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Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust Grant Award

27 September 2012

The AIRE Centre has recently been awarded a grant from Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust to support its legal advice and litigation services. The funding will enable AIRE to launch a 12-month project that aims to empower migrants in Great Britain who belong (or who are perceived as belonging) to racial or ethnic minorities to challenge institutional discrimination and disregard for their European-law rights.

Specifically this will involve: improving British ethnic minority migrants’ ability to challenge practices which violate their European-law rights through the courts and through European complaints mechanisms; increasing the number of instances in which systemic practices which violate migrants’ European law rights are exposed, condemned and eliminated at European and domestic level; and raising awareness of the government policies that cause poverty and social exclusion for migrant ethnic minority communities among government officials and civil society.

The funding will complement a project funded by the European Commission, ‘Family reunification: a barrier or facilitator for integration?', a transnational research project assessing the impact of family migration legislation and policies on the integration of (non-EU) third country nationals. The project, led by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, involves social and legal research across seven member states and will result in the publication and dissemination of both national and pan-European research findings.

We currently have around 30 cases pending before the ECtHR, in which we are either acting for victims of human rights violations or intervening as third parties. Thirty-four of these involve the rights of members of racial and ethnic minority groups who have been unlawfully treated because of their immigration status. The main focus of the advice service over the past decade has been challenging systemic discrimination by UK State authorities based on nationality and race.

In 2011 we responded to 813 requests for advice, which has steadily increased over the past 10 years. The vast majority of requests (approximately 85%), concerned access to benefits and residence rights of EU migrants in the UK and their family members – of whom approximately 90% belonged to, (or are perceived of as belonging to, (or are perceived of as belonging to) racial and ethnic minorities. Much of this advice work was carried out with generous support from a previous JRCT grant.

Emma Fenelon has been appointed project manager of the current JRCT-funded project. She began at AIRE in October 2011, after receiving a Satter Human Rights Fellowship awarded by Harvard Law School. Emma has contributed towards several U.K. and Balkan projects at AIRE since her time, as well as drafted legal advice for its legal advice services. She complete her undergraduate degree at Trinity College Dublin, which included a year spent at Washington and Lee Law School, Virginia, and a Masters in Law concentrating in International Human Rights at Harvard Law School. She has experience working at the European Court of Human Rights as a legal trainee, at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia as a legal intern, and at the Harvard Human Rights Clinic as a team member working on the medical profession's culpability in the force-feeding of detainees at Guantanamo.

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