News & Views Monday 5th July to Sunday 11 July 2021


Priti Patel’s New Borders Bill - Xenophobic, Anti Refugee/Asylum Seeker

The new borders bills is a xenophobic, anti refugee bill that will cost misery to tens of thousands of people and pointless billions to administer . The plans for the removal of asylum seekers to off shore asylum processing centres in the Ascension islands, disused ferries and abandoned oil rigs means men, women and children being left in limbo for years, out of sight and out of mind with no scope for embarrassing headlines. Human beings will be judged by how they entered the U.K. , rather than the dangers they face from countries they fled. The UK doesn’t actually have a refugee “problem” – the numbers coming in each year are low (one third of the numbers in 2003) and falling – not rising. Most of the “migrants” who “knowingly” arrive in the U.K. “without permission” are genuine refugees according to the HO’s own statistics.

The broken asylum system has nothing to do with asylum seekers and everything to do with years of neglect by Ministers of HO systems and processes. This in turn has led to delays for months and years for those seeking asylum from countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, all countries with known records of human rights abuses and persecution. The human smugglers only “flourish” because Europe is blocking centuries old migration routes and making crossings ever more dangerous. Harsher sentences will not stop human smuggling , the provision of safe routes will. By punishing countries who refuse to take their citizens back with controls on visa availability, existing refugees from those countries are held to ransom.

Read more: Robina Qureshi, Positive Action in Housing,

Home Secretary Must Bring Back Asylum Seeker She Deported

In a ruling published on Tuesday, the day that Patel launched her nationality and borders bill, which she hopes will make it easier to remove asylum seekers who arrive in small boats, Mr Justice Wall ordered that the home secretary use her “best endeavours” to bring back a 38-year-old Sudanese asylum seeker from Darfur who can only be identified by the initials AA. AA passed through Libya, where he says he was sold into slavery and tortured when he was en route to Europe after escaping persecution in his home country. Expert reports submitted to the high court found he had nine of the 11 indicators of trafficking and scarring and other indicators of torture.

He arrived in a small boat from France on 4 June 2020 and claimed asylum. He was sent back to France on 12 August 2020, where he was left destitute and homeless and told to leave the country within a month. He was found to have been subjected to a shortened asylum screening interview on arrival in the UK, a departure from the previous policy to ask questions such as “please outline your journey to the UK” which could identify information such as transit through Libya where many asylum seekers are enslaved. The judge ordered that he be brought back to the UK so that his trafficking claim can be investigated. It was not investigated by officials prior to his forced removal from the UK due to the way he was asked questions during his Home Office interview on arrival in the UK.

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Asylum Queue Nine Times Longer Than 10 Years Ago

The number of migrants waiting in the UK for their asylum claims to be processed was nine times higher by the end of last year than it was in 2010. There are currently 65,000 people in the queue, official figures obtained by the Refugee Council suggest. The Home Office said it had a plan to "fix the broken asylum system"The figures show: The number of people waiting for an initial decision for more than a year rose almost tenfold from 3,588 in 2010 to 33,016 in 2020. The number of children awaiting an initial decision for more than a year rose more than twelvefold from 563 children in 2010 to 6,887 in 2020 and 55 applicants who applied as children have been waiting five years or more for a decision..

Read more: BBC News,

Immigration Tribunal Can Reject Expert Evidence

The Court of Appeal has ruled that an immigration tribunal is not obliged to accept the conclusions of an expert witness. The case of MS (Zimbabwe) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWCA Civ 941 confirms that a tribunal is required to reach its own conclusions. In doing so, it may accept guidance from an expert, but does not have to.

The case involved a challenge against MS’s refugee status being stripped from him after he was imprisoned for eight years for robbery. He succeeded initially but the Home Office won on appeal to the Upper Tribunal. The argument at the Court of Appeal was whether the Upper Tribunal had given adequate reasons for contradicting the expert report and drawing its own conclusions.

Never be afraid to question an expert on how they arrived at a particular conclusion. A good expert will have no difficulty breaking down the report and explaining how they came up with a particular opinion. If it doesn’t make sense to you, it probably won’t make sense to a judge either.

Read more: Freemovement,

Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - July 2021

Deteriorated Situations: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Sudan, Eswatini, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Peru, Yemen, Libya

The Taliban sustained their major offensive in Afghanistan, seizing more than 50 district centres, mostly in the north and north east, and killing hundreds of Afghan security forces personnel. Tensions increased in Libya between rival armed coalitions, and the Islamic State launched its first attack since May 2020, killing six fighters aligned with Field Marshal Haftar. Suspected jihadists carried out their deadliest attack in Burkina Faso since 2015, killing 160 and displacing thousands. Peru’s closely contested presidential poll fuelled tensions as right-wing supporters rejected the official results, amid calls for the military to intervene. Violent anti-monarchy protests broke out in Eswatini as demonstrators clashed with security forces, reportedly leaving scores dead.

CrisisWatch Warns of One Conflict Risk in July. - In Yemen, after intensifying their military campaign in Marib governorate in the past few weeks, the Huthis could soon launch an all-out offensive that might trigger mass displacement and cut off energy supplies.

Read more: Crisis Watch,

Asylum Seekers Still Without Cash Cards Five Weeks After Botched Contract Transfer

Thousands of asylum seekers across the UK have been without working cash cards for over a month after their financial support was cut off due to a botched Home Office contract transfer. Lawyers have told The Independent they are launching legal action over the failure to ensure families receive their weekly allowance, warning that the human rights of asylum seekers are being breached “continuously and egregiously” as a result. Charities are meanwhile calling for an independently conducted investigation into the causes of the ongoing issues, and for the Home Office to apologise to those who have been left facing destitution.

More than 11,000 asylum seekers, who have no right to work, stopped receiving their weekly subsistence payments on 24 May after their new Aspen cards – a form of debit card issued to asylum seekers so they can buy basic supplies – either failed to work or did not arrive. The issue arose following a transfer of the Home Office’s Aspen card contract from facilities management company Sodexo to financial technology firm Prepaid Financial Services, which meant asylum seekers were to receive new cash cards on 24 May.

Read more; May Bulman, Indpendent,

Migrants Seeking Asylum who Arrive in the UK Without Permission Facing Jail

The Home Secretary has announced that migrants seeking to cross the English Channel on small boats, and the people-smugglers enabling them, are to face more severe prison sentence in a bid to deter illegal crossings. The move is part of the Nationality and Borders Bill, and is intended to fix the UK’s “broken asylum system” Priti Patel said. The proposed legislation, which will receive its first reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday, will make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission. Doing so, if the proposed legislation is approved, will carry a maximum prison sentence of four years, up from six months. Those found guilty of smuggling people across the Channel will also face stricter punishment – life in prison – up from a maximum of 14 years. A clause within the proposed legislation seeks to broaden the offence of arriving unlawfully so that it includes arrival as well as entry into the UK, which will allow those who are intercepted in UK territorial waters to be prosecuted.

Read more: Celine Wadhera, Independent,

Four Out of Five Rejected Trafficking Claims Overturned in UK Last Year

Maya Esslemont, the director of the data-mapping organisation After Exploitation, which obtained the figures through a freedom of information request, said: “Survivors are routinely denied trafficking support, such as safe housing, medical support or psychological help, even when they are entitled to it. Delays in providing assistance are not just inconveniences, but life-threatening failures which can leave survivors at risk of destitution, reprisals from traffickers, and repeat exploitation.”

Four out of five rejected human trafficking claims challenged in the UK last year were overturned, according to newly obtained figures that have raised concerns that poor decision-making is putting lives at risk. Out of 325 claims in the Home Office-run national referral mechanism (NRM) scheme that were appealed, 255 were reversed. They represent a significant number when compared with the 1,213 rejected trafficking claims in total last year, although the figures cannot be directly compared, as some of the appeals may relate to decisions made in previous years. There are also concerns that some survivors and victims do not appeal because they lack guidance on how to do so.

Read more: Haroon Siddique, Guardian,