"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Whisky Tango Foxtrot

According to the Irish Times an asylum appeal case referred to the ECJ could set an important legal precedent affecting thousands of asylum claims in the EU (that includes us).

Five asylum seekers have launched an appeal against a transfer order to Greece made by the Irish Minister for Justice issued under the Dublin II regulation - the EU law that stipulates asylum applications should be decided in the EU state where a person first arrives.

The asylum seekers don't dispute arriving first in Greece but they argue that their human rights would be infringed if they were returned to Greece, because they argue it doesn't operate a 'fair or humane' asylum system.

The appeal against the transfer draws on advice issued by António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in December, which asked all EU states to stop transferring asylum seekers to Greece because of shortcomings in its system.  If the appeal is upheld it will limit member states' ability to send asylum seekers back to Greece and other member states - not that we'd notice the difference in England.   Our Court of Appeal has also referred a similar case to the ECJ.  Fat chance.

It all ties in with the Supreme Court (the one that replaced the House of Lords as the highest Court in the land) dismissing a Home Office challenge to an EU directive that allows asylum-seekers to look for work if their claim has not been processed within a year.  Asylum seekers aren't allowed to look for work when they initially submit claims but under the Reception Directive, which the Labour government signed up to in 2003, asylum applicants are entitled to work if their claim is still outstanding after twelve months.

The dispute centred on the rights of asylum-seekers who have already had one application for shelter rejected but then submit a new claim - individuals who the Home Office argued weren't covered by the Directive and therefore not entitled to seek work after twelve months in the UK.

However, Supreme Justices have now concluded the same rules apply to any asylum seeker who has already had at least one claim rejected but has submitted a fresh one. The Home Office estimates at least 45,000 asylum-seekers will be immediately affected by the ruling.

Happy Days!

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