News & Views Monday 3rd June to Sunday 9th June 2019


Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Report on Human Rights and Democracy in 2018

The report assesses the situation in 30 countries, which the FCO has designated as its human rights priority countries.

These are Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burma, Burundi, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Libya, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Chapter five of the report, gives a brief summery on all these countries, grim reading.

2018 marked the 70th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights, and the 20th anniversary of the UN declaration on human rights defenders. The report demonstrates the principles and values enshrined in these declarations. It sets out the UK’s actions to promote human rights and democracy in a wide range of areas, including through partnerships with human rights defenders, our leadership on promoting media freedom and gender equality, our work to eradicate modern slavery, and our commitment to deliver change for those who are abused, targeted or killed for their beliefs.

Download the full report:

Report Raises Alarm Over Police Detention of Vulnerable Suspects

Police officers detained and interviewed vulnerable suspects without an appropriate adult present more than 100,000 times last year in England and Wales, according to a charity report.

The failure by officers to provide assistance, chiefly to those with mental illness, autism or learning disabilities, leaves them at risk of miscarriages of justice, the National Appropriate Adult Network (Naan) has warned.
The survey, which reveals marginal improvements on similar research four years ago, reinforces calls for the Home Office to create a statutory duty to provide help for vulnerable adults in police stations.

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) has endorsed the report and called on the Home Office to make provision of appropriate adults for all vulnerable suspects a statutory responsibility for local authorities.

Read more: Owen Bowcott, Guardian,

Extradition: What You Need To Know

The process of extradition is based on mutual cooperation between two jurisdictions on the basis of treaties or agreements, which can be made bilaterally or multilaterally. Extradition is a means by which countries can deal with crime transnationally and its purpose is to prevent criminals from evading justice by fleeing to another country. The Extradition Act of 2003 governs all of the UK’s current extradition procedures.

The Extradition Act divides the world into two Categories – Category 1 territories are those countries that use the European Arrest Warrant and Category 2 territories are other countries with which we have existing extradition agreements.

The fact that there is no extradition treaty between the UK and another country does not in and of itself prevent extradition – it is possible for the UK to enter into an ad hoc agreement with a country which negates the need for a formal treaty.

Once a request is received it is checked for compliance with the formal requirements by the relevant authorities (the NCA for European Arrest Warrants and the Home Office for all other requests). In the case of a European Arrest Warrant the individual will be arrestable immediately, in all other cases the Westminster Magistrates’ Court will be first asked to issue an arrest warrant.

All extradition cases in England and Wales are heard at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London and at that hearing the judge will consider whether any bars to extradition exist. The whole framework of the Extradition Act is geared up to permit speedy extradition unless specific bars to extradition apply.

Unlike some countries the UK does not refuse the extradition of its own nationals and for the majority of the UK’s regular extradition partners there is no requirement for any evidence to be brought demonstrating a prima facie case against the individual.

That being said, the Act does allow for a full defence against extradition through a combination of its incorporation of the protections of the European Convention on Human Rights and its other specific bars such as that against requests issued for extraneous considerations and the courts’ powers to avoid an abuse of process.

Extradition is a complex area of law and the process by which it takes place can be extremely quick. It is therefore crucial that anyone who is the target of an extradition request seeks legal advice as soon as possible.

Posted by: Gherson Extradition,

Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - June 2019

Deteriorated Situations: Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Sudan, Benin, Liberia, Togo, Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Honduras, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya.

Improved Situations: None  -  Resolution Opportunities None

Conflict Risk Alerts: Somalia, Sudan, Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Nicaragua, Yemen.

May saw an alarming rise in tensions between Iran and both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and an escalation in Yemen’s war, which could intensify further in June. Pro-government forces in Syria stepped up bombing in Idlib, and fighting worsened in and around Libya’s capital, Tripoli. Relations between Somalia’s federal government and regions deteriorated and Al-Shabaab upped attacks, boding ill for June. Sudan’s military council resisted demands to hand over power to civilians and is already stepping up repression of protesters. Militia violence rose in north-western Central African Republic, intercommunal raids left dozens dead in eastern Chad, and in western Niger suspected jihadists ramped up attacks. Benin’s security forces cracked down on opposition protesters, constitutional reforms that could give Togo’s president two more terms worsened tensions, and Guinea-Bissau’s political stalemate could trigger unrest in coming weeks. Anti-Muslim violence rose in Sri Lanka, and tensions spiked within Kosovo and between Kosovo and Serbia. In Honduras, violence broke out as the government faced large protests against planned reforms. In Nicaragua, talks between the government and opposition stalled fuelling concerns they could falter in June, further deepening the country’s political crisis.

Read more: International Crisis Group,

Growing Concerns About ‘Incompetent’ Legal Advice for Immigration Detainees

There are growing concerns about the poor quality of legal advice available to immigration detainees following changes to the provision of free advice in detention centres. In September last year, the Ministry of Justice made changes to the contracts with solicitors’ firms on the Detention Duty Advice scheme allowing for an increase in the number of providers. Under the old contracts one firm would have provided around 20-25 weeks of legal advice surgeries, now each firm run surgeries over one or two weeks a year in any given detention centre.

According to the legal charity BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees), the vast majority of providers have never run duty surgeries in the past and the ‘vast majority…lack experience of detention work’. BID’s latest report on immigration detainees’ access to legal advice and representation revealed that whilst the level of legal representation has gone up – almost two-thirds of detainees now have access to a solicitor and of that number 69% are legally-aided – there were growing concerns about quality.

The group interviewed 77 detainees across a number of immigration removal centres. The survey revealed that in the majority of appointments (61%), only basic information was taken and no advice given. Not a single detainee had been informed of the possibility of applying to the Legal Aid Agency for ‘exceptional case funding’ which allows for legal aid where someone might otherwise not be eligible for public funding. Just over four out of 10 individuals (43%) who currently had a solicitor said that their solicitor had applied for bail.

Read more: Nicholas Reed Langen, Justice Gap,

Courts Uphold Strict Interpretation of Immigration Rules

Following the recent Court of Appeal decision in R (Sajjad) v SSHD [2019] EWCA Civ 720, which demonstrated the lack of flexibility in the current Immigration Rules (“the Rules”) with respect to the requirements for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant status, the High Court has now also confirmed that the Rules should be interpreted strictly “to allow officials in the department to essentially ‘tick boxes’ in relation to any application and if a box cannot be ticked, for example because the required evidence has not been provided, then to reject the application”.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) Country of Information Update Vol. 195

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 14 and 27 May 2019.