Category: Immigration/Extradition


Asylum seekers cannot be forced to lie about their political beliefs

19 November 2010 by

RT (Zimbabwe) & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWCA Civ 1285 (18 November 2010) – Read judgment

The Court of Appeal has ruled that asylum seekers cannot be forced to lie about not holding political beliefs when returning to their home country. The potentially wide-ranging decision extends the protection arising from a recent Supreme Court decision which found that homosexuals could not be sent back to their home country if they would have to lie about their sexuality.

The case concerned four Zimbabwean asylum seekers. In previous asylum cases involving Zimbabwe, it had been assumed that it is legitimate to require applicants, in order to avoid persecution, to demonstrate loyalty to Zanu-PF, itself a persecutory regime. The men in this case did not hold strong political views, but did not support the Zanu-PF either. The question was whether it would breach their human rights to send them back if they would be forced to join the ruling party.

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Radical cleric Abu Hamza keeps British citizenship

17 November 2010 by

As we reported recently, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission has ruled that Abu Hamza, the extremist Muslim cleric, cannot be stripped of his British citizenship since this would have the effect of making him stateless.

This is the latest in a string of decisions by various courts in a long-running legal saga surrounding the British government’s attempts to remove Abu Hamza from the UK. Hamza is also facing extradition to the United States, but this has been stayed pending the substantive decision of the European Court of Human Rights as to whether the prospect of serving a life sentence in a ‘supermax’ US prison would breach his Article 3 rights (our analysis of the admissibility decision can be found here).

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Exclusion of Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik was lawful, says High Court

10 November 2010 by

Dr Zakir Naik and The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Entry Clearance Officer, Mumbai India [2010] EWHC 2825 (Admin) – read judgment

As we reported last week, the High Court has approved the exclusion of Dr Zakir Naik, a popular Indian television Islamic preacher, from the UK on the grounds that his presence would not be conducive to the public good.

Despite the High Court finding that the initial decision to exclude Dr Naik was procedurally unfair and that Article 10 ECHR (the right to freedom of expression) was engaged in relation to his supporters, his challenge to the exclusion was rejected. This case focuses the spotlight once more on the somewhat limited territorial reach of the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Convention, as well as the wide discretion of the Home Office to exclude radicals which it considers have displayed ‘unacceptable behaviours’.

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Detaining and deporting the mentally ill

26 October 2010 by

Anam v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWCA Civ 1140 – Read judgment

This appeal raises interesting questions about the approach the courts should take when considering whether detention pending deportation is legal in a case involving an ex-convict with serious psychiatric illness. A failure to implement a Home Office policy on the subject did not automatically make the decision to detain unlawful. However, the Court of Appeal was not unanimous on what the correct test for legality was.

This was an appeal against a deportation decision by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The Appellant had a long criminal record and in 2007 was sentenced to 4 years in prison for robbery. Later that year, the deportation decision was made. However, the Appellant also had a history of serious psychiatric illness.

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Gurkha defeat in claim for equal pension rights

18 October 2010 by

No victory this time

R (British Gurkha Welfare Society and ors) v Ministry of Defence [2010] EWCA Civ 1098 – read judgment

The Court of Appeal has rejected a fresh attempt, based on Article 14 of the European Convention on Human rights (anti-discrimination), to obtain equal pension rights for Gurkhas who served in the British Army before 1997.

The long-running campaign for Gurkha rights has been highly publicised and successful, but it has not ensured equality of treatment in respect of pensions. The MoD continues to calculate  accrued pension rights at a lower rates for Gurkhas than for other soldiers in respect of service performed before 1997, the date on which the majority of Gurkhas ceased to be based in Hong Kong and were instead moved to the UK.

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Iraq not violent enough to prevent asylum seekers being sent back

5 October 2010 by

HM and Others (Article 15(c)) Iraq CG [2010] UKUT 331 (IAC) – Read judgment

In a long-awaited decision on country guidance on Iraq, the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) has held that the degree of indiscriminate violence in Iraq is not so high that the appellants were entitled to subsidiary protection under Article 15(c) Qualification Directive.

However, the IAT indicated that, should the degree of violence become unacceptably high, Article 15(c) might be engaged. The Upper Tribunal also used the opportunity to provide general advice as to how to approach country guidance cases.

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France expulsion of Roma: the EU law perspective

16 September 2010 by

In  the ongoing row over France’s repatriation of Roma nationals there has been little debate over precisely what power the EU Commission has to initiate legal action against the French government.

Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner, is widely reported to have declared that France faces possible infringement proceedings and a fine from the European Court of Justice in respect of its dismantling of Roma camps and repatriation of up to a thousand Bulgarian and Romanian Roma citizens since last month. It is suggested that the French government is guilty of applying the 2004 Directive of Free Movement of Persons in a “discriminatory” fashion, offending not only directive’s own provisions, but the European Treaty’s principle of non discrimination (Article 19) and also, possibly, the ban on collective expulsion of aliens under Protocol 4 Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Extradition to Lithuanian jail not a breach of human rights

9 September 2010 by

The Queen on the application of Arvdas Klimas v. Prosecutors General Office of Lithuania [2010] EWHC 2076 – Read judgment

We welcome this guest post by Michal Jorek

Will a court execute an extradition request if the prison conditions and treatment of prisoners in the requesting State are such that detention there would constitute torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment?

This question was recently considered by the High Court in The Queen on the application of Arvdas Klimas v. Prosecutors General Office of Lithuania. Although the Court was clear in its pronouncement, it is arguable that aspects of its reasoning are at the very least questionable.

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Extradition agreements review is victory for rights campaigners

3 September 2010 by

Updated, 3 Sep, 16:35 | The Home Office is to announce a review of UK extradition agreements with other countries, including the controversial and some say unbalanced agreement with the United States. This represents a provisional success for campaigners against certain extradition agreements.

According to reports, the review will include the Extradition Act 2003 which implemented into law the UK-United States extradition treaty. It will also consider the European Arrest Warrant, which was used for 50% more arrests last year. The review fulfils the pledge made in the coalition’s program for government to ”review the operation of the Extradition Act – and the US/UK extradition treaty – to make sure it is even-handed”.

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The limited human right to do business

1 September 2010 by

Prashant Modi v United Kingdom Border Agency [2010] EWHC 1996 – Read judgment

Mr Justice Burnett in the High Court has found that there was no breach of a man’s right to respect for private and family life (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights) when he was refused entry to the UK for business purposes after conviction for a sexual offence. This interesting decision highlights the very limited nature of protection that Article 8 may give  in relation to business activities.

Mr Modi was an Indian businessman who was given multi-visit entry clearance for the UK in 2005. He regularly made business trips to the UK following this. In 2006 he committed a serious sexual offence in the UK and pleaded guilty to the charge. The Judge of the criminal court considered that the Appellant did not pose a serious risk to the public after the commission of the offence and made no recommendation for deportation.

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Value to the community can be taken into account in immigration cases

24 August 2010 by

UE (Nigeria) and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWCA Civ 975

The Court of Appeal has held that in deciding whether the removal of a person from the UK is compatible with their human rights, their value to the community can and in many cases should be taken into account.

The court ruled that when a decision-maker is undertaking the balancing exercise required to determine whether the removal of an individual from the UK is proportionate under Article 8 ECHR (right to family life), the individual’s value to the community in this country is a relevant consideration to be taken into account. However, this judgment was qualified by indications from the judges that, in practice, this factor is unlikely to carry much weight in the decision-maker’s evaluation.

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The ripple effect from Guantanamo Bay to the English courts

23 August 2010 by

Review: The Ripple Effect: Guantanamo Bay in the United Kingdom Courts” by CRG Murray, International Law Review Online Companion, April 2010 – Read article

A new academic article by C.R.G Murray at Newcastle University analyses the interesting and important line of case-law arising from claims by men detained in Guantanamo Bay. The case-law has involved many issues of a politically sensitive nature and generated much media coverage and pressure on the British Government. The ripple effects from the detentions have led to a series of important judgments.

Murray’s article reviews important case-law arising from detention at Guantanamo Bay and the impact it has had on the decisions reached by the courts. Murray concludes that the case-law demonstrates two major ‘ripple effects’: (1) judicial review has been used to press the British Government into being more active in opposing detentions at Guantanamo Bay; (2) where serious human rights breaches are in issue, the courts have been more willing to disregard historic concepts of comity between courts in different jurisdictions and give their own view of the correct interpretation of law for the benefit of appellate courts in the United States.

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Age matters in asylum cases

16 August 2010 by

Updated 12/9/10 | PM, R (on the application of) v Hertfordshire County Council [2010] EWHC 2056 (Admin) (04 August 2010) – Read judgment

Some people get to a certain age and stop counting. For them, the exposure of their true age to friends or colleagues might cause embarrassment. But for asylum seekers, proving their true age can alter the direction of their lives.

The recent High Court case of an Afghan asylum-seeker has highlighted the different, and often better, treatment which child asylum seekers received compared to their adult equivalents. It has also brought into focus the importance of a court’s initial, and often difficult, assessment of an asylum-seeker’s age, and the duty on local authorities to make up their own minds.

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Can political asylum seekers be expected to hide their political opinions?

13 August 2010 by

Expected to show him support?

TM (Zimbabwe) and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWCA Civ 916 – Read judgment

Is it reasonable to expect an asylum seeker on their return to their home country to lie about their political beliefs and thereby avoid persecution? This question was recently addressed by the Court of Appeal in light of a potentially wide-ranging decision of the Supreme Court relating to gay refugees.

Last month the Supreme Court held in HJ (Iran ) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] UKSC 31 that to compel a homosexual person to pretend that their sexuality does not exist is to deny him his fundamental right to be who he is (see our post). When an applicant applies for asylum on the ground of a well-founded fear of persecution because he is gay, if the tribunal concludes that a material reason for his living discreetly on his return would be a fear of the persecution which would follow if he were to live openly as a gay man, then his application should be accepted [para 82].

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When is a human rights claim a human rights claim?

12 August 2010 by

Shirin Jisha v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWHC 2043 (Admin) – Read judgment

When is a human rights claim a human rights claim in an immigration context? The High Court has recently considered this question in the case of a Bangladeshi citizen who had her visa cancelled when returning from a trip abroad.

This case related to the proper meaning of section 113(1) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. The Secretary of State had argued that the claimant’s claim was not a “human rights claim” because the claim was not made “at a place designated by the defendant” but served as part of her appeal to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal against the defendant’s refusal to grant her leave to enter. It was held that the claim was a “human rights claim” within the terms of section 113(1).

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