asylum


Another critique of the new Immigration Rules’ codification of Article 8

4 February 2013 by

aeroplane in sunsetIzuazu (Article 8 – new rules) Nigeria [2013] UKUT 45 (IAC) – read judgment

The Upper Tribunal has concluded that new Immigration Rules do not adequately reflect the Secretary of State’s obligations under Article 8 of the ECHR.

This is the second determination of the “fit” between the immigration rules, introduced last year, and the UK’s obligations under Article 8 of the Convention. I covered the Upper Tribunal’s assessment of the rules in MF (Article 8–new rules) Nigeria [2012] UKUT 00393 (IAC) in a previous post and it will be remembered that the Tribunal held there that the new rules fall short of all Article 8 requirements.

Background

The claimant was a Nigerian national who had raised a claim to private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as part of a claim for asylum. She had travelled to the UK previously, with periods of overstaying and having obtained employment by using false identity papers. Whist in the UK she met her husband, a dual British/Nigerian citizen and argued that her removal would interfere with her right to family life under Article 8.
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Asylum conditions in Italy not severe enough to prevent removal of refugees from the UK

19 October 2012 by

 EM (Eritrea) and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department – read judgment

A member state was entitled to return a refugee to the EU state of first embarkation unless it is proved that there are “systematic deficiencies” in the asylum procedures of the receiving state.

These four cases raised one central question: was it arguable that to return any of the claimants to Italy, either as an asylum-seeker pursuant to the Dublin II Regulation or as a person already granted asylum there, would entail a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the ECHR? In determining that question, the evidence provided by the UN Refugee Agency was decisive for the court.

The Dublin II Regulation provides for a system whereby asylum claims are processed and acted on by the first member-state in which the asylum-seeker arrives. Under this Regulation asylum-seekers and refugees may be returned to that state if they then seek asylum or take refuge elsewhere in the EU. The assumption underlying this system is that every member state will comply with its international obligations under not only the 1951 Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights but also the Qualification Directive and the EU Charter. 
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Back in the spotlight: the detention of mentally ill asylum seekers

9 October 2012 by

R (on the application of EH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 2569 (Admin) – read judgment

1 Crown Office Row’s Robert Kellar was instructed for the Defendant in this case.  He is not the writer of this post.

The High Court has ruled that the failure to consider the continued detention of a mentally ill failed asylum seeker in accordance with immigration policy rendered his detention unlawful in part.

The Claimant applied for asylum based upon his account of an attack during the Rwandan genocide and subsequent events.  The Home Secretary refused the application and the Claimant appealed.  At the appeal he was unrepresented and he adduced no medical evidence.  The Immigration Judge dismissed his appeal, disbelieving the entirety of his account. Once his appeal rights had been exhausted (that is, he was unable to appeal any further through the courts), the Secretary of State detained him on 19 October 2010 for the purpose of removal.

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The right not to hold any belief is fundamental, says Supreme Court

25 July 2012 by

RT (Zimbabwe) and others (Respondents) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] UKSC 38 – read judgment

It is no answer to a refugee claim to say that the individual concerned should avoid persecution by lying and feigning loyalty to a regime which he does not support.

So the Supreme Court has ruled today, considering the relevance to political beliefs of the so-called “HJ(Iran) principle” which was formulated in a case where it was held that it was no answer to an asylum claim by a gay man that he should conceal his sexual identity in order to avoid the persecution that would follow if he did not do so.
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No duty to snitch on another EU country’s asylum conditions

11 July 2012 by

Medhanye, R(on the application of ) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 1799 (Admin) (02 July 2012)  – read judgment

EU law is based on a central principle of mutual confidence. It therefore flies in the face of this trust to impose a legal duty on one member state to monitor whether another Member State was complying with its obligations under that law, including its obligation to respect fundamental human rights.

Background facts

The claimant, an Eritrean national, sought asylum in the UK, having previously claimed asylum in Italy. The secretary of state decided to remove him to Italy under Regulation 343/2003 (Dublin II). The claimant challenged the Secretary of State’s decision to certify as “clearly unfounded” his claim that removing him to Italy would breach his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”). His application for judicial review was refused.
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Does a Zimbabwe farm invader get refugee status?

5 July 2012 by

SK (Zimbabwe) v Secretary of State for the Home Office 19 June 2012 – read judgment

This case raises the interesting question whether someone who was involved as a member of the ruling Zimbabwe Zanu PF party with farm invasions can be eligible for refugee status. The answer is a definite no: the High Court held that the Upper Tribunal had been entirely correct in finding that  a Zimbabwean national, who had beaten farm workers in farm invasions intended to drive farmers and farm workers away from their farms, had committed inhumane acts amounting to crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute art.7(1)(k) and therefore by virtue of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 (United Nations) art.1F(a) was excluded from refugee status.
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South African police force should not shrink from investigating Zimbabwe torture allegations

14 May 2012 by

South African Litigation Centre and Zimbabwe Exiles Forum v. National Director of Public Prosecutions and other governmental units – read judgment 

South Africa’s North Gauteng High Court has just ruled that South African prosecutors and police illegally refused to proceed with an investigation of systematic torture in Zimbabwe.

South Africa, like many countries, has adopted the international crime prosecution Treaty (“the Rome Statute”). This means that under ordinary domestic law  (the ICC Act)  the South African investigative authorities have the power to prosecute anyone who has committed torture, or a crime against humanity anywhere in the world, if the perpetrator is in the country (at any time when investigation is contemplated). Jurisdiction is also vested irrespective of the perpetrator’s whereabouts if the victim is a South African citizen.

Of course this burden of responsibility teems with diplomatic difficulties, but generally it has been discharged with the convenient prosecutions of has-beens like Charles Taylor and  Slobodan Milošević.

As Naomi Roht-Arriaza points out in her fascinating post on the subject, this particular case of South Africa v Zimbabwe illustrates the strain put on governments by the principle of  complementarity under the 1998 Rome Statute, which puts pressure on implicated states to investigate these major crimes on their threshold, too close to home. It should come as no surprise that South African prosecutors are reluctant to investigate allegations of torture committed in Zimbabwe –

One of the critiques of transnational prosecutions based on universal jurisdiction is that they are a new brand of neo-colonialism, with former colonial powers seeking to bring into court disgraced leaders of their former colonies.

Now the tables are turning, and this universal jurisdiction is not being universally welcomed.

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When does an expert report constitute “independent evidence” of torture?

2 May 2012 by

R (on the application of AM) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWCA Civ 521 – Read judgment

Whether expert evidence relied upon by an asylum seeker amounted to “independent evidence” of torture was the key issue before the Court of Appeal in this case . The issue arose in the context of AM’s claim against the Home Office for wrongful imprisonment contrary to the UK Border Agency’s  Enforcement Instructions and Guidance. The Guidance, which contains the policy of the Agency on detentions (amongst other things), says that where there is “independent evidence” that a person has been tortured, that person is suitable for detention only in “very exceptional circumstances”.

AM, an Angolan national, was detained pending removal following an unsuccessful appeal from the refusal of her asylum claim, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal having found her to have “no credibility whatsoever” and rejected her evidence that she had been raped and tortured. She later launched a fresh asylum claim on the basis of new evidence, in the form of an expert report by a wound and scar specialist, Ms Kralj, which linked the various scars on her body to torture. The claim was refused again but AM won her appeal. The Tribunal this time found that she had been raped and tortured as she had claimed, causing the scars on her body.

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Irrational, inhuman and degrading: detention of a mentally ill asylum-seeker was unlawful

23 April 2012 by

R (on the application of HA (Nigeria)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 979 (Admin) – Read judgment

The detention of a mentally ill person in an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment and false imprisonment, and was irrational, the High Court has ruled.

Mr Justice Singh heard a judicial review application by a Nigerian National against decisions to continue to detain him under the UK Borders Act 2007 and the conditions of that detention. From August 2009, HA, an overstaying visitor and asylum seeker, was detained at various IRCs following his release from prison for a drug-related offence which triggered the automatic deportation provisions of the 2007 Act. His behaviour during detention became increasingly disturbed and strange. In January 2010, he was seen by a psychiatrist who recommended HA’s transfer to a mental hospital for assessment and treatment.

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Italy lose in Europe over asylum seeker boat interception – Henry Oliver

26 February 2012 by

Hirsi Jamaar and Others v. Italy (Application no. 27765/09) – Read judgment

The European Court of Human Rights has held that a group of Somalian and Eritrean nationals who were intercepted by Italian Customs boats and returned to Libya fell within the jurisdiction of Italy for the purposes of Article 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights . The return involved a violation of Article 3 (Anti-torture and inhumane treatment), Article 4 of Protocol 4 (collective expulsion of aliens), and  Article 13 (right to an effective remedy). The patrols that returned migrants to Libya were in breach of the non-refoulement principle.

The applicants were eleven Somalian nationals and thirteen Eritrean nationals who were part of a group of two hundred migrants who left Libya in order to reach the Italian coast. On 6th May 2009 Italian ships intercepted them 35 miles south of Lampedusa and returned them to Triploi, in Libya. During the voyage the migrants were not told where they were going (they assumed they were being taken to Italy), nor were they identified.

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The ECJ on Aslyum, Greece; the UK Protocol on the EU Charter – Dr Cian Murphy

28 December 2011 by

Last Wednesday, the European Court of Justice issued a flurry of judgments just before the Christmas break. Indeed, there were so many interesting and important decisions amongst the twenty or so handed down that seems foolish to consider any of them the ‘most important’. Nonetheless the judgment in NS and Others v SSHD (C-411/10) must be a contender for the title.

The case concerns an asylum seeker in Britain who first entered the EU through Greece. The Dublin Regulation, which governs this aspect of EU asylum law, would ordinarily dictate that the applicant should be sent to Greece to have his asylum claim considered there. However, Mr Saeedi challenged his transfer to Greece, claiming that his human rights would be infringed by such a transfer as Greece would be unable to process his application. NS was joined with an Irish case, ME & Others v Refugee Applications Commissioner & MEJLR (C-493/10), which raised similar questions for EU law.

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Effective “amnesty” in UK asylum system, says report

2 June 2011 by

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has today published a report, The work of the UK Border Agency (November 2010–March 2011), which accuses the UKBA of effectively creating an amnesty for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers whose cases have been delayed for years.

The report is not particularly easy to find online – it should be available on the Home Affairs Committee website, but isn’t for some reason. You can download a PDF here, see the previous reports here or read on this page via Scribd.

As has been picked up in media reports, the report concludes that the UKBA’s success in clearing a backlog of around 400,000 to 450,000 unresolved asylum cases has been achieved

through increasing resort to grants of permission to stay… or the parking of cases in a controlled archive, signifying that the applicant cannot be found and the Agency has no idea whether or not the applicant remains in the UK, legally or otherwise.

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Where do I belong?

23 March 2011 by

AS v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWHC 564 (Admin) – Read Judgment

In a strange case, reminiscent of the film The Terminal in which Tom Hanks plays a person unable to leave an airport because he is temporarily stateless, an Applicant lost a judicial review application despite being unable to enter the UK lawfully and unable to acquire travel documents to return to Kuwait.

This was an application for judicial review of the decision by the Secretary of State to refuse to treat further representations by a failed asylum seeker as a fresh claim. The Applicant claimed to be a Bedoon, a member of an ethnic group mostly living around the borders of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Kuwaiti government is not permitting Bedoon outside Kuwait to return there, and since the 1980s the country has taken away from the Bedoon a great number of rights and benefits. It was accepted by both parties that in Kuwait, the Bedoon are at risk of persecution.


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“Asylum seeker death driver” case was misunderstood

22 December 2010 by

The Secretary of State for the Home Department v Respondent [2010] UKUT B1 – Read judgment

There has been public outrage over the ruling of two Senior Immigration Judges that it would be unlawful to deport Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, an Iraqi Kurd, who has been labelled an “asylum seeker death driver”

The fury has not been limited to the lay public or the media, but “great anger” has also been expressed by high-profile figures such as Prime Minister David Cameron, a well-known critic of the Human Rights Act. The Government’s embarrassment over the decision has prompted Immigration Minister, Damian Green, to announce that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) will appeal the decision, and there have been more drastic calls from Tory MPs for the scrapping of the Human Rights Act.

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When asylum seekers commit war crimes

17 December 2010 by

Secretary of State for the Home Department v DD (Afghanistan) [2010] EWCA Civ 1407 (10 December 2010) – Read judgment

It is a sometimes controversial aspect of immigration law that asylum seekers facing a real risk of persecution will nevertheless be denied the protection of the Refugee Convention, through the application of Article 1F of that Convention.  One of the bases for exclusion from protection is Article 1F(c), which applies where a person “has been guilty of acts contrary to the principles of the United Nations”. How does a court decide such cases?

The Court of Appeal has reversed the decision of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) in a case involving an Afghani asylum seeker. The AIT had ruled that Article 1F did not apply, and so DD was entitled to refugee status.  The AIT’s conclusion was reached despite DD admitting a history of involvement with organisations engaged in violent activities against the Afghan Goverment and UN-mandated forces:  Jamiat-e-Islami, the Taliban, and Hizb-e-Islami. The Home Secretary’s appeal was allowed and the case was remitted to the AIT for a limited reconsideration.

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