Oct 142014
 

9am-10am, Thursday16th October: Outside AIT (Asylum and Immigration Tribunal), Piccadilly Exchange, Piccadilly Plaza (top of Mosley Street just before Piccadilly Gardens), Manchester M1 4AH

“The asylum process feels like a slow poison that is taking away my zest for life” – Manjeet Kaur

Disabled human rights campaigner Manjeet Kaur, who is resisting Home Office attempts to evict her onto the streets, is to appeal against the decision to withdraw her housing support.

Trade unionists, disability and equal rights activists, and other campaigners will join the lobby in support of Manjeet outside the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in Manchester from 9am-10am next Thursday, October 16th.

Manjeet, who is Chair of RAPAR, appeared on national television news last year to counter new anti migrant policies announced by Home Secretary Theresa May at the 2013 Conservative Party Conference.

Since she sought asylum in the UK more than three years ago, Manjeet has been a tireless campaigner for human rights and worked with the UK Disabled People’s Council to highlight injustices faced by disabled people seeking asylum

She was told she must leave the accommodation in Whalley Range, where she has lived since 2011, by today (Thursday, October 9th) at the latest. The unsigned and unaddressed hand delivered letter from Serco, which runs asylum housing in the North West on behalf of the Home Office, said:“Should you refuse to leave the property on this date, we will have no choice but to take legal action to evict you.”

Manjeet, who is from Afghanistan and has used a wheelchair since she was eight years old, recently lodged a claim with the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the High Court has failed to engage with the facts of her asylum case.

Currently, the Home Office are examining her latest appeal. Manjeet’s solicitor Gary McIndoe, of Latitude Law, explains: “In our view, successive judges have failed to address the core issues of the case – Manjeet’s nationality, the harm she suffered in the past and the practicality of removing her to India…”

A spokesperson for RAPAR said: “Manjeet is facing eviction from her home because her asylum case is deemed by the Home Office to be at an end. Yet, in the view of her lawyers, successive judges have failed to examine the core issues of her case. It seems that the Home Office is prepared to evict a disabled woman who uses a wheelchair onto the streets when the facts of her asylum case have not been properly considered.”

Manjeet added: “As a disabled asylum seeker with various health issues and hospital appointments, I feel I am living on the edge. I will be made destitute with a limited ability to survive on the streets. Is this something the state allows to happen in the society that we live in?

“The asylum process feels like a slow poison that is taking away my zest for life.”

Sharon Hooley, of DAN (Direct Action Network for Disabled People) will be one of the speakers at the lobby outside the tribunal next Thursday.

Commenting on Manjeet’s case, Sharon said: “We say this is a ‘civilised country’ yet it seems perfectly acceptable to demonise, discriminate, alienate and rob disabled people of their basic human needs.
“Since becoming disabled in the past six years, I never thought I would see such pure hatred and lack of humanity towards people like myself. So I’m shouting out for all those who have been made invisible to our society. I ask you all to open your eyes and ears and see the truth about what is happening right in front of you.”

For more information, please contact: Kathleen Grant 07758386208/ kath.northernstories@googlemail.com

Background notes
Manjeet Kaur, who lives in Whalley Range, came to the UK in March, a month after the disappearance of her husband Amitt Bhatt – a journalist and Kashmir human rights activist who was threatened and attacked because of his anti government articles and books. In the past, Amitt has spoken on the same human rights platform as Jemima Khan.

Manjeet fled to the UK because she was beaten twice and threatened with rape and murder by people who were looking for her husband. She uses a wheelchair due to paralysis caused by polio and the injuries she sustained during the beatings have worsened her condition.

Manjeet was born and lived in Afghanistan until the death of her father, a doctor in Kabul. Since her husband disappeared, Manjeet has no-one to care for her in India but she has relatives in England who can support her. Earlier this year, Manjeet’s husband finally escaped to the UK and immediately claimed asylum.

Details of Manjeet’s case can also be found on the RAPAR website http://www.rapar.org.uk/keep-manjeet-safe-in-the-uk.html

reblogged from RAPAR with thanks

May 152012
 


Press release

Experts Say Landmark Judgement Will Stop Benefit System Discriminating Against Disabled

 Leading Lawyer Says Court of Appeal Ruling Confirms Government Has to Give Special Provision To Disabled People So That Human Rights Are Not Breached

Experts at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed a landmark judgement handed down at the Court of Appeal today which they say sets out clear guidance to ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against by the Government’s benefit system.

Three families challenged the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (DWP) which stated that local authorities could not provide housing benefit for extra bedrooms needed by four young disabled people who were living in private rented accommodation.

Public law experts at Irwin Mitchell, representing the lead case, said DWP breached the British Human Rights law by not allowing their housing benefit claims to be treated differently to those of non-disabled people, which would have given them the extra provision needed.

And their view was backed by the Court, who ruled that “without the benefit of the extra room rate, Ian Burnip would be left in a worse position than an able bodied person living alone”.

Polly Sweeney, Solicitor for Ian Burnip at Irwin Mitchell said, “This Judgment has widespread implications for policy-making and is crucial to promoting equality for disabled people and assisting them to live independently. Whenever the Government introduces new policies, or reviews existing policies, they now face a duty to ensure that appropriate provision is made for disabled people to ensure that discrimination does not occur.“

The Court recognised that the object of Ian Burnip’s claim was not to give him some form of preferential treatment, but merely to ensure that housing benefit can fulfil its intended function for those who are so severely disabled that they need 24 hour care.

Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Vice President of the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, said in his Judgment that:

“Disability can be expensive. It can give rise to needs which do not attach to the able-bodied and Ian Burnip and the late Lucy Trengove provide stark examples”.

Specialists at the firm say today’s judgement will have a huge impact on discrimination in the benefits system, and will ensure that the Government now ensures there is a appropriate provision when considering disabled people’s needs.

In the lead case, Ian Burnip, represented by Irwin Mitchell, was told by Birmingham City Council that he could not claim local housing allowance (LHA) to cover an extra bedroom he needed for an overnight care worker.

A second case involved Rebecca Trengove whose daughter Lucy, who has since sadly passed away, was unable to secure the LHA she needed for an extra room for an overnight care worker from Walsall Council.

During the course of the Appeal process, the local housing allowance rules on extra bedrooms were changed by the Government and, since April 2011, extra LHA is now given to disabled people who need a bedroom for an overnight care worker.

However, a third case heard by the Court of Appeal was not affected by the coalition’s new rules. Richard Gorry, the father of two disabled children, one who has a physical impairment and the other who has autism, wanted Wiltshire County Council to provide enough LHA for his children to have separate bedrooms. This ruling will now ensure that he is awarded a rate of housing benefit which reflects his daughters’ accepted needs to sleep in separate rooms and ensure that they can afford to live in adequate and suitable housing.

The Court of Appeal found that discrimination had occurred in all three cases and that their human rights had been breached even though the appropriate provisions being sought for the disabled people required additional public expenditure.

Ian Burnip’s mother Linda, who set up the Local Housing Allowance Reform Group to campaign for changes in the system, said: “Winning this case reinforces disabled people’s right to not be discriminated against within the benefits system and also affirms their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We hope that the case will help other disabled people who feel that they have been discriminated by government policies and law”.

 ENDS

  Contact Details:

PR Officer

Irwin Mitchell Press Office: 01142744666

 

Irwin Mitchell

 

Irwin Mitchell celebrates its centenary this year and is one of the largest law firms in the UK. The firm employs more than 2100 staff and has more than 150 Partners helping over 200,000 clients a year. There are offices in Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol and Sheffield as well as a consulting office in Leicester and two offices in Spain. For more information visit www.irwinmitchell.com

The firm won an award for its innovative corporate strategy and was also named in the Industry Pioneers category at the annual ‘FT Innovative Lawyers’ awards in 2011. It was ranked in the Top 50 litigators in the world by The Lawyer magazine and in 2010 was named as one of the leading companies in the country for commitment to local communities in the prestigious Business in the Community’s (BITC) annual Corporate Responsibility Index.

Recognised in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 for a unique client-focused approach, Irwin Mitchell won the acclaimed Claimant Solicitor of the Year award (Rehabilitation Awards).

Other accolades include being listed among the top five Most Diverse Law firms in the UK by the Black Solicitors Network. The Legal Sector Alliance also found Irwin Mitchell to have the 2nd Lowest Carbon Footprint of any UK law firm.

Apr 022012
 

In Geneva today (2nd April), Dr Pauline Nolan, Policy Officer for Inclusion Scotland, will submit evidence to a preliminary hearing ahead of a planned review of the human rights record of 14 states, including the UK.

On behalf of the Campaign for A Fair Society – a coalition of more than 70 Scottish charities – Dr Nolan will warn the cumulative impact of welfare reform and cuts to benefits affecting disabled people will mean their ability to live a full life is impaired. In particular, she will argue that welfare changes undermine their right to be included in the community.

The campaign also claims disabled people are being denied access to justice when they try to appeal against these cuts to their benefits.

Dr Nolan said she aimed to equip the UN with a series of recommendations and questions to put to the UK Government when its representatives appear in front of the Human Rights Council in May.

She added: “Disability organisations, disabled people and the Parliament’s own Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded that these cuts will have a devastating cumulative impact on the livelihoods of disabled people.

“Further cuts are taking place to local authority services they receive. Taken together, all these cuts are severely undermining the human rights of disabled people.”

She claims half of the £18 billion of cuts to be made under welfare reform will fall on households containing disabled people, adding: “These cuts will push hundreds of thousands of disabled people and their families into poverty and thousands will be made homeless.”

Jim Elder-Woodward, of the Independent Living in Scotland project, said: “I am really pleased that Dr Nolan is going to Geneva to tell the UN just how this Coalition Government is systematically undermining the rights of disabled people by cutting their benefits and services.

“The combined voices of disabled people have either been silenced or misrepresented by the UK Government in their resolution to make disabled people suffer over 50% of the total £18bn in benefit cuts.”

Norma Curran, of Values Into Action Scotland, added: “These welfare reforms are devastating people’s lives. It’s not acceptable to challenge the human rights of people on the grounds of race, sex, language, or religion, so why does the UK Government think that it is acceptable to breach the human rights of disabled people?”


Stephen Naysmith – Herald Scotland