Deportation rule changes under fire

The Refugee Council is warning that asylum
seekers are in danger of being deported from the UK with such speed
that they will be unable to seek legal advice or explore any legal
avenues open to them.

Following the announcement by the Lord
Chancellor’s Department last week of changes to the asylum appeals
rules, an asylum seeker whose appeal has been rejected by the
Immigration Appellate Authority and who has no further right of
appeal will now be notified by the Home Office rather than the

This means that the Home Office’s immigration
service will be able to inform asylum seekers in person and remove
them immediately, or detain them for a short period, claimed the
Refugee Council.

Previously the IAA decision was sent to asylum
seekers, which the government claims gave them the opportunity to
abscond and avoid removal from the country. Under the new rules,
the Home Office will also have to inform the asylum seeker’s legal
representative of the appeal decision at the same time.

“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,” said Refugee
Council deputy chief executive Margaret Lally. “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.”

But home secretary David Blunkett said the
changes were “long overdue” and would avoid individuals “having a
head start” and being able to “disappear”.

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