MPs: Government treatment of Eritrean asylum claims ‘unacceptable’ - Refugee Council
July 27, 2016

MPs: Government treatment of Eritrean asylum claims ‘unacceptable’

MPs have slammed the Government for its treatment of Eritrean asylum claims, calling it ‘unacceptable’ that the Home Office is getting so many of its decisions wrong.

In a new report, published today, the Home Affairs Select Committee condemns the Government’s approach to dealing with Eritrean asylum claims – an issue which the Refugee Council first exposed last year.

Read our previous reports:
•    UK paves the way to return asylum seekers to Eritrea
•    Outrage over Government mistreatment of Eritrean asylum claims
•    Explosive UN report on Eritrea further undermines UK policy

In the first three months of 2016, 86% of appeals from Eritrean nationals on refused asylum claims were successful, far more than for other nationalities.

The Committee commented: “This suggests to us that the Home Office country guidance for Eritrea was wrong and applications for asylum from Eritrean nationals have been incorrectly refused.”

MPs noted the Government’s promise to published revised guidance on Eritrea soon, however the Committee also raised concerns about the fate of Eritreans who could be facing removal to a place where they wouldn’t be safe.

The Committee noted:  “It is unacceptable that the Home Office is still getting so many of its decisions regarding nationals of this country wrong. This raises wider concerns over the Home Office’s country guidance, particularly in the period between the Home Office acknowledging that its guidance is incorrect and revised guidance being implemented.

“Decisions made in this period, as the situation with Eritreans has shown, can result in foreign nationals being repatriated to countries the Home Office knows to be unsafe or has concerns over—which is unacceptable—or appeals clogging up the courts unnecessarily. When the Home Office has concerns over the accuracy of its country guidance it should suspend decisions until such a time that those concerns have been investigated and, where necessary, revised guidance put in place.”

The report also noted the high number of appeals from Iranians who had been refused asylum, more than half of which were successful. The Committee suggested that the Home Office may also need to review its guidance for Iran accordingly.

Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said: “It’s both dangerous and disgraceful that the Government is getting so many life or death decisions wrong and that hundreds of refugees are being forced to rely on the courts to offer them the protection they so desperately need.

“The treatment of Eritreans is particularly appalling:  the Government knows full well what’s happening in Eritrea – the UN has repeatedly found evidence the regime has perpetrated crimes against humanity – yet the Home Office is refusing to protect those who seek refuge here.

“It’s vital the Government prioritises saving lives by changing its guidance and reviewing the cases of refugees who’ve been wrongly refused.”