Refugee Council calls for fair, humane and effective asylum system

Refugee Council has urged the UK Border Agency to make timely and right decisions while processing asylum applications.

The call came in reaction to the Home Affairs Select Committee report which criticised the UK Border Agency for the slowing speed and poor quality of decisions on asylum claims.

The report noted that such poor decisions have lead to people being wrongly removed to countries where they are at risk.

It also highlighted the UK Border Agency’s failings in treating asylum seekers with mental illness in detention.

The MPs also expressed concern about the rising number of children in detention.

Lisa Doyle, Advocacy Manager at the Refugee Council said: “The Home Affairs Select Committee is rightly concerned about the recent work of the UK Border Agency.

“While asylum seekers should be receiving decisions on their claims within a reasonable timeframe, the Border Agency must also focus on making the right decisions first time, not just speeding up the process. Allowing people sufficient time and support to give all the evidence they need to back up their case will help UKBA ensure they are not wrongly refusing claims.”

Dr. Doyle said it was “truly shocking that 13 people who were removed from the UK have since been granted asylum here. These are life and death decisions and when the UKBA get it wrong, they risk returning people to persecution and torture.”

Refugee Council said they share the Committee’s concerns about Tamils, noting that a high proportion of the women accessing their services for victims of sexual violence in 2011 were Sri Lankan most of whom “had been raped or tortured.”

Almost half of those applications for asylum were refused.

Dr. Doyle said: “The treatment of asylum seekers with mental illness in detention is extremely concerning. It is unacceptable that case-owners are overruling the advice of doctors not to detain people who are unfit to be there due to their mental health. Additionally, the rise in children being detained despite the government’s insistence that they have ended the practice is hugely disappointing, and the use of force on children and pregnant women at Cedars indefensible. This simply can’t go on.”

Refugee Council urged the UK Border Agency to urgently address the issues highlighted in the Committee’s report so “that those seeking safety here, as well as the general public, can have faith that the UKBA are running a fair, humane and effective process.”

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