Court rules disabled asylum seekers are entitled to residential care

The high court has ruled that councils must
provide accommodation and care to disabled asylum seekers – even
when they would not be obliged to do the same for British people in
similar circumstances.

week Mr Justice Wilson ended a two-year legal battle when he ruled
that Enfield and Lambeth Councils had to fund residential
accommodation with care for three asylum seekers.

councils claimed that the asylum seekers’ needs only required
“visiting assistance” and not the managed regime of residential
accommodation, and that British citizens with the same disabilities
would not qualify for publicly funded accommodation and

But Mr
Wilson ruled that the combination of the asylum seekers’
disabilities and their destitution entitled them to residential
accommodation funded by the councils.

ruled that Lambeth Council must continue providing Abdelaziz Mani,
who has mobility difficulties and cannot carry out basic tasks,
with residential accommodation.

Enfield Council was ordered to
provide residential accommodation for Mr “J”, who has advanced HIV,
and appropriate support to Sukru Tasci, who has a spinal disability
and has been assessed as needing ground floor accommodation and
care attendance three times a week.

decision follows a similar case last April when Lord Justice Simon
Brown ruled that Westminster Council should take responsibility for
the care of an asylum seeker who suffered from spinal myeloma
(News, page 6, 19 April 2001).

However, at the time, a Home
Office spokesperson said it should only be viewed as a test case
where a disabled asylum seeker needed residential or 24-hour
support. It added that it did not envisage the case having a major
impact in terms of numbers of cases.

of policy at the Refugee Council Alison Fenney welcomed the high
court decision. “Local authorities are best placed to provide
specialist and appropriate services to disabled people but must be
fully reimbursed for doing so,” she said, adding that the Home
Office was failing to resource councils to provide care services to
asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, leading voluntary
organisations and trade unions have called for a new agenda on
asylum, following the publication last week of the Nationality,
Immigration and Asylum Bill (see News page 8, 18 April).

coalition, which includes the Children’s Society, the Refugee
Council and Save the Children, believes the current system has a
detrimental effect on the well-being of asylum seekers, community
relations and front-line services.

Scottish parliament’s cross-party group also added their concerns
about the treatment of asylum seekers following their visit to
Scotland’s only detention centre for asylum seekers,

The group said the detention of asylum seeking
children had “no justification”. The visit followed a hunger strike
at Dungavel by 40 asylum seekers and two attempted suicides in
recent weeks.


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