Stamp Out Persecution of Religious Groups
UN chief António Guterres called for an end to the persecution of religious groups on Thursday, the first ever International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion and Belief.
Over the past few months, we have seen increasing numbers of attacks against individuals and groups targeted simply because of their religion or belief. Jews have been murdered in synagogues, their gravestones defaced with swastikas; Muslims gunned down in mosques, their religious sites vandalized; Christians killed at prayer, their churches torched.
Many assaults, like those in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the United States, have specifically targeted places of worship. And in many conflicts around the world, from Syria to the Central African Republic, entire communities have been attacked on the grounds of their faith.
All major world religions espouse tolerance and peaceful coexistence in a spirit of shared humanity. We must resist and reject those who falsely and maliciously invoke religion to build misconceptions, fuel division and spread fear and hatred. There is richness and strength in diversity; it is never a threat.
Today Thursday 22nd August 2019,we observe the first ever International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion and Belief. On this Day, we reaffirm our unwavering support for the victims of violence based on religion and belief. And we demonstrate that support by doing all in our power to prevent such attacks and demanding that those responsible are held accountable.
Read more: United Nations, https://is.gd/XRB7J1
US: New Rules Allow Indefinite Detention of Children
A Trump administration final regulation announced today could result in severe harm to migrant children who may be held in immigration detention indefinitely in the United States. The rule seeks to replace the longstanding Flores court settlement that imposed detention standards and time limits.
“The detention of children can lead to trauma, suicidal feelings, and exposure to dangerously inadequate medical care,” said Clara Long, acting deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch. “No amount of time in detention is safe for children and prolonged detention is particularly harmful.”
The core principle and requirement of the Flores Agreement is that migrant children taken into detention should be released as “expeditiously” as possible. The new rule provides instead for the indefinite detention of children with their parents in federal immigration facilities pending resolution of their immigration proceedings. In doing so, it seeks to reverse a ruling under the Flores settlement that children not be held for more than 20 days in facilities not licensed for childcare.
During a press conference Wednesday morning, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said average stays in 2014 and 2015 for families in detention leading up to that ruling was 50 days.
But many families were held for longer than that during 2014 and 2015, according to Human Rights Watch research from the time. Their prolonged detention took a severe psychological toll on them. Other studies of detained immigrant children have also found high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, and psychologists agree that “even brief detention can cause psychological trauma and induce long-term mental health risks for children.”
Read more: Human Rights Watch, https://is.gd/9mhNGi
Asylum Seekers Crammed Into Rat-Infested Rooms
Hundreds of asylum seekers have been crammed into a network of “guest houses” provided by a Home Office contractor that are overrun by cockroaches, rats and mice, the Guardian has learned.
Lawyers shown footage recorded by the Guardian – which reveals that families of four are sharing small double beds and are being crammed into spaces so small that they are barely able to walk around their rooms – said that the conditions could constitute statutory overcrowding and an environment unfit for human habitation.
One lawyer branded the conditions “depraved” and accused the home secretary, Priti Patel, of being “slum landlord in chief”.
The buildings of the Maharaja Guest House in Southall, west London, are infested with tens of thousands of cockroaches, which feed on the residents’ food. In one of the kitchens seen by the Guardian, more than 100 cockroaches scattered when just one cupboard was opened.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/k1shis
Home Secretary Loses Appeal to Reverse Decision that Kept Family Together in the UK
2. The Secretary of State appealed on the grounds that the judge erred in finding that it would be unduly harsh for the Appellant's partner and children to live in the country to which he was to be deported and in finding that it would be unduly harsh for them to remain in the UK without the Appellant. In summary, the factors identified by the judge did not give rise to unduly harsh consequences. The judge had erred in law in finding that the high threshold had been met.
Conclusions and reasons
17. I am satisfied, on reading the decision as a whole, that the judge was aware of the relevant legal provisions and of the test which he had to apply. The judge stated at paragraph 27: "The real and true issue for me to decide was whether it would be unduly harsh for the children to live in Albania and whether it would be unduly harsh for the children to remain in the UK without the person who is to be deported."
18. The judge acknowledged at paragraph 28 that the children were of a young age and would be able to adapt to certain aspects of life as they grew older. He also attached significant weight to the public interest given the seriousness and gravity of the offence.
19. The judge then considered the best interests of the children and his findings that it would be in the children's best interests to remain in the UK and continue their relationship with their grandparents was open to him on the evidence before him. There was no challenge to the judge's findings that it was not in the children's best interests to live in Albania or for them to remain in the UK whilst the Appellant was deported. The issue was whether the Appellant's deportation would be unduly harsh.
20. At paragraphs 32 to 35 the judge set out the factors which he had taken into account, namely the children do not speak Albanian, they have no concept or culture of society in Albania, and although they were of a young age they would be at a significant disadvantage having to adapt to life in a very poor country. The opportunities for advancement were less frequent than in the UK. The children had loving relationships with their grandparents and the judge had grave concerns for how the Appellant's deportation would affect the mental health of the Appellant's partner, the children's mother. His finding that there was a real and tangible risk that her mental health would deteriorate if the Appellant was deported was open to the judge given the evidence at page 99 of the Appellant's bundle.
21. I am persuaded by Mr Waheed's submission that the judge did not rely merely on the separation of the family but took into account the effect of the Appellant's deportation on the mental health of his partner and also the genuine and tangible bond between the Appellant and his children. The factors referred to at paragraphs 34 and 35 were sufficient to support the judge's finding that it would be unduly harsh for the Appellant's partner and children to remain in the UK without him.
22. The judge identified factors which are over and above separation of the family. Applying MK (Sierra Leone), the severity of the impact of the Appellant's deportation on the children's lives is a factor which the judge could take into account. Given the likely deterioration of his partner's mental health and the evidence that the eldest child displayed challenging forms of behaviour when separated from his father, that was sufficient to support the judge's finding that there was something more than mere separation of the family.
23. The judge's findings at 30 to 34 also support the conclusion at paragraph 36 that it would be unduly harsh for the Appellant's family to live in Albania. This finding was open to the judge on the evidence before him and he gave adequate reasons for coming to that conclusion.
24. I find the judge's conclusion that the Appellant's deportation would have unduly harsh consequences for the Appellant and his family was a conclusion which was open to the judge on the evidence before him. He applied the correct threshold test and the factors referred to were capable of satisfying that test. Another judge may well have come to a different conclusion on that evidence, but that does not amount to an error of law.
25. I find there was no error of law in the judge's finding that the Appellant's deportation would be disproportionate. Accordingly, I dismiss the Respondent's appeal.
Prove Your Status To Use The NHS
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, EEA nationals will be required to prove their rights in the UK in order to access free treatment on the NHS from the date that Brexit occurs (currently scheduled for 31 October 2019). Posted by: Gherson Immigration, https://is.gd/5Bw2QP
The Department of Health have stated that “EU citizens living lawfully in the UK on the day of Brexit will be able to continue to use the NHS as long as they can demonstrate that they live in the UK on a lawful and properly settled basis”.
Currently, only 1 million, of the 3 million EEA nationals residing in the UK have registered under the EU Settlement Scheme, meaning that there are potentially 2 million citizens who will be required to evidence their residence in the UK by other means. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the deadline to register under the EU Settlement Scheme will be 31 December 2020. It is therefore unclear how EEA nationals, who are not yet required to have registered under the Settlement Scheme, should be proving their rights to access the NHS, as they are entitled to.
There has been an outcry from across the medical profession who believe that the already stretched NHS should not be required to carry out immigration checks on European nationals. Lobby groups that support the rights of EEA nationals have highlighted that this will cause chaos in the NHS and will likely lead to huge issues for EEA nationals who are eligible for free healthcare but who have not yet received the status confirming this right.
It is unclear if the government will respond to the extensive criticism this issue has generated. However, to ensure that all EEA nationals are able to access the NHS without issue, it is highly advisable that they apply under the Settlement Scheme at the earliest opportunity.
Unlawfully Detained Woman Who Miscarried Receives £50k Payout
A trafficked Vietnamese woman who was placed in detention for three days after arriving at Heathrow airport while experiencing a miscarriage and barely able to stand has received a £50,000 payout from the Home Office, the Guardian has learned.
The Home Office has accepted the 33-year-old was detained unlawfully and that the detention constituted inhuman and degrading treatment. The payout is exceptionally high for a three-day period of detention. The woman arrived at Heathrow on 8 July 2016 when she was eight weeks pregnant as a result of rape in Finland. She started to bleed and informed immigration officials at the airport, which is when she was held for eight hours and subjected to repeated questions.
She was finally taken from the airport to Hillingdon hospital by ambulance. Doctors there thought she should stay in hospital overnight because it was likely she was having a miscarriage. But a decision was taken by the Home Office to put her in detention instead. She said she was not well enough to stand up unaided and had to be assisted to walk out of the hospital.
She was released from detention three days later and it was confirmed that she had suffered a miscarriage. The Home Office finally accepted that she was a victim of trafficking and granted her leave to remain in the UK.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/ix45P8
Online Asylum Appeals to be Rolled Out Nationwide in 2020
Asylum appeals will be filed and managed entirely online from next year, the courts and tribunals service for England and Wales has said. HMCTS told Free Movement that it plans to roll out its “reformed digital asylum service” to all hearing centres at the end of January 2020. The digital appeal system aims to make the process of challenging an asylum system more efficient and less paper-bound. The focus is on electronic document upload, digitised case management and early online resolution rather than the final hearing being on a webcam, although HMCTS is also experimenting with virtual hearings throughout the tribunal system.
Outlining the system in a recent update on its work, HMCTS said that “appeals will be submitted electronically by legal representatives and will be received instantaneously by both HMCTS and the Home Office. The appeals will then progress digitally via the on line service from initial application, through to hearing and judicial decision”. It adds that the new system will “enable cases to be resolved online where that is appropriate, as well as supporting the use of video and face-to-face hearings”.
Digital asylum appeals are currently being piloted at Manchester and Taylor House hearing centres. Six solicitors’ firms are involved. The pilot will be expanded to Bradford and Newport in September 2019, and further rolled out to Birmingham and Hatton Cross by the end of the year. The national rollout that follows will only be for cases where the appellant has legal representation. HMCTS says that a separate service is being designed for unrepresented appellants, which will begin pilot testing early in 2020. Other areas of immigration and asylum law may be digitised further down the line. The HMCTS annual report notes that “we have plans to continue to research and design other appeals processes including bail”.
Source: Freemovment, https://is.gd/EEBijG
Refusal Letter Reversed by Upper Tribunal
1. This is a resumed hearing from 8 February 2019 and should be read with the earlier error of law decision. On that occasion I found a material error of law in the decision of First-tier Tribunal Judge AMS Green. The judge found the underlying claim not credible. That finding had not been challenged. The error found related to how the judge dealt with the practicalities of the appellant's return to Iraq.
2. The appellant is from a fairly large village in the Sala Al Din Province of Iraq. This is a contested area as identified in AA (Iraq) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 944. That decision found that any civilian returned to that Province faced a real risk of being subjected to indiscriminate violence amounting to serious harm within the scope of Article 15(c) of the Qualification Directive.
3. The refusal letter is dated 18 August 2018.It suggested that country conditions have changed whereby it would be safe for him to return to his home area. An alternative would be for him to travel via Baghdad to the IKR and seek to establish himself there.
31. The appellant has been found to lack credibility in respect of a number of significant aspects of his claim. I would be prepared to accept, bearing in mind the low standard of proof applicable, his assertions about certain facts relevant to the issues now arising. Principally, I accept his claim that his family were displaced and are either dead or missing. I also accept his claim that there is no individual in Iraq a position to assist him. I also accept his claim that he does not have access to his documentation and does not have anyone to assist him obtaining a replacement. Although he is Kurdish I accept his claim that he has no support in the IKR.
32. I am not prepared to depart from the country guidance and following this a 15 C risk exists in the appellant's home area. It has not been suggested he could relocate to Baghdad his background. It is my conclusion that it would be unreasonable and unduly harsh to expect him to relocate in the IKR. As stated he has no connections there. He has no particular skills. The area is under strain with the influx of people.
33. The appellant does not have the necessary documentation, viz, a CSID to settle in the IKR. The evidence does not indicate that it would be reasonably practicable for him to obtain replacements in any sort of timely fashion.
34. Following from these conclusions I find the appellant is entitled to humanitarian protection. This is because of the 15 C risk in his home area and the fact he cannot relocate elsewhere.