Advocate General Sharpston: Charter Constrains “Verifying” Asylum Claimants’ Sexual Orientation

In her recent Opinion in Joined Cases C-148/13, C149/13 and C-150/13, A, B and C, AG Sharpston agreed with the view that “an individual’s sexual orientation is a complex matter, entwined inseparably with his identity, that falls within the private sphere of his life.” She observed that homosexuality is not considered a medical or psychological condition in the European Union (EU) and no medical test exists to determine sexual orientation. She considered the pseudo-medical test of phallometry, focusing on the subject’s physical reaction to pornographic material, to be a “particularly dubious” method to confirm homosexual orientation. She thought that any medical examination to confirm sexual orientation violates article 3 (right to integrity of the person) and article 7 (respect for private and family life) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR) and also falls foul of the proportionality requirement under article 52(1). Therefore, AG Sharpston concluded that establishing a gay asylum claimant’s credibility using a medical test is a terrible idea. The question posed by the referring court, the Raad van State (Netherlands), was abstractly expressed in the following terms:

What limits do the Qualification Directive, and the Charter, in particular articles 3 and 7 thereof, impose on the method of assessing the credibility of a declared sexual orientation, and are those limits different from the limits which apply to assessment of the credibility of the other grounds of persecution and, if so, in what respect?

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Arden LJ on CSIC and Permanent Residence

th-12Ahmad v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWCA Civ 988 (16 July 2014)

Should the spouse of an economically inactive EEA citizen, i.e. a national of one of the member states of the EU or of one of the countries in the European Economic Area (“EEA”), be entitled to permanent residence without the citizen holding Comprehensive Sickness Insurance Cover (“CSIC”)? The Court of Appeal said otherwise and answered this question in the negative. Arden LJ (with whom Beatson & Sharp LJJ agreed) held that in circumstances where an EEA citizen resided in the UK but was economically inactive, the right of such a citizen’s spouse to permanent residence was conditional upon the EEA citizen holding comprehensive sickness insurance cover as laid down in article 7(1) of Directive 2004/38/EC (“the Directive). The conditions in article 7(1) required strict compliance and the right to a permanent residence card was a privilege that was not conferred unless they were met. Similarly, the EEA citizen’s entitlement to free healthcare under the National Health Service (“NHS”) did not alter this conclusion.

Arden LJ made it extremely clear at paragraph 72 that the conditions in article 7(1) must not be interpreted dynamically. Instead, in line with the CJEU’s decision in Case C-140/12 Pensionsversicherungsanstalt v Brey [2014] 1 WLR 1080, the conditions required strict and literal interpretation but remained subject to the general principles of EU law such as proportionality. Continue reading

Posted in CFR, Citizens Directive, CJEU, Court of Appeal, Pakistan, Permanent Residence | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Retained Right of Residence Question Referred

NA v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Anor [2014] EWCA Civ 995 (17 July 2014)

In this case, the Court of Appeal (Lord Dyson MR, Sullivan & Sharp LJJ) referred to the CJEU the question whether, in order to retain a right of residence under article 13(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC, a third country national ex-spouse of a Union citizen must be able to show that their former spouse was exercising Treaty rights in the host Member State at the time of their divorce? An application for permanent residence – on the basis that upon divorce the applicant had retained a right of residence under regulation 10(5) of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 – made by Nazia Ahmed (NA, the appellant) in September 2009 was refused in March 2010. This was because although NA demonstrated that she had worked as a self-employed carer between 2007 and June 2011, she had failed to show that her former husband was exercising Treaty rights in the UK at the time of the divorce.

The Upper Tribunal ([2013] UKUT 89 (IAC), Lang J & Judge Storey) found that NA did not have a retained right of residence under article 13(2) but that she did have a right of residence under both article 20 of the Treaty applying Case C-34/09 Zambrano [2012] QB 265 principles and article 12 of Regulation 1612/68. The tribunal also allowed her appeal on article 8 ECHR. The Home Secretary’s appeal against the tribunal’s decision that NA had a right of residence on article 20 and article 12 grounds has been adjourned but she has not appealed against the tribunal’s decision to allow NA’s appeal on article 8 ECHR. Continue reading

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Death Row Grandmother’s Appeal Dismissed

Sandiford, R (on the application of) v The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2014] UKSC 44 (16 July 2014)

This is a must know case for anyone representing British citizens in legal proceedings abroad. Mrs Sandiford (S), a fifty-seven year old Yorkshire grandmother and legal secretary imprisoned in Indonesia for being convicted in December 2012 of trafficking £1.6 million of cocaine from Thailand to the paradise island of Bali, faces death by firing squad. S’s cooperation with Indonesian authorities resulted in four others being convicted but they were lightly sentenced to terms of imprisonment of between only one and six years. She pleaded guilty at trial but said that she was forced to commit her crime because of death threats to her son. The Supreme Court (Lords Mance, Clarke, Sumption, Carnwath & Toulson JJSC) unanimously dismissed S’s appeal and held that the Foreign Secretary’s policy of not providing funding for legal representation to Britons facing capital punishment abroad is indeed lawful.

Context

Collaborating with the Indonesian authorities has not helped S in escaping the death penalty. Despite the prosecutor’s support for a sentence of fifteen years’ imprisonment, the High and Supreme Courts of Indonesia upheld the District Court of Denpasar’s sentence of execution by firing squad. Her only options, the exercise of which requires funding, now are to appeal by the end of August 2014 to the Indonesian Supreme Court to reopen her case and to petition the Indonesian President to spare her life. Continue reading

Posted in Article 2, Article 3, Article 6, ECHR, FCO, Judicial Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Court of Appeal Upholds Income Requirements

MM (Lebanon) & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Anor [2014] EWCA Civ 985 (11 July 2014)

In an eagerly awaited decision regarding income requirements and sponsoring partners under the overhauled Immigration Rules, the Court of Appeal (Maurice Kay, Aikens & Treacy LJJ) has controversially allowed the government’s appeal against Blake J’s judgment, reported at [2013] EWHC 1900: see here. The income requirements, held lawful by Aikens LJ, stipulate a minimum income of £18,600 per annum and additional requirements of £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 for each child thereafter. Moreover, specified savings of £16,000 are required to fix an income shortfall, and neither the non-European Economic Area partner’s income nor third-party support can be taken into account in calculating the UK partner’s income.)

Background

Three claimant sponsors, “respondents” in the Court of Appeal, none of whom can satisfy the new Immigration Rules of 9th July 2012, challenge the income requirements by way of judicial review. The first claimant, MM, a Lebanese national with refugee status, married a Lebanese woman by proxy. MM lives with his sister, EF, who has discretionary leave to remain resulting from the breakdown of her marriage. AF, her son, an interested party, considers his uncle MM, the first claimant as a father figure. The second claimant, AM, a British citizen of Pakistani origins, married a Pakistani woman who lives in Azad Kashmir. The third claimant, SJ, a British woman of Pakistani origins, married a Pakistani national who lives in Pakistan and works as a civil servant. None of the claimants’ partners have applied for entry clearance under the new rules, albeit AM’s wife has been refused admission as a spouse on three occasions and once as a visitor. Continue reading

Posted in Appendix FM, Article 14, Article 8, Court of Appeal, Human Rights Act, Immigration Rules, s 55 BCIA, Spouses | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Court of Appeal on Children’s Duty

EV (Philippines) & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) [2014] EWCA Civ 874 (26 June 2014)

The Court of Appeal (Jackson, Lewison & Christopher Clarke LJJ) went for overkill in this case about the best interests of the child. Dismissing a Filipino family’s appeal, the court unanimously held that in the family’s appeal against a removal decision, the tribunal had been entitled to find that the need to maintain immigration control outweighed the best interests of the child despite finding that the best interests of the children concerned lay in continuing their education in the UK with both parents also remaining here. Expressing strong disagreement with the judgment, Colin Yeo thought that the court has impeached the established benchmark – i.e. ZH (Tanzania) v SSHD [2011] UKSC 4 – because the judges eerily accorded primary importance to the immigration status of parents and put the welfare of children second.

By doing so, the court found it acceptable to punish children for something they did not do; the approach is controversial because of all the fancy talk about children’s interests being primary. Consisting of mother (EV), father (BV) and three children (KrV, BV & KaV), the family (F) from the Philippines entered the UK on the basis of EV’s status as a work permit holder with the rest as dependants. Christopher Clarke LJ said at paragraph 2 that proceedings arose against a “chequered history”. Continue reading

Posted in Article 8, Children, Court of Appeal, Hale JSC, s 55 BCIA, Tier 2 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Who is Altaf Bhai?

Altaf Hussain Altaf Hussain, or Altaf Bhai as he is infamously known, used to be a Chicago cabby. But these days he means different things to different people. A British citizen, Mr Hussain leads an ethnically motivated political organisation claiming secular and progressive credentials; namely the notorious Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM). Despite allegations of his party’s wholesale involvement in target killings, extortion and torture, Altaf Hussain was nevertheless granted asylum in the UK for being the MQM’s Quaid-e-Tehreek (leader of the movement). On this score, despite his own British ex-wife and children, legendary all-rounder turned politician Imran Khan – who only last year accused the MQM of murdering his Tehreek-e-Insaf party’s Zahra Shahid Hussain (unrelated to Altaf) – condemns the UK for providing sanctuary to MQM criminals.

But could it be that the MQM’s British backers have finally decided to abandon their anti-Pakistan enterprise? As is well-known, Altaf Hussain was recently arrested for money laundering and then released on bail by British police. Altaf’s arrival into politics stifled the late Benazir Bhutto’s popularity in her home province of Sindh by pitting Karachi’s Urdu speaking population against her Sindhi dominated Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Continue reading

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