News & Views Monday 22nd January to Sunday 28th January 2018  

EU Bans 'Homosexuality Tests' on Asylum Seekers

The EU has banned its members from imposing 'homosexuality tests' on asylum seekers, warning that the processes are unreliable and also breach fundamental human rights. Such tests are sometimes used to determine a person’s sexuality in asylum applications when a person says they are fleeing persecution in of the 72 countries in the world where being gay is illegal. But in a binding ruling the European Court of Justice said on Thursday 25th January 2018, that the 28 member states of the EU could not use the psychological evaluations because they amount to “an interference with that person’s right to respect for his private life”.
The ECJ said the tests, which are usually based on a psychologists’ report, were “not essential” to determining whether a person was telling the truth about their sexuality and that their reliability was “at best, only limited”. “The Court states that the impact of such an expert’s report on private life is disproportionate in relation to that objective,” the body said in a statement. “In this respect, the Court observes in particular that such interference is particularly serious because it is intended to give an insight into the most intimate aspects of the asylum seeker’s life.”

An asylum seeker may not be subjected to a psychological test in order to determine his sexual orientation. The performance of such a test amounts to a disproportionate interference in the private life of the asylum seeker

European Court of Justice: Judgment in Case C-473/16 F v Bevándorlási és Állampolgársági Hivatal


Calculating Continuous Residence

There are two recent changes to the rules on calculating continuous residence which those applying for indefinite leave to remain as a Points Based System Migrant or a PBS dependant will need to look out for:

Previously applicants were permitted up to 180 days absence in any fixed 12 month period. This was calculated based on the five 12 month periods prior to the application. For instance, if you made your application on in December 2017 you would need to show that you have not have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in the 12 month period from December to December each year. However, as of 11 January 2018, applicants now need to show that they have not been absent in any 12 month period within the 5 year period.There are no transitional provisions which is likely to cause problems for applicants who, despite diligently planning their absences to ensure any lengthy trips fall within different fixed 12 month periods to ensure compliance with the old rules, are now caught out by this change.

Previously there was no absence threshold for dependants of Points Based System Migrants. As of 11 January 2018, a threshold of 180 days in any 12 month has been introduced to bring the rules for dependants in to line with the rules for lead applicants. Thankfully there are transitional provisions for this change: any absence which took place before 11 January 2018 will not be taken into account when calculating whether the 180 day limit has been exceeded. As such, applicants are less likely to be caught out, having been given advance notice of:the new threshold.

Read more: McGill & Co,

Local Authority Nationality Checking Service

Applying for British nationality? Want to travel immediately after submission? You could use the Nationality Checking Service “NCS” offered by a local authority.

When submitting an application for British nationality, an individual can request that a local authority checks the application prior to submission to the Home Office. The local authority will not be able to offer advice on said application but will ensure the application is properly completed and submitted with the relevant supporting documents. This service, known as the Nationality Checking Service “NCS”, is offered throughout England by a number of local authorities. The local authorities which offer this service are regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner, an independent body set up by Parliament.

Some local authorities that offer this checking service also accept joint nationality and first British passport applications, and will duly submit the passport application to Her Majesty’s Passport Office “HMPO” accordingly.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

Doctors Blocked by Home Office From Taking Up Vital NHS Jobs

Seniors doctors from overseas who have been appointed to fill key roles in hospitals around the UK are being blocked from taking up their jobs by the Home Office because their NHS salaries are too low under immigration rules. The Guardian has learned of at least 20 doctors prevented from taking up posts in departments including intensive care in the past two months, causing anger and bewilderment among already stretched doctors. “It is simply lunatic,” said one consultant involved. “It is important to note that salaries haven’t changed and they are competitive.

What’s changed is the Home Office’s threshold for granting visas.”  University Hospitals Birmingham confirmed that 18 staff had been turned down for tier 2 visas in the past two months, including 16 doctors in senior medical posts in trauma, plastic surgery and elderly care. Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge confirmed that three doctors recruited for the John Farman intensive care unit had been turned down because of a £55,000 salary threshold set by the Home Office. The doctors, who are at middle-level registrar and senior clinical fellow positions, would typically be on salaries of between £30,000 and £45,000 and were recruited from the Caribbean, India and Pakistan.

Read more: Lisa O'Carroll, Guardian,

Cameroonian Woman Who Fears Forced Marriage Wins Permission to Appeal Asylum Ruling

A Cameroonian woman who claimed she would be subject to forced marriage and female genital mutilation if she were returned to Cameroon has been granted permission to appeal in her bid for asylum. A judge in the Court of Session granted leave to appeal after ruling that the challenge had “substantial prospects of success”. Lord Drummond Young heard that the 35-year-old citizen of Cameroon, “MCB”, applied for a residence card as the spouse of a Czech national in January 2012, but that application was refused by the Home Secretary. 

Her marriage subsequently broke down and she was served with a removal notice, but by that time she had a child born on 21 December 2012 as her dependent. She claimed asylum on the ground that she feared forced marriage and female genital mutilation if returned to Cameroon because of her membership of a particular social group, but her claim was refused by the Home Secretary by letter dated 2 September 2015.

‘No Justification’ for Refusal: The applicant then applied to the court for permission to appeal, in terms of section 13 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, challenging the Upper Tribunal’s refusal to grant permission to appeal.  Counsel for the applicant, Tim Haddow, submitted that the Upper Tribunal had accepted that the applicant had a “potentially arguable” case, but permission to appeal was refused on the ground that the “second appeals test” was not satisfied, as the appeal did not raise an “important point of principle” or practice and there was “no other compelling reason” to allow the appeal to proceed.  However, in those circumstances it was submitted that there was “no justification” for refusing permission to appeal, in view of the wording of section 13. It was argued that different provisions are made for England and Wales and Northern Ireland on one hand and Scotland on the other hand in relation to the second appeals test.

Read more: Scottish Legal News,

Hunger Strikes/Attempted Suicies/Detainees at Risk Q2 April/May/June

These statistics should have been released in August 2017 but the Home Office, deliberately obstructed their release until Januaryy 2018. The Information Commissioner had to serve a decision notice on the Home Office to release the information!

Hunger Strikes Q2 2017
Q2 2017 April May June
    Brook House 133 69 44 20
Campsfield House 4 3 0 1
Colnbrook 17 5 3 9
Dungavel 1 1 0 0
Harmondsworth 20 12 2 6
Morton Hall 7 1 3 3
The Verne 4 0 2 2
Tinsley House 12 0 0 12
Yarl's Wood 83 24 30 29
281 115 84 82

It’s Time We Saw Economic Sanctions For What They Really Are – War Crimes

The record of economic sanctions in forcing political change is dismal, but as a way of reducing a country to poverty and misery it is difficult to beat. UN sanctions were imposed against Iraq from 1990 until 2003. Supposedly, it was directed against Saddam Hussein and his regime, though it did nothing to dislodge or weaken them: on the contrary, the Baathist political elite took advantage of the scarcity of various items to enrich themselves by becoming the sole suppliers. Saddam’s odious elder son Uday made vast profits by controlling the import of cigarettes into Iraq.

The bureaucrats in charge of UN sanctions in Iraq always pretended that they prevented Saddam rebuilding his military strength. This was always a hypocritical lie: the Iraqi army did not fight for him in 1991 at the beginning of sanctions any more than it did when they ended. It was absurd to imagine that dictators like Kim Jong-un or Saddam Hussein would be influenced by the sufferings of their people.

Saddam Hussein and his senior lieutenants were rightly executed for their crimes, but the foreign politicians and officials who were responsible for the sanctions regime that killed so many deserved to stand beside them in the dock. It is time that the imposition of economic sanctions should be seen as a war crime, since it involves the collective punishment of millions of innocent civilians who die, sicken or are reduced to living off scraps from the garbage dumps.

Read more: Patrick Cockburn,

MPs Tell Government to Change Attitude Towards Immigration Policy

In a recent report published by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, the government has been advised to review its approach to immigration policy. The committee has indicated that the means currently being used by the government to make policy decisions are often unreliable, leading to trust in the system being undermined. Aside from the general criticism levelled at the government’s approach to immigration, particular concerns were raised regarding the inadequate use of statistics and other data, which can often be used to form immigration policy. The result is a failure to keep accurate records on migration flows, an inadequate system for monitoring the number of illegal migrants, poor recording of economic data concerned with migration, and unrealistic targets on migration in general. The report encouraged the government not to strenuously pursue its policy of creating a “hostile environment” for migrants, given that its own system is prone to errors and the high risk of potentially law abiding citizens being affected as a result. Finally, the report suggested that there should be different approaches for different types of migration, tackling widespread misconceptions about migration and the factors associated with it.

The widely publicised target of ‘tens of thousands’ for net migration was introduced by David Cameron and the coalition government in 2010. It has never been met. In fact, according to the report, the figure has undermined public confidence in a system that now looks broken. Further, the target does not differentiate between different types of migration, leading to a state of confusion instead of much-needed certainty and clarity. The report recommends that the tens of thousands target should be abandoned and replaced with “a framework of targets and controls based on evidence”.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

CPIN: Afghanistan: Afghans Perceived as "Westernised"

Basis of claim
1.1.1 Fear of persecution or serious harm by non-state actors because the person is perceived as ‘Westernised’.

1.2 Points to note

1.2.1 Being ‘Westernised’ is far from clearly defined, with sources describing it (vaguely) as a person who has adopted the values, appearance, language, or culture of a Western country.

1.2.2 This note concerns targeted risk by non-state actors as opposed to a generalised risk of indiscriminate violence under Article 15(c) of the Qualification Directive or Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. For consideration of such claims see the Country Policy and Information Note (CPIN) on Afghanistan: Security and humanitarian situation and, for information on who Anti-Government elements (AGEs) perceive as a threat, see the CPIN on Afghanistan: Fear of Anti-Government elements.

Published on Refworld, 22/01/2018

Individuals on Formal Self-Harm at Risk  in Immigration Detention

2nd QuarterApril/May/June 2017

Total Apr-17 May-17 Jun-17
Brook House 146 63 43 40
Campsfield House 33 11 11 11
Colnbrook 84 31 28 25
Dungavel 24 4 9 11
Harmondsworth 75 17 26 32
Morton Hall 68 22 18 28
The Verne 102 40 34 28
Tinsley House 7 0 1 6
Yarl's Wood 10 5 1 4
Larne 6 2 2 2
Pennine House 0
Subtotal 555

Self Harm in Immigration Detention  - January 2017 to June 2017   -  

 Number of incidents of Self-Harm requiring medical treatment  2017

2nd QuarterApril/May/June 2017

Total Apr-17 May-17 Jun-17
Brook House 14 8 2 4
Campsfield House 5 0 2 3
Colnbrook 16 4 6 6
Dungavel 2 0 0 2
Harmondsworth 20 3 10 7
Morton Hall 19 11 5 3
The Verne 9 5 2 2
Tinsley House 0 0 0 0
Yarl's Wood 10 5 1 4
Larne 0 0 0 0
Pennine House 0 0 0 0
Subtotal 95 36 28 31