Round-up 2: Rwanda documents disclosable, new UKSC justices, and Afghan Judges stranded
22 August 2022
In the news
A former Afghan judge, who is fleeing from the Taliban with her son, has appealed against the Home Office rejected her application to enter the UK. Lawyers representing the woman state that she and her son have been left in a “gravely vulnerable position” following the withdrawal of western troops from the country. They had been chasing the Home Office for a decision on their application, but stated that the decision-makers were “dragging their feet”. They were told the delays were due to resources being redirected to Ukraine. After nine months the applications were refused, and an appeal is expected to take more months still. The family are currently in hiding in Pakistan after their home in Kabul was raided. Their residency is dependent on the goodwill of a landlord putting himself at risk of criminal punishment. Their refused entry is believed to be a result of administrative error.
The UK has signed a new deal with Pakistan to deport illegal immigrants. The deal proposes to speedily remove Pakistani nationals with no legal right to remain in the UK. The Home Office adverted to data suggesting Pakistan nationals make up the 7th largest number of foreign criminals in England and Wales, nearly 3% of the foreign national offender population. However, concerns have been raised that criminals being returned cannot be held under Pakistan law and no restrictions can be imposed on them by Pakistani authorities. As a result, the agreement is considered to swing in favour of the UK; in response the Government have agreed to consider relaxing visa rules for students and visitors.
The UK Supreme Court has appointed two recently retired judges, Sir David Richards and Lord Lloyd-Jones (re-appointed). While the justices have not themselves been criticised, their appointments have raised concerns over diversity at the elite-level of the judiciary. Critics have pointed out that the new court comprises three times as many men called David than women, with no ethnic minority representation at all. In order to reform this, calls have been made to make the appointments process for Supreme Court justices more transparent.
In other news
- Scotland has become the first country in the world to make it the law for public settings to provide free period products. The Period Products Act was campaigned for by Labour MSP, who considers the new law “another big milestone for period dignity campaigners and grassroots movements which shows the difference that progressive and bold political choices can make.”
- A woman who was arrested and charged after attending the Sarah Everard vigil last year has launched legal proceedings on Human Rights grounds against the Metropolitan police. Dania Al-Obeid was convicted for breaching coronavirus restrictions under a single justice procedure, which did not require a court hearing in order for the magistrate to decide the case. Al-Obeid stated that “to be convicted behind closed doors for standing up for my human rights, and our rights just to be safe from violence, felt extremely unjust.”
In the courts
- In AAA & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2919 (Admin), the High Court partially refused an application by the SSHD for permission to withhold extracts from disclosure regarding the Rwanda Asylum scheme on the grounds of public interest immunity. The application related to extracts from an email sent by a reviewer along with comments on a draft notice produced by the Home Office on an assessment of the asylum system in Rwanda and of the position on related human rights issues. The question before the court was whether the disclosure of these extracts would give rise to a real risk of serious harm to the public interest and, if so, to balance that against the public interest in the administration of justice and the need for having full range of evidence . The court accepted that there is public interest in not undermining the development of a lawful policy providing for claims by asylum-seekers to be processed in Rwanda. However, it was stressed that there is a strong public interest in the court having access to the fullest information to consider whether or not that policy is lawful . While 4 extracts remained entirely secret, the rest (or at least parts of them) were held to be disclosable in the trial set for September. Neil Sheldon QC and Natasha Barnes of 1 Crown Office Row acted on behalf of the applicant.
- In Parul v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2143 (Admin), the High Court allowed an application for judicial review of the failure of the SSHD to provide suitable accommodation pursuant to section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The SSHD submitted that, while the claimant should be rehoused in suitable accommodation, the delay in finding this was not unreasonable. The Defendant filed no evidence in support of their claim, which was surprising to the court and contributed to the finding that they had failed to relocate the Claimant within a reasonable amount of time, in breach of their section 4 duty. A mandatory order was deemed appropriate, and suitable accommodation should be secured within 8 weeks of that order.
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