Immigration proposals under scrutiny – the Round-up

Photo Credit: The Guardian

In the news

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire has announced proposals to make Britain “tougher on those with no right to be here’. The new measures are to be included in an Immigration Bill due this Autumn. Working illegally in England and Wales is set to be an offence punishable by a sentence of up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine. In addition, businesses suspected of failing to comply with immigration rules could face closure for up to 48 hours.

Policy Director at Focus on Labour Exploitation, Caroline Robinson, is critical of plans for a “labour market enforcement agency”. Far from preventing illegal working, “policies and practices putting immigration control above all else will result in increased forced labour and modern-day slavery in the UK”. Forthcoming research by the organisation highlights the dangers of blurring lines between immigration enforcement and labour inspection, with victims of labour exploitation more likely to avoid inspectors where they fear being reported to immigration officials.

The current system of immigration detention in the UK has also come under close scrutiny this week. Writing for Halsbury’s Law Exchange, Mark Lilley-Tams and Stewart MacLachlan identify potential opportunities for reform. Noting that the UK is unique within Europe in that an individual may be detained under the Immigration Acts for an indefinite period, the authors suggest a review of current government policy “to avoid unnecessary suffering to those being detained, and unnecessary use of public resources where detention is being used”.

Other news

Law Society Gazette: A Home Office report has highlighted ‘significant shortcomings’ in the provision of appropriate adults for vulnerable people in custody, putting them at risk of miscarriages of justice and lengthening custody times. Solicitors have called for urgent action to be made on the report’s recommendations.

A leading disability charity has been notified that the UN will be conducting an investigation into whether the UK government’s welfare reforms have caused “grave or systematic violations” of disabled people’s human rights. Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions have revealed that between 2011 and 2014, 2,380 people have died within six weeks of being found ‘fit to work’. The Independent reports.

The Guardian: The newly appointed UN special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci, has called for a universal law on internet surveillance. Cannataci has singled out the oversight mechanism in the UK as being one of the weakest in the western world, describing it as “a rather bad joke at its citizens’ expense”.

Local Government Lawyer: The Court of Appeal has rejected an appeal brought by Unison against rulings of the Divisional Court that the Government’s introduction of employment tribunal fees had not been unlawful. The union has applied for permission to take its legal challenge to the Supreme Court.

Sir John Chilcot is facing legal action to compel publication of his long-delayed report into the Iraq war. A statement by Sir John has attributed the delay in part to the ‘Maxwellisation’ process, in which individuals are given the opportunity to respond to criticism made against them. The BBC reports here.

UK HRB posts

Passports at the junction of international and domestic law – Richard Alton

ISIL child brides: a big care problem for the Family Court? – Rosalind English

Does Article 5 apply to extended sentences? – David Scott

Human Rights Conventions: when some are more equal than others? – Emily Thornberry MP

Events

The Liberty Human Rights Awards will take place on 7 September at London’s Southbank Centre. Tickets for the ceremony can be booked here.

If you would like your event to be mentioned on the Blog, please email the details to Jim Duffy, at jim.duffy@1cor.com.

Passports at the junction of international and domestic law – Richard Alton

0304367Western governments are increasingly concerned to establish that they have the power to prevent individuals from traveling to the Middle East to engage in terrorism-related activity (see Rosalind English’s recent post on Jihadi Brides). This has resulted in a spike in passport seizures, especially on the domestic level.  Under Chapter 1 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 the UK government has the authority to seize UK passports

where a person is suspected of intending to leave Great Britain or the United Kingdom in connection with terrorism-related activity.

These events encouraged me to revisit a 2010 publication I co-authored with my colleague Jason Reed Struble, entitled ‘The Nature of a Passport at the Intersection of Customary International Law and American Judicial Practice’ (16 Ann. Surv. Int’l & Comp. L. 9 (2010)). In that piece we discussed the very nature of a passport and its role in both international and United States domestic law. This article focussed on the seizure of foreign passports by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the subsequent tribulations that follow. Thus, the work focused on a different spectrum of passport seizures, i.e. a government seizing another government’s passport, as opposed to a government seizing passports of its own nationals. Continue reading

ISIL child brides: a big care problem for the Family Court?

isis-islamic-state-528116London Borough Tower of Hamlets v B [2015] EWHC 2491 (Fam) 21 August 2015 – read judgment 

When a judge waxes lyrical about a child, garlanded with starred GCSEs, their intelligence, their medical school ambitions, you wonder what is coming. It’s the judicial equivalent of those blurred reproductions in the press of murder victims’  graduate portraits. In this case, a sixteen year old girl “B”, the subject of a careful but nevertheless alarming judgment in the Family Division, turned out to be one of the many girls groomed by their family for exodus to Syria; all of whom appear to be:

intelligent young girls, highly motivated academically, each of whom has, to some and greatly varying degrees, been either radicalised or exposed to extreme ideology promulgated by those subscribing to the values of the self-styled Islamic State.

B herself seemed unoppressed by the situation she was in and indeed wrote to the judge in those terms. She and her family refused to give evidence and sat impassively whilst Heydon J gave judgment.

They have betrayed no emotion; they have been impassive and inscrutable as I have faced the challenge of deciding whether their family should be fragmented and their children removed. Their self discipline is striking. They have listened carefully. The mother has taken careful notes. They have revealed nothing in their responses.

These cases differ from the common run of family abuse cases in that these young women, in the judge’s words, have “boundless opportunities, comfortable homes and carers who undoubtedly love them”. But they have been seduced by a belief that travelling to Syria to become what is known as ‘Jihadi brides’ is somehow romantic and honourable both to them and to their families. Continue reading

Adam Wagner shortlisted for prestigious human rights award

Liberty_britainA hand of applause for our Chief Ed Adam Wagner who’s just been  shortlisted for the 2015 Liberty Human Rights Lawyer of the Year Award in recognition of his innovative efforts to bring human rights to life by correcting misinformation and explaining why human rights matter for everyone – the full list of nominees is here.

Adam Wagner founded the UK Human Rights Blog five years ago and more recently the new human rights information project RightsInfo, indefatigably combining all this writing and editing with his busy career as a barrister.

As Liberty’s press release says,

The barrister and campaigner has devoted his time and energy to debunking the myths which have grown up around our Human Rights Act, making the law more accessible to all in the process.

The Liberty Human Rights Awards celebrate the achievements of organisations and individuals from all walks of life who have worked tirelessly to protect and promote fundamental freedoms at a time when the post-war human rights consensus faces an unprecedented attack.

The award ceremony is open to the public (you can get tickets here) and will take place on 7 September at London’s Southbank Centre. It will be hosted by writer, actor and comedian Jo Brand.

Does Article 5 apply to extended sentences?

Photo credit: Guardian

Photo credit: The Guardian

Brown v Parole Board for Scotland, [2015] CSIH 59 – read judgment

Scotland’s civil appeal court, the Inner House of the Court of Session, has refused a prisoner’s appeal for damages resulting from an alleged failure to afford him a reasonable opportunity to rehabilitate himself during his extended sentence.

Continue reading

Emily Thornberry MP – Human rights conventions: when some are more equal than others?

crc_logoWhen a legal challenge to one of the coalition Government’s flagship welfare reforms – an overall cap of £26,000 per year on the amount any family could receive in benefits – was reviewed by the Supreme Court earlier this year, the resulting judgment left many observers scratching their heads. Had the Court declared the cap unlawful or not? The answer seemed to be a mixture of yes and no. Continue reading

GTMO hunger strike and DWP make-believe

Photo credit: Guardian

Photo credit: Guardian

Alex Wessely brings you the latest Round-up.

In the news

Guantanamo Bay was back in the headlines this week, after the Obama administration responded to a legal request to free a hunger-striking detainee “entirely in secret”. Tariq Ba Odah has refused to eat voluntarily since 2007, and now weighs a “shockingly frail”  74.5 pounds (33.8kg). Continue reading