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AIRE-led Coalition Renews Call for Home Office to Protect Domestic Violence Survivors

18 February 2013

Update on our October 2012 action

The AIRE Centre, Child Poverty Action Group, the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, Rights of Women and Southall Black Sisters have renewed their call for the Home Office to protect the fundamental rights of domestic violence survivors who are living in the UK under EU law.

In the UK, many such domestic violence survivors, as well as their children, face exclusion from refuges and other forms of emergency support because their residence rights are not recognised when they stop work or separate from their partners.  A significant number of the children are British Citizens.  Domestic violence survivors who are living in the UK under domestic immigration law (such as those who have visas as the spouses or partners of British Citizens) receive significantly better treatment than those who live here under EU law.

The five organisations have pointed out that this situation violates EU law and may result in violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.  They alerted the Home Office to the problem in a letter of 8 October 2012.  The Home Office replied in November 2012, but has not made any changes to the relevant laws.

‘This situation is placing a significant number of domestic violence survivors in serious danger of injury or even death at the hands of their abusive partners’, said Sarah St Vincent, Legal Project Manager and Skadden Fellow at the AIRE Centre.  ‘We’re glad that the Home Office is engaging with us about these issues.  However, these women and children need access to emergency support that will keep them safe, and they need it now.’

‘European citizens and their family members who suffer domestic violence are often overlooked.  Many people simply assume that these vulnerable individuals will be able to get the help they need when in fact that isn’t always the case.  A substantial number of domestic violence victims are falling through the gaps we have described, and the Home Secretary must take steps to protect them’, added Adam Weiss, the AIRE Centre’s Legal Director

Read the latest letter of 14 February 2013. 

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