Stop the 3rd German Mass Deportation Flight to Sri Lanka!
On Monday, September 27 – one day after the German Federal elections – there will be another mass deportation of Tamil and Muslim asylum seekers to Sri Lanka. The first of this unprecedented wave of mass deportations to Sri Lanka took place this year for the very first time on March 30, the second being on June 9.
Statements from Tamil politicians inside the island pleading with the German government to stop these charter flights, as well as statements from human rights and political organizations about the increasing dangers facing the Tamil and Muslim populations, were ignored. For our part, shortly after the first mass deportation, we sent a delegation to visit Sri Lanka and record the human rights situation of Tamils. This delegation has presented its findings to individual politicians in recent months.
However, it is becoming increasingly clear that an assessment of the situation in Sri Lanka has little to do with the decision to carry out these deportations. As, shortly before the first deportation, the German government itself co-authored UN Resolution 46/1, in which it was pointed out that attacks on Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka were escalating. So, the decision to increase the scale of deportations by an order of magnitude can have nothing to do with the German government’s assessment of the current situation in Sri Lanka.
Read more: Human Rights Association Bremen (IMRV)
Breman, Germany, https://humanrights.de/4707
NHS Trusts Wrongly Billing Vulnerable Migrants for Maternity Care
NHS trusts are wrongly hounding vulnerable migrant women for payment of bills of thousands of pounds for maternity care, according to a report. While some women who have been trafficked, persecuted in their home countries or subjected to domestic violence in the UK have found themselves saddled with bills of several thousand pounds that they are unable to pay, others are avoiding accessing maternity care at all, putting themselves and their babies at risk, because they fear the financial cost. The report, Breach of Trust: incorrect implementation of the overseas charging regulations by NHS trusts in England, from the charity Maternity Action, is calling on the government to suspend maternity charging for migrants, after finding multiple examples of trusts wrongly billing extremely vulnerable migrant women for their maternity care.
The Royal College of Midwives has joined the charity in condemning the NHS charging policy for this group of migrant women. While “hostile environment” rules say that migrant women must be charged at 150% of the rate charged to NHS clinical commissioning groups that purchase maternity care from hospital trusts, there are exceptions for certain vulnerable groups such as trafficked women, asylum seekers and women who are destitute. However, different NHS trusts interpret the guidance in different ways, with some taking a harsher approach than others.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/IgQUXU
SIAC Quashes Decision to Refuse British Citizenship Based on Secret Evidence
The Appellant, anonymised as ‘RT’, is an Algerian refugee whose application for citizenship had been refused in 2019 on the basis that it was assessed that he ‘may be supportive of acts of terrorism’ and therefore did not meet the Good Character requirement. No further reasoning was provided to RT nor was he shown any evidence in support of that assessment.
This was the third time that the Home Office had refused RT’s application for naturalisation. In 2007, his application was refused on the basis that it was assessed that he was associated with prominent Islamic extremists, including members of the Groupe Islamique Armée (‘GIA’). A second application in 2014 was refused in 2018, this time on the thinned down basis that it was assessed that RT was associated with the GIA. After RT pointed out that the Home Office had in fact granted him asylum due to his fear of persecution from the GIA, the decision was withdrawn only to be replaced by the far more vague and ambiguous reasoning that he ‘may be supportive of acts of terrorism’.
It is notable that since his arrival in the UK in 1997, RT has never been arrested by the police in relation to any crime, nor has he ever been approached by members of the intelligence services. He has used his platform as a journalist and commentator to publicly condemn terrorist attacks on live television. Furthermore, as part of his application, he submitted voluminous evidence of his vocal and active opposition to terrorism and extremist ideology including his manual for teaching Islamic Studies that contains numerous sections promoting tolerance and pluralism and opposing extremism. His application was supported by dozens of individuals including a former Prevent officer who had trained counter-terrorism police on Islamic radicalisation.
Having considered all of the CLOSED material that neither RT nor his legal team had access to, Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) concluded that the decision was unlawful and quashed it, remitting it to the SSHD for reconsideration.
Source: Duncan Lewis, https://is.gd/ax3Do3
Abdi v. Denmark - Criminal Deportation Violation of Article 8
The applicant, Mohamed Hassan Abdi, is a Somali national who was born in 1993 and lives in Ringe (Denmark). The case concerns the Danish authorities’ decision in 2018 to expel the applicant, with a permanent ban on his re-entry to the country, following his conviction for possession of a firearm. Relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention, the applicant submits that, in their decisions, the Danish courts failed to weigh in the balance that he did not have a significant criminal past, that he had never been issued with a warning that he might be expelled, and that he had strong ties to Denmark where he has lived with his family since he was four years old. Violation of Article 8
UK: Biometric 'Permission to Travel' Scheme - A Danger to ‘Freemovement’
The attack on the asylum system proposed by the UK government in the Nationality and Borders Bill has provoked outrage. However, the Bill also includes proposals to introduce an electronic 'permission to travel' scheme that would involve gathering biometric and other data from tens of millions of people. The UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) is conducting legislative scrutiny on the Bill; Statewatch submitted written observations to the inquiry last week.
The UK government published reforms to the Nationality and Borders Bill in July this year, as part of its 'New plan for Immigration'. The Bill seeks to reduce protection and increase penalties for refugees arriving to the UK via a country other than the one they are fleeing from, or arriving on UK territory without having first acquired permission. For those who manage to reach the UK, access to benefits and family reunion rights will be limited, and it will become harder than ever to obtain indefinite leave to remain. Meanwhile, UK Border Force will be authorised to conduct illegal pushbacks, and asylum claims could be processed off-shore.
Read more: Statewatch, https://is.gd/U3r0k1
In the Footsteps of Sir Francis Drake - Home Office Plans to Rule the Waves
By its Nationality and Borders Bill, through new maritime enforcement powers, the Home Office seeks to extend its activity, beyond the United Kingdom territory, beyond UK territorial waters, and into international waters and into foreign waters. In so doing it seeks powers to stop, board, divert, and detain foreign ships and ships without nationality.
Before considering whether the proposed powers are compatible with international law commitments by which the UK is bound, such as international maritime law, human rights law, and the Refugee Convention, it is important to understand their scope and reach. While it may be unfair to compare those powers to the licence exercised by Sir Frances Drake in seizing Spanish treasure ships on the High Seas in the 16th Century, the extent of the powers sought is a cause of concern, not just as regards compatibility with UK international law commitments but also as regards the impact of their use on international relations with countries such as France. That a French ship outside of UK waters may be boarded by UK immigration officers seeking to divert asylum seekers from reaching English shores has the capacity to impact adversely on Anglo-French relations. What is it that the Home Office is trying to do?
Read more: Adrian Berry, Cosmopolis, https://is.gd/JcXz4Y
Return of Ouster Clause in Nationality and Borders Bill
Once again, this time in the Nationality and Borders Bill, the Home Office seeks to oust the jurisdiction of Senior Courts from considering an appeal from a first-instance immigration tribunal decision. Its last substantial attempt to do so was the ouster clause it sought unsuccessfully to introduce to the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill in the 2003-2004 session of Parliament. At that time, it sought to oust statutory appeals and also the jurisdiction of the High Court on Judicial Review.
This time the effort is focused on solely on statutory appeals and is an attempt to exclude appeals to the Court of Appeal. It is still wrong. A first instance tribunal decision on a question of international protection or human rights, involving compliance with international treaty obligations, ought to be capable of appeal, as part of the standard procedure in the UK constitutional order for the rule of law. The Home Office gains nothing by this latest effort. Instead, the rule of law is damaged and the High Court is left to supervise the resulting delinquency if and when it entertains a judicial review against an immigration appeal decision impugned. To understand what is going on, one needs to look at the provision for priority removal notices in the Nationality and Borders Bill.
Read more: Cosmopolis, https://is.gd/FpIuvl
West Mids Councils Launch Legal Action Against Home Office Over ‘Unfair’ Asylum Dispersal System
A group of cross-party local council leaders have launched legal action against the Home Office over its “unfair” and ”fundamentally flawed” asylum dispersal system, which they say is leading to vulnerable migrants missing out on vital services. Six local authorities in the west Midlands, plus Tory-led Stoke-on-Trent, have accused the department of an “irrational, undemocratic abuse of power” after it refused to accept their decision to stop taking in asylum seekers.
The asylum dispersal system is designed to allocate asylum seekers to different parts of the UK, into Home Office funded accommodation, while they await a decision on their claim. However, concern has been mounting in recent years that the placement of these individuals is concentrated in certain parts of the country – often towns and cities with higher levels of deprivation – and that this is causing a strain on local services. The councils – Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry, Walsall, Birmingham, Dudley and Sandwell – said they made up a “small proportion of mainly urban councils?in the UK” who take in the bulk of asylum seekers awaiting decisions on their claims.
They wrote a letter to the home secretary in March stating that they had decided to suspend participation in the asylum dispersal scheme because large numbers of people were being placed in areas that already exceed the recommended ratio of one asylum seeker to 200 local residents. The Home Office has contested this decision, and the councils have subsequently taken legal action through the High Court in Birmingham “to resolve this issue”.
Read more: May Bulman, Independent, https://is.gd/S58Ecs