News & Views Monday 19th November to Sunday 25th November  

On 20th November - We Mark Universal Children’s Day

This is an opportunity to promote the rights of children around the world, and particularly in our member States, and raise awareness with regard to the plight of the many children in vulnerable situations and in need of protection.  

The European Convention on Human Rights and other important Council of Europe legal standards provide our 47 member States with a sound legal basis to protect and promote the rights of 150 million children across Europe.

On this occasion, I want to highlight the situation of migrant and refugee children in particular, who are among the most vulnerable persons in Europe today. These children, often unaccompanied or separated from their families whilst on the move, find themselves in particularly precarious situations. They are at high risk of abuse, violence and exploitation, including sexual violence, by smugglers, traffickers or other criminals.  Member States have a responsibility to protect these children and to ensure respect for their human rights.

I want to underline that the protection of refugee and migrant children has been a priority of the Council of Europe over the last years. Through the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016 -2021) and the Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children ( 2017-2019),  the Council of Europe is committed to playing a key role in assisting member States in ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures, providing effective protection as well as enhancing the integration of children who will remain in Europe."

Council of Europe:

Refugee and Migrant Children Losing Over 1.8 Million School Days, Every Day

Migrant and refugee children to face incredible hardships attending schools and acce ssing education, a new United Nations report released on Tuesday has revealed, highlighting also structural weaknesses in national systems that can sometimes exclude children on the move. According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), factors such as non-certified schools, language different and limited resources are keeping refugee and migrant children away from learning and prospects for a better future.

“The right of these children to quality education, even if increasingly recognized on paper, is challenged daily in classrooms and schoolyards and denied outright by a few governments,” said the UN agency in a news release, announcing its new Global Education Monitoring Report. “In the two years since the landmark New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, refugees have missed 1.5 billion days of school.”

UN News:

Stop the Deportation of Ken Macharia

Bristol Rugby Players Fight to Prevent Gay Teammate's Deportation

Rugby players in Bristol are fighting to prevent a clubmate whose claim for asylum has been rejected from being deported to Kenya because they fear he will face persecution there for being gay.

Kenneth Macharia, a member of Bristol Bisons, a gay and inclusive rugby club, is being detained at Colnbrook immigration centre near Heathrow airport. He texted members of the club for help, and they are calling on the home secretary, Sajid Javid, to intervene.

The club said: “Ken’s story is yet another example of the Home Office ignoring the risks that LGBT people face in multiple countries around the world. We are providing support for Ken at this challenging time, hoping he will not be removed from the UK to continue his life here. Deporting Ken from the UK will mean that he is unable to see his mother who lives in Bristol.”

A petition against the deportation has been launched on by one of Macharia’s clubmates, Andrew Holmes. He said: “The Home Office rejected his asylum application and his appeal because they deem Kenya to be safe for gay people, in spite of the persecution of gay people.”

Macharia, of Shepton Mallet, has lived in the UK since 2009 and had a work visa, according to teammates. He joined the Bisons in 2015 and as well as playing on the team he is also a match photographer and first-aider.

Online Petition: Stop the Deportation of Ken Macharia,

Fee Waivers Not Available For Children Applying For British Citizenship

£1,012 cost for a child to register as a British Citizen

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Manzoor on 23 October (HL Deb, cols 763–5), whether they will clarify for which citizenship applications child fee waivers will apply.

Answered by: Baroness Manzoor

I am grateful for the opportunity to put the record straight, having reviewed the Official Report with Baroness Lister. Fee waivers are available for immigration applications based on particular specified human rights reasons in which to require a fee before an application for leave to remain is considered would be a breach of that individual’s human rights. Fee waivers are not available for citizenship applications, and therefore they are not available for children seeking registration as British citizens.

I fully acknowledge that the answer I gave on 23 October did not provide the complete picture and once again am grateful to be able to remove the ambiguity my oral answer will have created. I will be writing to those who took part in the oral question to repeat the clarification in this answer.

House of Lords, written answers,

Supreme Court Rules Immigrants Without Indefinite Leave Have “Precarious” Status In UK

On 14th November 2018 the Supreme Court gave judgment in the case of Rhuppiah v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] UKSC 58. The effect of this decision is that:

  1. A claimant at the Immigration Tribunal who relies on their private (not family) life under Article 8 will be entitled to have only “little weight” placed on that private life if they have been in the UK without indefinite leave to remain, unless there are “particularly strong features of the private life in question”; and
  1. A claimant who is financially dependent on other people but not on the state should not have that fact held against them when assessing the public interest in their removal.

Whilst the result was a victory for the individual claimant in this case, the wider consequences of this decision will be to clarify and tighten the law in a way that will make it even harder than it already was for claimants to succeed on the basis of their private life in the UK.

?Private versus family life: First of all, for those of you who may not be used to dealing in the concepts of the European Convention on Human Rights, it is important to know that Article 8 has two aspects, providing protection for both private and family life. Private life is a wide concept which takes in personal relationships, interests and activities, as distinct from a person’s public or professional life.

Family life, as you will have guessed, is a narrower concept which generally applies only to familial relationships — though the Upper Tribunal recently held in a case with unusual facts that family life did exist between non-blood relatives. More of this later.

When a case comes before the Immigration Tribunal, a common question for the Judge will be whether the immigrant’s removal from the UK would be a disproportionate interference in their private and/or family life — in a sense, would the enforcement of immigration control in the given case be akin to “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”?

But as we shall see, the Judge does not undertake an open-ended assessment. Immigration and border control is political dynamite, and in 2014 Parliament enacted legislation which trammels the way that a Judge will undertake this balancing exercise so as to give effect to what Parliament considers to be the public interest.
Read more: UK Human Rights Blog,

Trial of the Stansted 15 – Days 25/26/27/28

DAY 28: Defence Witness – Ruth Potts
Ruth continued to talk about the meeting on the Sunday before the action. She had known in advance about all three deportees who were in […]

DAY 27: Defence Witnesses – Emma Hughes and Ruth Potts
Emma Hughes took the stand to be examined by her defence barrister. He asked about the preparation for the action, and in particular the meeting […]

DAY 26: Defence Witness – Nicholas Sigsworth
The day started at 10.30 when the Defence called Nick Sigsworth to the witness stand. He described how he grew up in Yorkshire, studied Music […]

DAY 25: Defence Witness – Melanie Evans
On Friday 9th of November Mel Evans continued to give evidence and was cross examined by prosecutor McGhee. There was a particularly strong show of […]

Asylum Seekers in 'Damp, Dirty, Vermin-Infested' Housing

Less than a quarter of state-run accommodation for asylum seekers in the UK is compliant with standards, a much-delayed report has found. The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration cited evidence of damp, dirty and vermin-infested properties. Some of the accommodation was found to be unsuitable for vulnerable groups, including survivors of torture or domestic violence.

Chief inspector David Bolt, who sent his report to ministers four months ago, also criticised the government for failing to have a "grip" on the number of pregnant asylum seekers or those who had just given birth.

Accommodation for asylum seekers is managed in six regions by three private providers operating under a Home Office contract. Mr Bolt said the inspection "proved more challenging than most" because of "several reasons, not least the difficulty of extracting evidence from the Home Office." "My report is likely to please no-one," he added. "It is clear from the Home Office's response to the draft report that this topic touches a nerve."

Read more: BBC News,

Secret Court Overturns Home Office Decisions to Deprive Two Men of Their British Citizenship

Both E3 and N3 are British by birth and have Bangladeshi heritage. In June 2017, E3 was deprived of his citizenship after visiting Bangladesh to be present at the birth of his daughter. In October 2017, N3 was deprived of his citizenship after leaving the UK to go to Turkey for business for a few weeks. Both men were deprived of their citizenship on national security grounds days before they were due to return to the UK. They suddenly found themselves stranded in foreign countries without any source of income or support.

The Commission heard expert evidence from both sides and ultimately found that Bangladeshi citizenship law required both men to have formally applied to retain their Bangladeshi citizenship upon reaching the age of 21, and by failing to do so, they had allowed their citizenship to lapse. Since they did not possess Bangladeshi citizenship on the date of the British citizenship deprivation orders, the effect was to render them stateless. As such, the decisions were unlawful and both appeals were allowed.

The implications of the judgment are significant:
  1. The UK can no longer deprive UK nationals, who are British by birth but of Bangladeshi origin, of their citizenship where they are over the age of 21 and where they have never applied to retain their Bangladeshi citizenship. To do so would render them stateless and would be unlawful.
  2. Citizens who fall within this category who have already had their citizenship revoked can appeal the decisions or reopen their cases on the basis that they have been rendered stateless.

Solicitor for the Appellants, Fahad Ansari, commented: “While we welcome the decision of the Commission, it is of deep concern that there appears to be an ongoing practice of the Secretary of State to deliberately wait until individuals leave the UK before depriving them of their citizenship.

“If the Secretary of State had evidence that my clients were involved in criminal activity, he should have passed that information to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to put them on trial before they left the UK. Instead, he deprived them of their citizenship on national security grounds during their absence.

“The Secretary of State’s practice of depriving individuals of their citizenship while they are abroad without any form of due process is nothing less than a return to the medieval penalties of banishment and exile.”

Duncan Lewis:

Migrant Workers in the UK Send Home £8bn to Families

Migrant workers in the UK, many in low-paid jobs, are sending £8bn a year to support families in their home countries, says a report from the United Nations' education agency. This is often used to help relations in poorer countries to stay in school. But Unesco warns too much of this "hard-earned money" is being taken in transfer charges by finance companies. It says that people wiring money should only have to pay 3% in charges - but the global average is 7%. The Association of UK Payment Institutions says prices would be lower if regulators allowed more companies to compete in this market. The remittances sent home by migrants can be a lifeline for families in poorer countries - sent back by people working in wealthier parts of the world.

Such cash has become an informal and often unseen subsidy for educating families in less affluent countries. The UK is in the top 10 countries for overseas workers sending back money - with billions of pounds sent to the three biggest recipients - Nigeria, India and Pakistan. Hundreds of millions are sent to Poland, China, Kenya, Philippines, Bangladesh and Ghana each year.

BBC News,

Online Petition: Stop the Double Tax on Migrants

To the House of Commons and Sajid Javid Secretary of State for Home Affairs,

We are worried that the lives of young people who have grown up in the UK and are proud to call this country home will be blighted by government plans to double the Immigration Health Surcharge.

The increase is due from next month, and the fear is that this will force many lawful young migrants into ‘illegality’, as they simply can’t save enough money to pay the Home Office renewal fees. That increase will take the overall cost to £2,033, which is a 238% increase since 2014. These are impossible sums for people on low wage jobs.

Let Us Learn and More United have come together to ask you to: exempt young migrants (who have spent more than half their life in the UK) from the NHS charge, and pause the increase in the NHS charge until that exemption has taken effect.
The NHS charge was meant to stop health tourism. It wasn’t aimed at young people - like Lizzie, Ijeoma, Zeno, Misan, Andrew and Mayowa - who have grown up in the UK and whose futures belong here. They already pay towards the NHS in their taxes. They shouldn’t have to pay twice. The UK is their home. Help these young people have a future here.

 Yours faithfully

 Let Us Learn/ More United -

You Must Not Travel Out of the UK Until You Have Received Your New Visa

The Home Office recently started implementing a new service for processing UK work, study and settlement visa applications made in the UK, along with citizenship applications. As covered by this blog a few weeks ago, the new service will be implemented gradually throughout November 2018 and is aimed at centralising and improving the efficiency of the visa application process, as well as digitising it as much as possible.

As part of the new process, applicants will be able to upload online scans of all their documents, including their passport, after submitting their visa applications online. Applicants will then be required to attend an appointment at one of the 57 Service Centres, where they will enrol their biometrics and be encouraged to provide their original documents for inspection. Helpfully, applicants will no longer be required to provide their current passports to the Home Office while their applications are being considered and will instead be able to keep them following their appointments.

However, it is important to note that applicants should not travel outside of the UK until they have received a decision on their visa application. If an applicant travels abroad (outside of the Common Travel Area – comprising the UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) before they have received their new visa, their application will be considered withdrawn. This can have severe consequences on their immigration status and ability to return to the UK.

This essentially means that applicants have to remain in the UK while their application is pending consideration by the Home Office, although under the new regime they will be able to retain their original passport, which can continue to be used for any purpose other than travel.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration:

Inquest Into Self-Inflicted Death Of Branko Zdravkovic In Immigration Detention

Branko Zdravkovic died aged 43 whilst being held in The Verne, an immigration detention centre in Dorset. He was found hanging in a bathroom on 9 April 2017, 19 days after entering the detention centre. The inquest opens today. Branko was born in Slovenia. He had lived in the UK for eight years and had worked as a waiter prior to detention. He was facing administrative removal at the time of his death. Whilst he was at The Verne, he was put on self harm watch and had been recognised as an Adult at Risk in detention by the Home Office. He was placed in the Care and Separation Unit and segregated from others.Bournemouth

[According to the Daily Echo, Zdravkovic was meant to be on ‘enhanced observation’ as he was at risk of self harm.]

The inquest which opened today Monday 19th November 2018, is likely to examine:

1) The implementation and adequacy of self harm and suicide prevention procedures and risk management under the Assessment Care and Detention and Treatment 

2) The healthcare treatment and mental health assessments

3) The use of segregation on vulnerable detainees

Nicola Sanderson, partner of Branko said: “It is terribly sad that Branko’s life ended so abruptly as he still had a wonderful future ahead of him. He was a warm, intelligent person. I hope the inquest will improve how detainees are treated and processed by the parties responsible for keeping them safe.”