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Unlawful to send child asylum seekers back to other EU countries

Date: 5 December 2011

The Court of Appeal has today made an important decision which could change the law throughout Europe about the forced removal of unaccompanied children to other European countries.

Human rights law firm Bindmans LLP has argued that it is unlawful to send unaccompanied minors back to other EU countries under the “Dublin” law. Under the Dublin Regulation, EU countries have the right to deport migrants back to the country in Europe in which they first arrived and were fingerprinted.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has always said that they can remove children in these circumstances and that they can rely on the other EU member states to care properly for the returning child.

Bindmans has been involved in a whole series of cases where the UKBA has removed an unaccompanied child under this Regulation and the child in question has been removed following a dawn raid on their home, and have been sent to a third country and have then been left destitute and at serious risk of exploitation.

Liz Barratt, immigration solicitor at Bindmans says: “In the decision today the Court of Appeal accepted that we had good arguments to say that as a matter of construction there is no power to remove children in these circumstances. They have also said that as the arguments are new and affect practice across Europe the Court of Justice of the European Union should make a decision.

“This is a huge step forward. If the arguments are accepted in the CJEU it will mean that vulnerable children who are on their own and have no family in another European country can not be moved from one country to another to have their asylum claims decided. Many of these children have already endured harsh and dangerous journeys, lost or been separated from their families and the practice that the UK has of sending such a child to another EU country rather than dealing with his or her asylum claim here is an indictment on the UKBA’s approach to children’s cases.”

Please see the link below to the judgment about MA, BT & DA v SSHD regarding the removal of unaccompanied minors under the Dublin II regulations:

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2011/1446.html

Deirdre Shehan, solicitor at Paragon Law represented DA in this case.

Counsel - Stephen Knafler QC, Kathryn Cronin and Bryony Poynor Ivan Hare.

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