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Update on Challenge to Derwentside

August 4, 2022 12:52 PM
By Margaret Lally

We were deeply disappointed to read last week that the legal challenge brought by Women for Refugee Women (WfRW) had been unsuccessful. The judge who heard the case did not uphold WfRW's position that by detaining women in Derwentside without access to in-person legal advice, the Home Office had denied them access to justice The ruling notes that "the quality and convenience of modern video-conference facilities is very good, and comparable to an in-person meeting" and that "the telephone is an adequate means of communication for most people".

Sadly, we know that this is not the case for many women who are detained including those who are survivors of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. WfRW will continue to campaign on this issue and will be providing information on possible next steps including an appeal as soon as possible.

Increased use of detention

Despite the World Health Organisation's condemnation of the increased use of asylum processing centres globally, the UK government has reportedly earmarked six former military sites to become accommodation centres for up to 30 000 people seeking sanctuary. The Home Office have said that these sites will go ahead if the proposed centre for 1 500 people at Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire can be "shown to work". The Linton Action Group continues to campaign against accommodation centres.

You can take action now Write to your MP using Asylum Matters template letter to call on them to oppose accommodation centres - it takes just two minutes! If you prefer, you can download and adapt the letter as a document from their website, where they have also shared an FAQ on accommodation centres.

Rwanda

Judges have ruled that the High Court Challenges to the Rwanda policy will begin on 5th September, and also heard that several people seeking asylum who the Government intended to be removed to Rwanda have been identified as potential victims of trafficking.

Together with Refugees will be holding a Day of Action on Friday 23 September for us all to campaign against the Rwanda scheme. They will be posting more details.

Campaign against anti refugee laws

With both candidates for the Conservative party leadership trying to outdo each other on anti -asylum pledges it's clear that we need as many people as possible to speak up for a different approach. Write to your MP to ask them to add their voice to the Fight The Anti-Refugee Laws pledge. The pledge has now been signed by almost 40 MPs and over 400 organisations across the UK, and remains open to signature for organisations and individuals.

Fly With Me

A quick reminder of the upcoming project from the Good Chance Theatre, Fly With Me, bringing together Afghan artists in locations across the UK and Europe on 20th August to mark the one year since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Good Chance Theatre, the group behind the Walk With Amal, have included the Fight the #AntiRefugeeLaws pledge as the key campaign action for the project.

You can promote the launch on twitter, instagram and facebook; or find assets here to post yourself.

Exploitation of people seeking asylum in the UK

The British Red Cross (BRC) and UNHCR have recently published a report At risk: exploitation and the UK asylum system which found that people seeking in asylum in the UK are at risk of exploitation and have been exploited in the UK. When individuals are forced to flee, they leave behind everything. They lose their community support and networks and become socially isolated. They may not have secure immigration status and the safety it brings; certainly they are unlikely to get status quickly. The report found that people seeking asylum in the UK have felt unsafe, unable to disclose experiences of human trafficking and have been forced into domestic servitude, sexual and labour exploitation and forced criminality. The system is over-reliant on people self-identifying as victims which often not feasible. The report's recommendations include screening for vulnerabilities, prioritising safety over enforcement and making efficient decisions. It is available on the BRC website.

Independent reports on small boats and Border Force

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) has published a new report on small boat arrivals, concluding that the Home Office's current approach is "ineffective and inefficient" and leaves vulnerable people at risk. The Chief Inspector himself has also voiced concern at the Home Secretary's lack of engagement and avoidance of statutory checks on her performance.

Asylum support rates review - deadline extension

The Home Office has launched its annual review of asylum support rates, and has asked voluntary sector organisations to contribute their views through the National Asylum Stakeholder Forum (NASF) support subgroup. Last year's review resulted in the support rate increasing by £1.22 (or 3.1%) a week to £40.85. The deadline for submissions has been extended to 11th August. The Asylum Matters team has created a document featuring toplines and recommendations which partners are welcome to use to support their response to the review - please email them at info@asylummatters.org