High Court Upholds Refusal to Extradite to France for People Smuggling Allegation
On 8 June 2021, the High Court dismissed an appeal by France seeking to overturn the decision of a District Judge refusing to extradite Mr B to France to face allegations of people smuggling, said to be worth “several dozens of million” Euros. Mr Justice Chamberlain found that Judge Ezzat was right to conclude that the French judicial authority had failed in a wholesale manner adequately to particularise the offences alleged against Mr B. The High Court also concluded that further information provided by the French judicial authority “did not contain any properly particularised allegation of unlawful conduct on the part of the respondent”. Judge Ezzat’s decision discharging Mr B pursuant to section 2(4)(c) of the Extradition Act 2003 was accordingly upheld.
Doughty Street Chambers
Baby and Mother Win Right to Access Healthy Start Food Scheme
A one-year-old baby and her mother have won a high court challenge granting her the right to access a healthy food and vitamins scheme from which she was previously barred. Thousands of babies and toddlers similarly denied access to the scheme will now be able to benefit from it. Healthy Start aims to reduce child poverty and health inequalities by providing free vitamins, dietary advice and weekly vouchers to buy nutritious food or infant formula to low-income families with pregnant women and children up to the age of four. It is intended to benefit those in the “greatest need”.
However, the eligibility criteria excluded some of the UK’s poorest children from migrant backgrounds because their families are unable to claim mainstream benefits, which is the trigger for entitlement to this scheme. As a consequence, babies and toddlers from the most financially deprived households were going without the food and vitamins needed for a healthy start in life. Olivia Halse of MG & Co Solicitors, who was involved in the case, said: “This is a great outcome for some of the most disadvantaged children in our society who should have never been excluded from accessing this essential support in the first place. We hope this extension will go some way toward tackling health inequalities and child food poverty in the UK and help provide these children with a healthy start in life.”
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guradian, https://is.gd/BIqVVu
Home Office Accidentally Discriminates Against Trafficking Victims With Kids
The High Court has declared that an anomaly in the benefits system which disadvantages victims of trafficking who receive asylum support is discriminatory and in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Unusually, the Secretary of State confessed to the court that she was not sure how the difference in treatment had happened and her only defence was that she wanted more time to think about how to fix it. Having granted her five extensions to prepare her case, in R (MD) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1370 (Admin) the High Court decided enough was enough and granted a declaration that the difference in treatment is unlawful.
The case was about the different levels of support available to victims of trafficking who are able to access mainstream benefits, compared to victims of trafficking who are not entitled to mainstream benefits. People in the former group receive an extra £39.60 per week for each dependent child they have. Both of the claimants in this case were asylum seekers (happily now recognised as refugees) and were therefore not eligible for the extra payment despite having dependent children.
The Home Office position was that this difference in treatment was an anomaly because, in principle, the extra money paid to victims of trafficking with access to mainstream benefits should have been clawed back through a reduction in other forms of support. Incredibly, the Secretary of State was unable to provide an explanation of how the anomaly had come about, citing a lack of “corporate memory”.
Mr Justice Kerr expressed difficulty in knowing how to proceed without being able to place reliance on the government’s explanation of the facts:
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/ilJlPN
Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - June 2021
Deteriorated Situations: Mali, Burundi, South Sudan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Armenia,Azerbaijan, Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Algeria
In Israel-Palestine, an eleven-day war between Israel and Gaza’s armed factions killed hundreds and sparked an unprecedented wave of unrest across Israel’s mixed cities. - Amid rising social discontent, Mali’s military junta staged another coup, which Bamako’s main international partners immediately condemned. - In the most significant conflict escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the Autumn 2020 war, deadly border clashes broke out. - Ahead of the 12 June legislative elections, Algeria’s authorities stepped up repression against the Hirak protest movement, quashing demonstrations and arresting scores. - Jakarta signalled a major crackdown on Papuan separatists by sending more military troops to Indonesia’s easternmost region following a series of armed attacks.
Conflict Risk Alerts for June: Colombia: Cali city is at a high risk of spiralling violence in coming weeks as anti-government protesters face an increasingly heavy security build-up and armed civilians. Haiti : A controversial constitutional referendum in Haiti on 27 June could worsen the political crisis and fuel violent unrest.
Source: Crisis Wach, https://www.crisisgroup.org/crisiswatch
Game-Changer for Sri Lankan Tamil Activists Seeking Asylum in the UK
The new Sri Lanka country guidance judgment in KK and RS (Sur place activities, risk) (CG)  UKUT 130 (IAC) “clarifies and supplements” the previous decision in GJ and others  UKUT 319 (IAC) “with particular reference to sur place activities”. GJ was a complicated and often seemingly contradictory decision with a headnote that led many asylum claims from Tamil activists to fail. KK and RS changes all that
What sur place activities is the Sri Lankan government interested in? Having a “significant role” in Tamil diaspora activity remains the litmus test. The major problem with GJ was that the term was not defined. Helpfully, the Upper Tribunal in KK and RS explains that it is not necessary to have a formal role, to be a member of a particular organisation, or to be high profile or prominent (see paragraphs 455-456).
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/d8SOHU
New Data Matching Powers a Threat to Migrant Communities
The government’s threat to increase its use of data matching is now becoming a reality with plans to expand the National Fraud Initiative (NFI). If implemented, the proposals would extend data matching powers from their current use in tackling fraud to cover other criminal activity, as well as debt recovery and data quality. What is data matching? Data matching, as described by the Information Commissioner’s Office, involves “combining, comparing or matching personal data obtained from multiple sources”.
Currently, the NFI collects more than 20 data types over 8,000 datasets from 1,300 participant organisations — over 300 million data records in total. Examples of datasets collected include: public sector payroll, housing benefit, social housing waiting lists, parking permits, council tax, local authority pension payments, electoral register, right to buy and public sector housing.
Information law specialist Chris Pounder’s detailed analysis gives an example of how migrants’ details are already mixed up in the NFI: “Electoral Roll, Housing Benefit, Council Tax, Payroll, Housing Tenancy and waiting lists, Right to Buy, and Licencing databases [have been] cross matched with Immigration records”.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/5Y3tGG