Home Office Threatens Hunger Strikers With ‘Expedited’ Deportation to Rwanda
Asylum seekers who went on hunger strike over plans to send them to Rwanda have been threatened with faster deportation by the Home Office if they do not eat. At least 17 people from Syria, Egypt and Sudan, who are being held at the Brook House immigration removal centre near Gatwick airport, began the protest when they were told they would be sent to Rwanda on 14 June as part of a controversial new scheme.
In a letter seen by the Guardian, one was threatened with deportation even sooner if they did not stop their hunger strike.
In a warning that could be interpreted as a threat to the wider group, it said: “Your refusal of food and/or fluids will not necessarily lead to your removal directions being deferred. In the interests of your health and safety we may prioritise your removal from detention and the UK.” The letter said the welfare of the person was “of real concern to the Home Office”.
In a statement, some of the hunger strikers said they had been detained in Libya but had not expected the same treatment in the UK. “I just want to be safe and free. I’m not a criminal,” one said. “Why did the UK put me in prison. I have no connection with Rwanda. Why would the UK send me there?”
Read more: Diane Taylor and Matthew Weaver, Guardian, https://rb.gy/ezed4m
Hostile Environment Policies Have Put Migrants’ Lives at Risk During Covid-19
Hostile environment policies and failures in government decision-making have exacerbated the impact of Covid-19 on migrants particularly those with insecure immigration status, according to migrants’ rights campaigners calling on the government to ensure the inquiry into the pandemic examines ‘flaws’ in the immigration system. In a new report, the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) highlight how the Home Office’s anti-migrant approach has exposed migrants to ‘increased risk from Covid, undermined wider public health efforts and introduced greater dysfunctionality into an already-broken immigration system’.
Earlier in the month Baroness Hallett, chair of the Covid-19 inquiry, wrote to the Prime Minister recommending changes to the draft terms of reference to ensure that the unequal impact of the pandemic was at the forefront of its work. PILC and JCWI’s report documents how anti-migrant policies and processes ‘including the No Recourse to Public Funds regime, right-to-rent and work checks, NHS data sharing and charging, the asylum accommodation system, and inhumane immigration enforcement measures’ have made it more difficult for migrants’ to access essential support during Covid-19.
Read more: Jon Robins, Justice Gap, https://rb.gy/jzpvjd
Things are Looking up for Undocumented Migrant Children
In the States, they’re known as “Dreamers”. Children and young people who grow up perfectly integrated, only to find out that — through no fault of their own — they’re actually unauthorised migrants. Here in the UK, children who are British in every sense but legal can at least regularise on the basis of long residence: seven years for under-18s, or half their life for those aged 18-24 inclusive.
Securing immigration status under these “private life” rules is only the beginning: they still have to serve a probationary period of ten years before being able to apply for indefinite leave to remain and come out of the immigration system altogether. All this can profoundly affect identity and mental health: Anna Shekan and Roopa Tanna, my guests on the podcast this month, refer to a process of “de-integration”, as kids effectively become immigrants for the first time.
But things are improving for these British Dreamers. A concession announced last October allowed some 18-24s to apply for settlement on the half of life route after five years rather than ten. That was followed by new Immigration Rules on faster settlement for both under-18s and 18-24s, which come into force next month.
Combined with yesterday’s announcement on free British citizenship for poor children, all this adds up to — whisper it softly — a substantial liberalisation of the rules for undocumented kids.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/g2nkaz
Missing Grounds Not Necessarily Fatal to Upper Tribunal Appeal Application
If your asylum or immigration application is refused by the Home Office, and you have a right of appeal, your appeal will be heard in the First-Tier Tribunal (FTT). If you lose your appeal at the FTT, you may be able to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. But you have to get permission to appeal.
The first step is to apply to the FTT to grant this permission. If the FTT refuses to grant permission, then there is a short space of time – 14 days – for you to renew your application for permission to appeal directly to the Upper Tribunal. Meeting this time limit can be a real challenge: it involves reassessing, and often redrafting, the grounds of appeal in order to persuade an Upper Tribunal judge that you have identified an error of law by the FTT that is arguable and capable of making a material difference to the outcome of the case.
The Upper Tribunal procedure rules set out what must be included in an application for permission to appeal. Rule 21(4)(e) stipulates that the “application must state… the grounds on which the appellant relies”.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/ea73yy
Hungary: Use of Handcuffs and Leash on Asylum Seeker - Violation of Articles 3 & 5
The case H.M. and Others v. Hungary (application no. 38967/17) concerned an Iraqi family’s detention in a transit zone at the border between Hungary and Serbia after fleeing Iraq.
In today’s Chamber judgment, Thursday 2nd June 2022, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights on account of the conditions the mother and children had faced during their four-month-long stay in the transit zone. The Court also considered that the use of handcuffs and leash on the father when accompanying his wife to a hospital appointment had not been justified.
In addition, it held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 5 §§ 1 (right to liberty and security) and 4 (right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court) of the Convention because there had been no legal basis for the family’s detention, and they had not had any way of having their situation examined speedily by a court.
Source: HUDOC, https://rb.gy/u0cvol
World’s Ten Most Neglected Crises Are All In Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is once again the world’s most neglected displacement crisis according to the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) annual analysis. For the first time, the top 10 list is comprised entirely of African countries.
The annual list of neglected displacement crises is based on three criteria: lack of funding, lack of media attention, and lack of international political and diplomatic initiatives. The DRC is followed by Burkina Faso, Cameroon, South Sudan, Chad, Mali, Sudan, Nigeria, Burundi, and Ethiopia.
“That the world’s most neglected crises are all in Africa points to the chronic failure of decision makers, donors and the media to address conflict and human suffering on this continent,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, launching?the report?today.?“With the all-absorbing war in Europe’s Ukraine, I fear African suffering will be pushed further into the shadows.”
Read more: Relief Web, https://rb.gy/l298ob
New Home Office Statistics Show Asylum Claims at Highest Level Since 2003
Asylum claims in the year ending March 2022 increased to reach 55,146, which is the highest annual figure since 2003.
As noted by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, the Home Office statistics also showed that the asylum backlog continues to increase, reaching almost 110,000 people at the end of March 2022.
The Refugee Council noted: "At the end of March 2022, 109,735 people were waiting for an outcome on their initial claim for asylum. Of these, 73,207 (67%) have been waiting for more than 6 months, up from 50,084 this time last year."
Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said in response to the figures: "It is desperately worrying to see just how sharply the backlog of people waiting for a decision on their asylum application has risen over the past few years. This leaves thousands of vulnerable men, women and children trapped in limbo, adults banned from working, living hand to mouth on less than £6 a day, and left not knowing what their future holds. This backlog is entirely the government's own making, as they have allowed it to steadily increase over a number of years and have then used it to frame the asylum system as 'broken'."
The Home Office noted that 75% of the 14,603 initial decisions made in the year ending March 2022 resulted in a grant asylum or humanitarian protection, the highest recognition rate since 1990. Of the top ten nationalities applying for asylum, half have a grant rate above 80%.
Read more: Electronic Immigration Network, https://rb.gy/hxlujz
‘Living in Constant Fear’ Impact of Immigration Reporting Conditions on Families and Children in Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) explained: "[R]eporting is a system of immigration control imposed on people, requiring them to "sign" regularly in person. For people in the North West this means going to Dallas Court in Salford, at a time and frequency determined by the Home Office. Each time, they fear being detained. We have spoken to people about the impact this is having on children, young people and families in our city-region. We found, largely hidden from view, that there are children in Greater Manchester living in fear that their parents will leave home and never come back, children who are missing school because of their parent's reporting appointments, young people living under threat of deportation, and families forced to use limited income to pay travel expenses to Dallas Court."
Through Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests, GMIAU found that 65,190 people in the UK are subject to a reporting condition, 133 of whom are children under 18. In Greater Manchester, 1,340 people are currently reporting at Dallas Court.
Read more: Electronic Immigration Network, https://rb.gy/r40u2r
Children Can Now Apply For a Waiver of Citizenship Fees
Families who can’t afford British citizenship for their children can now get it for free. A new “citizenship fee waiver for individuals under 18” policy was published today. It allows under-18s to apply to have the £1,012 fee on applications for registration as a British citizen waived. The policy applies where the fee is unaffordable because paying it would compromise the child’s essential living needs, although lots of supporting evidence is required.
In February this year, the Supreme Court found that the government was entitled to set the child citizenship fee at a level it chooses, even if unaffordable. The silver lining for campaigners was that the ruling left undisturbed the lower courts’ finding that the government had failed to take the best interests of children into account when setting the fee. The Home Office was still required to review the fee in light of that statutory duty, even if there was no particular hope that it would lead to major reform.
But major reform we have.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/00degr