Our fortnightly summary of ongoing advocacy initiatives, new research, government developments and useful resources. Contact us if you’d like to get this update directly into your inbox.
- Ongoing advocacy
Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws
On 28 June, a number of cruel measures in the Nationality and Borders Act came into effect (see section 2 below for further detail), meaning it has never been more important to challenge these anti-refugee laws.
The Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws pledge has now been signed by 28 MPs and over 360 organisations across the UK, and remains open to signature for organisations (you can sign using this form). You can also invite individual members of your communities, and the public, to sign the pledge using this e-action. Please continue to share #AntiRefugeeLaws pledge content which includes a short video featuring experts by experience, draft social media posts, and images and quote cards.
We have also developed a number of Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws materials, including posters, write-to-MP postcards, stickers and badges. Please get in touch if you would like some of these resources, and you can also find print-ready versions in this folder.
Those earmarked for removal to Rwanda in mid-June have been released from detention, reportedly wearing tags, as the Government announced a ‘pilot’ for the electronic tagging of people seeking asylum described as ‘a thoroughly dehumanising policy’ and ‘a highly punitive surveillance measure’, Meanwhile, there is uncertainty about Home Office intentions re further flights in the lead up to legal proceedings on the policy beginning 19 July.
During his visit to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, Boris Johnson chose not to visit the accommodation in Kigali that has been earmarked for people removed from the UK, where it is reported that preparations are underway for the accommodation of children. More than 20 celebrities worked with the Together With Refugees campaign to write to Commonwealth leaders at the summit, to urge them to take a stand against the UK Government’s policy to deport refugees to the country, coverage here.
Médecins Sans Frontières have shared a useful piece debunking five lies the Home Office uses to justify the Rwanda plan, which includes tips and prompts for writing to your MP on this issue.
Napier barracks judgement
The High Court has ruled that the Special Development Order, through which the Government granted itself planning permission for a further five years of use of Napier barracks as asylum accommodation is unlawful, as there had been a ‘failure to have proper regard’ to the Public Sector Equality Duty. More information here, and coverage here. A hearing has been listed to determine the form of final order that will be granted.
Meanwhile, at Linton-on-Ouse, the local Council continues to await information from the Home Office.
Take Action: Stop ‘Accommodation Centres!’
If Government proposals succeed, more people will be placed in wholly unsuitable large scale institutional sites which will harm people seeking asylum. Write to your MP using our template letter — it takes just a few minutes! If you prefer, you can download and adapt the letter as a document from our website, where we have also shared an FAQ on the developments.
Inquiry into Park Inn tragedy
Campaigners Refugees for Justice have secured an inquiry into the events leading up to the Park Inn tragedy in Glasgow in 2020, coverage here.
Meanwhile, an investigation by Liberty Investigates and the Observer (please note that the articles linked to include content which some may find distressing) found an alarming rise in deaths in asylum accommodation in the last two years, prompting Stuart McDonald MP to comment: ‘What is also deeply troubling is that the huge increase in deaths coincides with significantly increased use of institutional accommodation instead of community housing. Yet this is precisely the model that the UK government is seeking to move towards, alongside its appalling Rwanda plans.”
Campsfield Immigration Removal Centre to reopen
Following the announcement that Campsfield IRC is set to reopen in 2023, Asylum Welcome in Oxford have stated ‘The government’s brutal approach of reopening Campsfield with the aim of criminalising people seeking asylum or migrants who are stuck and cannot return to their homeland, is itself criminal’. The leader of Oxford City Council has branded the plans ‘wrong and inhumane’, and Layla Moran MP stated it was ‘a disgraceful decision by the Home Office’.
Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre
On 28 and 29 June, Women for Refugee Women’s legal case against the Home Office was heard at the High Court, arguing that the detention of women at Derwentside IRC is unlawful because of the lack of in-person legal advice. Women for Refugee Women’s shared a useful thread summarising the hearing and you can stay updated with the case here.
On 30 June, local and national campaigners gathered outside the IRC to protest against the Home Office’s plans to deport a number of detainees to Nigeria on a charter flight. The protest allowed a number of women the time to access legal advice and prevent their deportation. You can keep up to date with the campaign to close the centre here.
- Home Office and Government developments
Changes to the law from 28 June 2022 as a result of Nationality and Borders Act
On 28 June, a number of measures in the Nationality and Borders Act came into effect. The measures include amended criminal offences with increased maximum penalties for people arriving in the UK without prior permission (increased from 6 months to 4 years), and maximum life sentences for people piloting small boats.
The differentiated treatment of refugees, in which the Home Office will separate refugees into ‘Group 1’ and ‘Group 2’ depending on their journey, has also come into force for asylum claims made on or after 28th June 2022. Group 2 refugees will be granted a new status called ‘temporary refugee permission to stay’, which has fewer rights attached. People who receive this status will:
- Have an initial period of 30 months’ permission to stay;
- Only be able to apply for settlement after ten years under the long residence rules;
- Have access to family reunion only where there are insurmountable obstacles to continuing family life.
The permission to stay policy states that people who receive temporary permission to stay will be granted recourse to public funds. Free Movement has put together a useful explainer of differentiated treatment.
The new measures also include humanitarian protection being downgraded to ‘temporary humanitarian permission to stay’.
The full Home Office guidance for assessing credibility and refugee status in asylum claims lodged on or after 28 June 2022 is available here, while Jon Featonby from the Red Cross has shared a useful thread outlining many of the changes here.
ICIBI report on reinspection of Napier barracks
An ICIBI report from a reinspection of Napier barracks in March 2022 found that work to improve the poor condition of shared dormitories had not been undertaken, but the introduction of a 90 day maximum duration of stay was positive.
Ministry of Justice consultation on future legal aid fees for asylum appeals
The Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation on future legal aid fees for asylum appeals in England and Wales, explainer here. The deadline to provide feedback is 8 August 2022.
Home Office social media campaign on channel crossings
JCWI and others have spoken out about a Home Office social media campaign aimed at people who may be considering travelling to the UK to claim asylum.
Covid 19 Inquiry
The terms of reference for the UK enquiry into Covid 19 have been finalised and include examination of the pandemic response in relation to immigration and asylum.
NRPF policy found unlawful again
The High Court has found that policy on access to public funds is unlawful for failing to take account of the best interests of children, or a previous judgement along similar lines. Free Movement has shared a useful explainer here.
- Research and reports
Resource on GPS electronic tagging
Privacy International have submitted evidence to the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, intended also as a resource on the intrusive surveillance now being employed by the Government on people seeking asylum. See here for a summary and here for the full report.
Briefing on Rwanda Migration Partnership
The House of Commons library has produced a briefing on the UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership.
- Resources, events, jobs & training
Maternity Action training on NHS charging regulations
Maternity Action are offering three, online training workshops in July on NHS charging regulations in England, focusing on charging for maternity care. More details about these workshops and joining instructions are available here.
- Helen Bamber Foundation are recruiting for a number of roles: psychologist, legal protection coordinator, finance and admin assistant, volunteer and training coordinator. Details here.
- Gold Jennings solicitors are recruiting for two trainee solicitors, closing date 15 July.
- The Sheila McKechnie Foundation is recruiting for a Head of Programmes, Knowledge and Insight Manager and Operations Manager, all closing 18 July.
- Student Action for Refugees are looking for a Student Network Manager, closing date 25 July.
What we’ve been reading
- Author Kamila Shamsie’s lecture on ten years of the hostile environment.
- This analysis of the Rwanda plan by Dr Paul Arnell in the Scotsman
- Free Movement’s briefing on the real state of the UK asylum system