Ruling could improve support for asylum seekers
The UK Border Agency could be forced to change the way it gives accommodation and financial help to failed asylum seekers pending the outcome of a judicial review.
A case has been raised against the UKBA to challenge the procedure which it says leaves failed asylum seekers homeless and destitute for at least 15 days.
The case concerns the government agency’s policy on when it decides to give section 4 support, which gives destitute failed asylum seekers accommodation and financial support. Currently UKBA will not consider whether to give section 4 support before it has decided on the validity of a refused asylum seeker’s fresh claims for asylum, for which it gives itself at least 15 days.
‘If the policy is unlawful the UKBA will have to amend it or will have to scrap it and consider section 4 applications as soon as possible.’
Mike Spencer, solicitor, Asylum Support Appeals Project
Charity Refugee Action, which gave evidence in the case, wants the UKBA to consider section 4 support as soon as it is presented with the fresh evidence. Chief executive of Refugee Action Dave Garratt said: ‘When people who have been refused asylum have new, or previously undisclosed evidence, or the situation in their home country has changed, having the chance to make a new claim can mean the difference between life and death.
‘While they are doing so some financial support, provided immediately, is crucial in keeping people from destitution. The policy of refusing to provide accommodation or a basic allowance for food, for at least two weeks, leaves too many people facing hunger and homelessness.’
Refugee Action and other refugee support charities have repeatedly tried to get the UKBA to change this practice, he said.
Mike Spencer, a solicitor at the Asylum Support Appeals Project, a charity which protects the legal rights of asylum seekers to food and shelter, said if the claimant wins the UKBA will have to change its section 4 policy.
‘If the policy is unlawful the UKBA will have to amend it or will have to scrap it and consider section 4 applications as soon as possible,’ he said.
The case of R Kanyemba – a former Refugee Action client - was heard at the administrative court in Manchester on 10 and 11 May and a judgment is expected towards the end of June.
Solicitors for Mr Kanyemba argued he was left without accommodation or a basic food allowance for more than four weeks despite evidence he was destitute. After four weeks he was granted refugee status.
A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: ‘It would be inappropriate for us to comment on this case until the judgment has been heard.
‘Our policy on Section 4 ensures support is only provided to those who genuinely need it and removes any incentive for applicants to delay the eventual decision.’