Government’s request to stay family reunification cases of unaccompanied minors from France refused by the court

 

The Home Office’s application to stay Judicial Review proceedings on the cases of two refugee children affected by the Home Office’s policy on transfers of unaccompanied minors from France to the UK for purposes of family reunion at the time of the demolition of the Calais camp was refused by the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) on 28 March 2017.

 

The Home Office had requested that the cases of these and other individual children affected by the policy, whose requests to be admitted to the UK were rejected in the course of an ‘accelerated process’ initiated by the Home Office in October 2016, be deferred until after a systemic challenge to the Dublin III family reunion process as it operates in Northern France brought by Citizens UK had been determined. The Citizens UK challenge was granted permission to proceed on 28 February 2017. 

 

In his judgment the President of the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Judge McCloskey ruled that the children’s cases needed to be decided expeditiously and that their individual rights should not be prejudiced by the systemic challenge, which is due to be heard on 23-24 May 2017 and would be likely to cause a delay of at least three months in the cases of these children if stayed.

 

He refused the stay applications and ordered the hearings of the cases to be expedited.

 

The stay applications before the court related to the cases of two boys currently in France, whose requests to join family members had been assessed and then rejected by the Home Office in an accelerated process that bypassed the accepted Dublin III procedures in France. They have since waited for months in reception centres in France with no explanation regarding the manner in which the decisions in their cases had been reached or regarding the procedure for a review of those decisions.  One of the boys who is seeking to reunite with his brother in the UK heard that his right to do so was now accepted by the Home Office following correspondence undertaken on his behalf by UK lawyers, that he would now be required to register an asylum claim in France and initiate Dublin III procedures before being permitted to come to the UK.  The other boy, a vulnerable 16-year-old orphan, has been seeking to reunite with his uncle in the UK since his arrival in France. A medical expert has assessed him to be at risk of suicide as a result of his past experiences and the delay in reunion with his uncle. 

 

Charlotte Kilroy and Michelle Knorr of Doughty Street Chambers led by Michael Fordham QC of Blackstone Chambers represent the children bringing individual claims and Citizens UK in the systemic claim. They are instructed by Mark Scott at Bhatt Murphy Solicitors (representing the individual children involved in the stay application) and Sonal Ghelani, Roopa Tanna, Fiona Couzens and Daniel Rourke at Migrants' Law Project at Islington Law Centre (representing other individual children and Citizens UK). 

 

Press coverage: The Independent

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