Refugee campaigners have expressed grave disappointment at this
week’s Court of Appeal ruling that an asylum seeker forced to sleep
rough after being denied government support did not suffer “inhuman
and degrading” treatment.
The government was challenging July’s high court ruling that asylum
seekers’ human rights were breached when they were forced to sleep
rough after being denied assistance from the National Asylum
Support Service (news, page 6, 7 August).
Although Mr Justice Kay’s original ruling involved three asylum
seekers, the Home Office conceded before this week’s appeal hearing
that one had claimed as soon as possible and was entitled to
support and that another was sufficiently ill for his human rights
to be breached if support was not offered.
However, in relation to the appeal against the decision on the
third asylum seeker, who had slept rough for more than five weeks
at Heathrow Airport, Lord Justice Kennedy said it was “impossible”
to find that his condition had reached the inhuman or the
degrading. “He had shelter, sanitary facilities and some money for
food,” said the appeal court judge. “He was not entirely well
physically, but not so unwell as to need immediate
Anna Reisenberger, The Refugee Council’s development director,
said: “This is a disappointing result for the thousands of asylum
seekers affected by the government’s draconian asylum legislation,
which will continue to leave asylum seekers homeless, hungry and
begging for handouts”.
Kennedy said the asylum seeker was refused Nass support because he
had failed to seek asylum for six days after his arrival in Britain
in March. Under section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and
Asylum Act 2002, asylum seekers must claim “as soon as reasonably
Welcoming the ruling, Home Office minister Beverley Hughes said the
judgement clarified where “the threshold lies” concerning article 3
cases, and that destitution would not necessarily be a deciding