Care4Calais is challenging the Home Office's Pushbacks Policy

by Care4Calais

Care4Calais is challenging the Home Office's Pushbacks Policy

by Care4Calais
Care4Calais
Case Owner
Care4Calais is a volunteer-run charity delivering essential aid and support to refugees in Northern France, Belgium and the UK.
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Care4Calais
Case Owner
Care4Calais is a volunteer-run charity delivering essential aid and support to refugees in Northern France, Belgium and the UK.
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Care4Calais are challenging Priti Patel’s attempts to make Channel crossings even more dangerous by deploying tactics to push flimsy boats back to France. We are proud to be bringing this claim alongside the Public Commercial and Services Union, who represent Border Force’s own officials who are aghast at the thought that they will be forced to implement such a cruel and inhumane policy.

Why? 

Because ‘pushback’ tactics are unlawful under maritime and human rights law. They risk the loss of life at sea. After one of deadliest days the Channel has ever seen, when 27 human beings lost their lives, we cannot sit idly by to see Priti Patel make Channel crossings even more dangerous. 

What do we know about the policy? 

We know there is a policy. The Home Office disclosed this to us on 6 December. However, all the relevant information is redacted.

Crucially, the Home Office has redacted how they intend to push boats back in practice, and what safeguards they are putting in place to protect the lives of asylum seekers at sea, including children.

So what are we challenging? 

First, we’re challenging the lawfulness of the policy. As a member of the executive, Priti Patel can only do what Parliament has authorised her to do. Parliament explicitly allows Border Force to exercise enforcement powers over vessels at sea in an exhaustive list of circumstances. Pushing asylum seekers back to France without considering their individual asylum claims and risking their lives in the process is not one of those circumstances. Priti Patel’s policy therefore goes against the will of Parliament; it is undemocratic and unlawful. 

Second, we’re challenging the lack of transparency. We currently have access to a redacted policy document, which, as part of the proceedings, we are not allowed to share  with the public.  That’s not good enough. The rule of law demands that policies are published. The reason for this is simple; it allows people to see how, when and in what ways a policy will affect them. In this case, where the policy risks lives at sea, it is all the more important that the public knows how and when boats will be pushed back, and what safeguards exist to protect lives.    

Why us? 

Our key focus is to help asylum seekers on both sides of the Channel; to provide aid to those living in destitution in Northern France and Belgium and to help refugees rebuild their lives in the UK. The vast majority of the men, women and children we support have made the Channel crossing. We know the fear and desperation they feel getting on dinghies in Calais, risking everything in the hope of finding safety in the UK. We know that further security and enforcement on Channel crossings will not stop refugees from making the journey; tactics like the proposed ‘pushbacks’ will only make the crossing more dangerous.  We know the horrors that pushback tactics have led to in Libya and Greece; once the sacrosanct principle that saving living lives at sea must be the priority is abandoned, refugees’ lives become cheap. We do not want to see any more people dying on our border; we fear this will be inevitable should pushback tactics be used.   

The legal team

We have instructed the Public Law Team at Duncan Lewis Solicitors which has an excellent track record of bringing complex judicial review claims that are of wider public importance. The Duncan Lewis legal team are Toufique Hossain, Jeremy Bloom, and Nina Kamp. 

Duncan Lewis have instructed expert counsel Chris Buttler QC at Matrix Chambers who is described in Chambers and Partners 2021 as "head and shoulders above everyone else...his drafting is impeccable, he’s ferocious in court, and he turns cases around with his advocacy." The excellent James Robottom is junior counsel on the case. 

Why are your donations needed?

We are raising funds to protect us from paying the Home Office’s legal fees if the case gets to court and we don’t win, and to contribute to our own legal costs. Any unused funds will be allocated according to Crowd Justice’s Unused Funds policy. 

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