Asylum Update – 28th May 2008


Journal article (1): The Politics of Refugee Protection by G.S. Goodwin-Gill in Refugee Survey Quarterly 27/1

Journal article (2): Dynamics and Countervailing Pressures of Visa, Asylum and Immigration Policy Treaty Revision: Explaining Change and Stagnation from the Amsterdam IGC to the IGC of 2003-04 by A. Niemann in the Journal of Common Market Studies 46/3

Medicins du Monde UK has published a report on Project London, a clinic providing healthcare and advice to vulnerable sectors, including asylum seekers. See also press release and press coverage

“Arts and refugees: history, impact and future” is a new study commissioned by the Arts Council England, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Baring Foundation to look at work over the last fifteen years which involves refugees and asylum seekers in the arts.

To track the effects of workplace checks on migrant and minority ethnic workers, the Migrants Rights Network has initiated the ‘Papers Please’ research project

Policy and law

Ambassadors of the EU member states have reached agreement on the draft Return Directive affecting ‘illegally staying third country nationals”. The European Parliament will vote on it on 16 June. See also ECRE/Amnesty letter to MEPs

The Refugee Council has issued its responses to the new quarterly asylum statistics and proposed increase in detention places. See also press coverage of new statistics here

The Welsh Assembly has announced that refused asylum seekers will be given access to NHS healthcare, in line with policy in Scotland. See media coverage here

The House of Lords has ruled that a refugee was entitled to protection from prosecution under the UN Refugee Convention when, after a short stopover in the UK, she presented false documentation to the airline to travel to the country where she intended to seek asylum.


Regional launches of the Independent Asylum Commission’s  Reports of Conclusions and Recommendations will take place in Birmingham on Thursday 12 June and Manchester on Monday 30 June. Attendance is by invitation only

Seminar: ‘Second Class Citizens: Are Progressives Failing Migrants?’ at the Compass conference on Saturday 14 June, with speakers from Barrow Cadbury Trust, Unite, the Migrant and Refugee Community Forum and others.

Conference: “Asylum – Pushing the Frontiers of Professional Practice” on Saturday 21 June at the University of Salford. Organized by the university together with the British Association of Social Workers and Unison.


Medact have produced a Maternity Advocacy and Access Pack for community organizations supporting “highly marginalised black and minority ethnic women, including refugees, asylum seekers, women with little or no English and women with insecure immigration status”.


Asylum Update – 21st May 2008


The Home Office has published asylum statistics for the first quarter of 2008. It has also announced changes to the contents following consultation. These will take effect from the next bulletin, and aim for a “more structured and broader overview of the statistics published.”

The Independent Asylum Commission has published Saving Sanctuary – its first report of conclusions and recommendations. It focuses on public attitudes and the decision-making process, and is the first of three reports to be issued this summer. See BBC coverage here.

The IOM and Eurasylum have published ‘Assessing the Costs and Impacts of Migration Policy: an International Comparison’. The book examines migration and asylum policies in several EU states, the USA, Canada, and the European Commission.

Call for papers on the issue of refugee status determination for an upcoming issue of Canadian journal Refuge. Deadline June 15 2008.

Policy and law

The Home Office has announced that the Citizenship, Immigration and Borders Bill will form part of the 2008-9 draft legislative programme. It claims the Bill provides for the “biggest shake-up of Britain’s border security and immigration system for over 35 years.”


Promoting Change through Innovation: New Approaches in Services for Migrants and Refugees is an international workshop to be held by the European Centre for Migration and Social Care at the University of Kent from 13th-15th June. Email for information and booking.

The EU-wide Odysseus Academic Network will hold its 8th Summer School on Immigration and Asylum Policy of the European Union in Brussels from 30 June-11 July 2008.

Refugee Week takes place from 16-25th June and will feature artistic, cultural and educational events across the country celebrating the contribution of refugees to the UK.

Conference: Tackling loss and trauma within mental health services conference. 3rd June, London. Includes speakers from Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and Refugee Council. Email for information and booking.


The UK Border Agency has announced plans for up to 60 per cent more immigration removal centre places in an effort to increase removals, with failed asylum seekers cited as one of the main target groups. Planning applications will be taken forward at Bicester and Yarls Wood.

Enforced removal in the US

We have discussed several times on this blog the complexity of removing failed asylum seekers that have exhausted all rights of appeal, particularly to areas of the world where the political conditions or social relations are unstable. While removals is the unpalatable aspect of any functioning asylum system, actually carrying them out runs up against a number of obstacles and puts pressure on state apparatus in the sending and receiving country as well as causing immense trauma for the individuals involved.

The UK government has been criticised for some of its treatment of asylum seekers during the removal process, notably for dawn raids and for heavy-handed treatment from security staff. They are yet to go this far in the UK however, as the Washington Post reports that the US authorities have been injecting hundreds of returnees with drugs without their permission to sedate them for the flight home. This reflects not only the difficulty in removing people, but also the ease with which inhumane, the sort of treatment that very few other groups in society would be subjected to, can be so easily meted out to those that have no legal status.

Read ICAR’s Removals briefing for more in-depth coverage on these issues in the UK

Asylum Update – 14th May 2008


The Equality and Human Rights Commission is gathering evidence for its Human Rights Inquiry into how human rights works in Britain. The deadline is 21 June for both employees and users of the public and voluntary sectors to submit evidence.

Journal article: The Human Rights of Failed Asylum Seekers in the United Kingdom by J.A. Sweeney in Public Law 2008

The Refugee Council has published Beyond the School Gates, its report on supporting refugees and asylum seekers in secondary schools.

The TUC Commission on Vulnerable Employment has published its findings. A section on asylum seekers recommends the right to work after six months.

Future Floods of Refugees is a new report published by Norwegian Refugee Council on the issue of ‘climate refugees’ escaping environmental disasters in developing countries. See also Foreign Secretary David Milliband’s response to BBC Newsnight on the prospect of such refugees seeking asylum in the UK.

According to Fortress Europe at least 12,059 people have died since 1988 along the European frontiers, including 36 in February 2008.

The European Migration Policy Centre (EMPC) is a new European Commission initiative aimed at linking policy-making and research. It will be set up by the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, and is due to open in the autumn.

Policy and law

The government has advised local councils to map and monitor local refugee communities as part of a new guide for local authorities aimed at promoting greater community cohesion and integration.

The Refugee Council and Asylum Aid have made available their responses to the UKBA’s consultation over its Code of Practice for Keeping Children Safe from Harm. See also press coverage

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the European Parliament must have as much a say as member states in designing ‘safe countries of origin’ for asylum seekers.

The European Commission will propose harmonising refugee resettlement practices in the EU member states in the asylum policy plan to be presented in June. The proposal does not however recommend specific quotas. Background: See 2005 ECRE resettlement paper

During discussions over a draft return directive, EU member states have failed to agree the maximum period a migrant can be kept in detention after entering EU territory.


People on the move: The challenges of displacement in the 21st century. International Rescue Committee (UK) annual lecture by António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. 7pm, 16th June, London. Details here

Comic Relief-funded refugee integration project Shared Futures launch with the Children’s Commissioner for England. 10am, 17th June, London. Places can be booked by email

Asylum Update – 9th May 2008


A new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England investigates Hillingdon council’s treatment of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC). Hillingdon is one of ten local authorities which have taken their case to the House of Lords because of alleged underfunding for their work with UASC.

Government and Opposition (Vol 43) is a special issue entitled ‘The Refugee in Trans/National Politics and Society: Representation, Contestation and Control.’ Contributions include Matthew J. Gibney on Asylum and the Expansion of Deportation in the United Kingdom.

The National Aids Trust has published ‘HIV and the UK Asylum Pathway: An overview by the National AIDS Trust of the pathway an asylum seeker takes in the UK from application to either integration or removal’.

New research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation identifies what the public identify as “today’s social evils”, including comments on and responses to immigration.

Policy and law

The Ministry of Justice has published its response to a consultation on Asylum and Immigration Tribunal procedure rules and fast track procedure rules.

The Torture (Damages) Bill would enable victims to sue governments responsible for torture. Currently with the House of Lords, it has been welcomed by the Immigration Advisory Service in view of the potential benefits for refugees who have suffered torture.

Pro Asyl has made its 2007 report ‘Border Controls at Sea: Requirements under International Human Rights and Refugee Law’ available in English.

The Independent Monitoring Board at Heathrow Airport has released a report on the short term holding facilities there during the period April 2007/January 2008. These facilities have been used to hold port asylum applicants.

The Refugee Council has produced a short policy guide for advisors and applicants to higher education wishing to know the rules governing refugees and asylum seekers to home fees and student support.


Conference on “Best Practices for Refugee Status Determination: Principles and Standards for State Responsibility”. Organised by Monash University Faculty of Law and Universite de Montreal Faculty of Law: Monash University, Italy, 29/30 May 2008.


The House of Lords recently debated part 10 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, which seeks to hold immigration leave and associated work and welfare related benefits from those such as ‘failed’ asylum seekers who cannot be deported because of the UK’s ECHR obligations under the ECHR.

Nigerians have called for a boycott of British Airways unless it apologises to passengers ordered off a flight to Lagos after they raised concerns about an asylum seeker who was being deported. One of the complaining passengers was arrested and may face charges.