CoA Sets Out Principles for Article 8 Entry Clearance Cases
In Secretary of State for the Home Department v SS (Congo) and Others,  EWCA Civ 387 the Court of Appeal concluded that, following the Court's earlier decision in R (on the application of MM (Lebanon)) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 985, there could still be cases where Article 8 ECHR might require that an individual who did not meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules should still be granted leave to enter (LTE).
In MM (Lebanon), Blake J had considered the conformity of the minimum income requirements in the new LTE Rules with Article 8 in considerable detail. He declined to quash the Rules but found that the minimum income requirement of £18,600 gross per annum for a sponsor seeking the admission of a spouse without children was too high, contrasting it with the figure of £13,400pa which had been identified by the Migration Advisory Committee as sufficient to avoid undue burden on public resources. The Court of Appeal overturned Blake J's decision, finding that in consideration of the proportionality of the Rules, appropriate weight had to be given to the judgment of the Secretary of State, particularly where she had acted on the results of independent research and wide consultations.
Read more: Gherson, 06/05/2015
Still Human Still Here: Commentary UKHO CIG Eritrea March 2015
This commentary identifies what the 'Still Human Still Here' coalition considers to be the main inconsistencies and omissions between the currently available country of origin information (COI) and case law on Eritrea and the conclusions reached in the following Country Information and Guidance (CIG) reports issued by the Home Office:
CIG Eritrea: Illegal exit March 2015
CIG Eritrea: National (incl. Military Service March 2015
Where we believe inconsistencies have been identified, the relevant section of the CIG report is highlighted in blue. An index of full sources of the COI referred to in this commentary is also provided at the end of the document (COI up to 22 April 2015). This commentary is a guide for legal practitioners and decision-makers in respect of the relevant COI, by reference to the sections of the CIG reports on Eritrea issued in March 2015.
The document should be used as a tool to help to identify relevant COI and the COI referred to can be considered by decision makers in assessing asylum applications and appeals. This document should not be submitted as evidence to the UK Home Office, the Tribunal or other decision makers in asylum applications or appeals. However, legal representatives are welcome to submit the COI referred to in this document to decision makers (including judges) to help in the accurate determination of an asylum claim or appeal. The COI referred to in this document is not exhaustive and should always be complemented by case-specific COI research.
Published on Refworld, 05/05/2105
US Commission on International Religious Freedom 2015 Report
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has released its Annual Report. This year's report documents religious freedom violations in 33 countries, makes country-specific recommendations. Not a day goes by without at least one country from these lists appearing on the front page of a major newspaper. With serious religious freedom violations occurring all around the world, these horrors speak volumes about how and why religious freedom and the protection of the rights of vulnerable religious communities matter. All nations should care about abuses beyond their borders not only for humanitarian reasons but because what goes on in other nations rarely remains there. In the long run, there is only one permanent guarantor of the safety, security and survival of the persecuted and vulnerable. It is the full recognition of religious freedom."
Read the full report here . . . .
British Media Reporting on Migrants Causing International Concern
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, has urged the UK to take action following a recent article in the Sun responding to the huge loss of human life of those attempting to make the crossing to Europe. The Sun article in question compares migrants to cockroaches and refers to them as 'feral humans.' Zeid is now calling on authorities, media and regulatory bodies to curb incitement of hatred.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reveals that the Society of Black Lawyers has reported the Sun to the police and Zeid urges the police to take the complaint seriously. The Independent cites the complaint, which emphasises the very plight that causes an individual to risk their life, describing the migrants as: 'almost certainly all "trafficked" persons facing intimidation, violence and extortion at the point of departure [... representing] some of the most vulnerable people in international law at the present time. Many will have legitimate claims for asylum under the 1951 Geneva Convention.' This is an issue of human life.
Of particular concern is that the article in the Sun is part of a larger conversation taking place in the British media where migrants are targeted and vilified. The issue with these stories is more than just disagreeable language, as the OHCHR points out, 'many of these stories have been grossly distorted and some have been outright fabrications.' The impact of this is a misinformed readership weeks before an election where immigration has been a particularly hot topic.
Read more: Gherson Solicitors, 01/05/2015
Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees - April 2015
8 actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and one improved in April 2015, according to CrisisWatch N°141
Deteriorated Situations: Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Kashmir, Nepal, South Sudan, Ukraine, Yemen
An agreement on the framework for a Joint Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear enrichment program in early April marked a major step forward. However, mid-month, Colombia's peace process suffered a serious blow when Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fighters killed government soldiers in an ambush; and fighting resumed in Ukraine between the military and separatist forces. The announced end of Saudi Arabia's five-week airstrike campaign in Yemen on 21 April brought few tangible results: missile strikes continued as the humanitarian situation became increasingly dire. Violent protests erupted in Burundi late month ahead of crucial presidential elections in June, and in Chad where popular discontent spilled over into violence. South Sudan and Kashmir saw their worst violence in months, while an earthquake in Nepal on 25 April killed thousands, amid the country's ongoing political impasse.
Burundi, the 25 April official announcement of President Nkurunziza's candidacy for June presidential elections triggered mass protests. At least six were killed in clashes with police, and around 20,000 have fled across the border to Rwanda. After days of deadly unrest, on 29 April Burundi's Senate requested that the Constitutional Court examine the legality of Nkurunziza's attempt to secure a third term. In its latest report on Burundi's elections, Crisis Group warned that a return to violence risked threatening the 2000 Arusha peace agreement, and called for Burundi's partners to engage more pro-actively with the electoral process to prevent rising tensions as well as pressure all Burundian political parties to reaffirm their commitment to the Arusha agreement's principles.
Yemen: On 21 April, Saudi Arabia announced an end to its five-week bombing campaign in Yemen against the Huthis and security forces aligned with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Despite this, Saudi-led air attacks have continued, and even intensified in southern and western provinces. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda has taken advantage, seizing Al-Mukalla town in Hadramout. The air campaign thus far has succeeded in militarising the Yemeni power struggle, contributed to a humanitarian disaster, and undermined any chance of political settlement. Yet a political settlement remains key: an immediate, complete and unconditional ceasefire - that includes the Saudi-led coalition - followed by UN-led peace talks with backing from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Western allies, is essential to reversing Yemen's current path (see our latest report and commentary).
Colombia: After months of good news, the Colombian peace process suffered a serious setback when FARC guerrillas killed eleven soldiers and wounded another twenty in an ambush in Buenos Aires in Cauca region on 14 April. President Santos declared the attack a violation of FARC's December 2014 unilateral ceasefire, and announced the resumption of airstrikes, just days after renewing his March decision to temporarily suspend bombings. The attack had no discernible immediate impact on ongoing negotiations, but raised risks of new military escalation and triggered a political backlash against the peace process. In our statement we urge?d? the government to resist mounting political pressure to set a deadline for the Havana talks, and called on both sides to find ways to stabilise FARC's ceasefire and minimise the chance of a future incident.
Ukraine: Shelling resumed along the front line separating Ukraine's military from separatist rebels around 12 April, breaking over a month of calm. Fighting intensified during the month, particularly near Mariupol and outside Donetsk city, and comes despite claims by both sides to have pulled back their heavy weaponry in compliance with the February Minsk agreement. The humanitarian situation in the east continues to deteriorate, exacerbated by the government's economic blockade of separatist-controlled areas. (See our report and statement on Ukraine).
South Sudan saw renewed clashes in Upper Nile and Unity states - the most serious since August - while severe economic strain is only increasing the likelihood of further conflict. On 21 April, fighting between government troops and a previously allied local ethnic (Shilluk) militia broke out in Upper Nile's state capital Malakal, displacing over ten thousand mostly Shilluk civilians. A few days later, government forces attacked opposition controlled areas in and around Unity state's capital Bentiu, and clashed with Sudanese rebels in Pariang county. Meanwhile, tensions escalated on the Sudan-South Sudan border as both governments traded accusations the other was supporting rebel groups (see our recent report). Sudan's air force bombed reported Sudan Revolutionary Front areas in Bahr el Ghazal and, following a cross-border JEM rebel attack, threatened the rebels' bases in South Sudan. (See our recent statement)
Chad, popular discontent flared. On 25 April, the death of a suspect in police custody sparked riots and clashes between security forces and protesters in the southern city of Kyabe that left four dead. Earlier in the month, teachers and civil servants again went on strike to protest non-payment of their salaries.
Nepal: A powerful earthquake struck Nepal 25 April causing widespread devastation and a humanitarian emergency. Over 5,500 people were confirmed dead at the time of publication, with numbers expected to increase, and 1.4 million are reportedly in need of food aid. The disaster struck amid the ongoing impasse between Nepal's political parties on the overdue draft constitution.
Kashmir witnessed the sharpest rise in violence in months. Violent protests erupted after the Indian army reportedly killed two men in southern Kashmir on 13 April, a militant and his non-combatant brother. A 16-year-old boy was shot dead by police during a protest outside Srinagar on 18 April.
Improved Situations: Iran
Iran and the P5+1 (EU3+3) on 2 April announced a landmark initial agreement on the key parameters of a "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" on Iran's nuclear enrichment program. The agreement marks the first step toward a nuclear accord that could end the prolonged standoff between Iran and the international community and open the door to constructive engagement on issues critical to the Middle East's peace and security. (see our statement, open letter, blog post and commentary)
May 2015 Outlook
Conflict Risk Alert: Burundi, South Sudan
Conflict Resolution Opportunity: None
Download the full report: <>CW141-April 2015
Ongoing Fiasco Of Privatised Court Interpreting Services
Three years after Capita took on a Ministry of Justice contract to provide interpreting services in courts and tribunals, recent cases and an independent review have demonstrated that it is still failing, with serious consequences.
On average, 700 requests are made to the courts in England and Wales every day for the use of an interpreter to assist foreign language speakers and the hearing impaired. The provision of such services is a requirement under the UK's obligations under European human rights law, the common law and to ensure justice and fair trial standards for all parties.
According to the latest Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics, its outsourced contractor Capita Translation and Interpreting (TI) fails to send interpreters to court in over thirty cases a day, reflecting a 'success rate' of under 95 per cent. The contract stipulates a success rate of 98 per cent.
The absence of an interpreter means hearings are inevitably adjourned and delayed, sometimes leaving defendants unnecessarily held on remand. Less commonly, one of the parties steps in to translate for another, or a friend or relative attempts to facilitate communication. But the ability to interpret is not equivalent to the ability to speak a foreign language. Particularly in complicated court settings, the service needs to be provided by qualified and experienced professionals.
Read more: Aisha Maniar, IRR News, 07/05/2015
Credibility Assessment in Asylum Procedures
"To believe or not to believe… this is the question?"
Credibility assessment is undoubtedly one of the most challenging aspects of asylum decision making. An important part of claims for international protection are rejected based on the justification that the determining authority or court does not believe what the applicant says. While in recent decades there has been spectacular advancement regarding the legal standards and relevant concepts of international refugee law, credibility has to some extent remained out of focus. This training manual aims to fill an important gap, by offering a creative, multidisciplinary learning method on credibility assessment, tailored to the needs of asylum decision-makers and other asylum professionals.
This manual does not offer magic tricks, techniques or solutions to overcome the serious challenges of credibility assessment – simply because no such tricks exist. What we offer is a framework for developing knowledge, skills and attitude through multidisciplinary learning, which can help asylum professionals to reduce the possibility of errors, reach more objective and fair credibility findings, as well as to apply a more structured approach to credibility assessment.
This is not an academic publication. Many of the issues covered in the two modules are of a complex and challenging nature and this publication does not aim to provide a detailed, scientific analysis. It rather strives to offer an easily digestible, concise – yet valuable – summary of what decision-makers and other asylum professionals need to know about the key issues related to credibility assessment. The style of the publication, including that of footnote references, is therefore informal and tailored to a learning objective.
Download the manual here . . . .
The Heart of the Matter
Assessing Credibility when Children Apply for Asylum in the European Union
Purpose and Scope of the Report
A positive credibility finding is a prerequisite for being recognized as a refugee, whether the applicant is an adult or a child. Nevertheless, how the credibility of children's claims is assessed has rarely been studied, and international and domestic legal frameworks provide little guidance on this subject. Research in other areas of law suggests that assessing children's credibility is especially difficult. This is because their memories are less developed than those of adults, they are more suggestible than adults, and they do not have the same communication skills. Credibility assessment is of course not an exact science. It involves judging whether an individual is being deliberately deceptive, is simply mistaken about some of the information he or she conveys, or is unable to provide the necessary information.
Researchers and practitioners have devoted surprisingly little attention to techniques for interviewing asylum-seeking children and for assessing their statements. This contrasts with the vast literature on eliciting evidence from children who are witnesses or victims of crime, in particular those who claim to have suffered sexual abuse. There is also comparatively little jurisprudence at national and regional levels on evidentiary standards to be met by state authorities when assessing the asylum applications of children.
The Heart of the Matter aims to help decision-makers assess the credibility of children's claims in a fair, objective and consistent manner. It sets out a number of observations that could serve as the foundation for guidance on the subject. It is hoped that this research will contribute towards strengthening practice in the difficult area of child asylum claims, and towards UNHCR's elaboration of globally applicable Guidelines on Credibility Assessment.
Download the manual here . . . .
Zermani, R (On the Application Of) v SSHD
All too often SSHD and Judges fail to look beyond how, if at all the applicant will suffer if she/he is removed from the UK and how she/he will be able to maintain long distance relationships with partners, friends and colleagues. There is also a failure by SSHD and Judges to acknowledge and appreciate the difference that applicants make to the lives of others,
[This commentary courtesy of Bushra Ali, solicitor for Zermani]
This matter was heard on 20.03.15 and Judgement handed down on 30.04.15.
(decision quashed on the grounds that it has not taken into account all the relevant factors)
 EWHC 1226 (Admin) (30 April 2015)
A huge thank you to Counsel for the Claimant, Mr Christopher Jacobs of Landmark Chambers who did a brilliant job in this JR.
This is a fantastic Judgement in my client's JR that I would like to share with you all for a number of reasons. The sentence "decision quashed on the grounds that it has not taken into account all the relevant factors" does not really give a full picture of the issues:-
My Client (The Claimant)
The Claimant is a national of Algeria aged 43. He claims to have entered the UK in 2004. He was granted entry clearance as a visitor for 6 months in March 2006. He remained in the UK subsequent to his permission to do so, expiring. On 19 September 2009 he was arrested for using a forged French passport and subsequently sentenced to four months in prison. The Claimant asserts he obtained this passport to work so as to have a means of living. Whilst he was serving his sentence, he made a claim for asylum, which was refused on 10 June 2010. The Immigration Judge found the Claimant's account was a fabrication, however, it is noteworthy that the Judge may have been wrong with regards to the Claimant's brother serving in the US Army. This is because subsequent evidence persuaded the SSHD that this aspect of the Claimant's claim was credible.The other adverse findings with regards to the passport offence, timing of asylum claim and illegal stay in the UK remained beyond doubt.
Read the full commentary here . . . .