The MLP has worked, since 2015, on issues that arising from the European ‘refugee crisis’. This work has focussed primarily on issues relating to family reunion for individuals who are in Europe or elsewhere, separated from family members in the UK.
The MLP has undertaken a range of work, supporting the sector as a whole to develop its understanding, skills, and practice in this area to take cases forward, as well as including representing organisations and individuals. This is a complex and developing area of work, encompassing work around both Dublin III processes, and the wider Entry Clearance regime.
Two of our key cases are set out below.
Many thousands of asylum seekers and migrants are scattered across Europe and in refugee-producing and neighbouring countries. They are living in terrible conditions, with poor sanitation, no shelter, uncertain access to food, and many of them are subjected to or are witnessing police brutality. Among these are a significant number of separated children who are vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking, and violence. Due to the dire conditions in camps, and a lack of understanding of legal rights, compounded by a severe shortage of legal advice, many persist in their attempt to enter the UK clandestinely, risking their lives, to join close family members. Family members in the UK, whether in the process of claiming asylum, or having secured protection, are often desperate to be reunited with family members from whom they have been separated during arduous journeys from their country of origin.
Dublin III Family Reunion
Starting in 2015, when the ‘refugee crisis’ first began to impact on Europe with large numbers of new arrivals, the MLP worked with Safe Passage, lawyers from Bhatt Murphy, Islington Law Centre, barristers from Doughty Street and Blackstone Chambers, and others, in camps in Europe – for example in Calais and Greece. We initially focussed on the Calais ‘Jungle’, and worked to find out all possible routes for these children to make a claim to join their families in the UK, including what routes available in France. What we found was that, although, under the law, there is a clear right for this group to be reunited with family, there was no clear and accessible process to enable them to do so. We worked with a range of organisations to negotiate access to Dublin III processes for these children and young people.
The MLP, together with Bhatt Murphy, acted for 3 children and 1 vulnerable adult trapped in the “Jungle” in Calais where the Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber allowed all four young people to travel to the UK and be reunited with relatives here.
The case was heard on 18th and 20th January 2016 with four Applicants; two represented by the MLP and two represented by Bhatt Murphy. Due to the urgent nature of the matter, a Mandatory Order was made on 20th January. The Order was that once the 4 Applicants in Calais or their lawyers had written to the French authorities that those Applicants were claiming asylum in France and provided confirmation of this to the Home Office then the Home Office had to allow the 4 Applicants to travel to the UK for the UK Home Office to decide their application that their asylum claims should be considered by the UK. While this judgment relates specifically to these cases, it may have significant repercussions for very many families in the UK with members trapped in terrible situations in camps across Europe. The full judgment in this case handed down on 26th January 2016 and can be found here.
2nd August 2016 – Court of Appeal judgment
The Home Office went on to appeal the Upper Tribunal’s decision in ZAT, and the judgment was handed down in August 2016. The full approved judgment can be found here.
Citizens UK challenged the government’s failure to take steps to protect the rights of children awaiting family reunion in the ‘Jungle’ prior to its demotion in 2016.
Citizens UK, represented by the MLP, secured a judgment in the Court of Appeal that showed that the government had misled the High Court over this issue. The full judgment can be found here.
The case was heard together with ‘AM & others’, and that judgment is available here.