Today the House of Lords unanimously upheld the appeal court ruling that the policy known as section 55 breached human rights.
Maeve Sherlock, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“ We are delighted with this unanimous judgement .It was disgraceful that vulnerable refugees were left to starve on the streets.
“Section 55 brought immeasurable harm to many innocent refugees who were guilty of nothing more than asking for protection here. Thousands of people, who arrived here scared, alone and traumatised, were refused basic food and housing by this unjust law and forced to sleep rough on British streets. A significant proportion of these later would be given refugee status or leave to stay in the UK.
“Section 55 failed to make the asylum system fairer or more effective. We believe there are many ways in which the system can be improved and hope the government will choose now to concentrate its efforts on working with us and others to ensure refugees are properly protected in the UK.”
Notes to the editor:
The judgement can be downloaded from the UK parliament website (PDF).
Section 55 was introduced in January 2003 as part of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. It is the policy of refusing welfare support to asylum seekers who do not claim asylum immediately upon arrival. It was overturned by a court judgement in 2004 that ruled it was breaching asylum seekers human rights. This was upheld by the court of appeal in May 2004.
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