Government loses section 55 appeal

    The government has lost its appeal against three High Court rulings
    that its controversial section 55 policy breached asylum seekers’
    human rights.

    In a ground-breaking Appeal Court judgement last week, judges found
    against the home secretary David Blunkett in a two to one majority
    ruling that “shelter of some form from the elements at night” was a
    “basic amenity”.

    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 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”.

    Hundreds of other similar cases have been awaiting the Appeal
    Court’s decision, and homelessness charity Shelter said it meant
    that those refused state assistance might now have a case for
    claiming their human rights had been breached.

    The Appeal Court judges gave Blunkett permission to appeal further
    to the House of Lords. It also instructed the Home Office to
    produce guidance on the implementation of Section 55 in order to
    prevent further breaches of human rights.

    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.

    Guidance will not be produced until the case has been heard in the
    House of Lords.

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