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Asylum Matters Advocacy and Campaigning – 21st May 2024

  1. Advocacy and campaigning initiatives

Rwanda and the Illegal Migration Act

The Rwanda policy took another upsetting turn with the Home Office issuing new guidance which expands the group of people who can be removed to Rwanda to include anyone whose asylum claim has been refused, withdrawn or treated as withdrawn and don’t have an ongoing claim or appeal. This widens the group of people now in purview of the scheme immensely while running counter to their claim it was to stop channel crossings. The Labour Party, in their immigration announcement, said that they would scrap the Rwanda policy if they came into power after the next election.

JCWI has updated their one page explainer and Right to Remain have also updated their blog. KIND UK and Central England Law Centre, have created a briefing document with FAQs called Concerns about the UK’s Rwanda Act 2024 which has links to where to get help and to additional resources. 

There have already been three legal challenges lodged regarding Rwanda. The first is by the FDA, a union representing civil servants. This challenge states that if civil servants ignore an order made by the European Court of Human Rights that a person should not be sent to Rwanda this would breach international law and conflict with the duty of civil servants under the Civil Service Code.

The second is by Asylum Aid challenging the new ‘Safety of Rwanda’ guidance. The Home Office has conceded part of Asylum Aid’s claim at pre-action stage. The Safety of Rwanda guidance has been updated as a result. However, they have not conceded all of it and so it seems that this claim will be lodged shortly, more info here. The third is by Humans for Rights Network and centres around the risk of unaccompanied children being sent to Rwanda. This is because of the well-known problems with age assessments.


  • Send an email to Airtanker and Jet2 using Freedom from Torture’s email actions asking the airlines to refuse to participate in the forced removal of people to Rwanda. 
  • Sign the petition for the Plane Cruelty cross sector campaign against Rwanda deportations.

In related legal news a judge has ruled that large parts of the government’s Illegal Migration Act should not apply in Northern Ireland because they breach human rights laws. The legal challenge was brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and a 16-year-old asylum seeker from Iran who is residing in Northern Ireland.  The UK Government said they will appeal.

Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws: new General Election resources

Asylum Matters has shared new General Election resources as part of the Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws campaign. The resources are designed to support local groups in engaging with their prospective parliamentary candidates and calling on them to repeal the #AntiRefugeeLaws and commit to building an asylum system that treats everyone with compassion and dignity. The resources include two documents:

We hope that these resources will support campaigners in reaching out to candidates and setting out the changes our communities urgently need. You can also share the resources on Twitter and Facebook

Communities Not Camps

Graham King, the owner of Clearsprings Ready Homes, has been named in this year’s Sunday Times ‘rich list’ of the wealthiest people in the UK, as his company enjoys record profits for managing Home Office contracts for asylum accommodation in the South of England and Wales. Refugee Action’s Most Wanted campaign is calling for the return to a not-for-profit model for asylum accommodation.

The Government is facing a fresh legal challenge by Care4Calais over the use of RAF Wethersfield as asylum accommodation. Care4Calais are arguing that the site does not meet legally required standards, describing it as “prison-like”, remote and saying people there are effectively stripped of their liberty. 

“Prison-like” is also how the Bibby Stockholm barge has been described this week by Iranian elite cyclist Mohammad Ganjkhanlou who has been told he is being moved to the barge in Portland without his bike. 45 protestors have been arrested after clashing with police whilst attempting to block the planned transfer of people seeking asylum to the barge. A multi-agency forum in Dorset has suggested that the Home Office is “looking at options” for a lease extension for the barge.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has signed EDM 540 and EDM 539 which challenge the Special Development Orders laid down by the Government in relation to RAF Scampton and RAF Wethersfield. You and your networks can lobby MPs to sign these motions and drive up the number of signatures to put pressure on the Government to allow for parliamentary debates to scrutinise the use of these harmful sites with our easy letter-writing tool. You can also send them our parliamentary briefing and share these graphics on social media with the hashtag #CommunitiesNotCamps; or print these resources.

  1. Government and parliamentary updates

eVisa ‘cliff edge’

The Home Office plans to complete the roll-out of eVisas, which are an electronic record of immigration status accessible via GOV.UK, for most, by the end of 2024. Campaigners have warned this ‘cliff edge’ deadline for migrants to switch to new digital visas risks triggering a new Windrush scandal.

Young People’s Attitudes to Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Northern Ireland 2023

The Government of Northern Ireland has published a report examining attitudes to refugees and asylum seekers among 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland. Key findings include that 63% of respondents agreed that “it is our duty to provide protection to refugees who are escaping persecution in their home country”.

  1. Reports and research

‘They made me feel like myself: Supporting young people through age disputes’ report

New research from the charities Young Roots and the Helen Bamber Foundation found that children who have their age disputed find the process stressful, confusing and even retraumatising. It found that age disputes can affect children’s trust towards professionals and the overall systems, which in turn can impact their ability to engage with other support systems. The new report shows that using a holistic, child-friendly and trauma-informed approach, can make the age determination process more accurate, and reduce the harm to children in the process. Read the report here.

‘After Brook House: continued abuse in immigration detention’ report

JRS UK’s new report examines parallels between practices and culture revealed by the 2017 Brook House Inquiry and recent and ongoing practices and culture across UK immigration detention centres. It finds that abuse and mistreatment remain endemic across the UK. Read the report here.

‘Families Belong Together: Fixing the UK’s broken family reunion system’ report

Refugee Council and Safe Passage have released: Families Belong Together: Fixing the UK’s broken family reunion system. The report looks at the key gaps and failures within family reunion policy and offers five straightforward recommendations to help fix the broken family reunion system. The report’s focus is on what we argue are the relatively simple steps that a government could implement to improve this important issue – steps that do not involve bringing forward new legislation or engaging in complex state to state negotiations. This work complements pre-existing reports from both the Refugee Council and Safe Passage that have focused instead on the larger-scale system change that is needed at the Home Office.

‘A slow violence: How immigration control forces people in Greater Manchester into destitution’ report

This joint report between the Boaz Trust and GMIAU  has found that people in Greater Manchester are spending years, even decades, in destitution. For more info and to download the report click here.

Praxis NRPF and childcare: parent survey

Praxis has launched a new survey into parents’ experiences of accessing early years education and childcare for their children, when families are affected by NRPF restrictions.They are looking for parents willing to fill out the online survey here. This forms one component of their wider research into migrant families’ experiences of early years education and childcare, which we’re carrying out in support of their #Childcare4All campaign (

Refugee Action Insight Hub

In this survey the Insight Hub is focused on 3 topics:

  • Shaping the Insight Hub (helping understand what data could be gathered to support organsiations going forward) 
  • Impact of the Rwanda Act
  • Accommodation and Housing

To access the survey please click this link. It will take about 20-25 minutes to complete. Closing date: Monday 27th May 2024 (9am)

Women for Refugee Women Research project

Women for Refugee Women has launched a new research project, led by a team of seven refugee and asylum-seeking women from our grassroots network, which explores three Home Office policies/practices that restrict the freedom and liberty of women in the asylum process:

  • The work ban 
  • Hotel accommodation 
  • Immigration detention 

The research team is taking a feminist participatory action approach; so, the research is being undertaken for the purpose of achieving substantive and meaningful change to the asylum system. To start the research, the research team has designed a short survey to find out about women’s experiences of the work ban, hotels and detention.

The survey is available in these languages, at the following links: 

  1. Resources, events, jobs and training 

Lunchtime seminar: Does counter-smuggling work? And is there a border policy that doesn’t get people killed?

Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, openDemocracy are organising the seminar on 22nd May, together with Border Criminologies, Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford and the Human Exploitation, Trafficking and Smuggling research group, Department of Security and Crime Science, UCL, in a hybrid event held at UCL’s Bentham House. Speakers working across key borders in Europe and the Channel will share relevant findings and first-hand accounts of the effects of counter-smuggling and border enforcement. More info and how to register here

Lunch and Learn: Using Freedom of Information for Campaigning

This lunch and learn session running from 12-1pm on the 29th of May will be about Using Freedom of Information for Campaigning. George Greenwood, Investigations Reporter at The Times, will be talking about how campaigners can work with journalists on investigations and FOI requests, including tips and examples from The Times’ newsroom. Sign up here.

Summer of Research: Roundtable on Sexuality, Gender and Migration 

University of Sussex are running two roundtables taking place in person and online at the University of Sussex on 13th June. For more info and to sign up use this link.

Garden Court Chambers Free Webinar: Safety of Rwanda Act 2024: What Next?

This webinar will provide practitioners with the legal tools to advise, support and represent their clients facing detention and removals, since the Safety of Rwanda Act 2024 has come into force. The panel will discuss avenues for legal challenges. This webinar is aimed at legal practitioners working in this area of immigration law. It will take place 5.30pm-7pm, Tuesday 4 June, to register click here.


  1. What we’re reading, watching and listening to
  • Although there has been a lot of negative media regarding refugees in Ireland at the moment, in more positive news Little Amal met Belfast school pupils during her tour of of the city.
  • This powerful piece about the reality of life as someone seeking asylum in Wales, in the words of Ali Al-Anbaki.
  • This new blog by the Directory for Social Change: ‘Don’t let election rules stop your charity’s campaigning’ gives a comprehensive breakdown of the legislative picture around campaigning during an election. To summarise: there is no need to stop campaigning! 
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