News & Views Monday 2nd April to Sunday 8th April 2018  

Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - April 2018

Deteriorated Situations: Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Taiwan Strait, Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Turkmenistan, Israel/Palestine

Improved Situations: None

Conflict Risk Alerts for April: Israel/Palestine

March saw Israeli forces respond with deadly force to the largest Palestinian marches in years at the Gaza-Israel border fence, killing fifteen protesters in one day. Violent confrontations risk increasing in the coming weeks, as protests continue in the lead-up to Palestinians’ commemoration of their expulsion from Israel. Sri Lanka faced its worst outbreak of anti-Muslim violence since 2014, while tensions flared between Kosovo and Serbia, and Turkmenistan saw protests over food shortages. In West Africa, jihadists launched their best organised and most sustained attacks yet on Burkina Faso’s capital, and central Mali, on top of ongoing jihadist violence, witnessed a rise in attacks between Fulani and Dogon communities. In Nigeria, the Boko Haram insurgency, herder-farmer killings and rural banditry together pushed the monthly death toll to at least 300. On a positive note, surprise talks between Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga created an opening for dialogue and political reform. In North East Asia, tensions increased between Taiwan and China, while on the Korean peninsula an inter-Korean summit in late April and planned talks between U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in May offer an opportunity to make progress on security issues.

Read more: International Crisis Group,

Use Of “Unfair” Evidence In Immigration Cases

On 19 March 2018, the decision of the Upper Tribunal in Elsakhawy (immigration officers: PACE) Egypt [2018] UKUT 86 (IAC) was published which considered PACE cautions and the exclusion of ‘unfair’ evidence in immigration cases in an appeal that concerned a marriage of convenience.

PACE Conclusions: In considering violations of PACE, the Upper Tribunal concluded that the SSHD had discharged the burden of proving that the marriage was one of convenience notwithstanding the evidence arising out of the interview. The question was whether evidence obtained in this way should be excluded from consideration by the SSHD on the basis that the appellant was not cautioned.

Section 145 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 confers immigration powers on the SSHD, which are contained within the Immigration (PACE Codes of Practice) Direction 2013. Schedule 1 of the Direction states the procedure for an “interview under caution to establish an offence or breach”. This includes the provisions of detention, treatment and visual recording of suspect interviews. Paragraph 10 further provides that a person whom there is grounds to suspect an offence must be cautioned before any questioning on arrest or on other occasions before a person is charged or informed they may be prosecuted unless the restriction on drawing adverse interference from silence applies.

The SSHD confirmed that immigration officers were instructed to administer a caution known as the “caution +2” where a person’s status was uncertain in a suspected marriage of convenience in preparation for questioning and if warranted to serve an order – an administrative power of arrest. Further paragraph 17(1) of Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971 allows immigration officers to arrest an immigration offender by exercising a criminal power of arrest.
On the premise that entering into a marriage of convenience would constitute a criminal offence the Upper Tribunal did not make a distinction between the powers of investigation, administrative arrest and criminal arrest. Therefore, the Upper Tribunal dismissed the appeal on their assessment that the PACE criticisms were substantially exaggerated and the immigration officers did not breach the PACE by failing to give the appellant a criminal caution.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

New Immigration and Nationality Fees in Force From 6 April 2018

On Friday 16th March 2018, the Home Office published the new immigration and nationality fees that will apply to all Home Office applications submitted on or after 6th April 2018.

As expected, the fees payable for most visa applications are due to rise, but at different rates. Most Points Based System application fees will rise by 4%, including Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur, Tier 2 General and Intra Company Transfer, Tier 4 Student, and Tier 5 temporary Worker and Youth Mobility Scheme categories. For example, the new visa application fee for a prospective investor will rise from £1,561 to £1,623. In previous years these increases have been lower, with most Point Based System applications rising by 2% in 2016 and 2017.

The application fee for entry clearance under the settlement routes, such as spouse applications under Appendix FM, along with the application fees for further leave to remain under similar categories will also be increased by 4%. For example, if you are the spouse of a British national applying for an extension to your leave to remain after 6 April 2018, you will have to pay 4% more, i.e. an increase from £993 to £1,033. The 4% increase will be applied to the indefinite leave to remain fee as well, which will rise from £2,297 to £2,389 for applications submitted after 6 April 2018. This is in contrast to steep increases from previous years; the same fees were increased by 22.5% in April 2017 and over 25% in 2016. Read more: Gherson Immigration,

Counting Wars and Arms Deals

To the lawyers, there's more than one kind of "war”. Important why, you ask? Because different categories carry particular obligations and legal implications. The Geneva Academy’s 2017 War Report lays out these distinctions for the 55 situations of armed violence it says amounted to armed conflicts last year. A country-against-country war is an IAC – an international armed conflict. In 2017, there were six IACs. Some (the one between Israel and Syria, for example) flare up and finish quickly. Others, the report says, can run for decades (think India and Pakistan). It also describes 11 "belligerent occupations" and 38 non-international armed conflicts (NIACs). In a novel development, the conflict in Mexico between the state and two criminal cartels is described as a NIAC – the same category as the Iraqi government's fight against so-called Islamic State. Nine of the 55 conflicts involved Syria.

All these wars don't arm themselves. The latest trade figures from think tank SIPRI show that arms imports to the Middle East have doubled in the last 10 years. Africa and the Americas are buying less however, on a five-year trend line. SIPRI's data doesn't provide dollar figures, instead using its own methods to show volume and trends. But in 2015, it estimated the value of the trade at $91.3 billion. And it's gone up since then. Total military expenditure, on the other hand, was $1.6 trillion in 2016, according to SIPRI. Global humanitarian funding last year was just 1.3 percent of that, according to the UN's Financial Tracking Service.

Read more: IRIN,

New Immigration Statistics Released For Year Ending September 2017

The Office for National Statistics has published new immigration data.  In the year ending September 2017, net migration was down to 244 000, a similar level to in early 2014.  EU migration has fallen in the last year, whereas non-EU migration has increased.  Although EU migration has decreased, more EU citizens are still coming to the UK than leaving.  EU net migration has returned to a level last seen in 2012.  There seems to be a significant decrease in the number of EU citizens coming to the UK ‘looking for work’.  Although there have been suggestions that the fall in EU migration is due to Brexit, in reality the picture is far more complicated.  There are a whole host of reasons that fewer EU citizens are migrating to the UK.  One factor that must be considered is that stronger economic growth seen in the European Union has led many people to find work closer to home.Studying is the second most common reason to come to the UK.  Immigration for students stands at 163,000, reflecting a more than 17% increase from the previous year.  Of those whose main purpose for long-term immigration was studying, almost 75% were non-EU citizens, with 53% of these individuals coming from China, the United States and India.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

Appeal Court Rules Applicant Must be In the Country When Granted Asylum

In the recent case of R (on application of AB) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWCA Civ 383, the Court of Appeal considered the applicable interpretation of Para 334(i) of the Immigration Rules (“the Rules”): whether or not an asylum seeker needed to be present in the UK at the time of asylum being granted to him on his application. It was held that the natural reading of the words in Para 334(i) attested to the implication that the applicant had to be present in the UK at the time of that decision. The court has endorsed this conclusion by confirming that this requirement accords with international treaties such as the 1951 Geneva Convention and the 1967 Protocol as well as relevant EU legislation, all of which are binding in the UK. Other arguments were also considered, including the requirement of being present in the UK at the time when a decision is taken and the alleged failure by the Secretary of State for the Home Department (“SSHD”) to exercise her discretion.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

Home Office Letter Nudges Asylum Seekers to Return Home

The Home Office has begun encouraging asylum seekers to return home before officials have considered their cases, the Guardian has learned. The department’s move is part of the drive to create a “hostile” environment for illegal immigrants in Britain, and comes despite a 14% decline in the number of asylum claims made last year, to 26,350. Germany, in contrast, received approximately 200,000 applications in 2017. Despite these low numbers, the Home Office is keen to encourage as many people as possible to return home. It has begun providing asylum seekers with contact numbers and information about how they can return home voluntarily before their cases have been considered.

The letter seen by the Guardian from the Home Office Asylum Routing Team informs an asylum seeker that he or she will be sent a date for their main asylum interview where they are required to provide extensive details about their cases. After this interview, the Home Office official makes a decision about whether to accept or reject their claim. In the same letter, under the heading Help and Advice on Returning Home, there are details of who to contact at the Home Office for asylum seekers who want to go home. “The team can discuss your return, obtain your travel document and send it to the port of departure, help with the cost of your tickets or provide other practical assistance,” the letter states. For many years asylum seekers were not given this information until after their application had been rejected.

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Citizens’ Rights Under New UK-EU Draft Withdrawal Agreement

On 19 March 2018, EU and the UK negotiators reached a provisional agreement regarding the rights of EU citizens residing in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU. The draft Withdrawal Agreement (“the draft agreement”) also covers the implementation period, the terms of the financial settlement, and a considerable number of other articles. 

According to the draft agreement, EU citizens who have resided in the UK lawfully for a period of five years before 31 December 2020 will be entitled to a “settled status” as a means to secure their continued right to reside in the UK. In order to acquire settled status, these EU citizens (with or without permanent residence documents) will need to submit the relevant application to the Home Office. Those who have not been living in the UK for the required minimum period of five years before the specified date of 31 December 2020 will be allowed to apply for temporary status and, once they have acquired five years of residence, will be entitled to make a settled status application. Applications for settled or temporary status shall not be made from 31 December 2020.
The draft agreement further confirms that family members of the concerned EU citizens will be able to apply for a status document if they were legally residing in the UK by 31 December 2020, and those wishing to join an EU citizen in the UK after that date will be allowed to so as long as the relationship existed before that date and evidence is provided to prove this. The deadline for applications by family members is three months after the date of arrival or no more than six months from 31 December 2020, whichever is later.

EU citizens and any family members, who do not apply before the specified deadlines without serious or good reason, will be residing in the UK without permission and will be subject to removal.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

Trump Vents Anger on Immigrant Programme

US President Donald Trump has reasserted his opposition to legalising the status of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.  He declared on Twitter that Republicans should "go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws [on illegal migrants] NOW". He accused Mexico of doing "very little, if not nothing", to stop migrants crossing its northern border. He threatened to walk away from the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mr Trump wanted to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme from March but judges halted the move, saying that the Obama-era scheme providing temporary permits for work and study must remain in place while legal challenges are heard.  The scheme is now closed to new entrants but existing members may renew their benefits while the programme exists.

Mr Trump's tweets referred to "caravans" coming, a possible reference to a caravan of more than 1,000 migrants which had featured earlier on Sunday on Fox & Friends, known to be one of Mr Trump's favourite TV shows. The mostly Honduran migrants, including whole families, are travelling together through Mexico to try to protect themselves against criminal gangs and harassment. Some say they will claim asylum once they reach the US border.

Read more: BBC News,

CPIN Vietnam: Ethnic and Religious Groups

Basis of claim
1.1.1 Fear of persecution or serious harm by state or non-state actors due to the person’s ethnicity and / or religion.

1.2 Points to note

1.2.1 Persons of minority ethnic in Vietnam are from groups within a community which has different national or cultural traditions from the main population.

1.2.2 Persons who relate to a minority religion in Vietnam have a faith which is different from that held by the majority.

1.2.3 Persons from minority ethnic groups tend also to belong to (minority) religions.

Published on Refworld, 04/04/18

CPIN Sri Lanka: Minority Religious Groups

1.1 Basis of claim

1.1.1 Fear of serious harm or persecution by state and/or non-state actors because the person belongs to a minority religious group. 1.2.1 For the purposes of this note, religious minority groups include Muslims, Christians and Hindus.
1.2.2 Almost all Hindus in Sri Lanka are Tamils (although a small number of Tamils practice other religions). The available information, where it is broken down by specific religious group, often does not refer specifically to ‘Hindus’ as it does to ‘Christians’ and ‘Muslims’. For claims by Tamils, decision makers must refer to the country policy and information note on Sri Lanka: Tamil separatism.

Published on Refworld, 04/04/18