The UK asylum system is expected to undergo reform in the New Year with Home Secretary Priti Patel pledging to tackle “litigious” human rights claimants who seek to delay their deportation from the UK after their cases are refused.
From June 2018 – June 2019, the Home Office granted protection – in the form of asylum, humanitarian protection and alternative forms of leave and resettlement – to some 18,519 people, out of a total of 32,693 asylum applications lodged during that period. According to Government statistics, from the asylum applications with known outcomes for 2015 – 2017, 35% were granted whilst 65% were refused. 71% of applicants who received negative decisions thereafter pursued appeals, with 40% of appellants having their appeals allowed and 53% of successful appellants thereafter receiving a favourable decision and a grant of asylum.
The Home Secretary is reportedly on a quest to curb asylum seekers’ right to appeal negative asylum decisions in a bid to slash the number of “vexatious” claims which are deemed to be “without merit” and which are perceived to be clogging up the court system.
The Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts, Chris Phillip, announced that the Ministry of Justice will raise the bar for appeals so they will only be allowed if there is an “exceptional public interest”. The Ministry has not yet divulged what is meant by “exceptional public interest” and how this will raise the threshold for leave to appeal. In fact, Ministers seem to be frustrated by the number of legal appeals preventing the removal of appellants and have therefore decided to speed up the removal process. According to the Ministry of Justice, claims which are “without merit” can often find their way to the Court of Appeal.
Furthermore, it is expected that the Ministry of Justice will seek to raise the bar for foreign criminals and people simultaneously fighting extradition requests who lodge asylum claims in order to avoid deportation. It is understood that a Bill is to be introduced in Parliament early in the New Year, which will aim to force judges to place more weight on the individual’s criminal record and charges. Non-criminal claimants will also see their chances of being granted asylum diminish. They will have to submit all their arguments for asylum status at the beginning of the case, which will ultimately give them less time to mount a credible case.
In her speech at the Conservative Party conference, the Home Secretary correctly highlighted the fact that the current asylum system was not working, and certainly not for those stranded in the process itself. Among the number of people claiming asylum in the UK are many who are highly qualified and skilled and who could contribute meaningfully to the economy. Instead, since the law was last amended in 2002, asylum seekers have been prevented from taking up employment. Such a policy is counterproductive and fiscally irresponsible, ultimately costing the taxpayer and missing out on potential economic growth.
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