Calais migrants given green light to use European human rights laws to come to Britain
In a landmark ruling that could lead to chaos in Britain’s asylum system, a court decided that four Syrian migrants should immediately be brought to the UK from “The Jungle” camp in Calais because of their right to a family life
Migrants in Calais have been given the green light to use European human rights laws to join their relatives who are already living in Britain.
In a landmark judgment that could see thousands of migrants come to the UK, a British court ruled that four Syrian migrants should immediately be brought to the UK from “The Jungle” camp in Calais because of their right to a family life.
The ruling came as Britain’s asylum system was thrown into chaos, prompting David Cameron to order a review of the country’s border security.
Brussels on Wednesday threatened to stop Britain deporting migrants unless it agreed to accept “quotas” of migrants, something which could see the UK forced to admit 90,000 refugees.
If Britain refuses to accept the quota, the EU has said the UK will no longer be able to use the Dublin Regulation – the rule which states that migrants must seek asylum in the first European country they arrive – to deport foreigners illegally entering the country.
Senior Conservatives warned that there will be “chaos” in Calais because the changes to EU rules would create a “fast track for migrants” trying to enter the UK.
There were also warnings that the EU rule change could see thousands more migrants attempting to make the journey to the UK because there will be no chance of them being deported.
Such is the concern surrounding the migrant crisis that European leaders suggested that they will extend a crucial February summit to discuss the situation, prompting fears that talks over the British referendum could be overshadowed.
Ministers said that it is now imperative that Mr Cameron holds a June referendum, warning that an escalation of the migrant crisis over the summer months could see Britain to leave the EU if the vote is delayed.
Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said: “We are very concerned by the noises coming out the Commission about changes to the Dublin agreement.”
But Mr Cameron faced a second blow to the UK’s border security when a UK judge allowed four migrants to come to the UK from the Jungle in Calais, citing their human rights.
The ruling appears to significantly widen the scope of the human rights act, meaning that migrants can now use the act to argue that right to a family life encompasses siblings as well as dependents.
In a decision that could have far-reaching implications for border controls in the UK, the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal in central London ordered that four Syrian refugees living in the Calais migrant camp are immediately brought to Britain.
The court heard that the young men all faced “intolerable” conditions in the camp and were desperate to be reunited with their siblings in Britain.
At least one was able to successfully argue he should be allowed to come to Britain because he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder.
Critics described the ruling, which the Home Office is expected to appeal, as a move to “short-circuit” international asylum laws.
The 26-year-old brother of one applicant, named only as Ahmed, said he was “very, very worried” about his teenage sibling, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has been living in the Jungle since October.
It was unclear whether the mental health problems emerged as a result of his journey as a migrant or from earlier in his life.
Alp Mehmet, of MigrationWatch UK, which campaigns for tougher border controls, said: “The decision is simply wrong. It will encourage more and more to bypass the system for asylum.”
Meanwhile, there was fury over the EU’s attempt to change the rules which have allowed Britain to deport around 12,000 migrants since 2003.
Under the Dublin Regulation, Britain is currently able to return migrants to their point of entry in Europe.
However, Brussels is now proposing to link the right to use those deportation rules to its controversial plans for quotas of refugees to be imposed on member states.
The International Monetary Fund has forecast that up to four million migrants could reach Europe by the end of next year.
If a quota were to be imposed on Britain based on the size of its population, it could mean as many as 90,000 migrants coming to the UK.
Britain has secured a deal allowing it to opt out of any quota regime. Downing Street on Wednesday said that it will not agree to any system of quotas.
However, there were fears that without the ability to deport migrants under the Dublin rules, thousands of foreigners massing in Calais will have an extra incentive to attempt the journey to Britain.
Sources told the Telegraph that Mr Cameron will order a review of border security to ensure that there is not a significant influx of migrants coming to the UK.
One Eurosceptic minister said: “What this shows is that when there are real issues that affect other countries in the European Union, in particular in areas like the Eurozone and Schengen, what matters to Britain is just an afterthought.”
Liam Fox, the former Conservative defence secretary, told ITV News: “What it would mean is a fast track for migrants coming to Northern Europe, including the United Kingdom. You can imagine the chaos you might see at places like Calais were that to happen.”
Peter Bone, Tory MP for Wellingborough, added: “Changing the rules would mean if migrants get into this country they cannot be sent back.
“It sends completely the wrong message. Thousands of migrants try and get their way in by storming the Channel Tunnel if this happens.”
What is the ‘Dublin regulation’?
The Dublin regulation determines which European country must deal with an asylum claim.
It assets a clear principle: that a claim must be processed in the first EU country in which a refugee set foot.
The aim is to solve a claim quickly and prevent people being trapped in limbo between states. Its signatories, meeting in the Irish capital in 1990, could not have imagined the influx that struck Europe this summer.
How does it work?
If an asylum seeker turns up in, for example, Sweden, its officials can check to see if they had registered elsewhere in the EU. If they were logged as arriving elsewhere, such as Hungary, they can issue a request to transfer the case and the person to Budapest.
The biggest beneficiaries are wealthy northern European states such as Britain, Sweden, Germany and Denmark that are highly attractive to migrants, but are tricky to reach on foot without crossing another EU state. The losers are states such as Italy and Bulgaria – which are entry points for migrants into the EU on their trek north.
What went wrong?
The system has been overwhelmed by an influx via the Mediterranean of more than a million people in 2015, with most travelling through Italy and Greece attempting to reach the wealthy north.
Faced with the influx, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, discarded the system, and said Germany would not deport Syrians who had arrived via Italy or Greece. It was a recognition the system was “obsolete”, but critics say it triggered a stampede into Germany as word quickly spread of the “invitation.”
Immigrants arriving via Italy and Greece have also refused to be fingerprinted in their determination to reach Germany, to the frustration of Brussels officials in charge of policing the system.
What happens now?
The EU is drawing up a revision to the plan, which is said to abandon the “first country principle”. An announcement will be made in March, and extensive discussion with EU member states will happen in the next months.
One option favoured by Jean-Claude Juncker
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