It’s the Immigration Law Practitioners Association Annual General Meeting tomorrow, Saturday 23 November 2013. See you there if you are coming – do come and say hello. It is always an interesting day and I’ve picked up all sorts of interesting information in previous years. Alison Harvey will be talking about the new Immigration Bill, there’s an update on the Points Based System by Tom Brett-Young and Sophie Barett-Brown, Ronan Toal is discussing judicial review, Duran Seddon covering MF (Nigeria), Adrian Berry and Tom Hickman statelessness, Nick Armstrong and Carita Thomas Legal Aid (or what is left of it), Nuala Mole EU right to reside developments and Richard Thomas the Mateta case.
Archives For Events
The difference between a recession and a boom, as any legal aid lawyer will tell you, is that during a boom the government cuts legal aid, whereas during a recession they cut everything else as well.
The UK is a party to and has ratified both of the Statelessness Conventions. However, until recently there has been inconsistency in approach to those asylum (and other) applicants who are without a nationality, and often a failure to record or even to even notice that there is an issue of statelessness. An excellent joint research project by Asylum Aid and UNHCR (reported on Free Movement here), drew attention to the plight of stateless people living in the UK in 2011. Many of those whose stories are recorded in the report had lived in destitution for years and often had no route out of their predicament: they had reached an unenviable “dead end” of a failed asylum claim with no prospect of documentation and return, nor of making an alternative application. Continue Reading…
On Wednesday evening, a group of activists, lawyers and campaigners gathered in East London to discuss the Government’s ‘Go Home’ campaign and to demonstrate their solidarity with immigrant and refugee communities. The event was attended by Garden Court’s Marketing Assistant, Amy Carrington. Continue Reading…
Last week saw the anniversary of the miserable new family immigration rules, introduced on 9 July 2012. Heartache and anguish was predicted and has, tragically, come to pass. I attended and spoke at the demonstration outside the Home Office co-ordinated by JCWI, MRN, Brit Cits and others.
It was, frankly, distressing to be surrounded by so many fragmented, broken half families Continue Reading…
As a bit of an experiment, I will be delivering a small seminar on the subject of social media for lawyers on 22 July 2013. Details on the HJT Training website. Numbers are deliberately restricted; I am only willing to humiliate myself in front of a limited number of people at a time.
It is aimed at all sorts of lawyers: barristers, solicitors, sole and small practitioners and large firms. Luckily I’ll never be in charge of a large corporate Twitter account, but I have consumed a LOT of social media in the last five years, both good and bad, and can discuss some of the potential pitfalls for all sorts of lawyer.
My plan is to discuss the origins of the Free Movement blog and what I have learned in the course of developing the blog and creating and experimenting with associated Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Tumblr and Google+ accounts.
“A fool learns from his mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
- Otto von Bismarck
I have been giving this whole social media thing a great deal of thought in recent months (I wish I hadn’t, but I have). At the moment, subject to feedback, the intention is to cover:
- Having a strategy and sticking to it
- Asking yourself why you want to engage with social media (seriously, you should consider this long and hard)
- Considering your audience
- The importance of content and making it useful or interesting to your intended audience
- The balance between creating and curating content
- How often to engage and when
- Sharing and reciprocating
- The vices and virtues of different social media platforms (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Tumblr, Google+)
- The software behind these platforms and for managing your social media presence and the statistics available to measure success
This first seminar is intended to be fairly introductory. If there is demand the course can be repeated and further more advanced courses could be considered. Let me know.
As most of you know, Renaissance Chambers has developed expertise in conducting Tamil asylum claims. The issues involved in these cases have been previously covered on Free Movement here and these include in particular Chambers’ and the NGOs’ efforts to combat recent charter flights set by the UK Border Agency to remove en masse failed Tamil asylum seekers to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Last week, Chambers had the pleasure of co-hosting with Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) and the LSE a screening of the forthcoming documentary ‘No Fire Zone – The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’. This follows 2 previous and shorter documentaries broadcast by Channel 4 in 2011 and 2012 and all three films have been directed by Callum McCrae. The screening was preceded by a panel discussion consisting of TAG Director Janani Jananayagam, one of our colleagues Shivani Jegarajah and the film’s Director Callum McCrae, chaired by Dr Devika Hovell, Lecturer in Public International Law at the LSE.
The film which lasts approximately 90 min documents the final harrowing months of the conflict, which spanned 26 years in Sri Lanka. It is a meticulous and chilling exposé of war crimes and crimes against humanity through personal stories of displaced persons and victims as well as video footage.
Callum McCrae reiterated in the panel discussion, as is also done in the film, that all of the footage has been painstakingly verified by independent forensic experts. This body of evidence is in complete contrast with the Sri Lankan government’s bare denials and statements that it is all lies. The No Fire Zone team offers not just a definitive film of record, but also a film to jolt the international community and audience to call for action. Without truth, there can be no justice in Sri Lanka and without justice there can be no peace.
Janani Jananayagam of TAG very helpfully set out TAG’s approach as an advocacy and lobbying organisation to get these crimes recognised and the perpetrators prosecuted. In the Q & A session that followed, a discussion developed concerning the rationale behind pursuing an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecution in light of Sri Lanka not being a signatory. In the knowledge that countries like Russia and China would almost certainly veto any move in the Security Council of the United Nations to make a referral to the ICC (the only other way to ‘engage’ the ICC if a country is not a signatory), Janani was asked whether it is worth TAG pursuing this. Janani was firm in her and TAG’s belief that any such international exposure can go a long way towards TAG’s objectives. There is certainly something to be said about letting Russia and China take the blame for vetoing rather than sacrificing the victims’ rights to seek truth and justice at the highest level.
Shivani Jegarajah shared with the audience her experience of being one of the leading counsels in the pending Upper Tribunal Country Guidance case on the risk on return for Tamils and in particular the impressive expert evidence that was called. Shivani has acquired her expertise in the area over a period of 20 years or so and it is expected that the Upper Tribunal will promulgate its determination in the next 2 weeks.
Over the next year or so, the No Fire Zone Team will be organising a world-wide tour of screenings, for which funding is required. The film was shown in the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 28.02.2013 and with Sri Lanka due to host the Commonwealth’s biennial heads of government meeting later this year in November, the pressure is on. If you would like to support this cause by making a donation, please do so here and if you would like to spread the word, click here for suggestions on how to do so.
Following the furore over immigration lawyers getting named and shamed in the High Court for their actual or alleged misdemeanours I thought it might be timely to arrange some training on urgent immigration injunction applications to prevent unlawful removals. Solicitor Jawaid Luqmani and barristers David Jones and Colin Yeo, all experienced in making this type of application, will be delivering a course on preparing and presenting injunction applications.
The course is aimed at both solicitors and barristers and covers:
- the ethics of ex parte applications
- strategic considerations when dealing with the UK Border Agency in the run up to a removal
- UKBA policy on judicial review and deferring removal
- the particular problems around charter flights
- the mechanics of making an application at the Upper Tribunal or High Court and what happens once the application is lodged
- how to deal with out of hours situations if, despite your best efforts, such a situation arises.
It will attract 3 CPD and be held on 5 March 2013 at a Central London location. Places are limited but can be booked here on the HJT Training website.
The charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) asked me to speak at their AGM last night and I was delighted to accept. It was held at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre in Shoreditch. I expected the auditorium seating to split open and launch Urgent Action One at any moment. It never happened, but was an interesting night nonetheless.
The highlight was listening to Toomaj, a former detainee and now a recognised refugee. On arrival here in the United Kingdom he was given handcuffs rather than a handshake, as he put it. The detention centres in which he was incarcerated were full of broken men. Like him they had fled their countries to protect something very precious, their dignity. It was all too easily taken away from them once here, he said sadly.
Only today David Cameron suggested that we have offered a haven for those fleeing tyranny and persecution. The absence of persecution does not a haven make, and those who are detained and mistreated by the UK Border Agency and the private companies it contracts to do its dirty work do not experience their stay in the UK as even the absence of persecution. Putting refugees through the ringer of our asylum system, with its stultified bureaucracy, low quality of decisions, prolonged periods of detention, squalid housing, meagre subsistence payments and prohibition on working, is hardly designed to elicit gratitude.
Toomaj seemed to me to be forgiving of our past trespasses against him. It is telling, though, that he has devoted himself to voluntary work on behalf of those now going through his own past experiences. He certainly has not forgotten what we did to him when he came here to seek sanctuary. Nor perhaps has he yet found peace.
BID do excellent work. As a flavour of what they have achieved in the last three years the organisation has:
- Provided 6,724 people held in immigration detention with legal advice, information and representation
Prepared 754 bail applications
Seen 1,774 people they supported released
Run bail workshops which 2,709 people attended
As I said yesterday it is work that is hard, emotionally draining and unpopular. They are always seeking volunteers, particularly barristers. Details of how to help are on their rather excellent website.
Legal readers might be interested in two upcoming courses from HJT Training.
The first is on the new changes to the Immigration Rules commencing 9 July 2012, delivered by the excellent Julian Bild (a valued occasional contributor to the comments here on Free Movement). The Statement of Intent was covered here on the blog but none of us can yet face doing a detailed post on the full changes, partly because it is a huge undertaking and partly because it is so depressing. The new rules are a massive departure from the existing rules, though, and it is essential that immigration lawyers get themselves up to speed. This course takes place in central London on 16 July. Click here for information and to book.
The other course is on the amendments to the EEA regulations and will also take a fresh look at Zambrano and the new Advocate General Opinion on this subject. Sandra Akinbolu of Lamb Building is taking the course and it will be held on 18 July 2012. We’ve provided some coverage here on the blog but the course will take a proper look at all the changes and they implications for practice. Click here for information and to book.
Full disclosure: Colin Yeo is a director of HJT Training