Asylum seekers win human rights battle with government

A high court judge has ruled that the human rights of three
asylum seekers were breached when they were forced to sleep rough
for days after being refused support by the National Asylum Support
System, writes Clare Jerrom.

The home secretary had decided that the three asylum seekers did
not claim asylum immediately after entering the UK, and it was not
a breach of their human rights for them to sleep rough.

Asylum seekers must produce cogent medical evidence of ill
health or other severe consequences of being homeless, such as
being on the verge of prostitution or crime, he argued.

The Refugee Council welcomed the ruling and acting chief
executive Margaret Lally said it was “appalling” that
people seeking sanctuary could be forced into homelessness and
destitution. She also warned that refugee organisations lack the
necessary resources to provide support to those denied help under
section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act.

Section 55 came into force in January and meant that in order to
qualify for NASS support asylum seekers should apply for asylum
‘as soon as reasonably practicable’.

Six asylum seekers won their legal challenge against the new
rules in February, and the court of appeal upheld the ruling and
said the new law could work effectively, but changes to procedures
needed to be made.

However between the court of appeal ruling and the new home
office procedures being implemented in July, around 2,000 asylum
seekers were allowed into emergency accommodation. They are now
being called for section 55 interviews under ‘Operation Platinum’
to decide whether they are entitled to support while their claims
are processed.

Last month a number of organisations working with refugees
including Refugee Action, Refugee Council, Oxfam, Shelter and
Liberty joined together to call for section 55 to be abolished.

Information on Community Care’s Right to Refuge campaign

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