Why the UK Must provide Asylum to Child Migrants in Calais
Senior leaders from Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths have signed a letter urging Prime Minister, Theresa May to allow nearly 400 refugee children Asylum in UK before the "Jungle" migrant camp near Calais is demolished.
Meanwhile, a Red Cross report - No Place for Children - has said lone children with family in the UK are being left to fend for themselves because of bureaucracy.
Charities estimate there are about 1,000 unaccompanied minors in the Jungle, many who have fled war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. About 400 could be resettled in the UK on Human Rights grounds. One organisation, Help Refugees, has engaged some of the UK’s best Immigration solicitors to launch a legal challenge against the Home Office for failing to provide Asylum to the child refugees languishing in Calais.
A legal victory for the Home Office
Charity organisations assisting child refugees were left devastated by a Court of Appeal decision in August which overturned a landmark decision that three Syrian teenagers and an accompanying adult should be immediately allowed into the UK on Human Rights grounds.
In January 2016, two judges in the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) ruled that the four had a right to Asylum in the UK under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as they had siblings living in Britain.
The three 16-year-olds, who in legal terms are classed as children, had been living in the so-called "Jungle" camp for at least two months. The fourth claimant was the 26-year-old brother of one of the other three and suffered from a serious mental illness.
All four had fled the Syrian civil war, saying they had witnessed traumatic events including bombings and death. Two of them were detained and tortured by the Syrian government.
None of them had been able to make effective Asylum claims in France - but they all have adult brothers who are legally settled in the UK as recognised refugees.
Their Immigration solicitors, who were among the best in the UK, successfully argued that all four should be allowed to enter the UK and apply for Asylum here, rather than being forced to remain in France in the hope that it’s government would eventually consider their case.
Under Dublin III Regulations, Asylum claims must be made in the first country the person reaches, but a child refugee can have their claim transferred to another country if they have relatives lawfully living there. However, it was argued that the Regulations were not working, partly due to the enormous number of refugees waiting to be processed in France.
All four were subsequently brought to the UK and given Asylum.
Lord Justice Moore-Bick, Lord Justice Longmore and Lord Justice Beatson ruled that bypassing the Dublin III Regulation “can only be justified in an especially compelling case”.
They continued, “In the light of the psychiatric evidence before the Upper Tribunal about the first four respondents and the evidence of the French lawyers and NGOs adduced by the respondents suggesting that there would be a delay of just under one year in the French system and that there was no possibility of expedition, the result the tribunal reached may have been justifiable.
“I am, however, not entirely persuaded that, had the tribunal applied the correct test, it must inevitably have reached the same conclusion. In those circumstances, the appropriate course would normally have been to remit the matter to the tribunal for reconsideration.
“However ... I have concluded that it would be inappropriate to take that course. I would therefore simply allow the appeal and make no further order.”
The four original refugees will not face deportation. However, hundreds of children trapped in Calais, fighting filth, loneliness and abuse, have had their Asylum applications set back to square-one. The judgment may force them to risk putting their lives in the hands of unscrupulous people smugglers to try to reach the UK.
UK Immigration lawyers are doing their best to support refugee children trapped in Calais and their British based families. The British government must respect the Human Rights of these young people and allow them to join their relatives in Britain and claim Asylum.
Otherwise, they face another cold, dangerous winter, alone somewhere in France.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected Immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. We can assist you in applying for Asylum in the UK and provide ongoing support throughout the process.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.