Nationality and Borders Bill Biggest Ever Legal Assault On Refugee Law
A comprehensive joint legal opinion authored by four barristers finds that the Nationality and Borders Bill is the biggest ever legal assault on international refugee law by the UK and would breach the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The joint opinion was commissioned by Freedom from Torture. In the opinion's introduction, the barristers say: "In our view, this Bill represents the biggest legal assault on international refugee law ever seen in the UK. This is because (a) the principle at the heart of the Bill is the penalisation, both criminally and administratively, of those who arrive by irregular means in the UK to claim asylum and (b) the Bill seeks to reverse a number of important decisions of the UK Courts, including at the House of Lords and Court of Appeal level, given over the last 20 years, without offering any justification for doing so. These are decisions where the Secretary of State lost the legal argument and which concern questions of international refugee law rather than domestic statutory provisions."
The opinion outlines at least seven reasons why the Bill's proposals to criminalise asylum seekers arriving in the UK without permission is wrong as a matter of international refugee law.
Read more: EIN, https://is.gd/t6WXJI
Plans to Hand Over NHS Data to Police Sparks Warning From Government Adviser
Plans to force the NHS to share confidential data with police forces across England are “very problematic” and could see patients giving false information to doctors, the government’s data watchdog has warned. In her first national interview, the data guardian for England told The Independent she has serious concerns over Home Office plans to impose a responsibility on the NHS to share patient data with police which she said “sets aside” the duty of confidentiality for clinicians. Dr Nicola Byrne also warned that emergency powers brought in to allow the sharing of data to help tackle the spread of Covid-19 could not run on indefinitely after they were extended to March 2022.
Dr Byrne, 46, who has had a 20-year career in mental health, also warned against the lack of regulation over the way companies were collecting, storing and sharing patient data via health apps. She told The Independent she had raised concerns with the government over clauses in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is going through the House of Lords later this month. The legislation could impose a duty on NHS bodies to disclose private patient data to police to prevent serious violence and crucially sets aside a duty of confidentiality on clinicians collecting information when providing care. Dr Byrne said doing so could “erode trust and confidence, and deter people from sharing information and even from presenting for clinical care”. She added that it was not clear what exact information would be covered by the bill: “The case isn’t made as to why that is necessary. These things need to be debated openly and in public.” Opinion polls commissioned by the data guardian since 2018 have shown a high level of concern by the public about their health data falling into the wrong hands.
Read more: Shaun Lintern, Independent, https://is.gd/a5nUOe
Priti Patel to Give Immunity to Border Force Officials Turning Back Migrant Boats
Border Force staff could be offered immunity when turning back migrant boats in the Channel. According to a report in the Guardian, Home Office officials have confirmed that Priti Patel is seeking to introduce a provision in the nationality and borders bill to give officials legal protection in the event of migrants drowning.
According to Home Office figures, more than 18,000 people have made the crossing from France to England in small boats this year, compared to just over 8,460 in 2020. It was reported by BBC News that 11 boats with 364 migrants on board crossed the English Channel to reach Kent on Sunday and a further 40 on Friday and Saturday with 1,115 people making the journey. There had been nearly 300 arrests and 65 convictions related to small-boat crossings so far this year.
Under controversial bill, presently at committee stage, an asylum seeker who arrives in the UK without prior authorisation would face up to four years in prison. ‘Whether the provision, tucked away in an obscure corner of the bill, would actually protect officers from conviction under international maritime laws could be tested in the courts,’ writes Rajeev Syal, the Guardian’s home affairs editor.
Read more: Jon Robins, Justice Gap, https://is.gd/G1jozP
High Court Rules Trafficking Victims Can Stay in UK
In a landmark judgement, the High Court on Tuesday 12th Ocotber 2021, ruled that victims of human trafficking should be granted leave to remain. This is a significant departure to the current system, whereby individuals who had been subject to human trafficking could be placed in the immigration system for lengthy periods of time while their cases were pending. In many cases, if the Home Office refused to grant leave to remain, victims would be sent back to their home countries, which may place them at risk of being re-trafficked. The majority of individuals seeking asylum in the UK are ineligible for benefits, and are prohibited from working or studying while their case is being reviewed. The High Court ruling would mean that victims of trafficking will be granted leave to remain if the Home Office does not appeal the decision.
For victims of trafficking, this is undoubtedly a major relief for those who wish to stay in the UK. The number of people this ruling affects is estimated to be in the thousands. The Home Office has until the 19th October to lodge an application to appeal the judgement. The ruling came about as a result of a legal challenge brought to the court by a Vietnamese woman who was herself a victim of trafficking and whose asylum case was ongoing. Between November 2016 and March 2018, she was trafficked and forced to work against her will in brothels and producing cannabis. In April 2018, she was officially recognised as a human trafficking victim, yet was charged with conspiring to produce cannabis in October 209 and was sentenced to 28 months’ imprisonment. Her immigration lawyers submitted a trafficking assessment referral in May 2019 but the Home Office stated they had no record of her. In July 2019, her records were found by the Home Office, yet in October 2019, she was detained in immigration detention.
Read more: IAS, https://is.gd/ZsytOn