Refugee Week - Criminalising cross-channel crossings: Penalties, Rescue & Refugee Convention Compliance

Thursday 29 June 2023

This event was brought to you by the Garden Court Public Law Team and the Garden Court Immigration Team.

Date: Thursday 29 June 2023
Time: 5.30pm - 7pm
Cost: Free
Areas of Law: Immigration Detention, Asylum and Deportation , Immigration Law , Administrative and Public Law

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Following the draconian measures which have been passed, and are about to be passed in the UK, which among other things, include clamping down on 'small boat' crossings from France, this event explored how cross-channel crossings have become criminalised in 'Fortress Europe'.

Focusing on both the Greek and UK context we looked at how, not only, those seeking sanctuary have become criminalised, but also how those committed to rescuing those left to drown at sea are also facing the might of the State. 


Speaker Panel

Gráinne Mellon, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Chair)
Gráinne is a public law specialist with expertise in human rights, civil liberties and equality law. Her practice includes education, community care, Court of Protection, immigration law, children’s rights and discrimination law. Gráinne acts in judicial review claims and in civil claims for damages under the Human Rights Act 1998. She is particularly known for her work representing vulnerable children and adults across the spectrum of both public and private law. In addition to her domestic practice, Gráinne acts and advises in international and European human rights law. Grainne was shortlisted as a finalist in the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2022 for Barrister of the Year.

Grainne acts for Seán Binder in his case, after he was charged with a number of serious criminal offences connected to migrant search and rescue work he carried out as a volunteer for a humanitarian NGO in Lesbos, Greece.

Jennifer Twite, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Jennifer is a specialist in youth justice and children’s rights. Her public law practice involves taking challenges regarding the disclosure of criminal records, criminal-justice-related judicial reviews and community care. Jennifer has been involved in a number of age assessment cases involving unaccompanied age-disputed individuals.

Jennifer has been involved in a number of high-profile cases involving the rights of children within the criminal justice system at all levels up to the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Including a recent challenge in the Court of Appeal on the criminalisation of those coming across in 'small boats'. She co-authored 'Youth Justice Law and Practice' and sits as a Deputy District Judge in the Magistrates’ Court. Jennifer was Head of Strategic Litigation at Just for Kids Law for seven years before joining Chambers. 

Nadia O'Mara, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Nadia has a broad public law and civil liberties practice and accepts instructions in Administrative and Public Law, Immigration & Asylum, Community Care, Education, Human Rights & Civil Liberties, Court of Protection, and challenges under the Equality Act. Prior to coming to the Bar, she qualified as an IAAS Senior Immigration Caseworker and provided legal advice and assistance to migrants in Greece and Calais, France. 

Nadia has a particular interest in issues arising in the context of immigration detention. She is regularly instructed in bail applications and provides a holistic approach to advice and representation, including where issues of unlawful detention and/ or asylum support arise. She takes a trauma-informed approach to her practice and is trained in psychological first aid and working with people experiencing PSTD. 

Natasha Dailiani, Legal Centre Lesvos
Natasha Ntailiani is a Greek Lawyer registered with Athens Bar Association. She is based in Athens Greece. As a lawyer, she has worked in several fields of law (i.e. criminal, administrative, civil) and since 2016 she works with the Legal Centre Lesvos, an NGO based in Lesvos providing free legal aid and legal representation to migrants and refugees in Lesvos and holds the position of Head of the Legal Team. In her work with Legal Centre Lesvos, she has been involved inter alia in legal representation of migrants in all stages of their asylum procedure, including family reunification, in criminal and administrative procedures and litigation to the European Court of Human Rights and other international bodies.

Seán Binder, Human Rights Activist
Seán Binder was arrested in 2018 and spent over 100 days in pre-trial detention for what Human Rights Watch calls the "criminalisation of saving lives". He still faces decades in prison as the prosecution drags into its sixth year. Since his initial release, he has researched the EU-wide criminalisation of humanitarian action and campaigned for human rights in Europe. He is the NYU legal fellow at JUSTICE, a legal reform organisation in the UK. He has been offered pupillage at Red Lion Chambers beginning in September 2024. 

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