Lady Hale, President of the Supreme Court Condemns Government Austerity
Human Rights and Family Life in the United Kingdom
71 years ago, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 1 proudly proclaims that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now, but it voices the great principle of universality. Human rights are there for all of us. Not just for the privileged or the underprivileged few. For the majority as well as the minority. For the popular as well as the unpopular.
While some families are fighting for legal recognition of their relationships, we should not forget that other families are fighting for enough to live on and to make ends meet. The UK government's austerity policies have undoubtedly made this worse and have posed some uncomfortable problems for the courts.
Indeed it is officially conceded - that many of the recent changes to the benefits system impact more harshly on women, children and disabled people than they do on other groups.
'UK wide reforms to social security and taxes since 2010 have a disproportionate impact on the poorest in society and particularly affecting women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and lone parents. '
Government policies on social security and taxation have increased pressure on living standards for some groups, particularly disabled people, women and some ethnic minorities.
Read more: Lady Hale speech 05/12/2019 extract - https://is.gd/lDAqJx
Brits Overwhelmingly Swayed by Myths About Immigration – The Facts They Often Get Wrong
Misperceptions about migration are so commonplace they’re often accepted with a shrug. But they shouldn’t be – they should make us determined to do better in countering them and making a positive and, more importantly, truthful case for immigration. I’ve been studying misperceptions for 15 years, and immigration is one of the areas that people in the UK are most wrong on, in many different respects.
First, we know that there is a complex relationship of cause and effect in our misperceptions. We overestimate what we worry about as much as the other way round. So our overestimates of immigration levels are as much a signal of our concern as a carefully calibrated estimate of reality. Our view of reality is coloured by our emotions, and this means that simple myth-busting alone will have limited impact.
Second, many have argued that the underlying driver of concern around immigration is not a cost-benefit calculation but a broader cultural concern hat British society is changing too fast. So correcting the misreading of these facts by showing that immigration is actually good for our economy, public finances and services may miss the point.
But neither of these are an excuse for not taking on these misperceptions with a positive, fact-based case. People are entitled to be concerned about the cultural impacts of immigration, but this does not mean politicians should avoid talking about the evidence of other benefits. The real issue has been the lack of political courage in making this case, and this extends back many years into previous Labour governments.
Read more: Bobby Duffy, Independent, https://is.gd/5bxm0b
Reinstate Explo Nani-Kofi’s Indefinite Leave to Remain
Our friend Explo has been resident in the UK for most of his adult life. He came to the UK in 1989 as a refugee from political persecution in his native Ghana. Since this time, he has made an outstanding contribution to the community on both a personal and social level and has formed a deep connection with the country. A leading figure in the Peace movement, Explo is currently editor of Another Africa is Possible.
Explo's indefinite leave to remain in the UK was cancelled on a technicality, as he was out of the country for just a few hours more than the two-year limit for absence; a delay caused by bank errors entirely out of his control.
The government should have learnt from the scandalous treatment of the Windrush generation that deportation on spurious technical grounds of those who have a right to be in this country is not acceptable. We call on the Minister to reverse the perverse and unreasonable decision of the Border Force and reinstate Explo’s indefinite leave to remain.
Background: Having first arrived in the UK in 1989 as a refugee from political persecution in his native Ghana, Explo Nani-Kofi (Nathaniel Kofi Explo Nani) was granted indefinite leave to remain in 2007. The regime change in Ghana in 2010 made it possible for him to travel there and on 5th September 2016 he returned for an extended visit to support his family, following the deaths of his father and two brothers. He planned to return to the UK in August 2018, but technical difficulties beyond his control with the bank transfer to be used to fund his air ticket mean that he arrived in the UK in the morning of 6th September 2018, a few hours over the two-year limit for absence from the UK. The Border Force official therefore denied him entry. He has since been granted leave to remain for six months, i.e. until March 2019. Others have arrived far later than this but have been allowed in through residual discretion.
Sign Online petition: https://is.gd/D9X0i6
Court Warns - Again - About Risks of Bad Skeleton Arguments
A Court of Appeal judge has warned parties they should expect harsh treatment if they continue to burden the courts with irrelevant and lengthy submissions. Lord Justice Hickinbottom used the judgment in Harverye v The Secretary of State for the Home Department to reiterate his call for lawyers to remind themselves of the rules about documents submitted for appeal hearings.
In the case, an appeal by a Zimbabwe national against his deportation order was dismissed, as the court ruled there had been a material change in circumstances. But, according to Hickinbottom LJ, a 'straightforward and narrow' issue was ‘all but lost in the plethora of paper’ involved with the appeal. The judge said it would have been simple for the secretary of state to set out in his notice of decision what the material change of circumstance had been. Instead the court was forced to spend considerable time and effort on issues that were never going to be relevant. But the judge stressed that lawyers could not avoid all blame, and he noted the grounds of appeal, skeleton arguments and oral submissions ‘lacked the required and expected focus’. ‘The grounds of appeal are the well from which the argument must flow,’ added the judge. ‘The reasons why it is said the decision is wrong or unjust must not be included in the grounds, and must be confined to the skeleton argument.’
Read more: Law Gazette, https://is.gd/IMowyG
New First-Tier Tribunal Guidance on Awarding Costs For Unreasonable Behaviour
The Tribunal’s power to award costs when one party behaves unreasonably
When the Home Office wrongly refuses a migrant leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, the consequences for the individual and their family can be devastating. At the very least, they face months of stress and anxiety. In many cases, families are divided, and individuals face eviction, unemployment or denial of necessary medical care. In addition, forcing the Home Office to acknowledge and correct their mistake almost always requires specialised legal advice at a time when the migrant and their family can least afford it.
In most other kinds of litigation, the party who wins is normally entitled to be reimbursed for their reasonable legal costs by the other side. In appeals to the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, however, costs can only be awarded when one party or their representative has behaved “unreasonably”.
The key question is: what does “unreasonable” mean? Many migrants, their families and their legal representatives will have had the experience of receiving deeply unfair or simply factually or legally incorrect refusal decisions. Is it unreasonable for the Home Office to make decisions that are clearly wrong? Is it unreasonable for them to defend those decision on appeal?
Read more: Elizabeth Ruddick, Wesley Gryk, https://is.gd/wTKdGT
Human Dignity is in Danger. in 2019 - We Must Stand as One to Survive
Persecution, censorship and environmental destruction are on the rise – but resistance is possible: What does it mean to be human? That question sits at the core of human rights. To be human has specific implications: human self-awareness and the actions taken to uphold human dignity – these are what gives the concept of humanity a special meaning.
Human self-awareness and human actions determine the interplay between individual thought and language and the wider society. It is our actions as humans that deliver economic security, the right to education, the right to free association and free expression; and which create the conditions for protecting expression and encouraging bold thinking. When we abandon efforts to uphold human dignity, we forfeit the essential meaning of being human, and when we waver in our commitment to the idea of human rights, we abandon our moral principles. What follows is duplicity and folly, corruption and tyranny, and the endless stream of humanitarian crises that we see in the world today.
More than two centuries have passed since the concept of human rights was first developed. During that time humanity has gone through various stages of history and the world has seen enormous changes. In Europe, what was once a collection of colonialist, autocratic states has transformed into a democratic society with a capitalist orientation, establishing a mechanism that protects individual rights. Other societies are also seeing structural changes, and the concept of human rights is facing grave challenges.
Read more: Ai Weiwei, Guardian, https://is.gd/gVU0vK
Financial Appeal for 'No-Deportations' - 2019
Number of Irregular Crossings at Europe’s Borders at Lowest Level in 5 Years
Last year the number of illegal border-crossings at Europe’s external borders has fallen by a quarter compared with 2017 to an estimated 150 000, the lowest level in five years. The total for 2018 was also 92% below the peak of the migratory crisis in 2015.
The drop was due to the dramatic fall in the number of migrants taking the Central Mediterranean route to Italy. The number of detections of irregular crossings on this route plunged 80% compared to 2017 to slightly more than 23 000.
The Central Mediterranean route saw the smallest number of irregular entries since 2012. The number of departures from Libya dropped 87% from a year ago, and those from Algeria fell by nearly a half. Departures from Tunisia stayed roughly unchanged. Tunisians and Eritreans were the two most represented nationalities on this route, together accounting for a third of all migrants.
Read more: Frontex, https://is.gd/mTDQG2
EDM 1952 EU Citizens' Rights and the Settled Status Scheme
That this House condemns the Settled Status scheme for non-UK EU citizens as discriminatory and unnecessary; believes that people who have chosen to make their lives here under the auspices of the EU’s Freedom of Movement should be welcome to stay without any documentation or payment of a fee and should be entitled to retain the rights they currently have after the UK leaves the EU; and calls on the Government to amend the scheme accordingly without delay.
Tabled 07 January 2019, https://is.gd/tcChtO
Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM1952
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Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - January 2019
Deteriorated Situations: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, ,Sudan, Nigeria, Togo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Syria, Libya
Conflict Risk Alerts: Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Yemen.
Improved Situations: Sri Lanka, Yemen
In December, deadly clashes punctuated the weeks leading up to general elections in both DR Congo and Bangladesh, and disputes over the results could trigger more bloodshed in January. Nigeria suffered a high rate of insurgent attacks and a rise in violent crime in its northern regions ahead of elections in February-March. In Sudan and Togo, security forces clamped down on anti-government protests, and Burundi further isolated itself from its neighbours. In Nicaragua, the political situation remained tense amid growing government attacks on NGOs and journalists, and in Indonesia, ?a West Papua pro-independence armed group launched a ?deadly ?attack in Papua. In Yemen, a ceasefire agreement offered a glimmer of hope; new UN-led talks in January could lead to wider de-escalation, but if they fail the battle for Hodeida could resume. President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria upset a fragile balance of forces in the north east, and in Libya, tensions rose after ISIS attacked the foreign ministry. Sri Lanka’s President Sirisena reappointed the deposed Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, signalling an end to the constitutional and political crisis that had shaken the country.
Source: International Crisis Group, https://is.gd/JVNDCr
Is Your Child Eligible to Become a British Citizen?
A child under the age of 18 can acquire British citizenship in a number of ways. In certain circumstances, a child may be entitled to British citizenship automatically, i.e. they are born a British citizen. Generally, this would happen where the child is born in the UK to a mother or father, either of whom is either British or settled in the UK at the time of the child’s birth. A person is considered settled if he or she have indefinite leave to remain or, for EEA nationals, permanent residence in the UK. If the child was born outside the UK, the child would similarly be born a British citizen if at the time of the child’s birth either mother or father is a British citizen, provided the parent’s British citizenship is acquired otherwise than by descent.
In the cases described above, a child does not need to apply for registration as a British citizen and can apply directly to the Passport Office (“HMPO”) to be issued with their first British passport.
If a child was not born British, he or she may have the entitlement to register as a British citizen through birth, or by way of satisfying the standard criteria for registration at the Home Office’s discretion. This means that where the child has a right to apply to register either by entitlement or at the Secretary of State’s discretion, an application for registration will need to be made to the Home Office, with a subsequent application to HMPO for a first British passport if the registration application is successful.
There are a number of provisions in the British Nationality Act 1981 (“BNA 1981”) under which a child has the entitlement to register as a British citizen, which means that if the child meets the relevant criteria and is of good character, they must be registered and there is normally no discretion on the part of the Home Office to refuse such an application. For example, if the child was born in the UK and either of the parents becomes settled or themselves a British citizen after the child’s birth, and the child is under the age of 18 and is of good character, then the child has the right to register as a British citizen by entitlement.
Furthermore, the child would be entitled to be registered as a British citizen if he or she was born in the UK and had lived here for the first 10 years of his or her life, with no absences of more than 90 days in any one year. Registration by entitlement also extends to children born outside the UK to a British father or mother who has acquired British citizenship by descent and has resided in the UK for more than three years prior to the child’s birth or has resided in the UK together with the child for more than three years following the child’s birth.
Finally, if the child was neither born British nor has the entitlement to register under the BNA 1981, the Home Office has the discretion to register a child if an application is made for registration while he or she is a minor. Discretionary applications of this nature will usually involve consideration of whether the child’s future is clearly seen to lie in the UK and whether both parents live in the UK, are settled here, or are about to apply to become British themselves.
Where a child is neither British at birth nor has an entitlement to registration, nor meets the usual discretionary application requirements, the Home Office still has a wider discretion to register any child where there are exceptionally compelling or compassionate circumstances. Such applications are particularly complex and would require the submission of detailed supporting evidence.
The information set out above does not cover all the circumstances in which a child may have the right to apply for British citizenship.
Posted by: Gherson Immigration, https://is.gd/nPFeIE
Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI Update Vol. 185
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 24 December 2018 and 7 January 2019 [with the exception of the ‘Legal Update’ and ‘Home Office Publications Update’ which dates back to 11th December 2018].