This week's human rights news includes our work with Scottish Recovery Consortium and an explanation of the new deal between the UK and Rwanda. 

News from BIHR

We hosted our first Rights in Recovery Leadership sessions with Scottish Recovery Consortium

We’ve been working with Scottish Recovery Consortium to create a free leadership programme to advance awareness on rights-based addiction recovery in Scotland. The programme has been co-developed with people with lived experience working directly with people in recovery. Click here to read more about the Rights in Recovery programme.

On Thursday 21st April and Friday 22nd April, we ran our first sessions and had great feedback from our participants, who told us it made them feel “empowered”, “passionate” and “motivated”.

We continued our work with NHS Trusts on human rights in health and social care

Our Human Rights Officer, Annie, met with health and social care workers to talk about embedding human rights in practice. Participants told us, “it was great to reflect with peers and think about how we can ensure we respect, protect and fulfil people’s human rights in health & social care”.

Click here to read more about Why Our Human Rights Act Matters to social workers in our blog series.

We’re hosting free online workshops for young people accessing CAMHS services

As part of our work with NHS England, we’re hosting free online workshops for young people accessing Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services and their families.

We’ll explore human rights including the right to family life, possessions and more and discuss how these rights are protected in law and how to talk to service providers about them. Sessions are led by a Human Rights Officer and a Lived Experience Expert Consultant, and there'll be a chance for participants to ask questions.

The next session will be on Thursday 5th May from 5pm – 6.30pm.

Click here to learn more about and sign up to our CAMHS workshops.

We discussed human rights in support work with Rethink Advocacy

This week, we held a workshop for Rethink Advocacy. The session aimed to empower advocates on how to use the Human Rights Act to support their clients and challenge decisions by public bodies. Participants said that they felt more confident in challenging decisions that weren’t rights-respecting and supporting people to be more involved in decisions about their lives.  One participant said the session was “highly informative, an absolute professional asset and highly recommended”.

Click here to read more about our human rights learning and development support

We’re looking for a web developer, team or agency to create our new website!

We're creating a brand-new website and we're looking for experienced digital project managers, design agencies or web development teams to help us make it great. Our new website will be co-designed with the people we support to provide access to our tools and information as well as showcasing our work.

If you have a track record of working with small charities and are interested in helping us create our new human rights hub, we'd love to hear from you. The deadline for submissions is 10am on Thursday 28 April 2022.

Click here for the full brief for Expressions of Interest.

Invitation to submit expression of interest for web designers

News from elsewhere

Please be aware that the external Human Rights news BIHR shares weekly contains difficult and potentially triggering issues. This week, triggers include asylum issues, harmful medical treatment, death and family separation.

The Government announced plans to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda

On Thursday 14th April, the Government announced plans to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda if their claim is found to be “inadmissible” under UK rules. An asylum claim can be deemed “inadmissible” if “you’ve made an asylum claim in another country; or you were in a “safe country” and you didn’t make an asylum claim and “there were no exceptional circumstances preventing such an application being made; or you have a “connection” to another country, so it would be “reasonable” for you to be returned there.” Under the Immigration Rules, if a person’s claim is found to be inadmissible, the UK can send them to “any safe third country that may agree to receive them”.

The Home Office has confirmed that “under this approach the UK’s legal obligations end once an individual is relocated to Rwanda”. The agreement also provides that the UK will “resettle a portion of Rwanda’s most vulnerable refugees in the United Kingdom.”

The Government said it will consider sending everyone who “comes to the UK illegally, or by dangerous or unnecessary methods from safe countries” to Rwanda. In December 2021, the Court of Appeal said the Home Office was wrong to say that asylum-seekers who arrive in the UK to make a claim are acting unlawfully – even if they arrive by small boats. The Court acknowledged that the Government is currently trying to pass the Nationality and Borders Bill to make arrival to the UK without leave an offence, but this has not yet been passed.

The number of people who can be sent to Rwanda is “unlimited” and the rules will also be backdated, so anyone deemed to meet the criteria who arrived since 1st January 2022 will be considered for relocation. However, the Government has said people will not be relocated overseas where there is a risk of persecution or a breach of their Article 3 right to be free from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment under the Human Rights Act.

Under the scheme, the UK will pay an initial £120 million to Rwanda as well as “funding the processing costs for each person relocated.” The Permanent Secretary wrote to the Home Secretary, saying there is not enough evidence to suggest the policy would be good value for money. The Home Secretary then issued a Ministerial Direction, instructing the Permanent Secretary to spend the money anyway and shifting responsibility for the decision away from the Permanent Secretary and onto the Home Secretary.

The scheme has been criticised by organisations such as the Refugee Council, who said “sending people seeking asylum to be processed abroad will do absolutely nothing to address the reasons why people take perilous journeys to find safety in the UK. It will do little to deter them from coming to this country, but only lead to more human suffering and chaos – at a huge expense of an estimated £1.4 billion a year.”

The partnership has also been criticised by MPs. Questioning the Home Secretary in the House of Commons, Joanna Cherry QC, Scottish National Party MP for Edinburgh, said, “only last year, on at least two occasions at the United Nations, the United Kingdom called for an investigation into torture, deaths in custody, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances in Rwanda.”

In the same announcement, the Government said “the military will also now take operational command of responding to small boats in the Channel, in partnership with Border Force. This will happen with immediate effect, and be backed up by £50 million in new funding.”

Source: BBC News

A compensation scheme has been set up for young people harmed by South Kerry CAMHS service

In September 2020, concerns were raised about clinical practices in South Kerry Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service. In January 2022, a report by Dr Sean Maskey was released that found the diagnosis and/or treatment of 227 children exposed them to “risks of significant harm by way of one or more of the following: sedation, emotional and cognitive blunting, growth disturbance and serious weight changes, metabolic and endocrine disturbance, and psychological distress.” The report also found significant harm was caused to 46 children, including “galactorrhoea (the production of breast milk), considerable weight gain, sedation during the day, and elevated blood pressure.”

In April 2022, a compensation scheme was set up to allow affected families to apply for compensation without having to go to court. The Irish Minister of State for Mental Health also confirmed there will be a nationwide audit of CAMHS services.

Source: The Independent

A family sent a letter to the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service saying the chronic shortage of ambulances breaches the right to life

In February 2022, Lee Gannon died in hospital, with post-mortem findings suggesting it may have been caused by pneumonia. His mum said five calls had been made for an ambulance before anyone arrived and he had stopped breathing by the time they got there.

In April 2022, Lee’s family sent a pre-action protocol letter sent to the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and Belfast Health Trust, asking them to acknowledge that the chronic shortage of ambulances breaches the Article 2 right to life and to identify potential remedies. They are currently waiting for a response.

Source: ITV News

A court found that preventing a breastfeeding mother from visiting her child in care during Covid was a justified interference with her right to family and private life

In January 2020, a mother in Northern Ireland whose baby was taken into care was visiting him and breastfeeding five times a week. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, contact (and so direct breastfeeding) was stopped although the mother continued to express milk which was fed to the baby by the foster carers.

In May 2020, the mother applied to have the original arrangements reinstated but following a risk assessment, Social Services would only allow contact outside in a public park. The mother refused this and issued a human rights notice, stating her Article 8 right to private and family life had been breached. The court dismissed the application, saying the interference with her rights was justified in the name of public health.

Click here to read the case.