UNHCR recommends suspension of forced returns to Mali

The UNHCR set out its new position regarding returns to Mali.

The UNHCR recommends the suspension of forced returns of nationals and habitual residents of Mali until the security and human rights situation has stabilised to the extent that it is safe to resume returns. The security in Mali deteriorated since the coup on 22 March 2012. This led to large scale displacements into neighbouring countries.

The position paper can be found here.

X-Rays of Children (Part Two)

Following the concerns raised by corporate partners of the UK Border Agency, such as Chief Medical Officer and the Children’s Commissioners (see our first blog on this subject here), the trail of dental x-rays for age assessment has been cancelled.

The agency was informed by the National Research Ethics Service (NRES) that the trail constitutes 'research' and that, as such, it requires the approval of a research ethics committee before it can proceed. No x-rays will take place until such time as we have the appropriate ethical approval. Given the questionable results of age assessment by use of x-rays we would hazard a guess that the agency will struggle to get approval.

More when we have it.

Chief Inspector and the Legacy Cases

The Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency is an independent assessor of the agency. Its role is to review the agency's procedures and report to the Home Secretary on its efficiency and effectiveness. Following an inspection, and submissions from stakeholders (such as the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association - who can be found here), a report is published identifying strengths and weaknesses of the agency. Further information on the Chief Inspector, and its most recent reports, can be found here.

The focus for the Chief Inspector is now turning to the agency's handling of the Legacy Cases.

The term 'Legacy Cases' relate to asylum applicants who applied before March 2007, had their application refused, subsequent appeals exhausted, but were not removed by the agency. The agency wanted to resolve the applicant's immigration status once and for all. The agency identified nearly half a million such cases and set themselves a 5-year deadline, ending on July 2011, to complete the review.

However, July 2011 came and went with a large number of cases yet to be resolved. The purpose of the inspection is to determine why the agency failed to meet their own deadline. There are applicants which, despite their best efforts, the agency was unable to locate but the large majority of outstanding cases remain in contact with the agency and most have legal representation. This means the agency has not performed efficiently or effectively in meeting their own deadline. The Chief Inspector will look to the reasons why that is the case and report on their findings.

Some stakeholders, such as ILPA, are also requesting that the Chief Inspector reviews their agency's handling of cases following July 2011. Before July 2011 the agency granted indefinite leave to remain to those they consider suitable for it, but after July 2011 they started issuing discretionary leave instead. It is argued that those applicants who are eligible for leave to remain should be given indefinite leave and not be prejudiced by the agency’s own delays. ILPA's representations (for members of ILPA) can be found here.

We'll update you when the report is published.