The government has announced that it will not be commissioning an
independent review into section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration
and Asylum Act 2002 this week, despite calls from MPs and refugee
The section denies state support to asylum seekers who fail to make
their claim “as soon as reasonably practicable”.
In its response to the home affairs select committee’s report on
asylum applications, which recommended a review of section 55, the
Home Office also rejected calls for an independent review into
initial decision-making on asylum cases.
Rejecting concerns raised in the select committee report about the
quality of initial decision making, the Home Office said it “did
not accept” the need for an independent review on the quality of
initial decisions. However, it admitted that there was “more to do
to ensure the highest standards are consistently achieved”.
The Home Office added that it did not consider as “necessary or
desirable” an independent review of section 55. The decision
coincided with the launch of a landmark case by the government
appealing against three earlier rulings which found that
implementation of section 55 had breached asylum seekers’ human
rights under the European Convention.
Government lawyers argue that the effect of the policy on the three
asylum seekers concerned did not amount to “inhuman or degrading
treatment”, banned under Article 3 of the convention.
One of the group, Yusif Adam, 29, slept rough outside the Refugee
Council in Brixton, South London after being denied support. But
Home Office counsel Nigel Griffin argued that the fact that a
physically healthy young man was having to sleep rough did not, by
itself, amount to “inhuman or degrading treatment”.
So far, several judges have reached different definitions as to
when the “threshold” of degrading treatment is crossed and the
Appeal Court is now being asked to rule on the issue.
Homelessness charity Shelter is supporting the asylum
Judgement on the case has been reserved and it is expected to be
referred to the House of Lords.
– Government’s Response to the Select Committee’s Report on
Asylum Applications from www.official-documents.co.uk