Removing homeless EU citizens from the UK is “discriminatory” and must stop, the High Court ruled today.
The controversial policy, which was introduced in May last year, was brought in to crack down on EU nationals sleeping rough in London, with the Home Office saying they were “abusing” or “misusing” freedom of movement rights.
It was also later revealed the Government used a homeless persons database to seek out those from the EU and remove them from the country.
However, in a ruling at the High Court today, Mrs Justice Lang said homelessness alone did not meet the legal requirements for deportation, even if coupled with offences such as begging, drinking or nuisance.
A Spike in Homelessness
Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Image Credit: Department of Energy and Climate Change / Flickr
The challenge to the rules, which were brought by two Polish men and a Latvian, come after it was revealed that the number of homeless families jumped by almost 1,000 in just three months.
Speaking as she handed down the judgment, Mrs Justice Lang added: “There has been a significant increase in rough sleepers of all nationalities.
“The policy discriminated unlawfully against European Economic Area nationals and rough sleepers.”
She also urged Home Secretary Amber Rudd to “take stock and re-consider the terms of the proposed revised policy, in the light of advice from her legal advisers”.
As well as quashing the orders to leave, the court also ordered the Government to pay the claimants’ legal costs.
The Home Office said it would consider “carefully” changes to future rules.
Homelessness and Human Rights
Image Credit: ChutterSnap / Unsplash
As we’ve previously reported on RightsInfo, homelessness is a growing problem in the UK, and touches on basic human rights issues.
While not explicitly set down in the Human Rights Convention, the right to basic necessities such as shelter, food, and access to health care are part of our rights in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, of which the UK is a member.
Human rights law can also sometimes help, with a landmark case in 2012 ruling the Government could not make asylum seekers homeless.