The House of Lords voted for a series of amendments to the government’s immigration bill, which will now be passed back to the House of Commons. Two Iranian converts to Christianity are entitled to stay in UK after winning a landmark fight with the Home Office. A watchdog organisation reveals self-harm incident during Dublin deportation flight. After Priti Patel’s verbal attacks at the Conservative Party’s conference, immigration lawyers report not feeling safe.

The government has been defeated over its immigration bill as a majority in the House of Lords voted for a series of amendments to the post-Brexit bill. It includes an amendment on ensuring that children maintain the right to join their families in the UK once the Brexit transition ends by December 31. Lord Dubs, one of the peers who introduced the amendment and a former child refugee himself, commented the vote on Monday saying: “Families should be together. The government defeat today demonstrates the strength of feeling that we should not abandon our humanity and compassion by removing the right of children to be reunited with relatives here in the UK.” Another amendment that was approved proposes to limit immigration detention to 28 days. According to the charity group Detention Action, the Home Office indefinitely detains about 24,000 people annually, however more than half are eventually released rather than deported, supporting the argument that indefinite detention does little more than retraumatising those detained. The amendments will now return to the House of Commons where they might be overturned given the government’s majority in the lower house.

A landmark fight with the Home Office was won by two Iranians living in Glasgow who have converted to Christianity and feared prosecution if forcibly returned. According to The Herald, the cases against the two men were now dropped by the Home Office after strong criticism by Lord Glennie on how evidence on the religious conversion was not properly considered by two immigration tribunals when rejecting appeals by both men to remain in Scotland. The case is believed to impact future decisions decisively.

A report published this week by HM Inspectorate of Prisons revealed that during a deportation flight under the Dublin Convention to Germany and France on August 12, one of the deportees had cut his wrist and a second man was found to hide a blade in his mouth. “There had been a number of incidents of actual self-harm in the preceding days by detainees who had been told they would be on the flight” the report states. The report also says that waist restraint belts were used for half the detainees and four persons were handcuffed, among them the detainee who had just cut his wrist. In total, 14 detainees were deported on the flight, six Iranians, three Sudanese, one from South Sudan, two from Iraq and one each from Guinea Bissau and Afghanistan.

In a speech on October 4 at the Conservative Party conference, Priti Patel called the British asylum system “fundamentally broken” and promised “the biggest overhaul to laws in decades” as well as stopping “endless legal claims” from refused asylum seekers. The Guardian reports that leading immigration lawyers said they were feeling unsafe for the first time in their careers because of the increasingly hostile rhetoric from the government. In her speech, Patel said: “No doubt those who are well-rehearsed in how to play and profit from the broken system will lecture us on their grand theories about human rights. Those defending the broken system – the traffickers, the do-gooders, the lefty lawyers, the Labour party – they are defending the indefensible.” The Law Society urged the Home Office to change their rhetoric, however Boris Johnson repeated Priti Patels verbal attack the same day.

The Guardian reports that the Home Office moved 40 asylum seekers from Birmingham to London despite an enforcement order instructing to self-isolate for fourteen days, which followed a coronavirus outbreak at the overcrowded accommodation facility in Birmingham. Among those transferred to London, nine tested positive.

Since Monday this week, four men stand trial in connection with the death of 39 Vietnamese nationals whose bodies were found in a lorry in October 2019. The charges the four defendants face range from manslaughter to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

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 Photo: (CC) Jeff Djevdet, February 2016