Statement from the Refugee Council in response to changes in the Immigration and Asylum Appeals (Procedure) Rules 2000
Refugee Council statement(amended from original version, 4 January 2002)
The changes, which come into effect today, will affect two categories of asylum seekers: those whose claims are certified, where the adjudicator agrees with the certificate and dismisses the appeal; and those who have leave to appeal, but have have been refused further consideration of their case by the Tribunal.
An asylum seeker whose case is certified is not given leave to appeal to the Tribunal, though asylum seekers in both circumstances have judicial review rights.
In these circumstances, the applicant will no longer be informed directly by the appellate authority, but the Home Office will be notified instead. This will enable the immigration service to present the applicant in person with their negative appeal decision and remove them immediately, or detain them for a short period before removing them.
Margaret Lally, Deputy Chief Executive, of the Refugee Council said:
"We are concerned that this change in the law could result in asylum seekers being quickly removed from the country without the possibility of seeking legal advice, or exploring the legal avenues open to them.
"It is crucial that provision of legal advice is made available to all asylum seekers at all points of the process including in detention centres.
"Nor can it be right that asylum seekers are the last to know that their asylum application has been rejected.
"We would like to know what safeguards are being put in place to ensure that no one is removed to a country where it would be unsafe for them to be returned, or where they may face persecution.
"Removals of failed asylum seekers must only occur where an individual has been through a full asylum and human rights procedure with the benefit of good quality legal advice and representation, which is case specific and includes full consideration of all compelling and compassionate circumstances.
"It is clearly better if people return voluntarily but where compulsion is required, this should be done in as dignified a way as possible and people should have sufficient time to tidy up their affairs. Arrest and detention should only be used as a last resort for the shortest possible time and immediately prior to removal. All other options such as reporting arrangements should be used in preference."
The Statutory Instrument can be viewed on Her Majesty's Stationery Office website at http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/si/si2001/20014014.htm