It has been a busy few weeks in the life of the Illegal Migration Bill with a record 20 amendments made to it by the House of Lords and the Court of Appeal declaring that removals to Rwanda are unlawful. However, what does this mean for those people seeking asylum in the UK?
Court of Appeal rules that removals to Rwanda are unlawful
The government’s proposed plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda was ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal on Thursday, 29 June 2023. The case was brought by Asylum Aid as well as 10 people from countries including Syria, Iraq and Albania, who arrived in the UK in small boats. Whilst the High Court had supported the government’s policy, the Court of Appeal judges, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, Sir Geoffrey Vos and Lord Justice Underhill, ruled that Rwanda was not a sufficiently safe country and there was too great a risk that genuine refugees could be returned to countries where they risked persecution. (more…)
A woman held at the Manston holding facility in Kent is taking legal action against Home Secretary Suella Braverman. The asylum seeker claims that she was held unlawfully in “egregiously defective conditions” at the centre. Her case is supported by the organisation Detention Action, and another case is being put forward by the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees. Braverman has denied ignoring legal advice about conditions at the centre, which is meant for a maximum of 1,600 people but was holding more than 4,000 and has had outbreaks of norovirus, scabies and diphtheria. Braverman has been accused of not making alternative arrangements, such as hotel bookings, to accommodate the additional people. The Manston facility has become a flashpoint for criticism of the government’s current and past policies, and treatment of asylum seekers. But the situation at Manston is not just dismal, it is a violation of legal requirements in international law, domestic law and the government’s own policies. (more…)
On 14 April 2022, the UK and the Rwandan governments signed an MoU outlining plans for transferring asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda. The MoU has been subject to much criticism from academics, NGOs and the UNHCR. Criticism has focussed, first, on the attempts by the UK to divest itself of responsibility for asylum seekers. Second, it has highlighted the potential for further abuses of refugee and human rights law to occur against transferred individuals in Rwanda. The MoU is the latest in a range of mechanisms whereby States in the Global North attempt to externalise their borders and shift responsibility for refugees onto Global South states. (more…)
The UK has adopted the Marrakesh Compact and agreed to implement the objectives which it sets out (see paragraph 41 of the Marrakesh Compact). The UK Government has repeatedly claimed that national policy is not in conflict with the Marrakesh Compact. Alistair Burt’s, Minister for the Middle East, written statement to Parliament on 10 December 2018 acknowledges that the UK is bound by existing human rights obligations, that these rights are owed specifically to migrants and that UK polices are in line with them. More recently, the UK’s 2020 report to the European Regional Review of the Marrakesh Compact, outlined that ‘the GCM is fully integrated into the UK policy architecture… GCM principles are reflected in wider UK migration policy and maintains senior official/ministerial focus on the GCM.’ The UK government consistently claims that UK policy is in line with the obligations in the Marrakesh Compact and that these are in accordance with international legal obligations owed to migrants. (more…)
By Prof Elspeth Guild, Queen Mary University of London and Kathryn Allinson, Research Assistant, Queen Mary University of London and Teaching Associate, University of Bristol.
The spectre of the Covid19 pandemic has stalked political leaders, at local, regional, national and European levels since mid-January 2020. In amongst the myriad responses that States have taken to combat the spread of the virus those relating to refugee protection make grim viewing. The scenes at the Turkish Greek land border where the President of the Commission, the President of the European Council, the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs were present to witness, and applaud, the violent actions of the Greek border guards and military in preventing people seeking to cross from Turkey to the EU to seek protection is exemplary of the approach of many States. And it did not help the image of the EU in these exceptional times, as a place where refugees are welcome and provide protection in accordance with international law.
This unedifying political spectacle addressed towards the Turkish President and intended as a response to his responsibilities came at a most problematic time. EU states were within a week of closing internal and external borders to movement of persons with little regard to the needs of refugees. In this blog we will examine the subsequent efforts of the EU (and associated countries including the UK) to comply with their obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention, in particular, as regards the processing of asylum applications. (more…)
Although much of my research focuses on legal aspects of undocumented migration, I’d never visited a detention centre for irregular migrants. So when the opportunity arose in May this year to see inside the Otay Mesa detention facility near San Diego (where a Russian citizen had died just days before), I couldn’t pass it by.
The first thing that strikes the observer is how far the facility is located from downtown San Diego. Indeed, it’s very close to the Mexican border. Having finally arrived after more than an hour’s drive, and after going through a double electrified fence and registration, we are conducted into a room where we are given a presentation by CCA personnel. CCA — the Correction Corporation of America — is a private company making huge profits on running such centres ($227 million in 2015). With some notable exceptions, scholars have neglected the business aspects of the migration industry, perhaps due to the opaque nature of some of the arrangements between governments and companies working in the sector. Yet these aspects raise innumerable questions as to whether one can reconcile the profit-seeking interests of shareholders in such companies with human rights, as well as to what extent legislation might be influenced by powerful lobbies interested in perpetuating the detention cycle. (more…)