Freedom – or Freefall?

This piece was originally published as a blog post by René Cassin.   Imagine that everything is taken away from you. Forget your job. Forget your income, too. You have no home and no family you know how to contact. Imagine that you have 45 days to rebuild. And the clock is ticking. For former slaves, this isn’t merely a thought experiment. Last year, over 3,800 people went through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for victims of modern slavery. The government offered each of them just over six weeks of support in a safe house before cutting them loose. This is the cruel reality of the UK’s current modern slavery strategy. During those 45 days of what the government calls ‘reflection and recovery’, a victim’s first task is to prove that they are indeed a victim of slavery or human trafficking. If they can’t or don’t, the clock ticks faster: they have …

‘Deport first, appeal later’ policy breaches human rights

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   The system of deporting foreign criminals before they have had a chance to appeal was in breach of their human rights, the Supreme Court has ruled. The court unanimously allowed the appeals in the cases of two foreign nationals who claimed that deportation would breach their right to private and family life. Kevin Kiarie, from Kenya, and Courtney Byndloss, from Jamaica, had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Both have longstanding family ties in Britain. In his judgment, released today, Lord Wilson concluded that the risk to public safety was ‘outweighed’ by the argument that ‘when we are afforded a right of appeal, our appeal should be effective.’ The home secretary, in other words, failed to prove that deportation in advance of an appeal ‘strikes a fair balance between the rights of the appellants and the interests of …

‘Unimaginable horror’: Parents wrongly accused of baby-shaking speak out

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   When their five-month-old daughter Effie collapsed in the early hours of August 2016, parents Craig Stillwell and Carla Andrews rushed her to Stoke Mandeville Hospital. They could never have predicted what would happen next. Things escalated fast. With doctors unable to deduce a natural cause for Effie’s seizure, police and social workers were called. Accused of shaking his baby, it was a matter of hours before Stillwell was arrested. Once she was released from hospital, Effie was placed in foster care and her parents were only allowed to see her in a contact centre for a few hours a week. Tests for the rare genetic condition Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) eventually revealed that Effie suffered from Type IV, which can cause easy bruising and spontaneous bleeds on the brain. Nine months later, as we reported previously, Stillwell has been acquitted and Effie …