Deprivation of citizenship, exclusion and prosecution: the UK Home Office’s reaction James Foley’s Killing.

The Home Secretary has vowed to attack those perceived as British extremists with new laws, the aggressive application of existing legislation (and more blistering political rhetoric). In an article for the Daily Telegraph, where she speaks of foreign “hate preachers”, she says “We must give ourselves all the legal powers we need to prevail… I am looking at the case for banning orders for extremist groups that fall short of the threshold for terrorist prescription as well as for new civil powers to target extremists who seek to radicalise others”. She speaks of stripping dual nationals of their citizenship (the law prevents her from doing the same to sole British nationals as this would render them stateless) and investigating and prosecuting those who return from Syria and Iraq.

The occasion for this intemperate and illiberal outgushing was in part the video killing of the American freelance photojournalist James Foley in Syria this month (from his accent the killer is believed to be British). But her words will also serve to stir up a section of the traditional Conservative Party loyalists in the run up to next year’s general election.

New laws made in hast and hard times have a bad record for imposing restrictions on civil society that would never have been tolerated if granted calm scrutiny. Law-making should not be a frenzied and vengeful process.

How to Work Legally in the UK Without a Visa (in Immigration Detention)

In common with all immigration lawyers, I am often approached by clients who wish to work legally in the UK but have been refused a visa. Whilst I can often suggest a solution, it seems that  UK Home Office Contractors have been offering this service on a massive scale- and the work comes with accommodation (compulsory).

Campaign group Corporate Watch (CW) allege detention contractors exploit immigration detainees as a cheaper than minimum wage workforce in the detention and removal centres run on behalf of the Home Office.

The allegations arise from UK Home Office figures which reveal that in May 2014 alone detainees at seven centres (run by Serco, G4S, GEO and Mitie) did nearly 45,000 hours of work for an average of around £1 per hour (National Minimum Wage rates for adults is £5.13 or for workers 21 and over, £6.50 p/h).

It is suggested that this work is a means by which these organisations are satisfying some of their core contractual obligations to the Home Office (cleaning, cooking etc). CW researcher has stated “these companies are potentially saving millions of pounds by exploiting their captive migrant workforce on a grand scale”.

But aren’t there laws against that kind of exploitation?

Well, section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009  creates an offence of holding another person in slavery or servitude or requiring them to perform forced or compulsory labour. 

Section 71 says: A person (D) commits an offence if:

(i)    D holds another person in slavery or servitude and the circumstances are such that D knows or ought to know that the person is so held, or

(ii)    D requires another person to perform forced or compulsory labour and the circumstances are such that D knows or ought to know that the person is being required to perform such labour.

The references to holding a person in slavery or servitude etc are to be construed in accordance with Article 4 of the Human Rights Convention, but Article 4(3) of the ECHR sets out exceptions -“forced or compulsory labour” does not include any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention (e.g. for deportation or to prevent illegal entry to a country).

Now I know where to point the next client who wants to work legally in the UK without a visa.

(Corporate Watch   describes its role as the  investigation of “the social and environmental impacts of corporations and corporate power”).

See CW’s Tweet: via @CorpWatchUK

Immigration Lawyer Jeremy Chipperfield, practising from the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, Chancery Lane, also writes at Immigration Barrister website iBarristersChambers.

UK Home Office Urged: Treat Asylum Seekers as Human Beings

In its new report,The Extent and Impact of Asylum Accommodation Problems in Scotland the Scottish Refugee Council has lambasted the UK Home Office over the conditions suffered by asylum seekers housed under the government’s COMPASS contract (currently run by SERCO). the report arises from the SRC’s work which includes providing advice and advocacy to those in Scotland who are claiming asylum.The report identifies amongst other things, problems with the physical condition of accommodation and amenities and insufficient facilitation of the making of complaints and identification of unsatisfactory conditions.

SERCO has had the contract for 2 1/2 years so it cannot be said that these problems are transitional or inherited.

The SRC appeals to the Home Office to be more responsive to issues when they are raised, and to treat asylum-seekers as Human Beings and provide housing that genuinely supports their needs.

Too Many Successful Appeals – Down With the ECHR, says Home Secretary

Britain’s Daily Mail (whose anti immigration stance is often the talking point amongst immigration lawyers) reported this week that Britain must pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) so that it may pursue the government’s aim of deporting more foreign criminals. (Thanks to the immigration solicitor at court who pointed this article out to me yesterday). 

It is said that in order to achieve success in its objective, to “get rid of foreign criminals”, the Home Secretary has advised Prime Minister David Cameron to withdraw from the convention. This follows the criticism that the provisions of the ECHR have for years been used by immigration barristers and solicitors to bring successful appeals against Home Office decisions refusing  visas (entry clearance) and removing and deporting people from the UK. The ECHR has been used to win appeals brought against decisions of the Home Secretary in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and in the High Court and Supreme Court.

The Mail reports that some party members consider that complete withdrawal from the convention is the only “credible option” to free domestic courts from the edicts of the Strasbourg judges. Others will doubtless be taking a less radical stance and talking about further attempts to curtail its effect.

This news follows earlier reporting that despite government’s stated intention and efforts to increase deportations, they have been thwarted by the rise in the rate of successful appeals against deportation.

It is expected that  plans to limit the effect of the convention will be presented to the Conservative Party conference this Autumn.

The article does not go on to consider the impact of removing the convention which has in many cases been the only safeguard against often harsh immigration laws- protecting lives, preventing torture and inhuman or degrading treatment and preventing the break up of families. 

successful echr appeals
Some in UK government wish to withdraw from ECHR- Freeing Britain from Human Rights

Should you wish to consider the tyrannical effect of the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights, click here.