News & Views Monday 21st June to Sunday 27th June 2021


‘Gulf’ Between Demand for Immigration Advice and the Ability to Meet it

The total capacity for legal advice on immigration work in London could run to just 10,000 legally aided cases plus a further 4,000 individual pieces of case work a year compared to demand running to ‘the hundreds of thousands’, according to a new study recording the ‘gulf’ between supply of and demand’ for immigration advice in the capital. Most non-asylum immigration work was removed from the scope of legal aid following the cuts under Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012.

Co-authors Jo Wilding, Maureen Mguni and Travis Van Isacker point out that the legal not-for-profit advice sector has ‘been reduced by austerity and consequent local authority funding cuts’ and immigration law has become ‘more complex’. The report highlights ‘infrastructure challenges’ facing the sector including ‘a lack of trained advisors and a recruitment crisis’. ‘These changes have transformed the landscape of both demand for and supply of immigration advice,’ they argue. The study follows barrister Jo Wilding’s research on the supply side of the market for immigration and asylum legal aid services – see here.

London has four out of 10 of the number of offices holding legal aid contracts in England and Wales, and more than half of the offices which are registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) to offer non-fee charging services at the highest level of advice and casework. It is a criminal offence to provide immigration advice unless an adviser is either OISC accredited or else appropriately legally qualified.

Read more: Jon Robins, Justice Gap,

UNHCR: World Leaders Must Act to Reverse Trend of Soaring Displacement

Despite the pandemic, the number of people fleeing wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations in 2020 rose to nearly 82.4 million people, according to UNHCR’s latest annual Global Trends report released today in Geneva. This is a further four per cent increase on top of the already record-high 79.5 million at the end of 2019.

The report shows that by the end of 2020 there were 20.7 million refugees under UNHCR mandate, 5.7 million Palestine refugees and 3.9 million Venezuelans displaced abroad. Another 48 million people were internally displaced (IDPs) within their own countries. A further 4.1 million were asylum-seekers. These numbers indicate that despite the pandemic and calls for a global ceasefire, conflict continued to chase people from their homes.

“Behind each number is a person forced from their home and a story of displacement, dispossession and suffering. They merit our attention and support not just with humanitarian aid, but in finding solutions to their plight.”

Read more: UNHCR,

Should People Displaced by Climate Change be Considered Refugees?

No matter how devastating may be epidemic, natural disaster or famine, a person fleeing them is not a refugee within the terms of the Convention: A v Minister for Immigration & Ethnic Affairs [1997] HCA 4 (Aus HC). As the High Court of Australia highlights in the quote above, there are many, many people around the world in dire need of help who do not fall within the legal definition of a refugee under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. A quarter of a century on, we might add victims of climate change to the long list of the excluded. So-called “climate refugees” are barely mentioned in the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees, a vastly less consequential document when it comes to refugee protection, and even then only tangentially (“climate, environmental degradation and natural disasters increasingly interact with the drivers of refugee movements”).

The issue is more prominently addressed in the Global Compact for Migration, also adopted at the UN in 2018, which explicitly recognises that both sudden-onset and slow-onset natural disasters and environmental degradation are important reasons driving international displacement. Displacement due to environmental factors is certainly becoming more salient: at the time of writing, more people were being forced from their homes by sudden-onset disasters alone than by conflict and violence. Estimates on the number of people displaced by environmental impacts by 2050 have varied between 25 million and 1 billion, a range which primarily highlights the problems in making such predictions.

Even the term “climate refugee” is controversial, as hinted at by the somewhat grudging nod to the concept in the Global Compact on Refugees.

Read more: Freemovement,



Challenging Reporting Conditions

If you have made an immigration application or have claimed asylum you may have to report (sign) at the Home Office at a specified time each week, two weeks, or month or sometimes less regularly than this.

If you are asked to report, this is usually at the nearest immigration office to you – either a branch of the Home Office, or an immigration desk at a nearby police station.

At these appointments, you may just be asked to sign your name. Sometimes, the immigration officer may ask you questions. Although the appointment might only last a matter of minutes, you are also at risk of being detained at one of these appointments.

Migrants Organise have produced a checklist to help you see if your reporting requirements are appropriate to your situation. If the requirements aren’t appropriate, you may be able to challenge them. They have also produced a longer guide for advisers/caseworkers who are supporting people with reporting requirements.

Read more: Right to Remain,

Sri Lanka Country Guidance Restated

KK and RS (Sur place activities, risk) Sri Lanka (CG) [2021] UKUT 130 (IAC) (27 May 2021). In broad terms, GJ and Others (post-civil war: returnees) Sri Lanka CG [2013] UKUT 319 (IAC) still accurately reflects the situation facing returnees to Sri Lanka. However, in material respects, it is appropriate to clarify and supplement the existing guidance, with particular reference to sur place activities.

(1) The current Government of Sri Lanka (“GoSL”) is an authoritarian regime whose core focus is to prevent any potential resurgence of a separatist movement within Sri Lanka which has as its ultimate goal the establishment of Tamil Eelam.

(2) GoSL draws no material distinction between, on the one hand, the avowedly violent means of the LTTE in furtherance of Tamil Eelam, and non-violent political advocacy for that result on the other. It is the underlying aim which is crucial to GoSL’s perception. To this extent, GoSL’s interpretation of separatism is not limited to the pursuance thereof by violent means alone; it encompasses the political sphere as well.

(3) Whilst there is limited space for pro-Tamil political organisations to operate within Sri Lanka, there is no tolerance of the expression of avowedly separatist or perceived separatist beliefs.

(4) GoSL views the Tamil diaspora with a generally adverse mindset, but does not regard the entire cohort as either holding separatist views or being politically active in any meaningful way.

(5) Sur place activities on behalf of an organisation proscribed under the 2012 UN Regulations is a relatively significant risk factor in the assessment of an individual’s profile, although its existence or absence is not determinative of risk. Proscription will entail a higher degree of adverse interest in an organisation and, by extension, in individuals known or perceived to be associated with it. In respect of organisations which have never been proscribed and the organisation that remains de-proscribed, it is reasonably likely that there will, depending on whether the organisation in question has, or is perceived to have, a separatist agenda, be an adverse interest on the part of GoSL, albeit not at the level applicable to proscribed groups.

(6) The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (“TGTE”) is an avowedly separatist organisation which is currently proscribed. It is viewed by GoSL with a significant degree of hostility and is perceived as a “front” for the LTTE. Global Tamil Forum (“GTF”) and British Tamil Forum (“BTF”) are also currently proscribed and whilst only the former is perceived as a “front” for the LTTE, GoSL now views both with a significant degree of hostility.

(7) Other non-proscribed diaspora organisations which pursue a separatist agenda, such as Tamil Solidarity (“TS”), are viewed with hostility, although they are not regarded as “fronts” for the LTTE.

(8) GoSL continues to operate an extensive intelligence-gathering regime in the United Kingdom which utilises information acquired through the infiltration of diaspora organisations, the photographing and videoing of demonstrations, and the monitoring of the Internet and unencrypted social media. At the initial stage of monitoring and information gathering, it is reasonably likely that the Sri Lankan authorities will wish to gather more rather than less information on organisations in which there is an adverse interest and individuals connected thereto. Information gathering has, so far as possible, kept pace with developments in communication technology.

Read the full transcript: Bailli,