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ASSIGNMENT ON: Refugees Protection in UK


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Sayef Amin
Southeast University

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ASSIGNMENT ON: Refugees Protection in UK

  1. 1. International Refugee LawCourse Code:LLBH 4212 3/5/2012
  2. 2. ASSIGNMENT ON:Refugees Protection in UK 2
  3. 3. What is an Asylum Seeker?An asylum seeker is a person who requests refugee status in another state,usually on the grounds that he or she has a well founded fear of persecution intheir home country or that they feel their life or liberty is threatened by armedconflict or violence.Since the 1980s more than five million people have submitted such requests forrefugee status in Western Europe, North America, Japan and Australasia.With the era of open immigration in the post World War II years now a distantmemory, inevitably, such large numbers of refugee movements has caused abacklash amongst traditional receiving states and continents.Background to Asylum:The concept of asylum is not new. It has been in existence for almost 3,500years and can be found in different interpretations in many ancient societies. AHittite King in the second millennium BC declared "Concerning a refugee, Iaffirm an oath the following: when a refugee comes from your land into mine hewill not be returned to you. To return a refugee from the land of the Hittites isnot right."In more modern times, the member nations of the European Union, especiallythose with colonial backgrounds have traditionally welcomed immigrants. TheUK, France and the Netherlands have all received significant numbers of peoplefrom the Commonwealth, Algeria and the Dutch Antilles respectively. Today,the UK remains proud of its record on immigration, referring to its laissez faireattitude as far back as the Eighteenth century, when London already enjoyed acosmopolitan populace.The Geneva Convention:The cornerstone of international refugee protection is the 1951 GenevaConvention and the 1967 Protocol. The Geneva Convention was designed as aresponse to the mass migration flows Europe witnessed in the immediateaftermath of World War II. With European displacement firmly in its mind, theGeneva Convention originally contained a geographical and historical clause,which automatically banned people from certain countries from claimingasylum. 3
  4. 4. The 1967 Protocol removed these restrictions and allowed people from anycountry to claim asylum. The Convention provides protection to those whohave:"A well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion,nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion…" It isimportant to recognize that the Convention does not make the claim of asylum aright of the individual. The granting of asylum has always been (and remains)the right of a state. However the universal recognition of asylum by states canbe viewed as an implicit right of an individual to claim asylum.The 1951 Geneva Convention has a far wider social impact than merelydefining a refugee. The convention also covers the social and economiccircumstances of refugees in countries of exile. Whilst stating that all refugeesshould adhere to the laws and regulations of their host country, the conventionalso states that refugees should receive benefit of equal measure to other aliensresiding in the country. These benefits extend to personal status, artistic rightsand industrial property, right of association and access to courts. Additionally,non-discrimination and a minimum standard of religious freedom are also to beallowed. With reference to employment status- the convention stipulates thatrefugees should be given the same rights as other foreigners in the country. Interms of welfare rights- the convention states that refugees should be allowedequal access to rationing, elementary education, public relief and assistance andsocial security.Asylum Policy in the UK:Apart from the UK signing the 1951 Geneva Convention, there was little if nomention of asylum in UK legislation until the 1980s. In response to the growingnumber of applications, the UK government in 1987 signed the CarriersLiability Act in 1987. This imposed heavy fines on all carriers who were foundto have transported people without the correct documentation into the UK. Visarestrictions were also introduced for certain nationals. However the 1990switnessed unprecedented legislative action on asylum and immigration withthree statutes in a decade. Here is a brief breakdown of the acts: 4
  5. 5. Protecting Refugees:In the UK, UNHCR provides guidance on refugee and asylum law and policy tothe UK government, legal practitioners, non-governmental organizations andmany others. Where appropriate UNHCR takes up cases and raises issues ofconcern with our counterparts in the UK government. We intervene in courtproceedings, which are precedent-setting for the international protection ofrefugees. We also provide training on a range of issues to those working withasylum-seekers and refugees.Legal Interventions in Precedent-Setting Cases:UNHCR is able to intervene in select asylum cases, and we are alwaysinterested to hear from legal representatives about forthcoming cases raisingmatters of particular concern that are precedent-setting on significant issues ofasylum and refugee law. Interventions by UNHCR may take the form of lettersof advice or opinion for use at any stage of the asylum process. In exceptionalcircumstances, UNHCR may make direct contact about an individual case withour counterparts in the Home Office or the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Inappropriate cases, UNHCR may consider applying to act as an intervener.UNHCRs role when intervening in individual cases is to provide a guidingframework, with refugee protection at the heart, through advice on questions ofprinciple, and through the provision of UNHCR papers on country situationsand on particular topics. We hope that such interventions provide a frameworkof guidance or advice to the court, in which legal representatives can apply theirown skill and experience to ensure that international protection, is granted tothose who need it.Why do we intervene in such cases?UNHCR recognises the important role played by UK courts in the developmentof international refugee law. UNHCR believes that its intervention in nationalcourts is a powerful means of asserting a position on refugee protection andcontributing to the development of international refugee law. Due to limitedresources, UNHCRs interventions have focussed on higher level courtproceedings, due to the precedent-setting nature of the decisions. 5
  6. 6. The UK’s role in the international refugee protectionJuly 2008 In recent years, global refugee numbers have been increasing, from8.7 million in 2005, 9.9 million in 2006 to 11.4 million by the end of 2007.Most refugees flee to neighboring countries and remain in their region of origin.At the end of 2007, the Middle East and North Africa region hosted a quarter ofall refugees (approx. 2,700,000 refugees), primarily from Iraq, while Europehosted 14% (approx. 1,580,000 refugees). Pakistan is the country with the singlelargest number of refugees (2 million). Between them, Syria and Jordan hostover 2 million Iraqi refugees. In comparison, the UK hosts less than 300,000representing 2.6% of the world’s refugees.Global asylum numbers are also increasing. Approximately 647,000 asylumapplications were made around the world in 2007 – an increase of 5% from2006 and the first rise in 4 years. EU countries received 222,900 newapplications in 2007 – an 11% increase on 2006. The UK received 27,900asylum claims in 2007, just over 8% of the total received in industrializedcountries and the lowest level recorded since 1989. By contrast, in 2003, the UKreceived 60,050 applications. Some Western European countries such asAustria, Germany and France have seen a steady decrease in asylum numbers.Figures in Germany reached a 30-year low in 2007 with 19,200 individualsapplying for asylum. In Sweden, however, the 2007 level is the third highestever witnessed in the country after 1992 (84,000 claims) and 1993 (37,600claims). This increase has been caused primarily by the continuous arrival oflarge numbers of Iraqi asylum-seekers. Major increases have been witnessed atthe external borders of the EU, in Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey. Greece hasemerged as a major new recipient of asylum-seekers in the industrialized world.In the course of 2007, 25,100 asylum applications were lodged in the country,almost 13,000 more than in 2006, constituting five times more applications thanin 2004 (4,500 asylum claims). Airline Liaison Officers (ALOs) and juxtaposedcontrols – UK immigration officers posted at train and ferry ports in France andBelgium – are just two of the measures used to control irregular migrationoverseas. The UK has approximately 40 ALOs posted in over 30 locationsaround the world. 6
  7. 7. In the last 5 years, UK ALOs have prevented more than 150,000 inadequatelydocumented migrants from reaching the UK. Juxtaposed controls stopped16,898 people crossing the channel irregularly in 2006. It is not know howmany of those stopped were fleeing persecution. In Kent the number of irregularimmigrants arriving since 2002 has reduced by 88%.Since FRONTEX became fully operational in 2006, it has intercepted over50,000 irregular migrants in 33 different operations, and the UK was involvedin approximately half of these operations. FRONTEX does not provide anybreakdown of whether those intercepted wished to/did seek protection. Since1993, UNITED has recorded the deaths of more than 8800 refugees andmigrants British Refugee Council, (commonly called the Refugee Council) is acompany limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales,The European share of global resettlement remains modest with 5610resettlement places available. The UK resettled 413 refugees in 2007-8 andincreased the quota from 500 to 750, including a commitment to accept Iraqis.These are welcome developments and place the UK’s quota 250 higherthan the Netherlands and Denmark although significantly lower than Sweden(1900) and Norway (1200). Divergences between the different asylum systemsof Member States have resulted in differing recognition of refugees acrossEurope. Iraqis were the largest group applying for asylum in industrializedcountries in 2006 and 2007. However, positive decision rates at first instance onIraqi applications varied from 0% to over 90% in the EU during 2007.Recognition rates for Iraqis at first instance: 97% in Hungary; 87.5% in Cyprus;82% in Sweden; 85% in Germany; 30% in Denmark; 13% in the UK and 0% inGreece.Integrating refugees into the UK  Gateway Protection Programme  Integration loan  European Refugee FundThis page explains the UK Border Agencys integration loan scheme for newrefugees and those granted humanitarian protection. 7
  8. 8. The UK Border Agency administers a loan scheme to help new refugees, thosegranted humanitarian protection, and their respective dependants, to purchasegoods and services to assist their integration into the UK.The opportunity to apply for an integration loan is available to any person whois granted refugee status, humanitarian protection, and their respectivedependants. The loan scheme is designed to give financial support to theseindividuals as they enter a critical period during which time they may have tofind accommodation, train or re-qualify and seek employment. The loans areinterest free.The criteria on which the loans are determined is set out in Governmentregulations and guidance. It is intended that the loan will be spent on items andactivities that facilitate integration such as: vocational training where provision is not available through Job centre Plus; a deposit for accommodation; buying essential items for the home; or the purchase of tools of a trade.The loan scheme is not retrospective and so only those granted leave to enter orremain as a refugee, on the grounds of humanitarian protection or theirrespective dependants after the 11 June 2007, when the scheme was introduced,can apply for a loan.The application form can be downloaded from the right side of this page andalso from the integration page of the Asylum section of this website. Guidancenotes are also on both pages and may help with the completion of theapplication form and address any queries applicants may have about thescheme. Copies are also sent out by the UK Border Agency with asylumdecisions where appropriate.The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) make the loan payments onbehalf of the UK Border Agency. Once the payment has been made, repaymentswill be made directly from those in receipt of income related benefit (incomesupport, income based job seekers allowance or pension credit). For that not inreceipt of these benefits, DWP will recover the loan, usually by direct debitarrangement. DWP will make direct contact with loan recipients about thecollection arrangements. 8
  9. 9. Who will be eligible for an integration loan?Anybody over the age of 18 years who is granted full refugee status orhumanitarian protection after 11 June 2007 will be eligible to apply for a loan aswill their dependants who are also aged over 18 years of age.The criteria on which the integration loans are determined is set out in theIntegration Loans for Refugees and Other Regulations 2007, and enable loansonly to be made to those granted refugee and humanitarian protection status.Asylum seekers who are granted indefinite leave to remain outside theImmigration Rules are not eligible to apply for a loan.Only one loan payment is allowed per person. Joint applications will only beconsidered if both partners would be separately eligible for a loan and if bothpartners would benefit from the loan.The criteria against which decisions are made is set out in the loan regulationsand the supporting policy guidance document. This criterion includes theintended use of the loan and the applicants financial position.The length of time a person has already spent in the UK prior to a loanapplication being made will be taken into account, this may be time spent as arefugee or under some other immigration status. The time that has elapsed sincean applicant arrived here and/or was granted refugee status will be relevant tohis/her integration needs and the assistance that he/she requires, but eachapplication will be considered on its own merits.The payment of an integration loan to an applicant who has been convicted of acriminal offence since arriving in the United Kingdom is not normally regardedas an appropriate use of public funds and such applications will be consideredfor refusal.How does someone apply for a loan?Application forms are sent out to refugees and those granted humanitarianprotection with the letters notifying them of a successful outcome. They are alsoavailable to download from the right side of this page. Completed applicationforms should be sent to the Integration Loan Team in the UK Border Agencywhich is responsible for considering loan applications and ensuring that loanpayments are targeted towards those with the greatest integration needs.A person applying for a loan must have a National Insurance Number. A loanapplication is not valid without one and will be refused. If the applicant has not 9
  10. 10. been issued with a National Insurance Number he/she should apply for one assoon as possible at the nearest Job centre Plus.A person cannot apply for a loan from abroad. The loan scheme is to enablenew refugees, those granted humanitarian protection and their respectivedependants under UK immigration legislation, to integrate into UK society. It isnot applicable to those applying to come here from abroad.Applications must be made in English on the Integration Loan application form.Applicants may wish to seek help from the nearest One Stop Service or a localrefugee community organization.Incomplete application forms will be returned to the applicant without anyaction being taken. It is up to the applicant to reapply for a loan once they haveall the information requested on the application form.What can be purchased with an integration loan?The Integration Loan Scheme is in place to allow those recently granted refugeestatus, humanitarian protection (and their respective dependants) to apply for aloan to purchase items and services that will help their integration into the UK.This will usually be for housing, employment or education purposes.Loans will not be awarded for luxury or non-essential items. Exclusions mayinclude payment of arrears, general living costs, driving lessons or traveldocuments. Nor will loans be paid for the travel costs of family memberscoming to the UK under Family Reunion arrangements.The total amount of money that can be paid out in loans each year is limited.The amount of money offered to eligible applicants may therefore vary duringthe financial year to keep within budgetary constraints. The minimum loanaward that will be paid is £100 and the maximum amount that will be paid isvariable.How are the loans paid and repaid?The loan is usually paid directly into the applicants bank or building societyaccount. If the applicant does not have an account then they are advised to openone before applying for a loan. Money will not be paid into a third partysaccount. If the applicant cannot open a banking account and the loan is under£450, a cheque can be issued in exceptional circumstances. 10
  11. 11. The loan will be collected in regular installments by the Department for Workand Pensions (DWP). For those in receipt of social security benefit, collectionwill be taken directly from that benefit through mechanisms in place to collectthird party deductions such as utility debts and court fines. Where a refugee isnot receiving state benefits, he/she will repay the loan directly to DWP. In mostcases repayment of the loan will begin six weeks after the funds are released tothe individual.Loan recipients will sign a loan agreement which sets out how much they willbe required to pay each week/month. DWP will renegotiate the rate repayableeach time the person switches from benefits to work and vice versa. The ratethey are required to pay may increase.Other organizations that can help refugees:There are many organizations in the UK that can offer vital help to vulnerablerefugees and asylum seekers:  People who need advice and support"Get connected" help line for young peopleGet Connected finds young people help by giving emotional support, exploringthe options available to a young person and putting them in touch with theservice that can help them best. Call 0808 808 4994.United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is theagency mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugeesand resolve refugee problems worldwide.Migrant HelplineMigrant Helpline is a non-government organization that provides advice toasylum seekers and refugees, promotes awareness of asylum issues and workstowards the integration of asylum seekers and refugees within the community.Asylum AidAsylum Aid gives free legal advice and represents the most vulnerable anddisadvantaged people seeking asylum in the UK in their asylum applications. 11
  12. 12. Refugee ActionRefugee Action provides practical advice and assistance for newly arrivedasylum seekers and is committed to their settlement through communitydevelopment work.ShelterShelter helps 100,000 people find and keep a home each year.The Salvation ArmyThe Salvation Army is part of an international Christian church and one of thelargest providers of social welfare in the world.Refugee CouncilThe Refugee Council provides support and help to refugees and asylum seekers.  Background and policy information on refugee issuesHome OfficeThe Home Office is the Government department responsible for internal affairsand immigration control (permission to stay, citizenship, and asylum) inEngland and Wales.European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)The European Council on Refugees and Exiles is a pan-European network ofrefugee-assisting non-governmental organizations, aiming to promote theprotection and integration of refugees in Europe.Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA)The Immigration Law Practitioners Association promotes and improves theadvising and representation of immigrants, and provides information tomembers on domestic and European immigration, refugee and nationality law 12