Government infringed human rights with asylum law, court rules

The Appeal Court has ruled that the government breached human
rights with the introduction of Section 55 to take benefits away
from some asylum seekers, writes Amy

Section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002
denies support to asylum seekers who fail to make their claim
“as soon as reasonably practicable”.

The High Court had previously ruled that the government’s
denial of accommodation to three destitute asylum seekers under
Section 55 breached Article 3 of the European Convention on Human
Rights. This states that no one should be subjected to
“inhuman or degrading treatment”.

The judges in the Appeal Court upheld the High Courts decision
and found against the Home Secretary David Blunkett in a 2-1
majority decision. Blunkett is now going to appeal to the House of
Lords, the highest court in the land, having been given permission
to do so by the judges.

The Appeal Court was asked to give guidance on when refusals of
support threatened applicants’ Article 3 rights. Hundreds of
other similar cases have been awaiting the guidance.

The Homelessness charity Shelter said that the guidance meant
that, “Asylum seekers and other destitute people who are not
currently given state assistance may, for the first time, have a
case for claiming their human rights have been breached on the
grounds of homelessness.”

The Home Office said it was “disappointed” by the
decision and said that the “basic thrust” of Section 55
had been vindicated in the courts.


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