High Court rules in favour of asylum seeker over ‘degrading’ treatment

Refugee campaigners have hailed a High Court judgement as a
“potential major turning point” for thousands of asylum seekers
affected by section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum
Act 2002.

Last week, Mr Justice Collins found the treatment of Wayoka
Limbuela, who had been forced to sleep rough, was “certainly
degrading at the very least”.

The new ruling comes as a study by the Greater London Authority
predicts that about 10,000 asylum seekers a year are likely to be
pushed into destitution in the capital by section 55, which
requires them to make asylum claims within three days to be
entitled to state support. The ruling reflects article 3 of the
European Convention on Human Rights which states that no one should
be subject to “inhuman or degrading treatment”.

Allowing Limbuela’s application for judicial review, the judge said
that if an asylum seeker was on the street in winter, had no access
to charitable assistance, and could obtain food only irregularly,
then the threshold had been crossed.

Collins added that it was “distasteful” to adopt a “wait and see”
policy by removing an asylum seeker’s support to be sure he
suffered before he was offered assistance.

The ruling contradicts last September’s ruling by Lord Justice
Kennedy that a Malaysian asylum seeker did not suffer degradation,
although he slept rough at Heathrow airport for five weeks after
being denied support, because he had “shelter, sanitary facilities
and some money for food”.

The GLA report calls for section 55 to be repealed. It says the
policy will bring a new wave of acute deprivation to London.

It is also seen as running counter to the thrust of many of the
government’s other policies such as reducing poverty and tackling

The report goes on to predict that the annual workload of social
services departments across the capital will be increased by the

A Home Office spokesperson said section 55 was working and had been
backed up by the courts. He added that the government was
considering the report but was questioning its evidence.

– Destitution by Design from 020 7983 4100

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