Syrian Asylum Seekers Allowed to Appeal Against UK Convictions
Three asylum seekers who fled Syria but were jailed after arriving in the UK without passports have been told they can appeal against their convictions. The men arrived at Heathrow Airport at different times in 2013, saying they had received threats while in Syria. However, they were arrested for failing to have travel documents and jailed for between eight weeks and four months.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has now said had been wrongly advised to plead guilty and can appeal. It brings the number of convictions involving asylum seekers and refugees to be referred to the appeal courts in the last three years to 34. Twenty-six people from other countries have already had similar convictions quashed, the CCRC said.
Read more: BBC News, 16/04/15
Yarl's Wood Detainee Activists Threatened With Prison
Anna Rjabova and Lillija Jezdovska are brave fighters for their own freedom and for the rights and freedom of their fellow detainees in the notorious Yarl's Wood IRC. On Thursday 9th April they were part of an integrated group of African, Caribbean and East European women who gathered to physically block the deportation of Lucy N, a victim of torture from Kenya. The women gathered together, sitting around Lucy, linking arms and singing.
That afternoon 30+ 'guards' employed by Serco (the private company that manages Yarl's Wood) forced their way into Lucy's room, wearing full riot gear and armed with batons. There were 3 guards for every woman. Anna, Lillija and four other women were handcuffed and taken to Kingfisher wing, the isolation block within Yarl's Wood IRC.
It is alleged that Anna and Lillija were brutally beaten on their legs with a baton by one of the guards, Jo Singh, against whom Lillija had previously made official complaints. Anna had to be taken to Bedford hospital for treatment on Saturday. They have made further complaints and have spoken to the Prison Inspectors currently visiting Yarl's Wood.
Lucy's deportation was cancelled and the other women have been taken out of isolation, but Anna and Lillija have now been in the Kingfisher unit for a week. Lillija was prevented from going to a scheduled bail hearing on Monday. On Wednesday they were told that they will shortly be moved to prisons. The Home Office and Serco refuse to tell them why they have been singled out.
Anna and Lillija are both ethnic Russians from Latvia who have lived in Britain for many years. Lillija is married to an EU (Austrian) citizen and has three children living here, aged from 7 to 17. They both served short sentences for minor shoplifting offences and served prison sentences. After their sentences were complete they were moved to Yarl's Wood and have spent nearly a year detained there. As a result their mental health has been affected and both have a recent history of self-harm.
They are being sent to prison as part of a cover up of brutality. They are being victimised for their resistance to the inhuman, racist detention system and their solidarity with fellow detainees of all races.
Take immediate action today - contact the Home Office to demand that the proposed transfer of Anna and Lillija to prison is cancelled and that they are both released from detention now.
Quote their Home References: Anna Rjabova R1202266; Lillija Jezdovska S13670
This message from: Movement for Justice <email@example.com>
Afghan Charter Flight Tuesday 21st April 2015
[This part of message circulated by kind permission of Duncan Lewis}
As you are aware, we previously challenged the Afghan charter flight on 10 March 2015 and were successful in obtaining interim relief in a number of cases following the production of evidence demonstrating the significant deterioration in the country situation. A hearing is currently scheduled before Mr Justice McCloskey on 22 April 2015.
The day after the setting of this hearing date, we received word that a charter flight had been scheduled for 21 April 2015. We currently represent a significant number of those who are due to be removed. We shall be seeking generic relief in the light of the alarming country information and the fact that a hearing dealing with the fresh country information we have submitted is scheduled for the day after the charter flight.
We will be willing to represent anyone who is currently scheduled to be removed on this flight or provide assistance to anyone on the group who represents someone who is to be removed on this flight.
In any event, please let us know if you represent anyone who is on this flight.
Please contact the following for further details
Toufique Hossain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lewis Kett: email@example.com
Tamara Smillie: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie Bell: email@example.com
Counsel instructed are:
Sonali Naik and Ali Bandegani of Garden Court Chambers
Jamie Bell <Jamieb@Duncanlewis.com>
DDI: 0203 114 1184 - Fax: 020 3119 0384
29 Grove Hill Road
DX 4216 Harrow
800,000 Children in Nigeria 'Running for Their Lives', say UNICEF
Fighting between Boko Haram, military forces and civilian self-defence groups in north-eastern Nigeria has forced around 800,000 children from their homes over the past year, according to the UN childrenÕs agency, Unicef. In a report marking the first anniversary of the Islamist groupÕs abduction of 276 schoolgirls from the Nigerian town of Chibok, Unicef says the number of children running for their lives in the country or crossing into neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon has doubled in just under 12 months.
Read more: Sam Jones, Guardian, 13/04/15
Blockade at Serco Australian Detention Centre
The Refugee Action Coalition says around 70 asylum seekers are blockading a compound in the Wickham Point detention centre outside of Darwin to try to prevent mostly asylum seeker families from being returned to Nauru. The 70 asylum seekers are also families from Nauru who fear being returned. One asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition, from inside Wickham Point, that they are just trying to help each other.
The Nauru transfers have become a feared almost weekly routine in Wickham Point and has led to a number of people self-harming to prevent their removal to Nauru. At least two people attempted suicide on Tuesday to try and prevent their removal to Nauru. Spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul, says Nauru is not safe for asylum seekers or refugees.
Source: Radio New Zealand International, 16/04/15
No Permission, No Payment': Judicially Reviewing JR Regulations
After the High Court last week quashed regulations restricting legal aid for lawyers bringing judicial review cases against public authorities, the government responded within three days by bringing in yet more regulations to restore the substance of the law struck down by the court. Governments tend not to like judicial review, which allows individuals, charities and companies to challenge the lawfulness of public authority decisions in the Administrative Court. The Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, expressed his view that JR had become 'a promotional tool for countless left-wing campaigners' seeking to hold back government reforms. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Grayling's Ministry of Justice has sought to restrict the use of judicial review, both through Part 4 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 and through regulations which deny payment to legal aid lawyers acting for claimants in judicial review applications where the court does not grant permission for the case to proceed to a final hearing.
Read more: Oliver Carter, Justice Gap, < > 09/04/15
Access to Justice A Greater Concern Than Free Healthcare
The public is more concerned about access to justice than free healthcare, according to a poll commissioned by lawyers campaigning to reverse cuts to legal aid. The findings from a YouGov poll have been released as the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats vie to pledge more and more funding for the NHS. The figures, which challenge the consensus over the public's priorities, coincide with the introduction on Monday of punitive charges of up to £1,200 for anyone convicted in magistrates and crown courts. According to the online poll, 84% of those replying rated access to justice as a fundamental right, compared with 82% for healthcare that is free at the point of use and 79% for the state pension. The survey also found that when told the definition of legal aid, 89% of the sample believed that its availability is important for ensuring access to justice for all income groups.
Read more: Owen Bowcott, Indpendent, <> 13/04/15
Chege (section 117D – Article 8 – Aproach: Kenya)
 UKUT 165 (IAC) (5 March 2015)
(Assessment was legally flawed and cannot stand - decision set aside to be remade)
[Obiter: The correct approach, where an appeal on human rights grounds has been brought in seeking to resist deportation, is to consider:
i. is the appellant a foreign criminal as defined by s117D (2) (a), (b) or (c);
ii. if so, does he fall within paragraph 399 or 399A of the Immigration Rules;
iii. if not are there very compelling circumstances over and beyond those falling within 399 and 399A relied upon, such identification to be informed by the seriousness of the criminality and taking into account the factors set out in s117B.
Compelling as an adjective has the meaning of having a powerful and irresistible effect; convincing.
The purpose of paragraph 398 is to recognize circumstances that are sufficiently compelling to outweigh the public interest in deportation but do not fall within paragraphs 399 and 399A.
The task of the judge is to assess the competing interests and to determine whether an interference with a personÕs right to respect for private and family life is justified under Article 8(2) or whether the public interest arguments should prevail notwithstanding the engagement of Article 8.
It follows from this that if an appeal does not succeed on human rights grounds, paragraph 397 provides the respondent with a residual discretion to grant leave to remain in exceptional circumstances where an appellant cannot succeed by invoking rights protected by Article 8 of the ECHR. ]
Determination and Reasons
1. The Secretary of State appeals, with permission, against the decision of First-tier Tribunal Judge Morgan promulgated on 22nd October 2014 following a hearing on 9th October 2014 to allow the appeal of Mr Chege against a decision to deport him made pursuant to s3 (5) (a) Immigration Act 1971.
2. Permission was granted on the grounds that it was arguable that the First-tier Tribunal had erred in law: 'The [sic] overall the findings reached by the IJ were not supported by the evidence and he found compelling compassionate circumstances where none existed, drawing inadequate conclusions about the protection of the public and deterrence from further commission of crime.'
35. Although the First-tier Tribunal judge refers to s19 Immigration Act 2014 and the immigration rules, he failed to carry out an assessment in accordance with the legal framework we have discussed. He identified that various factors such as length of residence, family, HIV were insufficient to found a successful appeal but then considered that Mr Chege's mental health considerations were sufficient. Although the judge referred to the mental health issues being 'very compelling' there was no identification of this by way of consideration of Mr Chege's criminality. Furthermore the judge failed to factor into his assessment the care Mr Chege would be given during the process of deportation from the UK such as to determine whether that would affect the conclusion that there were very compelling circumstances over and above those in 399 and 399A. The judge failed to assess and consider the public interest in deportation.
36. The assessment was legally flawed and cannot stand.
37. We set aside the decision to be re-made.
38. At the conclusion of the hearing we discussed with the parties the future conduct of this appeal if we were to set aside the FtT decision. It was agreed that if that were the case then the appeal should be remitted to the First-tier Tribunal to be re-heard with no findings preserved.
39. We therefore direct accordingly.