Asylum seekers denied fair hearing: study

`UK government has abandoned small persecuted minority’

`Recent reforms make it harder for asylum seekers to prove their case’

`Asylum seekers are not illegal migrants’

1st April 2010: A new study has reveled that approximately 80 per cent of the asylum seekers were being erroneously refused publicly funded legal representation.

The study has been published by Devon Law Centre. It claimed as many as 75 asylum cases were referred to the Centre since July 2007, after they were refused controlled legal representation. The refusal was made on the grounds they had insufficient merit.

Subsequent to the refusal, the centre moved an independent funding adjudicator. It also undertook a project to monitor the outcomes.

Following the appeals, funding was allowed in 59 cases, which comes out to be 79 per cent. As many as 30 per cent were shown to have a legitimate claim to some form of protection.

Asylum appellate lawyer behind the project Jean-Benoit Louveaux said asylum seekers came to the UK fleeing persecution such as torture, rape, indefinite imprisonment without trial, and extra-judicial execution. It was a damning indictment of the UK that those seeking sanctuary here were then denied a fair hearing.

Louveaux added the project shows recent reforms to legal aid have only made it harder for asylum seekers with a valid claim to prove their case.

Louveaux said on an average it came out that asylum seekers were being wrongly refused public funding in almost four out of five cases, even where there are legitimate grounds for protection.

The lawyer said it was time to acknowledge asylum seekers do not represent a large wave of illegal immigration, but a small persecuted minority which the UK government has abandoned.

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