All Articles: Asylum

Should people displaced by climate change be considered refugees?

No matter how devastating may be epidemic, natural disaster or famine, a person fleeing them is not a refugee within the terms of the Convention. A v Minister for Immigration & Ethnic Affairs [1997] HCA 4 (Aus HC) As the High Court of Australia hi ...

18th June 2021 By

Refugee Week: asylum in the UK, by numbers

Copy: Refugee Week 2020Infogram This week is Refugee Week. From 14-20 June 2021, the UK celebrates the contribution of refugees and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary. The infographic above draws on government figures to illust ...

17th June 2021 By

Can asylum seekers work while waiting for a decision on their case?

A recent technical error cutting countless asylum seekers off from their already-meagre support payments of £39.63 a week has shed light on the difficulties those applying for asylum face in meeting their basic needs while their claims are being cons ...

16th June 2021 By

What is the legal definition of a “refugee”?

This week is Refugee Week. On Free Movement we try to communicate complex legal issues in immigration and asylum law in a clear way and here we answer the question “what is a refugee?” Before we get to that, we have loads of content about ...

15th June 2021 By

What is the difference between refugee status and humanitarian protection?

On the face of it, refugee status and humanitarian protection seem like two sides of the same coin. Both are a form of international protection granted to a person in need. Both result in a grant of five years’ permission to remain in the UK on ...

14th June 2021 By

Game-changer for Sri Lankan Tamil activists seeking asylum in the UK

The new Sri Lanka country guidance judgment in KK and RS (Sur place activities, risk) Sri Lanka (CG) [2021] UKUT 130 (IAC) “clarifies and supplements” the previous decision in GJ and others [2013] UKUT 319 (IAC) “with particular reference to sur ...

7th June 2021 By

High Court condemns treatment of asylum seekers unlawfully held at Napier barracks

The High Court has condemned the treatment of asylum seekers crammed into a former military barracks in Kent. In a judgment laying bare the vile conditions at Napier barracks, Mr Justice Linden found that the site did not meet minimum legal standards ...

3rd June 2021 By

Home Office accidentally discriminates against trafficking victims with kids

The High Court has declared that an anomaly in the benefits system which disadvantages victims of trafficking who receive asylum support is discriminatory and in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Unusually, the Secretary ...

2nd June 2021 By

Why Priti Patel’s asylum plan won’t fix the Channel crossings “crisis”

Priti Patel’s announcement of her “New Plan for Immigration” left many of us wondering what semblance of planning had gone into the proposals. The consultation that closed on 6 May raises similar questions given the misleading format of ...

19th May 2021 By

Prosecutions for assisting unlawful immigration in small boats cases: the key to acquittal

On 13 May 2021, my client Fouad Kakaei was unanimously acquitted of assisting unlawful immigration at his retrial following a successful appeal against conviction, the reporting restriction for which will now be lifted. The appeal and subsequent acqui ...

17th May 2021 By

“Hand on the tiller” prosecution for assisting unlawful immigration fails

Fouad Kakaei is an Iranian man who helped steer small boats carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel on two separate occasions, in July and December 2019. He also attempted to cross on several other occasions. Following the July 2019 crossin ...

14th May 2021 By

How important are FGM Protection Orders in asylum claims?

Readers may be forgiven for thinking that, where the Family Court finds that a person is at risk of female genital mutilation and makes a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order (FGMPO), it will feed into the asylum consideration process. Not so. O ...

5th May 2021 By

Home Office can’t just ignore potential persecution even if there is no asylum claim

The Home Office’s compartmentalised approach to applications for permission to stay in the UK can sometimes cause problems. Not everyone’s claim fits neatly into pre-defined categories. So what happens when there is overlap between, for insta ...

23rd April 2021 By

Home Office can make exceptions to rules stopping asylum seekers working

The Upper Tribunal has declared the government’s strict policy on asylum seekers working to be unlawful because it doesn’t mention that exceptions can be made. The case is R (C6) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (asylum seekers ...

22nd April 2021 By

Stripping someone of refugee status doesn’t mean they can be deported

The European Court of Human Rights in K.I. v France (application no. 5560/19) has re-affirmed that refugee status is declaratory and revocation of a person’s refugee status under French and EU law does not prevent that person from continuing to be a ...

21st April 2021 By

Why sticking to the Refugee Convention still matters

When someone says that refugees should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach, what they really mean is that other countries should look after refugees. They want others to do what they would not do themselves. Their words are really addres ...

1st April 2021 By

Latest asylum plan won’t have the impact its supporters or opponents think

There is a lot that is familiar in the New Plan for Immigration. The government argues that its proposals are “firm but fair”, language eerily reminiscent of a 1998 Blair-era white paper entitled Fairer, Faster and Firmer. One thing that i ...

25th March 2021 By

A first look at the “New Plan for Immigration”

Today the Home Office published a new plan for immigration with the title, somehow both grandiloquent and banal, New Plan for Immigration. It is mainly concerned with asylum and people who enter the UK illegally (those two concepts being subtly mashed ...

24th March 2021 By

What is actually going on at the Home Office? A guide for journalists

We’ve seen a constant drip of leaks about the UK’s “broken” asylum system and how the upcoming Borders Bill or Sovereign Borders Bill or New Plan For Immigration or whatever it’s called will be the “biggest overhaul ...

23rd March 2021 By

Supreme Court reiterates that a refugee cannot be removed until claim is assessed

The Supreme Court has reiterated that — for now — UK law prohibits removal of a person “who can be understood to seek refugee status” and who has an outstanding asylum claim or appeal. The case is G v G [2021] UKSC 9 and invol ...

19th March 2021 By

Does the policy of deterring asylum seekers actually work?

With a recent inspection revealing the squalor in which refugees are housed when they reach the United Kingdom, the ensuing closure of Penally barracks but the continued operation of Napier, and yet more deterrent policies being trailed this morning, ...

18th March 2021 By

Asylum support during the pandemic: the year in review

Barred from working and mainstream benefits, for many in the asylum system their only option for money and shelter is by requesting support from the Home Office. A year into the pandemic, the asylum support system has seen significant changes. This ar ...

16th March 2021 By

The problem with “credibility” as a concept in asylum cases

Whether or not a person is telling the truth about past events often becomes the central issue in many asylum claims. Sometimes this is appropriate. The question of whether an asylum seeker will face a real risk of being persecuted in future does in s ...

10th March 2021 By

Witness to state murder gets second chance to argue for asylum

In CM v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] CSIH 15, the Inner House overturned previous findings that a person who witnessed a state murder in their home country was not in danger because they had not (and would not) report the matter t ...

9th March 2021 By

This is what it’s like to be a lawyer working for stateless people in the UK

When I first stepped into the field of statelessness as a practitioner, I expected it to be complex. With a background in asylum and anti-trafficking casework, I was familiar with nationality disputes and the challenges facing those affected. But I di ...

4th March 2021 By

Eviction of failed asylum seeker a breach of human rights

The Home Office breached the human rights of a refused asylum seeker by evicting him while his eighth attempt to reopen his asylum claim was still pending, the High Court of Northern Ireland has found. The case is Re Omar Mahmud [2021] NIQB 6. Backgro ...

25th February 2021 By

Upper Tribunal guidance on credible documentary evidence

The Upper Tribunal in QC (verification of documents; Mibanga duty) China [2021] UKUT 33 (IAC) has given useful guidance on how to approach documentary evidence submitted by asylum appellants.  The tribunal has also clarified the circumstances in whic ...

23rd February 2021 By

Briefing: how Brexit leaves refugee families stranded in Greece

Since 1 January 2021 people seeking asylum in Europe, be they adults or children, have been far less likely to reunite with their family in the UK. A vital legal route has been closed, as the Brexit transition period has come to end and the Dublin III ...

11th February 2021 By

High Court judge threatens Priti Patel with contempt of court proceedings

A High Court judge has raised the prospect of contempt of court proceedings against the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, after her department breached a mandatory injunction. Mr Justice Chamberlain made the ominous comments in the case of Mohammad v Secre ...

10th February 2021 By

Government unlawfully denied refugee status to Egyptian dissident on national security grounds

In the latest round of the legal saga involving Egyptian dissident Yasser Al-Siri, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the Home Office acted unlawfully in only granting him restricted leave to remain after an earlier First-tier Tribunal decision that h ...

9th February 2021 By

Court of Justice decision on cessation of protection for Somali refugees

In the case of C-255/19 Secretary of State for the Home Department v OA, the Court of Justice of the European Union held (at paragraph 64) that: 1. Article 11(1)(e) of Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualific ...

2nd February 2021 By

Suicidal refugee loses date of birth appeal

A Palestinian refugee threatening to take his own life in a dispute over the age recorded on his residence permit has lost a judicial review at the Court of Appeal. The case is (WA (Palestinian Territories)) v Secretary of State for the Home Departmen ...

15th January 2021 By

Court of Appeal rejects lowering threshold for denying refugee status to extremists

How serious must a person’s “extremism” be to justify exclusion from the Refugee Convention? Three years ago, the Court of Appeal in Youssef & N2 v Secretary of State for the Home Department lowered the bar for exclusion from the Co ...

14th January 2021 By

Briefing: new UK approach to refugees and safe third countries

The government has introduced important new rules on the handling of claims for asylum with effect from 1 January 2021. Guidance for Home Office asylum caseworkers was published the day before, on 31 December, fleshing out some of the operational deta ...

11th January 2021 By
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