News & Views Monday 29th April to Sunday 5th May 2019


Council of Despair? - The Fragmentation of UN Diplomacy

Wracked by divisions and political infighting, the UN Security Council is failing to respond to some of the world’s most pressing crises. To overcome dysfunction and retain credibility, the council’s members should prioritise the few cases where international cooperation is still possible.

What’s new? Longstanding doubts about the effectiveness of the UN Security Council are intensifying, due to deepening tensions among the U.S. and its allies and between Western powers and Russia and China.

Why does it matter? As tensions build on the Security Council, there is a risk that irreconcilable differences over select issues – Israel-Palestine and Ukraine, for example – could paralyse the body, undermining its broader credibility.

What should be done? Security Council members should preserve the forum’s utility by finding compromises where possible – such as on Sahel military missions, Libya and Venezuela – while accepting that some disputes may be intractable.

In the first four months of 2019, the UN Security Council faced a series of significant crises in the world – and failed to make a significant impact on any of them. Council members have sparred bitterly over Venezuela, struggled to sustain the Yemeni peace process, and failed to come to common positions on events in Sudan and Libya. This lacklustre performance is symptomatic of worsening tensions between the forum’s five veto-wielding permanent members and the wider erosion of international cooperation. The Council’s inaction means that current crises have the potential to escalate international tensions, further eroding the UN’s credibility. If Council members want to the body to retain some leverage – and act as a vehicle for their own influence – they need to restore some sense of common purpose.

Read more: International Crisis Group,

Home Office Stopped Thousands of Britons For Immigration Checks

Sajid Javid is facing calls to prove immigration officials are not racially biased after the Home Office admitted thousands of British citizens were being stopped in immigration checks – more than any foreign nationality.

In the UK’s largest cities, 5,938 British citizens were stopped from January 2017 to October 2018, sparking concern that black and minority ethnic Britons were being wrongly targeted through racial profiling.

Enforcement officers who conduct checks on people they suspect of immigration offences on the street, in workplaces and on public transport had more encounters with British citizens who have a right to be in the UK than the combined number of people from Romania, Pakistan and India, who were the next most likely groups to be targeted.
The error of stopping British citizens was illustrated by the fact that only five of those stopped were arrested, compared with 2,188 among Romanians, Pakistanis and Indians.
The Home Office’s guidance states that “a person’s colour or perceived ethnic origin can never be the basis of your ‘reasonable suspicion’ that someone is an immigration offender.”

The data was obtained by the Bristol Cable and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and related to stops in the UK’s 11 largest cities. The Home Office has 16 immigration compliance and enforcement teams across the UK but does not record the ethnicity of the people it stops. The shadow minister for women and equalities, Dawn Butler, has said it must now start, because “immigration enforcement should not discriminate against any individual as it results in huge structural barriers against black and minority ethnic people in the UK”.

Read more: Guardian,

Iraqi Who Brought Baby to UK Wins Reprieve From Deportation

A man who brought his baby niece to Britain in the back of his car from a French refugee camp after she sustained serious burns has had his deportation halted at the last minute by the Home Office. Najat Ibrahim Ismail, 32, an Iraqi Kurd with a British wife and three young British children, was prosecuted for trafficking after he brought Rwen Tahsin Ibrahim, then seven months old, and other family members to the UK in January 2016 in what he says was an attempt to save the child’s life.

Following his criminal conviction for bringing the girl to the UK, he was due to be deported to Iraq on Tuesday afternoon. However, Home Office officials told his lawyers the deportation has been deferred. No explanation was provided for this U-turn. Speaking from Harmondsworth immigration removal centre near Heathrow, Ismail told the Guardian: “I was so happy when I was told that I would not be getting on the plane today. All I want is to be freed from detention so I can be back with my wife and kids.”

When he found out in January 2016 that Rwen had been badly burned after falling into an open fire, Ismail travelled to Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk, where his brother Tahsin Ibrahim was living with his family after fleeing Islamic State in Iraq. He wanted to get the baby medical treatment in the UK, away from the filthy conditions in the camp. Although she received initial hospital treatment in Dunkirk for her burns, her family feared she was at risk of life-threatening infection after being discharged because the conditions in the camp were unsanitary.

Read more: Diane Taylor,

Asylum Research Consultancy Country of Information Update Vol. 193

This document provides an update of UK Country Guidance case law, UK Home Office publications and developments in refugee producing countries (focusing on those which generate the most asylum seekers in the UK) between 16 April and 29 April 2019.

Download the full report:

Permission to Challenge Imposition of Bail Conditions on Individuals That Cannot be Lawfully Detained

A client of Duncan Lewis Solicitors has been granted permission to challenge the continued imposition of conditional bail against him in circumstances where he can be neither lawfully removed nor lawfully detained pending the outcome of various investigations and civil proceedings into abuse and mistreatment he suffered in immigration detention.

In an order by Sir Ross Cranston, the High Court determined that an ‘authoritative ruling’ ’was required on whether an individual can remain on Home Office immigration bail, under Schedule 10 of the Immigration Act 2016, where that individual cannot be lawfully detained. The hearing will be heard on an expedited basis and will give guidance on the extent of the limitations on the Home Office’s powers to grant immigration bail and its compatibility with Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Our client, anonymized as FAM, was an asylum seeker detained at Brook House IRC where he was subjected to serious mistreatment, including being strangled by a detention officer. The abuse was captured on film by an undercover reporter and broadcasted in September 2017 in a BBC Panorama documentary. His vulnerability was well known by the Home Office, having obtained independent evidence of torture whilst detained through a Rule 35(3) report, and subsequently providing a psychological report which confirmed that detention was significantly worsening his mental health.

He was released at an interim relief hearing pursuant to unlawful detention proceedings in 2017. He was subsequently placed on conditional bail by the Home Office, with restrictions on his right to work, requirements of residence and reporting, as well as - originally - electronic tagging.

In the aftermath of the broadcast of the BBC Panorama documentary, our client went on to challenge the Home Office’s failure to institute an Article 3 compliant inquiry into the abuse and mistreatment he and other detainees suffered at Brook House. He additionally brought a civil damages claim for false imprisonment, assault, battery, and misfeasance in public office. In September 2018 the Home Office appointed the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) to undertake a ‘Special Investigation’ into the mistreatment at Brook House. Our client is currently one of two detainees challenging whether this is sufficient to meet the UK government’s obligations under Article 3 ECHR, with a final hearing on that issue starting in May. 

Read more: Duncan Lewis Solicitors,

Home Office Faces Legal Action Over English Test Cheating Claims

The Home Office is facing over 300 court of appeal legal challenges from foreign students who believe they were wrongly accused of cheating in English tests, and dozens more cases are pending in immigration tribunals.

The Guardian has learned that a special team overseen by the Home Office was established in January 2017 to deal with the growing backlog of legal actions related to a Home Office decision in 2014 to revoke or curtail the visas of around 34,000 students whom they accused of cheating in a government-approved English language test.

The decision was made while Theresa May was home secretary as her department introduced policies designed to create a hostile environment for immigrants deemed to be in the country illegally. More than 1,000 students have been removed from the UK as a result and MPs have described this as Britain’s “forgotten immigration scandal”, which they say has the capacity to be “bigger than Windrush”.

Read more: Amelia Gentleman, Guardian,

Home Office ‘Chaos and Incompetence’ Leads to Unlawful Detentions

Chaos, incompetence and bullying of Home Office employees is resulting in failed deportations and the unlawful detention of vulnerable and desperate people, whistleblowers allege. The Dublin Cessation Team (DCT) – until last week known as the Third Country Unit – is a little-known but crucial department that, under the EU Dublin convention, determines which EU member state is responsible for considering an asylum claim and transferring the asylum seeker to the responsible state.

“Mistakes by overworked, under-skilled, bullied and highly stressed DCT caseworkers are directly and frequently leading to immigration detentions that are later proved to be unlawful,” claimed one source.

Whistleblowers also allege that:

Decisions on whether an applicant can stay in the UK, supposed to take six months, frequently take two years. During this time, applicants are in limbo, unable to work or rent property.

People who have sought asylum are frequently unlawfully detained for up to six weeks in immigration removal centres.

Personal performance targets indirectly encourage employees to reject applications without fully examining whether people have the right to remain in the UK.

People with a strong case to remain in the UK are deported because of poor decisions made by insufficiently trained staff.

Flights for deportations are frequently cancelled when asylum seekers protest on board and pilots refuse to fly.

“One of the main reasons the planned deportations don’t go ahead is because a poorly trained, overworked caseworker has gambled that an applicant with a history of kicking off on planes, won’t do it again, so doesn’t give them an escort,” a source claimed. “But then they do kick off and the deportation has to be abandoned.” Use of escorts is erratic, the whistleblowers said.

Read more: Amelia Hill, Guardian,