Thursday, July 28, 2011

Requiring immigrants to Britain to speak English 'breaches human rights,' claims couple as they launch legal bid to overturn ruling

A new immigration rule requiring people to be able to speak English to move to the UK to be with their spouse is a breach of human rights, a court heard today.

A couple have launched a judicial review at the High Court to challenge the rule, which they claim contravenes their rights to a family life, their right to marry and constitutes discrimination.

British citizen Rashida Chapti, 54, and husband Vali Chapti, 57, are applying for him to join her in the UK. The couple have been married for 37 years and have six children together. Mr Chapti is an Indian national and does not speak, read or write English. Mrs Chapti has reportedly been travelling between India and Leicester for around 15 years but has now applied for her husband to come and live in the UK with her.

But under new immigration rules announced by Home Secretary Theresa May in June 2010, he cannot do so due to a new English language requirement for migrants applying to come or stay in the UK as a spouse.

The rule, which came into force in November last year, is thought to be part of the Government's pledge to reduce net migration. But the Chaptis, along with two other couples, have launched proceedings to contest it.

At the High Court sitting in Birmingham, Manjit Gill QC, representing the couple, told the court the requirement was a breach of their human rights. He said it contravenes several Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights - Article 8, the right to family life, Article 12, the right to marry, and Article 14, to be free of discrimination. Mr Gill said: 'The rule is particularly striking in that it prevents mere residence even though one of the parties is fully entitled to live in this country.'

He said the rule discriminated against people on the grounds of nationality and 'race discrimination'.

He went on: 'There may be reasons, where the Secretary of State is concerned, that for those who are already here, before he allows them to gain a benefit such as indefinite leave to remain, or citizenship, that he is entitled to ask that they show some understanding of the language and some knowledge of life in the UK so that at that stage integration is assisted.

'It may be that the Secretary of State is able to show at that point that such a requirement is proportionate interference with the rights in question.'

But he said the measure prevented people who are British citizens and settled in the country from living with their partners, adding: 'That vice is compounded by the fact that the measure does this on grounds which are blatantly, admittedly, racially discriminatory.'


Walking the street, the hate preacher banned by Britain . . . and now he's using human rights law to stay

Strolling in the sunshine, seemingly without a care in the world, this is the Islamic extremist who has made a mockery of Britain’s border controls. In an extraordinary immigration farce, Sheikh Raed Salah is free to walk the streets after he was released on bail.

Four weeks ago, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel was able to enter the country unchallenged, despite a banning order. Now Salah, who has been accused in Parliament of ‘virulent anti-Semitism’, is using the Human Rights Act to demand his right to stay, and preach, in the UK. He has a return plane ticket but while his legal challenge is being resolved he can stay in the country.

Salah is claiming efforts to remove him are in breach of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, the right to free speech.

The Home Office is intent on deporting him on the grounds that his presence is ‘not conducive to the public good’. But lawyers for Salah claim kicking him out is a breach of his right to freedom of expression. In effect he is arguing it would be wrong to revoke his visa and to remove him from the country because it prevents him from preaching.

He has already cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds in court and prison costs and the bill is set to rise further during a lengthy court battle.

Salah, who was invited to Britain by Left-wing Labour MPs, was in the country for three days before he was arrested, during which time he addressed two large meetings of supporters.

On June 25 he arrived at Heathrow from Tel Aviv. Only days earlier Home Secretary Theresa May had issued an order banning him from entering the country. But the papers were never served on him by UK Border Agency officials, and when he landed at Heathrow was able to walk through unhindered on a six-month visitor visa.

He then addressed supporters in central London and Leicester before he was finally arrested. He was held at an immigration removal centre, refused to fly home on his return ticket and has rejected offers of flights home. He is now staying at a five-bedroom detached house in a leafy suburb in North London while his case is processed.

Last night Douglas Murray, associate director of think-tank the Henry Jackson Society, said the case showed Britons were being ‘taken for mugs’ by extremists. ‘It is yet another demonstration that Britain has become the retirement place of choice and destination for any crazed extremist who wants to be here,’ he said.

Salah, 52, who was banned on the grounds of ‘unacceptable behaviour’, is credited with a string of extremist statements, although he denies he is anti-Semitic or an extremist. He is said to have claimed the 9/11 plot was carried out by Israelis and Jews were warned not to go to the World Trade Centre in advance of the murderous attack.

He was released from prison in 2005 after serving two years for fundraising for the Palestinian terror group Hamas and for having contact with an Iranian spy.

He arrived in Britain only days after Mrs May launched a new strategy aimed at restricting the opportunities for extremists to spread hate-fuelled speech in the UK. She was said to be ‘incandescent’ at the blunder by immigration officials and has ordered a full investigation into what went wrong.

Ten days ago the High Court approved bail on a surety of £30,000 on condition that he report to police every day, refrain from preaching, live at a specific address and obey a curfew. The judge, Mr Justice Stadlen, said Salah had a ‘good arguable case’ for judicial review. The case will go to the Court of Appeal today where the Home Office will argue for bail to be revoked.

Ministers are still determined to kick him out, a Home Office spokesman said, adding: ‘We were very disappointed with the court’s decision to grant bail and have appealed. We are still seeking to deport Salah.’


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