News & Views Monday 6th May to Sunday 12th May 2019


Knock Back for SSHD’s “Deport First, Appeal Later” Provisions!

In what is believed to be the first successful case of its kind, Mr Justice Lane and Upper Tribunal Judge O’Connor have directed the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) to fund and facilitate the return of our client (WW) to the United Kingdom, in circumstances where he had been denied the opportunity to obtain the ‘best evidence’ relating to the best interests of his British children in his human rights appeal.

WW was removed to Jamaica almost 3 years ago in accordance with the SSHD’s “deport first, appeal later” provision under s.94B of the Nationality Immigration Asylum Act 2002. After his removal, the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Kiarie and Byndloss [2017] UKSC 42 held that requiring a person to bring a human rights challenge to his deportation from abroad, would give rise to a breach of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Art 8 as an out-of-country appeal would not be effective. 

A referral was made to Duncan Lewis by the charity “Roots to Return” who then assisted WW with filing an application for Judicial Review to challenge the continued refusal of the SSHD to return WW to the UK despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kiarie and Byndloss. At an Interim Relief hearing heard before the Upper Tribunal in March 2018, WW was directed to proceed with his appeal from outside of the UK as it was considered that the First-tier Tribunal (‘FtT’) was best placed to determine whether or not WW’s appeal could be effective from Jamaica.

Having been identified by the FtT as one of several “test cases” to assess the fairness of “deport first, appeal later” hearings in practice, WW’s appeal was heard before the President and the Vice President of the FtT in June 2017 where he continued to argue that his appeal could not fairly proceed whilst he remained outside of the UK, particularly in light of his inability to instruct an Independent Social Worker to assess his British children in the UK as his estranged partner would not comply with an assessment.

Notwithstanding WW’s difficulties in obtaining key evidence for the appeal, the FtT determined that his appeal had been fair and effective and went on to dismiss his appeal brought on Art 8 ECHR grounds. On appeal to the Upper Tribunal, Upper Tribunal Judge O’Connor held that the FtT were wrong in law to do so, and ruled that WW’s appeal could only be fairly and effectively determined if he were in the UK, inviting the SSHD to confirm whether he intended to bring WW back to the UK in light of the decision.

Despite the Upper Tribunal’s determination, the SSHD refused to return WW to the UK, indicating that he intended to appeal the decision. In response, WW made an application to lift the stay on his Judicial Review claim and a directions hearing was subsequently listed for 3 May 2019 to determine the best course of action in both the Judicial Review and appeal proceedings.

After hearing submissions from both parties, Mr Justice Lane and Upper Tribunal Judge O’Connor directed the SSHD to fund and facilitate the return of WW to the UK as soon as practicable, so that his appeal could be considered de novo, where any appeal submissions made by the SSHD would be entertained at a rolled up hearing. 

Read more: Duncan Lewis,

Home Office Abandons Six-Month Target For Asylum Claim Decisions

The Home Office is scrapping its target of processing most asylum claims within six months, the Guardian has learned. Human rights lawyers expressed alarm at the news, saying the number of vulnerable asylum seekers facing delays in having their claims processed could become even worse than its current level. One said the decision was likely to lead to an increase in legal challenges against the Home Office if applications are not processed promptly. In 2014 the Home Office introduced a service standard to process 98% of straightforward asylum claims within six months.

The Guardian revealed last August that the Home Office has left some people waiting more than 20 years for decisions on their asylum claims. Seventeen people received decisions from the Home Office in 2017 on claims they had submitted more than 15 years ago, four of whom had waited more than 20 years for a decision. The worst case was a delay of 26 years and one month after the person initially applied. A report from the charity Refugee Action showed that at the end of 2017, 14,306 people were waiting longer than the Home Office’s six-month target, a 25% increase on the previous year. Of the decisions the Home Office made in 2017, 18,189 or 75% were taken within six months of application, 2,832 took between six months and a year, 3,059 between one and three years and 243 between three and five years.

Read more:  Eric Allisonand Diane Taylor,

Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - May 2019

Deteriorated Situations: Mali, Cameroon, Somalia, Sudan, Benin, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Yemen, Egypt, Libya,

Conflict Risk Alerts: Mali, Cameroon, Somalia, South Sudan, Benin, Venezuela, Yemen, Algeria, Libya

Resolution Opportunities: None

Global Overview: In April, war broke out in Libya, a failed opposition uprising in Venezuela increased fears of violent escalation, and over 250 people were killed in terror attacks in Sri Lanka. In Sudan, the end of President Bashir's almost 30-year rule gave way to a tense standoff between military chiefs and protest leaders. Now that Algeria's long-time ruler has resigned, the country runs the risk of violent confrontations between protesters and the military, while Egyptian President Sisi consolidated his authoritarian rule. Political tensions rose in Mali and Benin amid opposition protests. Fighting escalated in Yemen on multiple front lines, with risks of more clashes around Hodeida and in the south, and conflict could resume in South Sudan if President Kiir unilaterally forms a new government. In Somalia, security forces clashed with protesters and Al-Shabaab could step up attacks in Ramadan starting early May. In Cameroon, Boko Haram intensified attacks in the north, while violence between state forces and Anglophone separatists could spike around National Day on 20 May.

Read more: International Crisis Group,

LGBT Syrian Refugees Stranded in Turkey

Duncan Lewis are representing thirteen LGBT Syrian refugees who are launching a legal challenge against the Home Office claiming they have been abandoned to a life of danger in Turkey despite promises to bring them to safety in the UK. Although the Home Office accepted all 15 onto a refugee resettlement scheme, they are still waiting to be airlifted to safety two years after applying for the scheme.

Whilst same-sex marriages are legal in Turkey, homophobic attacks are common and many LGBT refugees have reported being pelted by rocks, followed in the street and attacked. Many have been forced to live in hiding as a result.

Duncan Lewis has sent a letter on their behalf to the Home Office explaining the discrimination the refugees have faced. Public Law Director Toufique Hossain and Solicitor Sheroy Zaq who are representing 13 refugees along with Azadeh Goodarzi, Isabella Kirwan, and Georgia Banks. Sheroy is quoted; “We met these brave individuals in Istanbul. Having fled their homes in Syria, their hope was finally for a life where they could be themselves and live freely. Their stories are truly heart-breaking. We really do hope that the Home Office expedites these applications without the need for further litigation. They’ve known of the urgency for quite some time. They must act swiftly.”

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Increase in Funding for Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children

Minister for Immigration (Caroline Nokes): Following a review of the existing funding arrangements, I have decided to make more funding available to local authorities supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC). The review involved gathering detailed information and feedback from across the local government sector, and I am grateful to all those who contributed to producing a robust evidence base. This included over 50 upper tier or unitary local authorities, NGOs, the Local Government Association (LGA), Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) and regional Strategic Migration Partnerships (SMPs). After considering the evidence, I have decided that the rates currently paid at £71, £91 and £95 should be uplifted to £114 per UASC per night. This will apply to care provided from 1 April 2019 onwards. Home Office funding for local authorities supporting UASC provides a contribution to their costs. The decision to increase these rates reflects the incredibly valuable work local authorities undertake with vulnerable UASC, and the Home Office commitment to supporting this.

House of Commons: [HCWS1543],

Time Limit on Detaining Immigrants Could Save £35m a Year

A 28-day time limit on immigration detention could save the public purse up to £35m a year, a report by economic data consultants has found, prompting renewed calls for ministers to bring an end to the indefinite jailing of suspected illegal immigrants. The UK has one of the largest immigration detention systems in Europe and is the only country in the region without a statutory time limit on length of detention. The human rights group Liberty commissioned Cambridge Econometrics to examine the costs of jailing suspected illegal immigrants and the potential savings that could be achieved by introducing a 28-day cap on detention. The report, which has been sent to the Home Office and seen by the Guardian, concludes that after taking into account the costs of potential alternatives to detention, such as community support projects, the government could save the taxpayer between £25m and £35m.

Read more: Jamie Grierson, Guardian,

Nearly 900 Stateless Children Forced to Pay UK Citizenship Fees

Nearly 900 children classified as stateless were obliged to pay Home Office immigration fees last year as part of their applications to become British citizens, figures show. They also reveal that nearly half (46%) of the 39,000 citizenship applications made for children came from those whose parents are from Commonwealth backgrounds. While fees for immigration and nationality applications have risen steadily since 2010 under the hostile environment policy, the charges levied on children have come under particular criticism from MPs and campaigners. An official watchdog has recommended that the Home Office, which is making a profit of £2m a month from charging children for citizenship, should consider scrapping immigration fees for children from poorer families. The new data, which breaks down child applications for British citizenship by country of nationality and for those who are stateless, was obtained following a freedom of information request by the community group Citizens UK.

Read more: Guardian,

Number of Incidents of Self-Harm In Immigration Detention Requiring Medical Treatment

Q1 January/February/March 2019

2019                                        January            February          March
Brook House                            3                      2                      3
Campsfield House                    Closed             Closed             Closed
Colnbrook                               8                      8                      19
Dungavel                                 1                      0                      0
Harmondsworth                        6                      10                    8
Morton Hall                             3                      3                      3
Tinsley House                          1                      0                      0
Yarl's Wood (incl. STHF)         0                      2                      1
Larne STHF                             0                      0                      1
Manchester STHF                    0                      0                      0

Number of Individuals on Formal Self-Harm At Risk In Immigration Detention

Q1 January/February/Mardch 2019

                                                January            February          March
Brook House                            27                    19                    29
Campsfield House                    Closed             Closed             Closed
Colnbrook                               31                    26                    26
Dungavel                                 *                      6                      9
Harmondsworth                        39                    35                    42
Morton Hall                             33                    20                    23
Tinsley House                          4                      4                      4
Yarl's Wood (incl. STHF)         14                    9                      11       
Larne STHF                             1                      0                      4                     
Manchester RSTHF                  3                      1                      1

Data for Dungavel House IRC is unavailable for January 2019 due to an on-going issue with the supplier IT system which is currently under investigation