Archives For Asylum

refugee action

The present Government has declared its intention to create a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants. True to its word, the Go Home vans, the ‘papers please’ raids on public transport hubs, the targeting of foreign students, the increasingly demented bureaucracy of the immigration rules and the harsh family migration rules are all delivering on that pledge. Perhaps as part of that campaign, Theresa May decided in June 2013 to maintain a freeze on the level of support for destitute asylum seekers in the UK.

The High Court has now held in the case of R (On the Application Of Refugee Action) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWHC 1033 (Admin) that was an irrational decision that abysmally failed to take into account the real needs of that destitute group of vulnerable individuals. Continue Reading…


According to the Independent newspaper, scientists have located “the conscience.” It’s in the front part of the brain and is the size of a Brussels’ sprout. For those who object to military service on grounds of conscience, this is where the action happens. The UNHCR’s “Guidelines on Military Service“, published on 13 December 2013, examines what the conscience means for those seeking protection from service in State and non-State armed forces. Whilst there can be no substitute to reading the guidelines in full, I’ve attempted to distil the most important parts into seven points, followed by an outline of UK law, and a bit of commentary about how things in this area might develop. Continue Reading…

Review of handling of gay asylum claims

Very pleased to have played a role in bringing about this review: it was here on Free Movement that the case referred to by May was revealed before being picked up by The Observer.

A Home Office document leaked earlier this year revealed how one bisexual asylum seeker was asked a series of intrusive questions including: “What is it about men’s backsides that attracts you?” May has asked the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, John Vine, to review asylum claims made on grounds of sexual orientation.

In a letter to him, May said: “We do need to establish that the risk of persecution is real, and this will often depend on whether the sexual orientation of the asylum seeker is as claimed. We seek to establish this at interview through questions about sexual orientation, not sexual behaviour.

“It was disappointing therefore to discover that we may not have followed our guidance in at least one case, which was brought to the attention of the media recently and where inappropriate questions appear to have been asked.

There is certainly every need for a review. In a case I was acting in last week the gay asylum seeker’s claim to be gay was rejected by the Home Office for reasons including “you have not attended any gay events, societies or clubs in the UK” and not knowing the surnames of men he had met through Grindr. This was even though he had very good evidence to show a relationship with his boyfriend, who was regularly visiting him in immigration detention, and statements from several other same sex partners.

Syrian asylum seekers rejected, detained and removed in 2013

A Parliamentary written answer yesterday revealed that of the Syrians that managed to get to the UK to claim asylum in 2013, 24 were forcibly removed and a further 20 remain in immigration detention today. That seems to me truly shocking. It certainly gives lie to the UK Government’s hollow claim to a humanitarian approach to Syrians affected by the crisis. Who or what are the people at the Home Office that make these decisions?

Via @AVIDdetention.

No risk of persecution for gay men in India despite criminalisation

So says the tribunal in MD (same-sex oriented males: risk) India CG [2014] UKUT 65 (IAC), anyway. And even if there was risk in the home area, the tribunal considers that relocation within India is generally reasonable and “LGBT support organisations” can provide help going underground if need be (para 170). Some might think having to go underground and seeking protection from non state actors was a sign of being persecuted, but apparently not.


The Home Office have started giving directions for the removal of failed asylum seekers to Mogadishu on Turkish Airline flights via Istanbul.

Anyone given such removal directions might ask the Home Office to reconsider whether they risk violating their human rights in the light of the announcement by Al Shabaab on 29.12.2013 that Somalis who have returned to their homeland from abroad “have been taught garbage and sins, and have lost [their] religion and are being used [to spread evil] ” and so “will be killed and fought against in the same manner” that al-Shabaab fights against the Somali government.  “They are working for the infidels, and since they are working for the infidels, they are the same as the infidels they are working for as far as we are concerned,” said Al-Shabaab commander Ali Mohamed Hussein, known as Ali Jesto. Continue Reading…

The Supremes

Any asylum practitioner is likely to come across cases where, rather than investigate the merits of an asylum claim, the Home Office seeks to return their client to a third country elsewhere in the European Union deemed under the Dublin II Regulation to have prior responsibility for assessing the claim, most often because that was the first territory in which they were fingerprinted or recorded as having claimed asylum having crossed the borders into the Member States. Any international system of co-operation in the assessment of asylum claims, in order to have integrity, needs to have some level of trust in the processes and decision making of fellow States, and so it is perfectly sensible for participants to proceed from an assumption that each of them respects the standards of the system as a whole. But when particular countries experience large scale arrivals that test their capacity to breaking point, or are unable to cater for the particular needs of returnees, what approach should national courts take in assessing whether the ensuing problems involve a breach of Article 3 ECHR?

The Supreme Court in EM Eritrea and Others [2014] UKSC 12 has now answered this question Continue Reading…