News & Views Monday 22nd October to Sunday 28tht October  

Home Secretary Apologises For Immigrant DNA Tests

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has apologised to people who were wrongly forced to take DNA tests to prove they were entitled to settle in the UK. A Home Office review found there were at least 449 cases where letters had been sent with the demand. Mr Javid told the House of Commons that some relatives of Gurkhas and Afghan nationals employed by the UK government were among those affected. It was "unacceptable" and guidance was "unclear or wrong", he said.

The Home Office launched an internal review four months ago after admitting officials wrongly forced immigrants to take DNA tests. "Today I want to take this opportunity to apologise to those affected by this practice," Mr Javid told MPs. The provision of DNA evidence should always be voluntary and never mandatory. The Home Office report said DNA evidence was requested using inappropriate wording in 398 cases as part of an operation investigating fraud, of which 83 applications were refused. Seven of those cases were refused solely for not providing DNA evidence and six had rejections where the refusal to provide DNA was referenced. These 13 cases are being reviewed.

Read more: BBC News,

Home Office Policy on Children Firmly Rejected by Upper Tribunal

In the recent case SR (subsisting parental relationship – s117B(6)) Pakistan 2018 UKUT 3345 (IAC) the Upper Tribunal examines the requirement to consider whether it would be reasonable for a child who is British or who has lived here for 7 years to leave the UK. The requirement is imposed by  section 117B(6) of the Nationality, Immigration, and Asylum Act 2002 which states:

 “In the case of a person who is not liable to deportation, the public interest does not require the person’s removal where — (a)the person has a genuine and subsisting parental relationship with a qualifying child, and (b)it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the United Kingdom.”

The Home Office, in their  guidance, had interpreted this quite restrictively: suggesting that the consideration of reasonableness only needs to be undertaken when the child would, in fact, be required to leave the UK. If there was someone else (for instance another parent who is British) who could care for the child in the UK after the foreign parent leaves, then there is no need to consider whether it would be reasonable for the child to leave. The Upper Tribunal firmly rejected this interpretation suggesting that it was: “an untenable construction of the plain and ordinary meaning of EX.1 and section 117B(6).”

The provision clearly requires an answer to the question ‘”would it be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK?”. The question is contained in primary legislation and: “cannot be ignored or glossed over. Self-evidently, section 117B(6) is engaged whether the child will or will not in fact or practice leave the UK. It addresses the normative and straightforward question – should the child be ‘expected to leave’ the UK?”

Read more: Iain Halliday, McGill & co, 

Children Separated at Border, Suffering Alarming and Prolonged Effects

Separating children from their undocumented parents is a traumatic violation of their rights, UN independent experts said on Friday 19th October. The group of experts said in a statement that the treatment of migrants as criminals, provokes intolerance and xenophobia, in addition to posing a danger to their well-being. Criminalizing irregular migrants and addressing irregular migration through harsh border control measures “is disproportionate to migration governance, contributes to rising intolerance and xenophobia, and the social exclusion of migrants,” said Chair of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers (CMW), Ahmadou Tall.

Ms. Renate Winter, who chairs the Committee of the Rights of the Child (CRC), elaborated on the repercussions for children who are separated from their parents, explaining there are “long-lasting effects” on their health. She emphasized that for migrants, trauma and stress often begin in their countries of origin, and this is further exacerbated when governments inhumanely separate families.

Children are left vulnerable without their parents, risking exposure to gender-based violence and leaving young girls to fall prey to serious human rights violations, said Ms. Dalia Leinarte, Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The experts called on UN Member States to fulfill the human rights of all persons, regardless of immigration status, expressing concern for those in detention who sometimes face violence, overcrowding, poor sanitary facilities and inadequate mental and physical care.

Read more: UN News,


Woman 'Routinely Beaten and Raped' For Decades Unlawfully Detained by Home Office

An asylum seeker who was allegedly beaten and raped over decades was unlawfully detained by Britain for almost a month after the Home Office failed to follow protocol, the High Court has ruled. The government has been ordered to pay damages after officials failed to assess the woman’s medical condition when she was detained, and later refused to refer her to the trafficking authorities when she said she had been a victim of slavery. Her solicitor said she had never seen a case “so riddled with systemic failure” and that it served as a stark reminder that “fundamental and radical systemic reform” was required in the way ministers identified and protected trafficking victims. The Namibian national, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is alleged to have been sold into slavery as a child in her home country, to a household in which she was routinely beaten and verbally abused and where men raped her and forced her to have sex with other men.

The woman, aged in her 40s, arrived in Britain in July 2017 after escaping from the abuse and was granted a visitor’s visa. Two months later on 19 September, she was arrested and taken to Yarl’s Wood after it was discovered she had been working. Notes made by a nurse at the removal centre on the day the woman arrived describe her as a “victim of torture” and state that she claimed to have been ”beaten by a member of the family she was living with and got a fractured right arm” a few months earlier in Namibia. Despite this, the woman underwent no formal medical assessment until weeks later, in breach of immigration law which states that detainees must be medically examined within 24 hours of their arrival in detention.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Asylum Reforms Derailed, as EU Looks to North Africa

Disagreements over the EU's internal asylum reforms remained entrenched after the EU summit on Thursday (18 October) - with notions of solidarity broadly dismissed as leaders press ahead to offshore migration with the supposed help of north African states. The Brussels summit, where heads of state and government meet to thrash out solutions, failed to reach any agreement on long outstanding issues over the key EU asylum reforms that seek to better manage administrative bottlenecks and their adjoining political headaches.

European Parliament president Antonio Tajani described the lack of action as a "gift to populists and europhobes", demanding a change to the consensus approach among EU states on decisions related to the subject. "We must not be hostages to consensus at all costs: we must vote by majority," he complained. The European parliament has longed reached their position on the most contentious aspect of the asylum reforms - known as the 'Dublin' regulation - which determines who is responsible for processing applications for international protection.  EU states remain bitterly divided over Dublin and its system to distribute people in need of international protection.

Meanwhile, efforts to tease out an agreement on an handful of other less contentious asylum bills also failed to reach a consensus.  Other big ideas fell flat, including a decision over the summer to set up centres to distribute migrants rescued at sea or having countries rimming the Mediterranean take them in. "To be honest, we did not achieve much progress since end of June," confirmed Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte. EU council president Donald Tusk gave migration short shrift, announcing only their determination to further stem irregular flows.

Read more: Nikolaj Nielsen, EU Observer,

Day 14 Trial of the ‘Stansted 15’
- Agreed Facts of the Case

Text of Police interviews, with each of the 15 defendants.

On 29 March 2017, each defendant was interviewed under caution by police and in the presence of a legal representative. At the time of their interviews, the defendants were not under arrest or caution for the offence with which they are now indicted. During their interview each defendant was arrested and cautioned for the following offences:

They were arrested having stopped a charter flight that was due to take off from Stansted Airport on 28 March 2017. The charter flight contained individuals who were due to be deported to Ghana and Nigeria. The Stansted 15 have been charged with ‘Criminal damage’ & ‘Aggravated Trespass’ in relation to their actions that night. They will be running a defence of “necessity”- that their actions were required to prevent those being removed from suffering serious injury or even death.

So far there have been 14 days of the trial. A summary of each day can be found on the ‘End-Deportations’ Court Blog.