28/04/16 14:22 Filed in: Campaign | Refugees
Please help defeat the UK Government’s decision tor refuse to take vulnerable children who are alone and at risk in Europe.
Please sign the petition put to the Government demanding that they accept the call to give sanctuary to children. Despite the scaremongering, we are a rich and well resourced country, very well equipped to provide sanctuary to a small number of children.
The petition can be found by clicking here
As at the time of this blog post there were 42,439 signatures. At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament. So please share this link to everyone you know. The deadline to achieve 100,000 is 26 October 2016. But let’s not stop at 100,000, let’s show the Government that we remain an inclusive and caring country, a country that should lead by example.
21/04/16 18:24 Filed in: Tribunal
The Law Gazette today confirmed that fees for immigration tribunal cases are set to jump by up to 500% as the government seeks to recoup the entire cost of proceedings.
Dominic Raab, Justice Minister, and a son of a Jewish Czech refugee, said it was no longer fair that the taxpayer be expected to fund three-quarters of the costs of immigration and asylum proceedings. The article can be found here
- First-tier tribunal fees will rise from £80 to £490 for an application for a decision on the papers,
- from £140 to £800 for an application for an oral hearing,
- a new £455 fee for an application to the first-tier tribunal for permission to appeal to the upper tribunal,
- an application for permission to appeal, where permission had been refused by the first-tier tribunal, will cost £350, and
- where the Upper Tribunal grants permission a further £510 fee will be imposed
This means, an appellant who proceeds through to the Upper Tribunal, may have to pay a total of £2,115. An average family of four, each with an immigration decision which must each be appealed against, could pay £8,460.
So, Mr Justice Secretary, you’re all for access to justice - so long as you’re rich. I wonder what your dad thinks about all this.
12/10/15 11:40 Filed in: Campaign
Seraphus supports the statement calling for an urgent, humane and effective governmental response to the refugee crisis. Its signatories include retired judges, Queen’s Counsel, barristers, solicitors and law professors. The statement appears on Monday 12 October 2015 in The Times and The Guardian and it has 342 signatories comprising:
12 - Retired Judges
103 - Queen’s Counsel
30 - Partners and Directors
24 - Professors of Law and International Migration
127 - Barristers
24 - Solicitors
23 - Law Academics
The signatories believe that, as a matter of urgency:
1. The UK should take a fair and proportionate share of refugees, both those already within the EU and those still outside it. The UK's present offer is deeply inadequate: in Lebanon alone, a country of 5 million, there are 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees.
2. Safe and legal routes to the UK, as well as to the EU, need to be established. Permitting travel by ordinary means will do much to halt the hazardous boat traffic and will save lives. Such routes ought to include:
(i) Humanitarian visas – that is to say visas for the specific purpose of seeking asylum on arrival – issued in the country of departure or intended embarkation.
(ii) Resettlement schemes, accepting refugees directly from the country of persecution or from neighbouring states.
(iii) Humane family reunion policies, such as allowing child refugees in the UK to be joined by adult family members.
3. Safe and legal routes within the EU, including the UK, should be established. For instance:
(i) A relocation scheme to take refugees from destitute conditions elsewhere in Europe;
(ii) A suspension of the ‘Dublin’ system, save for the purpose of family reunification.
There should be access to fair and thorough procedures to determine eligibility for international protection wherever it is sought.
International refugee law developed following the horrors of the Second World War because states, including the United Kingdom, recognised that people fleeing persecution have a moral and legal entitlement to protection.
But many member states of the European Union, including the UK, make it impossible for people to gain access to these rights by normal means of travel. They require regular visas conditioned on an early return home. There is no such thing at present as a visa for travel from refugee-producing countries such as Syria, Iraq, Eritrea or Afghanistan, permitting entry in order to claim asylum.
This situation, coupled with draconian penalties on airlines and ships which carry undocumented passengers, including those fleeing persecution, has created the conditions which drive individuals and families into the hands of people-smugglers, with unseaworthy and overloaded boats or suffocating lorries.
The EU’s ‘Dublin’ system, under which asylum-seekers are compelled to apply to the first member state in which they land, is dysfunctional. In certain member states, particularly at the EU’s periphery, reception conditions have collapsed and determination procedures are rudimentary.
Like many others, we consider that the UK Government’s offer to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East, spread over 5 years, is too low, too slow and too narrow.
12/06/15 16:33 Filed in: Detention
The following is a press release from Detention Action:
The High Court has today declared the appeals process for asylum-seekers in detention to be unlawful. Mr Justice Nicol quashed the procedural rules governing the Detained Fast Track asylum process, under which appeals are processed according to severely truncated timescales.
However, despite this finding the judge nevertheless granted to the Lord Chancellor’s request to stay the ruling until his appeal is heard in the Court of Appeal, on the basis that for the order to take effect immediately would be ‘inconvenient’.
The judgement would mean that the Home Office would no longer be able to assign asylum-seekers to an accelerated appeals process in detention. Asylum-seekers would therefore no longer be detained throughout the asylum process simply for claiming asylum. But until the appeal is heard, asylum-seekers will continue to face an appeals system that has been found unlawful.
Detention Action is considering urgently appealing the order refusing the stay.
Mr Justice Nicol ruled that the Fast Track Rules ‘do incorporate structural unfairness. They put the Appellant at a serious procedural disadvantage… because his opponent in the appeal, the SSHD [Home Secretary], has decided that this is what should happen.’
He observed that ‘by allowing one party to the appeal to put the other at serious procedural disadvantage without sufficient judicial supervision, the Rules are not securing that justice be done or that the tribunal system is fair. [The Tribunal Procedures Committee] could not impinge on the minimum level of fairness or the irreducible minimum of due process bearing in mind the appropriate degree of fairness that asylum appeals require. For these reasons, in my judgment, the Fast Track Rules were ultra vires.’
Mr Justice Nicol concluded that this ‘looks uncomfortably akin to… sacrificing fairness on the altar of speed and convenience.’
The High Court has now three times found unlawfulness in the Detained Fast Track following legal challenges by Detention Action. The High Court first ruled in July 2014 that the operation of the Detained Fast Track was at the time unlawful.
Then, on 16th December 2014 the Court of Appeal found that the detention of asylum seekers who were not at risk of absconding whilst their appeals are pending was unlawful. Yet still the Fast Track continues.
Detention Action Director Jerome Phelps said:
‘We are pleased that the Fast Track appeals process has been found not just unlawful but ultra vires. But we are shocked and disappointed that a stay has been granted, given that this is an area of law requiring the highest standards of justice and fairness. By granting the stay, it appears that the judge considers that the severe potential consequences to asylum-seekers, including removal in breach of the Refugee Convention, are outweighed by the inconvenience to the Home Office and Lord Chancellor of suspending the process.’
William is a survivor of torture from Zimbabwe who was released from the Detained Fast Track earlier this year and has since received refugee status. He said:
‘I felt completely helpless throughout my time on the Detained Fast Track but especially during my appeal. It was like fighting someone when they have put you in chains. You cannot move but nothing is obstructing them. What does it say about the British justice system that the Fast Track is still up and running?’
The defendants in the case are the Lord Chancellor, the First Tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal. Former Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling was responsible for overseeing the introduction of new rules for the Tribunals in September 2014. The Tribunal Procedures Committee, the judicial body responsible for drafting the new rules, had initially considered that the Fast Track Rules should be abolished as they risked creating injustice. However, following objections from the Home Office, the TPC ultimately recommended only minor changes.
For interviews and further information, please contact Jerome Phelps on 07906 813716 / email@example.com
Notes to editors
· The Detained Fast Track is a process for deciding asylum claims whilst the asylum-seeker is in detention. It is designed for asylum claims that are considered to be suitable for a quick decision.
· Since 2008, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed concern about the operation of the UK’s Detained Fast Track process in published audits of the DFT.
· 4,286 asylum-seekers were detained on the Fast Track in 2013, an increase of 73% on 2012. 31,433 people claimed asylum in the UK in 2013.
· Detention Action is a charity working with people held in immigration detention and campaigning for detention reform.
· Nathalie Lieven QC and Charlotte Kilroy, instructed by the Migrants’ Law Project, represent Detention Action.