Mother fails to win judicial review of controversial asylum legislation

 A woman has failed in her bid to seek a judicial review of the legislation that can lead to the children of failed asylum seekers being taken into care, in the first High Court challenge to the law.

The Home Office decided last August to terminate support to the failed asylum seeker, a Congolese mother of three, under section nine of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004. She was faced with her children being taken into care if she remained in the UK.

However, she continued to receive support after a court injunction. Her solicitor, Sue Willman, said the policy ignored the Children Act 2004 and violated the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Act 1998.

But judges ruled that the woman could prevent her human rights being breached by returning to her country of origin. Willman said the woman would appeal.

The government has denied reports that it has decided against rolling out section nine, which is being piloted in three areas of England. Immigration minister Tony McNulty said an evaluation of the policy would be considered before any decision was made.

“We acknowledge that concerns have been raised and we accept it is a tough policy, but we need to send a clear signal that people refused asylum must go home,” he said.

A report from the Refugee Council and Refugee Action claims only one family has left the UK as a result of the policy.

Maeve Sherlock, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “When it launched section nine the government said the aim was to encourage families to return home, not to make them destitute. This report shows that it has achieved the opposite.”

  • Inhuman and Ineffective – Section 9 in Practice from www.refugeecouncil.org.uk

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