Friday, 27 July 2012

Easy Targets For the Borders Agency

Under current rules foreign and Commonwealth troops can claim British citizenship after four years of military service. There are currently 8,505 foreign and Commonwealth soldiers serving in the British forces and that number does not include the 3,880 Gurkhas who previously won the right to residency. But a new law, which appears to be increasingly used against foreign soldiers who have been disciplined at commanding officer level, is leaving them without basic rights or status.  The changes mean that foreign and Commonwealth soldiers, who receive a military summary punishment from their commanding officer for even minor non-criminal offences, will be given a criminal conviction in civilian life.  As a result they will be mandatorily refused British citizenship upon discharge from the Army, indentified as 'illegals' and deported. The previous rules allowed for discretion over such decisions.  Veterans' Aid, a small charity which has provided pro bono advocacy for these soldiers, says it has seen at least 100 such cases over the last year.  "We've dealt with well over a hundred cases since we've been doing this, but what is interesting is that each case takes such a long time. In fact for one case it was 18 months. So that's without income; without work. It's a very difficult system to work with. But the point is this morning we had six calls, two of them from serving soldiers."
General Sir Mike Jackson is correct when he says service by Commonwealth soldiers in the British armed forces should count towards British citizenship. Common sense should prevail in these cases, but of course ex-military are an easy target. They play by the civilian rules and don't disappear as so many foreign offenders do from civilian prisons. These soldiers have no rights; they cannot register with a GP, claim benefits or work and all because of their immigration status.
Our military justice system is completely different to civilian justice.  It's much stricter and punishments are usually far harsher.
As one soldier, who was recently given two years leave to remain after fighting the Borders Agency's decision, said: "If you don't want us in your country, don't accept us in your Army." I agree.   Apologies for the spacing but it must be influenced by the video's HTML. As my knowledge is limited I'm unable to fix it, but I consider the video to be a fundamental part of the post.


Joe Public said...

Compare & contrast the responses (likely) to be given to athletes abusing our hospitality by wanting asylum before the Oh-lympics have even started, to brave soldiers who have already put their lives on the line to defend decisions made by stupid British politicians.

The UK Border Agency will have counted the athletes + retinues 'in' for the Oh-lympics, I wonder how many will be they'll actually count 'out'?

It won't be 100%!

pa_broon74 said...

This is an example of the British Establishment at its most craven.

That is all.

Brian said...

This is disgusting and indicates the stupid "big boys rules" attitude of the Armed Forces persists. It appears that summary hearings before commanding officers (untrained in law and without the equivalent of a magistrates clerk for advice) are conducted without legal representation for the accused, who has probably been "advised" to take their punishment and get it over quickly instead of a Court Martial (which can't pass a higher sentence for a particular offence than the summary hearing). It's always better to have proper legal advice and representation. Are servicemen and women properly made aware of their rights under the Armed Services Act 2006? It's just as important as the Geneva Conventions.

Barbarian of the North said...

This is appalling.

I'm ex-military, and summary punishments can be for minor breaches of discipline, such as failing an inspection.

But bloody typical of the Government - and by that I mean any Government. The Armed Forces are treated like shit when they are discharged at the end of their service. Trust me.

subrosa said...

No doubt they'll bend over backwards to be seen 'accommodating' the athletes Joe.

subrosa said...

Indeed it is pa_broon.

subrosa said...

Yes, I'm sure they are aware of their rights Brian, however I suspect the fact that any summary hearing is now counted as a civilian criminal offence will waken them up.

subrosa said...

Indeed they are Barbarian although some regiments try much harder than others to keep the contact.

But I agree the majority are treated like second class citizens.

It's time this country started to realise that today's military is composed of some of the most able and intelligent we produce.

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