The Home Affairs Select Committee has criticised the UK Border Agency in a report published today, The Work of the UKBA Border Agency (April to June 2012). Concerns include the slowing speed and poor quality of decisions on asylum claims, people being wrongly removed to countries where they are at risk, failings in treating asylum seekers with mental illness in detention, and concern about the rising number of children in detention.
In response, Lisa Doyle, Advocacy Manager at the Refugee Council said:
“The Home Affairs Select Committee is rightly concerned about the recent work of the UK Border Agency.
“While asylum seekers should be receiving decisions on their claims within a reasonable timeframe, the Border Agency must also focus on making the right decisions first time, not just speeding up the process. Allowing people sufficient time and support to give all the evidence they need to back up their case will help UKBA ensure they are not wrongly refusing claims. It is truly shocking that 13 people who were removed from the UK have since been granted asylum here. These are life and death decisions and when the UKBA get it wrong, they risk returning people to persecution and torture. We share the Committee’s concerns about Tamils, as a high proportion of the women accessing our services for victims of sexual violence in 2011 were Sri Lankan and most had been raped or tortured, yet almost half were refused asylum.
“The treatment of asylum seekers with mental illness in detention is extremely concerning. It is unacceptable that case-owners are overruling the advice of doctors not to detain people who are unfit to be there due to their mental health. Additionally, the rise in children being detained despite the government’s insistence that they have ended the practice is hugely disappointing, and the use of force on children and pregnant women at Cedars indefensible. This simply can’t go on.
“We urge the UK Border Agency to urgently address these issues, in order that those seeking safety here, as well as the general public, can have faith that the UKBA are running a fair, humane and effective process.”
The full report can be found on the parliament website.