#Human Rights
Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly
Northern Ireland

Living in Limbo is a report and strategic document produced in March 2017 by NICRAS (Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers) in conjunction with Legal advisors Rachel Hanna and Stephen Browne who researched and wrote the report. NICRAS is a non political charity with day to day dealings with all Refugees and Asylum Seekers, who refer to it, to assist in much needed support and advice along with trying to secure and provide the basic needs of anyone facing hardship through no fault of their own and also those whose problems are heightened by the processes of forced destitution on the occurrence of first time negative applications to the Home Office. NICRAS has been instrumental in providing us with the facts and it is now up to respondents to this PETITION and other agencies to act.

The report finds very significant flaws in implementing protections already in existence around Human Rights and access to and provision of basic essentials to live and secure accommodation. The report confirms high levels of respondent homeless with measures in the new modifications in Section 95a removing key continuity of support on the foot of negative decisions which it further reports, cites lack of provision of benefits entitlement added to the removal of access to secure accommodation.

As well as underpinning the issues with facts and responses from detailed research the report highlights the devastating impact on health these policies - The Immigration Act 2016 - containing alterations to previous measures such as Section 4 (with minimal rates of welfare in a cashless card system) and revisions to Section 95 with 95a - removing stages of referral and distancing of support - have the effect of presenting conditions of homelessness and lack of basic welfare unfitting of any responsible society. The facts are stark and are evidentially shown to be harmful not helpful in times of desperate need.

Far from making valid our ingrained commitment to Human Rights which we have taken as our template of citizenship and seek to improve again, this set of processes and measures do not provide the proper care and due consideration we are obliged to demonstrate in their practical functional implementation. The generosity of Northern Ireland people in providing a lifeline and kindness to charities such as NICRAS and NACCOM alongside activists in the academic community and elsewhere; through many other charitable active operations, show only partially the measure of our willingness in our community to care for others less fortunate.

Many differences exist across circumstances presenting on the arrival of Asylum Seekers and Refugees to Northern Ireland and throughout the U.K. The circumstances individual and globally are documented over many platforms.
This report forms only part of the findings of the NICRAS researchers, given it is the aim to produce a clear local evidence base for change and alteration to the way we do things here - fundamentally in relation to people in this community - in respect of a Law and adherence to principals of already contexturalised Human Rights.

A broader campaign is needed and hopefully will be formulated regionally across the U.K. but here we are seeking a direct and positive response from the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly on legal implementation of provisions for Refused Asylum Seekers and Refugees while under the care of this community in complete alignment with the Recommendations of the report Living in Limbo.
NICRAS is in the process of providing a copy of the strategic Document to every MLA to make the campaign a collective act of unity.

The report identifies, as you will see below - where the actual wording has been extracted from the report (added are some non legal explanations to make clear what is asked) - in the Recommendations the key steps needed.
As the main object of the PETITION are NILA MLA's they head the list in a minor alteration to the layout seen in the document.

By endorsing these Recommendations and joining as a signatory to this petition it will be demonstrated across every postcode and MLA constituency a full endorsement of the need to eradicate the destination visited on Asylum Seekers and Refugees while further advancing proper means of assimilation and understanding of the difficulties faced which can be altered through our willingness to act.

When we have reached a level amply demonstrating the endorsement of the Report Recommendations in every constuency and postcode across Northern Ireland it shall be provided to the NILA to consider and take forward.

In relation to Legal advice The Law Society have established common purpose on these matters and have a desire to advise the NILA on forming elements and means to activate the Recommendations across the agencies on Public Services whose purpose is to provide the solutions asked. These are suggested to be taken forward through setting up (what I have described as a Shell Committee - meaning it would be one outside and independent of the NIA but with the NIA as participants with the shell context of it 'being a shell' and they design it from within according to their needs.)

It has then the effectiveness of being a forum for transparency and clarity essentially which I'm sure is the wish of the petitioners. If any further clarifications are needed the petition shall carry this but not alter the context as it is obvious everyone need sign up according to the core requests we are jointly making of the Assembly and its operation.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
The Shell Committees intended to be set up. Petitioners own words.

For Refugee and Asylum Seekers

The Secretary of State to provide an agency for Joint Legislative Panel to iron out differences between devolved powers in relation to U.K. and the Legislative Assembly. This could be Chaired by The Law Society on the Refugee and Asylum Seekers Advisory Panel and be a Forum where Laws can be raised - Such as the New Section 95a and exact and clear pathways to its use in Northern Ireland be established and made clear so training of relevant Departments i.e. those responsible Social Services, Healthcare, Policing and the like can be implemented.

For the Assembly Committees referral

This would additionally set up the parallel means for the Northern Ireland Assembly to create an advanced basis for removing obstacles presented in relation to Human Rights Law in their application within Northern Ireland and removal of perceived precedents assumed to be overriding the Law of the Northern Ireland Court Service and given over to he Supreme Court in GB to deal with. This also would apply to the Law in relation to Inquiry and continuance of Legislative process in relation to Abortion rights, Victim Rights and Civil Marriage rights . The suggestion is not for it to be another 'debating' chamber but an instrument effecting clarity in relation to the Law and all the relaevant parts of U.K. Law as they affect Legislation here. The approach is to make clear which Laws applied in the United Kingdom are not situated in a devolved Legislative process - counter to rights of the United Kingdom Parliament - as they have come into Law.

The Law Society can advise on the context and comparisons in any areas any MLA wishes to establish the duality of the position in relation to any particular devolved issue in relation to their rights as citizens of the United Kingdom.
The proper processes of creating the outcomes for obligations within the Good Friday Agreement addressing Human Rights would also be contingent in this as identified by the Local Human Rights Consortium. This is seen as a need appropriate to transparency and clarity for the benefit of everyone.

To be separate panels with the same aim of producing clarity and conformity with the Legal Basis under which we operate in Northern Ireland. The aim is also to remove legal traffic and argument from the Courts and to provide Citizens with full and clear expectations of Law as clearly established an ratified by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Simple ratification notices can be adopted as placements of the Law to be operated within a Northern Ireland.

This is the Text of the Recommendations of the strategic NICRAS Document Living in Limbo March 2017.

RECOMMENDATIONS to the following -
Northern Ireland Executive NIA MLAs

A panel should be established that can be a mechanism for refused asylum seekers to give feedback to the relevant Government Departments and Public Bodies. (ie. DfC, PSNI, NI Courts Service)

Need for a care plan and support worker. Within 21 days. To support individual through process.

The Executive should lobby the United Kingdom Government and make it clear that it will no longer accept refused asylum being forced into destitution. (in other words seek and create options of provisions)

United Kingdom Government - NIA and MPs

The new Section 95a support contained within the Immigration and Asylum Act should not cut the statutory support that refused asylum seekers currently receive. (in other words reverse this measure as it breaches human rights and is inequitable and seek to improve outcomes)

Section 95 support should not end 21 days after a negative decision is administered, but should continue on an interim basis until the Home Office has delivered its decision in respect to an individuals Section 4/Section 95a application. (in other words any negative decision should not be followed by the removal of critical financial/residential support whilst other prodecures are being addressed - a stabilising of the situation is needed so destitution is avoided)

Home Office - NIA and UK

When receiving a negative decision, refused asylum seekers should receive clear and concise information, in the applicants primary language where possible (literacy and language problems face all asylum seekers in a foreign place and knowing their rights as UN rights should be made clear to them as an entitlement without question)

The decision makers in respect to Section 95 and Section 4 applications should be regularly reviewed with the aim of reducing the amount of negative decisions that are overturned on appeal.
(the actual limbo is untenable and inexcusable presently while it also highlights heightened bureaucratic legalistic hoops to overcome which are counterintuitive and burdensome)

Health and Social Care Board

Staff should be fully trained to understand and respond to the needs of refused asylum seekers with dependants under the age of 18.

Material concerning the rights of the refused asylum seekers with dependants under the age of 18 should be routinely distributed amongst staff.

Refused asylum seekers should be assigned case workers upon rececieving negative decisions, who can put together multidisciplinary care plans that take effect immediately after they are evicted from the NASS accommodation.

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

Refused asylum seekers should have access to emergency accommodation with the Housing Executive and hostels run by publicly funded charities in Northern Ireland.

Staff should be fully trained to understand and respond to the needs of refused asylum seekers.

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The Remove Legislation causing Destitution outcomes for Refugees and Asylum Seekers. petition to Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly was written by John Graham and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.