Two years ago trained members of the public attending immigration bail hearings published their first report, “A Travesty of Justice”. Today the Bail Observation Project reports again. Unfairness and lack of due process persist.
“I am not going to abscond. I trust myself not to. This place is getting into me. Home Office can’t get travel documents. I beg you, I bow down, let me out of here.”
These were the words of a man from Gambia, who had been detained in an immigration removal centre and was applying for bail. He had been held for seven months and this was his third application. Like the previous applications it was turned down. He was not physically present in the court but sitting alone in a room in Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow Airport. He was facing a screen which provided a video link to a hearing centre near London. He had no legal representative and no one to stand surety for him. Read more
The number of decisions overturned on appeal is testament to on-going problems with the asylum decision-making process, Amnesty International and the Still Human Still Here coalition said today as they published a new report.
The report A question of credibility: Why so many initial asylum decisions are overturned on appeal in the UK (PDF) examines why so many initial decisions to refuse asylum are being overturned by Immigration Judges.
Home Office statistics show 25% of initial decisions to refuse asylum are being overturned on appeal.
For this report, researchers examined a sample of 50 randomly selected cases and found that in the vast majority – over 80% – a flawed credibility assessment resulted in the wrong decision being arrived at in the first instance. Researchers analysed refusal letters and appeal determinations in cases concerning asylum applicants from four countries with particularly high appeal overturn rates; Syria, Sri Lanka, Iran and Zimbabwe. Read more
Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network is a network of Quakers across UK who share a concern about the injustices that are practiced in our name, and a determination to bring about change for those who have been forced to seek asylum and to reach out with support for those who share our concern. QARN members hold discussions and share information through the email group, and those who can meet together about four times a year in a different part of the country each time. Read more
On 3 April 2013, Sheffield City Council unanimously passed a motion on asylum seekers which was submitted by the secretary of the Labour Group and supported by the Lib Dems and Greens.The motion states that the Council shares the concerns raised by groups working with refused asylum seekers about the levels of destitution in Sheffield and outlines action to be taken by the Leader of the Council (full text attached as a file).
In addition, a Motion on destitution is also being proposed in Oxford and this will be discussed at the next City Council meeting on 22 April 2013. Read more
Prime Minister David Cameron has chosen the pages of the Sun newspaper to launch a crackdown on immigrants. In what the tabloid calls his “manifesto”, he claims that “frankly this country became a soft touch”.
Whilst saying that immigration has benefited Britain, his words are a clear bid to win back those voters who have been migrating to the anti-immigration, anti-Europe UK Independence party. Read more
CLARE SAMBROOK 19 March 2013: The sensitive work of housing vulnerable asylum seekers appears to be defeating the world’s biggest security company. A leaked letter from G4S director (a former Rentokil executive) illuminates the unfolding crisis.
Last year G4S won part of a £620 million government contract to house asylum seekers. It subcontracts the work to smaller companies which have repeatedly failed to provide housing fit for human habitation and whose staff have been accused of harassing vulnerable tenants. A recent Parliamentary inquiry into aspects of asylum policy made searing criticism of housing contractors. The scandal has been exposed by grassroots activists giving voice to asylum seekers’ experience, forcing G4S to take action against its subcontractors. Read more
Operation Nexus was launched last September (under the name Operation Terminus) and, in principle, is targeting foreign national criminals. Apparently there are four strands of work, including cross checking forensic data with UKBA, proactive targeting high-harm offenders and international data –sharing. The strand that concerns us most, however, is the custody suites project. This involved initially embedding UKBA staff in London’s five busiest police custody suites. The initiative has been rolled out pan-London to 22 custody suites and there are plans to roll it out nationally in the next few months. Read more
‘Quality and value for money in asylum legal aid’: Julie Gibbs and Deri Hughes-Roberts, November 2012
Final project report: This report aims to help policy makers, practitioners and others consider how best to ensure value for money in civil legal aid. It focuses on experience in the asylum legal sector; brings together the results of research undertaken earlier in this project, some of which has already been published; and seeks to draw out the lessons. This report was commissioned in 2009 by Refugee and Migrant Justice, in partnership with Asylum Aid and the Immigration Advisory Service. Since that time, both Refugee and Migrant Justice and the Immigration Advisory Service have entered administration. In June 2011, the Runnymede Trust was given permission to publish the outstanding reports, including this one. Asylum Aid remains a partner in the final report, together with the Law Centres Network (formerly the Law Centres Federation). The project has been funded throughout by the Baring Foundation. Read more
24dash.com: G4S’s takeover of asylum housing under the UK Border Agency’s (UKBA) COMPASS contracts has been a disaster for asylum seekers and their families in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East, a new report claims.
Compiled for the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, the report also alleges that the allocation of the contracts to an international security company rather than a housing provider suggests that the contracts were allocated for political rather than commercial reasons. Read more
Asylum: 25 February 2013
Home Affairs Committee is today launching an inquiry into Asylum.
The Committee’s inquiry will include, but will not be limited to, analysis of:
- The process of claiming asylum;
- The treatment of applicants; and
- Post-decision outcome.
Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“It is a decade since the Committee undertook a focused inquiry in to the asylum system. The Committee will be looking at how robust and efficient it is.
The latest figures from UKBA show a 53% rise in the number of asylum cases waiting more than 6 months for an initial decision.
We intend to evaluate the system and suggest improvements in a number of areas in order to ensure that the right decision is made first time, in a suitable time frame and with as little bureaucracy as possible.” Read more