120,000 highly vulnerable children. These are children who are not automatically British because of their parents' status, despite being born in the UK or having lived here most of their lives, but who nevertheless have rights to register, or in some cases to apply to register, as British citizens, subject only to a good character test from the age of 10. However, because of the exorbitant registration fee levied, many of them do not do so and can then find themselves effectively treated as immigrants, at risk of removal, even when born in this country.

The Motion itself is very modest. Having pointed out that only £372—less than two-fifths—of the new fee is attributable to administrative costs, it calls for two things. First, it calls for a children's best interests impact assessment of the fee level. A freedom of information request has elicited that such an assessment has never been carried out, even though, since 2009, Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act requires the Home Office to ensure that children's best interests are given primary consideration in all decisions that affect them. Secondly, it calls for an independent review of fees for registering children as British citizens. This should cover not just the level but the recommendations of the Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement, of which I was a member. These concern situations where the fee might be waived—or, better still, I suggest, no fee should be charged at all: I should emphasise that so far the Home Secretary has not introduced any waivers or exemptions for these cases—and the appropriate age from which to apply for the good character test.

I readily acknowledge that the power to levy a fee above the administrative cost was introduced by Labour, but for some years the problems it was creating went unnoticed, rather in the way that the mounting problems faced by the Windrush generation went largely unnoticed. However, the fee is much higher now and has increased by 51% just since 2014. Thanks to the work of Solange Valdez-Symonds, who established the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens—the Project, for short—supported by a small, dedicated group of volunteer lawyers and later joined by Amnesty, there is now no excuse for ignoring the injustice being caused. I pay tribute to their commitment and tenacity and thank them, as well as Coram and Let Us Learn, for their help with this Motion.

Read the full debate: