Urgent appeal for support from Refugee and Migrant Justice

I’m writing to you from a charity called Refugee and Migrant Justice: we provide free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants in the UK, including victims of trafficking and separated children. We currently have 10 000 clients. We were awarded the Liberty/Justice award in 2005 for our “fearless and consistent use of the law to protect human rights”. We have taken on major test cases which have helped to change policy in the uk.

We are now facing possible closure. A new system of payment of legal aid means that payments are only made when stages of cases are closed – which in our case is on average 6 months after work is started and can take up to two years, due to the delays in the asylum system. We are not asking for more money, just prompt payment of what we are due.

We are trying to raise awareness of our plight; if we close, 10 000 asylum seekers will be left without the legal advice and representation they desperately need to get a fair hearing in a system that is characterised by a culture of disbelief. They have fled torture, persecution, widespread violence, and the threat of death. 900 of them are children; many have been trafficked.

I am writing to ask if you could write about what is happening, and join our campaign. I am attaching a leaflet with more information about the situation, as well as a letter to be sent to Ken Clarke, protesting the situation. Below is our most recent coverage, but we need to keep up momentum and build support if we are to remain open.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch – you can reach me on 020 7780 3271, or 0787 216 1271.

Many thanks, and best wishes,

Kathleen Commons


Read more here:

020610 letter news release FINAL:

300510 SUNDAY press release FINAL

Save RMJ information leaflet

Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP

Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor

Ministry of Justice

102 Petty France

London SW1H 0AL

c/o Sally.Jones@Justice.gsi.gov.uk

Insert date

Dear Mr Clarke,

I have recently learnt from (Insert publication/website/person you heard it from here) about the possible closure of Refugee and Migrant Justice due to bureaucratic rules that result in late payment by the Legal Services Commission.

No charity can be expected to wait many months, even years for payment.  Refugee and Migrant Justice provides an excellent service to asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants with the greatest needs and this is putting that service under threat.

If RMJ has to close, I understand this will lead to more than 10,000 people being left without legal representation and this could cause chaos in the asylum system. Lives will be put at risk and there are likely to be many more miscarriages of justice, which are already common.

(Please insert any personal reasons you might have for wanting to save RMJ from closure)

With that in mind I beg you to consider urgently paying this very important charity what it is due or to make interest free loans available to make up the difference. I appreciate that public finances are under pressure but understand the Government is committed to a fundamental review of legal aid.  This is the perfect opportunity to cut out inefficiency and pay providers like RMJ fairly and promptly.

I hope you will take this matter seriously and I look forward to hearing of your immediate actions.

Yours sincerely,

Insert name

Cc Damian Green MP, Minister for Immigration, Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1 4DF c/o Emily.Warren2@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Insert name of local MP