Deportation Terror Unleashed Against Tamil Community in Germany
The Tamil refugee community in Germany has been subjected to a wave of dawn raids and arrests during the past few days. Relatives and friends do not know their whereabouts, the detained have had their phones taken away from them and communications severed. Some people have been lured to come to the foreigners’ police with the promise of the 2-year visa – then arrested and put in detention.
We have found out that they are to be deported on the 30th March on a special plane to Sri Lanka. We have heard from various sources that 31 are being held in Düsseldorf, approximately 50 at Frankfurt and 11 in Stuttgart. No doubt the numbers will increase before the 30th. It is difficult to verify these numbers because the communications with the victims have been cut.
When you consider that the United Nations Human Rights Council has voted for a resolution (that Germany was involved in drafting) to have a UN team investigate serious and worsening human violations in Sri Lanka, it is easy to understand why the German authorities want to carry out this deportation with maximum stealth. The hypocrisy is startling. While on the 28th January the Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance for the German government, Bärbel Kofler (SPD) tweeted: ‘The report published by UN Human Rights Council yesterday is cause for grave concern about the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka. I am pleased that Germany remains committed to reconciliation and accountability, also through the Human Rights Council.’
Just a few days ago on the 23rd March, the UN Human Rights Council passed the German backed resolution calling for international investigations. The UN Human Rights Council has budgeted resources that would be required in 2021 and 2022 for the Office of the High Commissioner “to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka”. Amongst the resources identified were a “Senior Legal Advisor with experience in international criminal justice” that would “coordinate the processes of reviewing and sharing of information with national authorities for universal jurisdiction and extraterritorial jurisdiction cases”. Other legal advisors, analysts, human rights officers, Juris-Linguists were also budgeted for, with a total of US$2,856,300 requested.
So, Germany while supporting a team of investigators tasked with examining the gross and increasing violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, plans to, at the same time, deport a hundred or so Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka. Is this part of a special investigation process in the spirit of the Salem witch trials? Is it a test to see if the Tamil refugees, who are demonised in Sri Lanka, will be treated in the same way that Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa treated their compatriots in 2009? (see the verdict of the People’s Tribunal in Sri Lanka here).
We call urgently on all to send us a video or text statement, which can be publicised and also sent off to the Foreign Minister and Inner Minister. We must stop this atrocity.
Vielen Dank, Viraj Mendis
Internationaler Menschenrechtsverein Bremen (IMRV)
Tamil Community in Germany
Priti Patel’s ‘Cruel’ Asylum Overhaul
Thehome Secretary’s plans for a new asylum system would create a “dangerous and fragmented” process that places vulnerable refugees at risk of deportation at any time, it has been warned. As part of an overhaul of the immigration and asylum system, the home secretary is to unveil plans that will see genuine refugees who arrive in Britain via unauthorised routes denied an automatic right to asylum. Instead, they will be regularly reassessed for removal from the country, as well as having their family reunion rights and access to benefits limited.
The proposals have been touted as “firm but fair” by the government – but lawyers and charities warn the plans risk “tearing up refugee law” and would have the “cruel” effect of leaving traumatised people in a prolonged state of uncertainty. The majority of people granted refugee status in the UK arrive via unauthorised routes. In 2019, only around one in five grants of protection arrived through the government’s designated resettlement schemes.
Read more: May Bulman, Independent, https://is.gd/3X3ulI
Home Office Spends £13,354 per Person on Deportation Flights
The cost of removing people from the UK by charter flight during the last three months of 2020 was £13,354 per person – more than 100 times than the average cost of a ticket on a scheduled flight, and a 11.5% increase on the same period in the previous year. A freedom of information response obtained by the organisation No-Deportations stated that between October and December 2020 the Home Office spent £4.3m deporting 322 people on 23 charter flights – which amounts to £13,354 per deportee.
Many of the 23 charter flights the Home Office used in that period had fewer than 10 passengers onboard, and some as few as five. The Home Office said the small numbers flying were due to last-minute legal challenges by deportees. In the last three months of 2019 the cost of removal on a charter flight was equivalent to £11,975 per person.
The figures showed a tenfold increase in the number of people removed on charter flights, from 37 people in 2019 to 322 people in 2020, and a sixfold increase in the number of charter flights used, from four to 23. There was also an increased use of charter flights to EU countries at the end of 2020 before the Brexit deadline. Under EU membership there was a mechanism to return asylum seekers to the first safe European country they passed through, but this returns scheme is no longer available to the government.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/pFJvtq
A Child Cannot be Deported Before Final Determination of Their Asylum Claim
G (Appellant) v G (Respondent) – UKSC 2020/0191 - On appeal from the Court of Appeal Civil Division (England and Wales). G is an only child of divorced parents. Until February 2020, her parents lived near to each other in South Africa. However, after telling friends that she was lesbian, G’s mother began to experience persecution from her family in South Africa. As a result, she fled to England with G and made an application for asylum.
Upon discovering that G had been taken to England, G’s father made an application for her return under the 1980 Hague Convention. At first instance, Lieven J held that the father’s application for a return order should be stayed pending the determination of G’s mother’s asylum claim. The Court of Appeal considered that, in the circumstances, the High Court was not barred from determining the father’s application for a return order, nor was it barred from making such an order. The mother now appeals to the Supreme Court.
The issues are: (1) Does a child named as a dependent on a parent’s asylum application have any protection from refoulement? (2) Can a return order be made under the 1980 Hague Convention even where a child has protection from refoulement? (3) Should the High Court be slow to stay an application under the 1980 Hague Convention prior to determination of an application for asylum?
The Supreme Court substantially allows the mother’s appeal and holds that a child who can objectively be understood to be an applicant for asylum cannot be returned to the country from which he or she has sought refuge before the final determination of the asylum claim.
Source: Supreme Court, https://is.gd/TTMil1
Migrants Entering UK Illegally to be Liable for Removal at any Time
Migrants who arrive in the UK by small boats or other illegal routes will be indefinitely liable for removal even if they are granted asylum under punishing proposals to be announced by Priti Patel. In what the government is billing as the “biggest overhaul of the UK’s asylum system in decades”, the home secretary will announce on Wednesday that how people enter the UK will have a bearing on the progress of their asylum claim and their status if that claim is successful. Experts criticised the creation of a “two-tier” system that risked punishing people “forced to take extraordinary measures [without] a choice about how they seek safety”.
Patel will vow to make every effort to remove those who enter the UK via routes deemed illegal, having travelled through a safe country in which they “could and should have claimed asylum”, under the “New Plan for Immigration”. If it is not possible to remove them, migrants making successful claims having entered illegally will receive a new temporary protection status rather than an automatic right to settle – and will be regularly reassessed for removal from the UK. People entering illegally will be further punished with limited family reunion rights and limited access to benefits.
Read more: Jamie Grierson, Guardian, https://is.gd/bn7b4J
Migrant NHS Workers Should be Granted Indefinite Leave to Remain
Migrant workers have been essential to the operations of the NHS ever since its inception in 1948. Over the decades, many programmes have been used to encourage and find overseas workers and help them migrate to the UK to be employed in the healthcare system, demonstrating our governments acknowledgment of how important they are. As early as 1949, campaigns were made by the UK government in the Caribbean to recruit NHS staff, through advertisements in local newspapers.
However, throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic, many have argued that migrant workers have not been given the rightful respect or recognition in which they truly deserve. Many of them have been putting their lives on the line every single day fighting against a deadly virus, yet still face immigration insecurity.
There are currently 170,000 overseas NHS workers from 200 countries residing within the UK, many of which have to apply every year for five years to renew their work visas. Some are required to have employers provide certificates of sponsorship for them, and if they do not, then they can be deported at any time despite their critical service to the country. These certificates are necessary for those applying for skilled worker visas, to prove that the conditions of the visa have been met. If they are not signed it becomes increasingly difficult for migrants to apply for the visa needed to remain in the UK. As the pandemic has raged on since March 2020, support for a Private Member’s Bill which would grant migrant NHS workers indefinite leave to remain has grown.
What Must Be Done
Support for migrant NHS workers must be given during this period. The impact that the current crisis has had on their lives has been unprecedented. The lack of commitment by the Government to protecting their immigration status in these circumstances has had a serious impact on morale, as for many that was the light at the end of the tunnel for their anxieties and worries. In an interview, Eva Omondi, an NHS migrant worker, stated that the current environment is “emotionally draining” and that she feels “betrayed” by the governments lack of dedication to supporting healthcare workers. Some workers have also reported fears that catching COVID may lead to their deportation, as the potential of the inability to work would put their immigration status at serious risk. For frontline workers during a pandemic, this is inhumane. No worker who is putting their life at risk should be punished for contracting a deadly virus.
Without clear support for the Bill being demonstrated, the Government could continue to delay the process of second and third readings. This would extend past the March 31st deadline for the visa extensions, leaving many migrant workers once again in insecure environments with no security.
Moral debates have been popular during the pandemic crisis. Many people have argued that doing what is right morally is necessary. In this case, it is the Government’s moral obligation to reward migrant NHS workers for their vital service. Whilst it may be argued that the Government and an immigration system should not ‘reward’ or ‘punish’ migrants, the reality is that the Government encourages migrants to prove themselves before becoming citizens, whether it be through a test to demonstrate language proficiency and cultural knowledge, or through being able to find employment.
Under this umbrella, it is clear that migrant healthcare workers are definitely ‘proving themselves’ through put their life on the line during this pandemic. If this sort of service is not enough for the Government to grant indefinite leave to remain, then it is difficult to see what would be. It is evident that the measures proposed in this Bill are the right thing to do.
Source: Aaron Gates-Lincoln, Imminews, https://is.gd/5eThB6
Three British-Bangladeshis Win Appeal Against Removal of UK Citizenship
Three British-Bangladeshis said to have travelled to Syria to join Islamic State (Isis) have won a legal challenge against the stripping of their British citizenship after a tribunal ruled the move left them stateless. Two women who were born in the UK, known only as C3 and C4, had their British citizenship removed in November 2019 on the grounds of national security. C7, a man born in Bangladesh who became a British citizen at birth, also had his British citizenship revoked in March 2020 on the basis that he had “aligned” with Isis and was a threat to UK national security. All three appealed against the removal of their British citizenship at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission – a specialist tribunal that hears challenges to decisions to remove someone’s British citizenship on national security grounds.
In a ruling, Mr Justice Chamberlain said: “C3, C4 and C7 have persuaded us that, on the dates when the decisions and the orders in their cases were made, they were not nationals of Bangladesh or any other state apart from the UK. This means that orders depriving them of their British citizenship would make them stateless.” The judge added: “The secretary of state had no power to make orders with that effect. For that reason – and that reason alone – the appeals against the decisions to make those orders succeed.” The Home Office will comply with the terms of the court’s decision, the Guardian understands.
Read more: Jamie Grierson, Guardian, https://is.gd/XFfbeW
Black British Five-Year-Old Takes Home Office to High Court Over Benefits Ban
A five-year-old black British child has taken the Home Office to the high court arguing that officials are racially discriminating against families such as his own by denying access to the welfare safety net. Lawyers representing the boy argued in court on Wednesday that the Home Office’s no recourse to public funds (NRPF) policy, which denies some groups of migrants access to benefits, is unlawful because children with migrant parents cannot access protection from homelessness, hunger and destitution. They say the policy of denying benefits to this group of children is creating “an underclass of black British children”.
The boy, who cannot be identified, was born in the UK and is being supported in the legal challenge by his Zimbabwean-born mother, who came to the UK in 2004 and has leave to remain. She has a low-paid zero-hours contract job working for a charity supporting children and young people. Last year she was unable to work during lockdown when her son’s hours at school were reduced. She was homeless at times while she was pregnant with her son. The boy’s lawyers argued that by failing to monitor the impact of NRPF on people of colour, the home secretary is in breach of her legal duty to promote equality and is failing to assess “the differential impacts of the policy on British children of foreign parents, on non-white British children and on single mothers and their children”.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/B1Cql1