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News & Views Monday 7th December to Sunday 13th December 2015
Immigration Bill Bad News for Families

he 2015 Immigration Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament, could have grave implications for asylum-seeking families if passed without amendment. One of the central proposals is to remove all means of welfare support from families refused asylum. Destitution will therefore be used as a means of immigration control in an attempt to “rebalance the support system so that it does not incentivise failed asylum seekers and other illegal migrants to remain in the UK where they have no lawful basis for doing so”. Only those who have a “genuine obstacle” preventing their return to countries of origin will be entitled to access benefits, although even they will receive welfare at a level much lower than that available to citizens.

Estimates suggest that the proposals will impact around 2,900 families and a further 4,900 persons whose family status is unknown. On paper, the policy will save the government an estimated £73 million per year, with savings to the taxpayer being used as the main justification for forcing destitution upon refused asylum-seeking families.
Read more: Katie Bales, Open Democracy, 09/12/2015

Early Day Motion 821: Freedom of Expression In Turkey

That this House is deeply concerned by the risks faced by those attempting to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression in Turkey, including in connection with legal proceedings initiated against journalists and others accused of criticising Government officials; notes in this connection that Turkey is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2015; is alarmed that a court in Istanbul recently charged two journalists, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, from the Cumhuriyet newspaper with spying, after they published information purporting to show the Turkish intelligence agency helping to send weapons to Islamist groups in Syria; is shocked by the murder of eminent human rights lawyer Tahir Elci, caught in a gun battle between police and unidentified gunmen on 28 November 2015, after a press conference in which he had made an appeal for peace between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels; further notes that he had previously experienced intimidation and harassment and at the time of his death faced criminal charges for expressing his opinion; calls on the Turkish authorities to free Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, and to conduct a full and transparent investigation into Tahir Elci's murder; and urges the Government to raise these issues as a matter of urgency with the Turkish government, while continuing to work with Turkish authorities to address the pressing needs of Syrian refugees.

Sponsors: Clwyd, Ann  / Durkan, Mark / Brake, Tom    / Day, Martyn / Meale, Alan / Ritchie, Margaret

House of Commons: Date tabled: 04.12.2015

AA (Nigeria) Respondent v SSHD Appellant

[2015] EWCA Civ 1249 (08 December 2015)

Lord Justice Richards :
1. The respondent is originally from Nigeria. He migrated to Norway in 1982 and was granted Norwegian citizenship in 1996 or 1997. He came to the United Kingdom in 2002 in the exercise of his rights of free movement as an EEA national. Thereafter he acquired the right to reside in the United Kingdom permanently, pursuant to regulation 15(1) of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 ("the EEA Regulations"), by virtue of a five year period of continuous residence here between 2004 and 2009. He has a wife and three children who have also acquired a right of permanent residence here, as family members, but the present appeal is concerned only with the respondent's position.

2. In August 2010 the respondent was convicted of the importation of one kilogram of a class A drug, cocaine, and was sentenced to six years' imprisonment. On 8 August 2013 he was served with notice of a decision to make a deportation order against him under regulation 19(3)(b) of the EEA Regulations. By regulation 21(3), a decision to deport a person with a right of permanent residence in the United Kingdom may not be taken except on "serious grounds of public policy or public security". The Secretary of State considered that the deportation was justified on serious grounds of public policy.

3. The First-tier Tribunal allowed the respondent's appeal against the Secretary of State's decision. The Secretary of State appealed in turn to the Upper Tribunal, which held that the First-tier Tribunal had made no error of law and that its determination should stand. The Secretary of State was then granted permission to appeal to this court against the Upper Tribunal's determination, on grounds that had not been raised either before the First-tier Tribunal or on the appeal to the Upper Tribunal. Those grounds are based on case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union ("the CJEU") relating to the acquisition of the right of permanent residence under the EU directive which the EEA Regulations implement, namely Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States ("the Directive").

4. The grounds of appeal are in summary that (1) the tribunals erred in failing to consider whether the respondent lost his right of permanent residence by reason of his offence and imprisonment; alternatively, (2) even if the respondent retained his right of permanent residence, the tribunals erred in their approach to the question whether there were serious grounds of public policy justifying the respondent's deportation, in particular in failing to consider whether his offence and imprisonment diminished his degree of integration within the United Kingdom. There is a third ground of appeal but Mr Kennelly, counsel for the Secretary of State, accepted that it is indistinguishable in substance from the second.


41. On appeal to the Upper Tribunal, the Upper Tribunal Judge felt "bound to express my disquiet at the case of an individual who has committed so serious an offence as to merit a period of six years imprisonment being permitted to remain in the United Kingdom as a result of a finding that he did not present a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society" (paragraph 19). But he accepted that the finding of a low risk of reoffending was supported by the evidence before the First-tier Tribunal and that on the evidence before it the tribunal had reached a conclusion that was properly open to it. He therefore concluded that the tribunal had made no error in point of law.

42. I agree with the Upper Tribunal Judge that the First-tier Tribunal did not err in law. So far as concerns the specific point raised by the second ground of appeal, I take the view that the First-tier Tribunal gave proper consideration, within the context of the criteria specified in regulation 21(5) and (6), to the issue of integration within the United Kingdom, including the effect of the respondent's offence and imprisonment. I do not see how the approach contended for by Mr Kennelly by reference to the CJEU cases could realistically have led to a materially different analysis or have had a material effect on the tribunal's conclusion. Accordingly, the Upper Tribunal was in my view correct not to interfere with the tribunal's decision.

43.In relation to this ground of appeal, as in relation to the first, I consider the correct interpretation of the Directive to be sufficiently clear without the need for a reference to the CJEU.

44. If, contrary to the above, the CJEU cases require a different approach to be adopted when determining whether expulsion is justified by serious grounds of public policy or public security, the secondary question would again arise as to whether the tribunals could be said to have erred in law in failing to adopt that approach of their own motion and without any argument on the point from the parties, indeed without any reference to the cases by the parties. I have nothing to add to my discussion of that issue in the context of the first ground; and again I think it better not to express any concluded view on the point.

45. Conclusion: For the reasons given, I would dismiss the appeal.

Published on Bailii 08/12/2015

Supreme Court Grants Permission to Appeal in Appendix FM Cases

The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal in two cases, SS (Congo) [2015] EWCA Civ 387 and Agyarko [2015] EWCA Civ 440. In 2012, several parts of the Immigration Rules were re-written, and the rules applicable to family members of British citizen and persons with leave to remain in the UK were significantly altered. The new rules came into force on 09 July 2012 and are an attempt on the part of the Secretary of State to provide clear guidance on how the balance between the public interest and the individual interests in relation to article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (right to private and family life) should be struck. Since the new rules came into force, the lawfulness of several of the rules' requirements have been challenged, on both applications for leave to enter (LTE) and leave to remain (LTR).
Read more: Gherson Immigration, 08/12/2015

Early Day Motion 826: Curfew on the City of Silvan

That this House expresses deep concern over the curfew placed on the Kurdish city of Silvan in Turkey, where Turkish security forces have launched major bombardments that have led to the deaths of around a dozen civilians and left the city without access to food, water and medical supplies; notes that this is the sixth such curfew to be placed on the town since the summer; further notes that such crude operations creates only further chaos and division by imposing collective punishment on populations of whole cities; notes that this is one of several towns that has been subjected to military attacks since July and it is reported that around 400 civilians have been killed as a result; and notes that the Government should use all its influence to encourage a ceasefire and the return to the peace process in Turkey, which will have important ramifications for the rest of the region.
House of Commons: 07/12/2015

HMP Maidstone (Holds only Foreign Nationals)

Some 600 adult men were serving a range of sentences, including nearly 60% who had been held in excess of four years, and a small number subject to life sentences. Maidstone was not an immigration removal centre: just 23 prisoners were detained at the end of their sentences. However, approximately 90% of prisoners were eventually discharged from the prison directly to their country of origin, a unique challenge that the prison had yet to get to grips with. There was a lack of agreed vision for resettlement with the National Offender Management Service. The prison had not been designated a resettlement establishment and had comparatively few resettlement resources and a very weak focus on this key responsibility. The management of resettlement overall was poor and not well understood, with no local strategy or effective coordination of services.

There was an unacceptably high number of prisoners with no current OASys assessment, reflecting the very low priority afforded these prisoners by sending establishments. The general quality of offender management and supervision was inadequate. Public protection arrangements were in place but were not robust. The failure to adequately address risk was true for the 10% of prisoners who were resettled to UK home areas, as well as those who were deported. Practical resettlement arrangements for UK-based prisoners were just adequate. For those who were being removed, the useful 'Tracks' information and signposting tool, which was intended to give foreign nationals information about their destination countries, was inexplicably underused. Work with foreign prisoners was further undermined by the often late decisions to detain and/or remove them by the Home Office at the conclusion of sentences.

Download the full report here . . . . .

Increase in Asylum-Seeking Children Who Go Missing After Arrival in UK

The number of children who disappear soon after arriving in the UK as asylum seekers has doubled over the past year, raising fears that they are being spirited away by traffickers into domestic servitude, the sex trade or are ending up on the streets, and adding to concerns that local authorities are increasingly unable to cope with the demands being put on them.

More than 900 asylum-seeking children have gone missing in the past five years but since the start of 2015 the rate has risen, according to new figures obtained by the Observer. At least 340 disappeared between January and September, and nearly a third of those remain missing and at risk of exploitation and radicalisation, according to Freedom of Information responses from 132 local authorities across England and Wales. With many children in the UK still without a social worker assigned to them, the real number could be significantly higher.
Read more: Guardian, 06/12/2015

Stop the War – National Demonstration

London Saturday 12th December 2015

Public opinion certainly wasn't represented in Parliament last Wednesday night with the disgraceful decision to begin air strikes in Syria. While the Tory government says there is no money for the ordinary people of Britain, no money for A&E departments, fire stations, libraries and schools, there is money for the machinery of war and killing. No money for the poor, always money for war. The People's Assembly stands side by side with the Stop the War Coalition. In the coming weeks and months we will be making the connection between austerity and war and helping campaign for an end to the bombings.

The decision by MPs to bomb Syria will not make the world a safer place. It will not stop terrorism. It is the fourth major military intervention by British governments in 14 years. But the previous wars - in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya - have not ended. Instead we have seen death and injury, instability across theose countries, and millions of people made refugees by war. We have also seen the growth of terrorism. ISIS itself grew out of the war and occupation in Iraq.

On Saturday 12th December Stop the War has called a national demonstration in Central London.

Last updated 11 December, 2015