At a conference in London on Thursday the 5th February, the Refugee Council published the interim findings of its project working with vulnerable women who have claimed asylum in the UK. The report highlighted that sexual violence lay behind a very significant number of asylum claims made by women. However, equally disturbing are the findings that an alarming number of women refugees and asylum seekers have been a victim of such violence in the UK. As Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
"We are all aware that rape and sexual violence are commonplace in conflict situations, and our project confirms this. However, what is truly shocking is that women continue to suffer when they come to the UK. They struggle to tell their stories, many have their claims for asylum rejected, and many end up sleeping rough or forced to rely on others. As a result, some women end up experiencing sexual violence here, the place they thought they would be safe, either by selling themselves to get food and shelter or by ending up in such precarious situations that they are acutely vulnerable to rape and sexual assault." Read more
The Council of Europe, in a report published on the 4th February,. have criticised the persistence of grave, systemic deficiencies in the Greek asylum practice. The report states the current system in Greece puts at risk the fundamental right to seek and to enjoy asylum and call for the establishment of a coherent and adequately resourced action plan on refugee protection.
The European Court of Justice in Migrationsverket (re PETROSIAN) v Edgar Petrosian and ors. Case C 19/08, have found that for the purpose of Art. 20(1)(d) and Art. 20(2) of Regulation No 343/2003 of Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003, which established the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a person liable for third-country removal. The relevant articles are to be interpreted as meaning that, where the legislation of the requesting Member State provides for suspensive effect to an appeal, the period for implementation of the transfer begins to run, not as from the time of the provisional judicial decision suspending the implementation of the transfer procedure, but only as from the time of the judicial decision which rules on the merits of the procedure deciding whether the transfer should in fact take place.
The Judicial Committee of the House of Lords found in ZT (Kosovo) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKHL 6 that where an application had previously been certified under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 s.94, as clearly unfounded. A fresh claim by the same applicant still needed to considered in line with the requirements of Para 353 of the Immigration Rules.
In TK (Burundi) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 40 the Court of Appeal held that the failure of the appellant to produce supporting evidence that the Tribunal considered should have been readily available was a sustainable reason for not accepting the credibility of the overall account
The Tribunal has published new country guidance on Somalia in AM & AM (armed conflict: risk categories) Somalia CG  UKAIT 00091. Adding to HH and others (Mogadishu: armed conflict: risk) Somalia CG  UKAIT 00022, there is now an internal armed conflict for the purpose of Article 15(c) of the Refugee Qualification Directive throughout central and southern Somalia, not just in and around Mogadishu. The armed conflict taking place in Mogadishu currently amounts to indiscriminate violence at such a level of severity as to place the great majority of the population at risk of a consistent pattern of indiscriminate violence. On the present evidence Mogadishu is no longer safe as a place to live in for the great majority of returnees whose home area is Mogadishu. For those whose home area is not Mogadishu, they will not in general be able to show a real risk of persecution or serious harm or ill treatment simply on the basis that they are a civilian or even a civilian internally displaced person (IDP). As regards internal relocation, whether those whose home area is Mogadishu (or any other part of central and southern Somalia) will be able to relocate in safety and without undue hardship will depend on the evidence as to the general circumstances in the relevant parts of central and southern Somalia and the personal circumstances of the applicant. As a result of the current conflict, the Sheikhal clan (including the Sheikhal Logobe), by virtue of the hostile attitude taken towards them by Al Shabab, is less able to secure protection for its members than previously.
Conference on International Refugee Law.
Guest Speaker Professor James Hathaway addresses contemporary issues regarding the Refugee Convention - Exclusion from Refugee Status (Article 1(F)), Serious Crimes and Danger to the Community (Article 33(2)).
Tuesday 3rd March 2009 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Location: Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LS.
Price: £ 200 Any proceeds exceeding costs will go to the Inderpal Rahal Memorial Trust.