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News & Views Monday 22nd February to Sunday 28th  February 2021


Stop the Deportaion of Birmingham Gay Activist Espoir Njei

A Birmingham LGBT asylum seeker fears she will be arrested or even killed if deported back to Cameroon by the Home Office. Espoir Njei claimed asylum when she first arrived in the UK three years ago but is still waiting for the life or death' decision to grant her refugee status. She was told that she would have to prove her sexuality and has since become involved in LGBT rights activism - appearing on TV. However, she fears her high-profile could see her targeted for arrest - or worse - if she is deported back to her home country.

She said: "I came to the UK three years ago from Cameroon because I was fleeing prosecution because of my sexuality. "It is punishable by our legal system. You are imprisoned and have to pay a huge fine, but it doesn't end there. If you are caught by your friends or family, there is a punishment called mob beating, where you might be killed. Tires could also be put over you, and you will be burned, but no one says a word because you are a lesbian or gay, and this is the rule. They see it as a white man thing. I have recently received threats that tell me that whatever I am doing must stay in the UK, in the 'white man country' and don't come back to Cameroon." Cameroon is one of more than 70 countries where homosexuality is still illegal.

Things you can do to stop the deportation of Espoir Njei

1) Sign Espoir's online petition: Espoir must stay Gay activist Espoir Njei prays for safety as she waits for her asylum decision. It is illegal to be LGBT in Cameroon with five years imprisonment. Many are murdered for just being who that is. Fellow human rights activist Peter Tatchell said, "I first met Espoir in 2018 when we attended a rally at Westminster abbey against homophobia in the commonwealth; Cameroon is unsafe for all LGBT people, especially for LGBT people like Espoir" The name Espoir means hope.

Sign Here - https://is.gd/SSQ0kI

2) Write to your MP and inform them of Espoir's plight

3) Write to your Councilor ask them to support Espoir

‘No Moral Justification’ For 23-Hour a Day Curfews Imposed on Asylum Seekers

23-hour a day curfews imposed on asylum seekers may be unlawful, according to a legal challenge. Lawyers argue that asylum seekers housed in hotels by the Home Office are being falsely imprisoned and deprived of their liberty contrary to Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The asylum seeker bringing the legal action has been forbidden from leaving his hotel accommodation for more than one hour per day since he was first housed there in January 2021.

As a result, he is only able to carry out permitted activities such as essential shopping and exercise if he returns within a strict one-hour time frame. He has been informed that if he takes any longer, this will be reported to the Home Office, and could have an adverse effect on his asylum claim.

Security guards positioned at the front door keep tabs on time, demanding that all asylum seekers leaving the hotel sign in and out. The guards also question the residents as to their reasons for wanting to leave, and check their bags upon return. Other asylum seekers housed in London hotels have shown The Guardian letters which threaten to report any rule-breakers to the police.

Read more: Zoe Darling, Justice Gap, https://is.gd/kNs4Us 

17 Human Rights Groups Boycotting the Government’s Prevent Review

Leading human rights groups including Liberty, Amnesty International and the Runnymede Trust have announced a boycott into a pending review of the Government’s Prevent Strategy. The controversial counter-extremism programme, which was introduced in the wake of the 2005 London bombings, has frequently been criticised as discriminatory to Muslim communities.

Under the scheme there is a statutory duty for all public sector workers – such as teachers and doctors – to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. In practice, this has led to cases of schools calling the police on children as young as four, for having toy guns or talking about video games. There have also been concerns that teachers have received confusing guidance on the strategy, while others said it spreads “fear and distrust”. Several groups have called for the policy to be scrapped, adding that it was now a “toxic brand”.

Read more: Each Other,

Black Lives Matter UK to Fund 'People's Tribunal' for Deaths in Custody

BLMUK has announced £45,000 of funding to the United Families and Friends Campaign to set up a “people’s tribunal” for deaths in custody. The coalition group of family members who have lost loved ones in state custody, formed in 1997, is so far the largest recipient of Black Lives Matter UK’s initial round of funding. Black Lives Matter UK announced last month its plan to release more than £100,000 to black-led organisations across the country.

The campaign group received £1.2m in donations via a GoFundMe appeal, following widespread protests last summer. The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC), which supports families of people who have died in police custody, prisons and secure medical units, has welcomed the support of Black Lives Matter UK, which will be active partners in the tribunal. UFFC said the tribunal will invite international human rights experts to investigate what they describe as the failure to successfully prosecute those responsible for deaths in custody.

A 2017 government report on deaths in custody stated that every prosecution over a death in custody in the last 15 years had ended in an acquittal. The tribunal will hear evidence from families and other relevant parties. UFFC is leading the initiative with Migrant Media and 4WardEverUK.

Read more: Aamna Mohdin, Guardian, https://is.gd/8vEklI 

Pathway to British Citizenship for European Nationals in the UK

Ever since the Brexit vote in June 2016, EU citizens in the United Kingdom have been turning their attention to applications for British citizenship. Foreign nationals who have been living in the UK for five years can apply to “naturalise” as British — but there are other requirements which can complicate things. How do you naturalise as a British citizen?

The main requirements to naturalise as a British citizen are that the applicant must be: 18 or over - of “good character” - have an intention to continue to live in the UK - meet the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements - meet the residency requirement. Of these, it is often the residency requirement which causes the most confusion and the most problems. This article will consider residency in detail, as well as touching on the good character requirement due to recent issues with Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.

Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/J3yz5T



Stop the Deportation of Osime Brown

Osime Brown – a Black 21-year-old autistic man with learning disabilities – is facing deportation from his home in Britain to Jamaica. He was imprisoned in 2018 under the joint enterprise act for the theft of a mobile phone, and lost his leave to remain. The Home Office now intends to deport Brown from his home in Britain to Jamaica, a country he left when he was four years old.

Throughout his tumultuous life, Brown has been systematically failed by the services that were supposed to protect him – the education, health and social care, and criminal justice systems. Brown has a learning disability, has high support needs, and now suffers from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his distress.

Regarding the Home Office’s plan to deport her son to Jamaica, Brown’s mother said: He doesn’t have anybody there. He hasn’t been back to Jamaica, he doesn’t know Jamaica. When he found out the Home Office wanted to remove him he said: “Mum, is there a bus that I can come back on?” His removal would be a death sentence. She told the Independent:

Read more: ‘The Canary’, https://is.gd/9nSLy6

Fewer Than One in Six ‘Hostile Environment’ Raids Led to Deportations

Fewer than one in six of more than 44,000 “intelligence-led” Home Office immigration enforcement raids on people’s homes since the introduction of the “hostile environment” policy have resulted in deportations, according to data obtained by the Guardian. According to a freedom of information (FoI) response provided to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants by the Home Office, between 2015 and 2019 there were 44,225 raids on private homes resulting in just 7,578 people deported.

There were also 190 raids carried out on care homes resulting in just 37 care workers removed from the UK. Mary Atkinson, campaigns officer at JCWI, said: “These figures show just how out of control the hostile environment has become. Carers are being arrested in the middle of their shifts, often as they look after elderly and vulnerable people – it is difficult to see who could possibly benefit from that.

Ours is a government relentlessly pursuing an anti-immigration agenda, regardless of the harm it causes – in this case, to some of the very same carers whose hard work and sacrifice has been rightly applauded throughout this pandemic. “It’s time the Home Office scrapped the hostile environment and prioritised keeping people safe, instead of perpetuating a cruel set of immigration laws which cause needless harm to our communities.”

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/1mRNI0 

UK's £1,000 Child Citizenship Fee Ruled Unlawful by Appeal Court

Home Office fees of £1,000 for children to register as British citizens are unlawful, the court of appeal has upheld in a landmark ruling. The high fees that children or their parents are expected to pay to secure British citizenship have been controversial for many years. Children who have a right to register as British citizens but may be prevented from doing so due to the high cost or lack of access to legal advice risk losing out on rights and benefits.

Thursday’s 18th February, ruling found that ministers had failed to assess and consider the impact of this fee on children and their rights, pointing out that for some families it was “difficult to see how the fee could be afforded at all”. The Home Office charges £1,012 for a child to register for citizenship. However, the process costs about a third of that, at £372. The Home Office says the profit is used to fund other areas of its work. In December 2019 a high court judge ruled that the fee was unlawful after finding it prevented many children from being registered for citizenship, leaving them feeling “alienated, second-best and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the UK”.

The Home Office appealed against the high court’s ruling that the department had failed in its duty to assess the best interests of children and give primary consideration to these interests in setting the fee. The court of appeal rejected this appeal and the department must now reconsider the fee and ensure that children’s best interests are taken fully into account in doing so.

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Justice Secretary Hails Attack on Migrants’ Article 3 and Human Trafficking Rights

The government wants to restrict the ability of migrants to resist removal from the UK by invoking their right not to suffer inhuman or degrading treatment, the Justice Secretary has said. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Robert Buckland “confirmed plans to restrict the use of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights” in immigration and asylum cases. These plans are “confirmed” rather than “revealed” because the same outlet reported plans for an attack on Article 3 rights last year.

The idea is to put the government’s interpretation of what constitutes “torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” into legislation. If this sounds familiar, that’s because the idea is “modelled on restrictions introduced six years ago which reined in Article 8 of the Human Rights Act” (i.e. section 19 of the Immigration Act 2014). Among other things, Article 3 protects seriously ill migrants who would face intense suffering for lack of medical treatment in the country of removal.

Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/cVxdIz 

Grace Period for Overstayers Cannot be Relied on Twice

The grace period for overstayers in paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules cannot be relied on twice. This, in short, is the conclusion of the Court of Appeal in Kalsi & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWCA Civ 184. Exception for overstayers: The rules for most types of visa require that the person must not already be in the UK in breach of the immigration laws, unless paragraph 39E applies.

This paragraph allows a period of overstaying to be disregarded when making a new application. It says: We are concerned here with the second subparagraph, and in particular the part highlighted in bold. This provision is necessary because, following an unsuccessful administrative review, you instantly become an overstayer. It is therefore impossible to make an application before expiry of your visa. Paragraph 39E(2) gives you 14 days’ grace in this situation.

Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/ktsXSk 

Indefinite Leave to Remain Can be Revoked, but Not Cancelled 

  The claimant, C1, was granted ILR in July 2017 and travelled to Iran in November 2018. Shortly afterwards, the Home Secretary cancelled his ILR and made a decision to exclude him from the UK. C1 re-entered the UK last April by crossing the Channel on a small vessel. He was served with a notice informing him he was an “illegal entrant” and has been detained in HMP Belmarsh since then. C1 also has a case pending before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, presumably because his case raises national security issues.

ILR cannot be cancelled: In this High Court judicial review, C1’s lawyers came up with a technical argument that the Home Office could not cancel his leave under Article 13(7) of the 2000 Order because that only allows for cancellation of limited leave to remain. Mr Justice Jay agreed, finding that C1’s leave had not been validly cancelled: I have not found this question at all easy to resolve. I have made the point that the substantive provisions of Article 13 apply to ILR, and I would add that if limited non-lapsing leave may be cancelled it would seem anomalous that ILR cannot be. Ultimately, however, I have concluded that Article 13(7) does not permit the cancellation of ILR.

Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/UhAXdG


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