Home Secretary Concedes Napier Barracks Are Inadequate and in Breach of Human Rights
Six asylum seekers who brought claims against the Home Secretary after being accommodated at the controversial Napier Barracks have today been granted permission to proceed with their claims to trial. The Claimants challenge the use of Napier Barracks to house asylum seekers on five grounds, including that the conditions create a real risk of a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (Articles 2, 3, 5 and 8), fail to meet essential living needs as required by section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, breach the terms of the contract between the Home Office and Clearsprings (who is contracted by the Home Office to run both Napier and Penally barracks), and amount to unlawful detention.
Minutes before a day-long hearing before Mr Justice Chamberlain was due to start, Home Office lawyers contacted DPG’s legal team to say that they had decided to concede that all the arguments made by the DPG Claimants were arguable and so permission should be granted. The Home Office disputed one additional argument made by Mathew Gold & Co Solicitors. Mr Justice Chamberlain proceeded to grant permission for all five of the grounds put forward by the DPG Claimants and directed that a final hearing will take place in the week commencing 12 April 2021.
Read more: Deighton Pierce Glynn, https://is.gd/1k1tz4
UK Failure to Protect Two Potential Victims Of Child Trafficking - Violations of Articles 4 & 6
The case concerned two Vietnamese youths who police officers had discovered working on cannabis farms. They were arrested and charged with drugs-related offences, to which they pleaded guilty. Following their conviction they were detained in young offenders’ institutes. A competent authority subsequently recognised them as victims of trafficking. However, the prosecution service having reviewed its decision to prosecute them, concluded that they were not victims of trafficking and the Court of Appeal found on the facts of each case that the decision to prosecute had been justified.
This was the first time the Court had considered the relationship between Article 4 of the Convention and the prosecution of victims and potential victims of trafficking. It considered that the prosecution of victims or potential victims of trafficking would not necessarily breach Article 4 of the Convention. However, given the competent authority’s expertise in this area, the Court considered that the prosecution would have needed to present clear reasons consistent with the definition of trafficking for disagreeing with its findings, something which clearly had not happened in these cases. However, having regard to the duty to take operational measures to protect victims of trafficking, the Court held that once the authorities had become aware of a credible suspicion that an individual had been trafficked, he or she should be assessed by a qualified person.
The Court found that, although the authorities had made some accommodations to the applicants after their guilty verdicts, the lack of any assessment of whether the applicants had been victims of trafficking may have prevented them from securing important evidence capable of helping their defence. As such the proceedings had not been fair, leading to a violation of Articles 4 & 6.
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Government Must go Beyond a Press Release to get Undocumented Migrants Vaccinated
In response to growing pressure, the government announced on Monday 8th February, that no immigration status checks will be carried out for migrants getting the coronavirus vaccination. While Downing Street’s press release focused on the lack of status checks, further action is required to gain the trust of those whose lives have been ruined by harsh immigration policies. Otherwise, a combination of the Home Office hostile environment and discriminatory GP practices will undermine the vaccination drive. Legacy of the hostile environment:
The government appears ignorant of the extent and impact of the hostile environment it has created, but NGOs on the ground are not. In response to the vaccine announcement, Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group — a community group run by asylum seekers and refugees — tweeted: “Our data suggests that an overwhelming majority will not present to vaccination centres”.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) pointed to its own survey showing that 82% of undocumented migrants would be fearful of seeking healthcare in case of having their status checked or being charged for treatment. This lack of trust is the culmination of many years of policies and legislation seeking to marginalise undocumented migrants. One seemingly humane promise cannot undo that history.
Source: Freemovement, https://is.gd/B9vmGg
Asylum Seekers go on Hunger Strike Over Poor Food
A group of asylum seekers staying in a hotel in Reading have gone on hunger strike in protest at poor food and lengthy asylum claims. Some of the men and women say they have been in their rooms for over eight months. They claim the food provided is unhealthy, and is given to them in too small quantities.It is believed the Home Office gives £6 a day per person to some companies providing food, but this is often subcontracted.
They are among a growing number of asylum seekers who have complained about the conditions they are living in some parts of England. Salahe Lakhdar has been at the hotel for over three months and claimed he - and others - have lost weight as a result of poor food. The 24-year-old said some people are having kidney problems, and "many people" have ended up in hospital "with very bad conditions and medical problems because of the food". Mr Lakhdar added that his claim for asylum has been pending for over 13 months, with no sign of when it will progress.
Read more: Adele Robinson, Sky News, https://is.gd/aY3WtX
18 Asylum Seekers Released From Napier Barracks
Bindmans have been instructed by residents at Napier Barracks and have secured the release of 18 asylum seekers within the last two weeks. Our clients, who include victims of torture and trafficking, had been detained by the Home Office in appalling conditions at Napier Barracks. The Home Office failed to put in place protective measures which allowed Covid-19 to ravage the camp and placed all of our clients’ health at risk.
The team representing the residents are very pleased that the Home Office has released our clients and transferred them to more appropriate accommodation. However we are concerned that other vulnerable people continue to be detained at Napier Barracks. We hope that the Home Office will close the Barracks to ensure no one is forced to live in such unsuitable accommodation whilst they wait for the Home Office to consider their asylum claims, and will urgently review the use of other former army barracks sites to accommodate vulnerable asylum seekers.
The solicitors instructed were: Basmah Sahib, Caroline Robinson, Jessie Brennan, Rachel Harger, Shirin Marker and Theodora Middleton. Greg Ó Ceallaigh from Garden Court Chambers was instructed by all.
Source; Bindmans Solicitors
Home Office Ignored Covid Advice Not to Put Asylum Seekers in Barracks
The Home Office ignored advice from Public Health England that housing asylum seekers in dormitories in army barracks was inappropriate in a pandemic, months before an outbreak of 120 Covid cases. In a high court hearing on Tuesday 16th February, – brought by six asylum seekers who claim that conditions at the barracks are inhumane – the Home Office conceded that it was arguable that the use of Napier barracks to house the group was unlawful and in breach of human rights.
Counsel for the Home Office admitted to failings and confirmed that, following the launching of several legal actions, sweeping changes to Napier barracks in Folkestone, which has been used to accommodate hundreds of asylum seekers, have been made. Judge Martin Chamberlain told the court that Public Health England advised the Home Office on 7 September last year that dormitories were not suitable accommodation during a pandemic.
However, the judge said: “This advice was apparently not followed.” Following an outbreak of 120 cases at the barracks last month, the site was locked down, with residents told they couldn’t leave.
Read more: Diane Taylor, https://is.gd/B48qTL
Force In Fingerprinting of Channel Asylum Seekers Will Spark Violence and Self-Harm
A controversial plan to use force to take fingerprints from asylum seekers at French ports will lead to violence and self-harm, Priti Patel has been warned. Charities and Border Force staff have criticised the home secretary over the move, which would allow the use of “reasonable force” in obtaining prints in Calais and Dunkirk as part of efforts to make it easier to remove people who then cross the Channel. The same measure was abandoned nine years ago after angry clashes with officers, and after some refugees slashed or burned their own fingertips to prevent the evidence being taken. Despite that, the Commons is poised to vote through a return of the policy in the next few weeks, in order to provide what the Home Office claims is “crucial” evidence in rejecting an asylum claim.
Read nore: Rob Merrick , Independent, https://is.gd/zVk6EW
Unusual Costs Decision Against the Home Office
In R (Mozumder) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 138, the Court of Appeal has dealt with an unusual costs issue arising from the furore over alleged cheating in English language tests. The issue was how costs should be apportioned from a judicial review which challenged removal on the ground that an out-of-country appeal was not an effective remedy where the individual had been accused of cheating on his English language test.
After the judicial review, the appellant had subsequently made a separate appeal against removal on the basis of his human rights and the First-tier Tribunal found that he had not cheated. The Court of Appeal decided that it could take into account the later tribunal decision, even though it had not been available to the judge at first instance, and that therefore the appellant had been successful and was entitled to his costs:
If Mr Mozumder had been found by the FTT judge to have cheated and thus had his appeal rejected I for my part would have been extremely reluctant to award him any costs at all. Since it has now been held by the appropriate tribunal that he had not cheated, I consider he should be treated as the winner in substance as well as on the procedural issue and should be awarded his costs of the judicial review which led to that result being achieved.
Source: Freemovement, https://is.gd/1ELM8s
Important Report on Reform of Immigration Enforcement
The hostile environment should be reformed by selective repeal of key provisions, addressing Home Office culture and improved routes to regularisation, an influential think tank has found. Beyond the hostile environment, a report released yesterday by the Institute for Public Policy Research, follows up on a previous look at the negative impacts of policies designed to make life intolerable for undocumented migrants.
The IPPR has now turned to solutions, canvassing a range of options from straight repeal through to ID cards. The report recommends three main areas for reform.
1. Changes to checks, charges and data sharing
2. Home Office culture
3. Improved routes to regularisation
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/Wnc9Lk
Government Unlawfully Denied Refugee Status to Egyptian Dissident
In the latest round of the legal saga involving Egyptian dissident Yasser Al-Siri, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the Home Office acted unlawfully in only granting him restricted leave to remain after an earlier First-tier Tribunal decision that he is a refugee. There was, the court found, no fresh evidence allowing the Home Office to get around the First-tier Tribunal’s decision (the Ladd v Marshall test).
The case is Al-Siri v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 113. The political background to Mr Al-Siri’s case is well documented but, in brief, in 1994 he was convicted by a military court for conspiracy to kill the then Prime Minister of Egypt and was sentenced to death in absentia. One month later, he arrived in the UK and claimed asylum. In one way or another,
Mr Al-Siri has been engaged in a battle with the Home Office over his immigration status for the last 27 years. As you can imagine, there was a mass of procedural history (including a trip to the Supreme Court) and the upshot was that the courts had found that Mr Al-Siri was not excluded from the Refugee Convention and, in April 2015, the First-tier Tribunal found he was in fact a refugee.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/GpnL6o