Asylum-seeking women in Yarl’s Wood detention centre whose claims are fast-tracked have “dramatically reduced” chances of securing refugee status, an inquiry has found.
Under the fast-track system, initial decisions have to be served within three days, after which claimants have two days in which to appeal, leaving many women with insufficient time to disclose traumatic experiences, according to charity Bail for Immigration Detainees.
The speed of the process “makes it nearly impossible” for women to get a fair hearing and the vast majority of asylum claims are refused, BID’s inquiry into 31 cases of women at Yarl’s Wood found.
Many of the women have experienced sexual violence but they are not able to prepare properly for their appeals by gathering expert reports or medical information.
Once women’s cases have been turned down, they can spend periods in detention ranging from five to eleven months, the inquiry found.
The majority of bail hearings, usually held on site at Yarl’s Wood, are “ unsuccessful” and if women are released they are “left in limbo” and struggle to find legal representation.
Government figures published last month showed that asylum seekers detained for fast-tracking at Yarl’s Wood and Harmondsworth detention centres were significantly less likely to succeed that the average last year.
At a meeting in London to launch BID’s report last night, one ex-detainee said women in the system suffered “mental torture.” She added: “There is not time for women’s cases to be properly looked into before they are removed. This is injustice.”
Lisa Amin, a solicitor representing women on the fast-track system in Yarl’s Wood, called the system “inhuman” and said she was often not given enough time to speak to clients or read their documents before representing them.