A new report published by eight leading organisations in the field of immigration is a damning indictment of the UK’s asylum system.
Published this September, the report draws upon the expertise of Freedom from Torture, the Refugee Council, JCWI, UKLGIG and other key voices defending and protecting asylum seekers’ rights.
Their work highlights over a decade’s worth of mismanagement of the asylum process by the Home Office, collating information from more than fifty other reports published since 2004 and 17 different organisations. A wide variety of sources, including the United Nations, have contributed to the final product.
One of the introducing paragraphs of the report states:
“This report proposes a new way forward at a moment when Britain stands at a historic crossroads. The system has as its heart the assumption that applicants are telling lies, even when they have suffered so much. The system is inefficient, inhuman and broken. It urgently needs to be repaired.” It is stressed that an “unrealistic and unlawful evidential burden [is] placed up on applicants” as one of the key failings of the system.
Summarising their findings, three points are emphasised in particular:
- “The Home Office fails to deliver fairly on its responsibilities towards people seeking protection, including those with particular vulnerabilities. This is a legal and moral failure.”
- “This failure has a human and an economic cost. Those who are living in limbo whilst waiting for a correct decision have to go through unnecessary, lengthy and often traumatic appeal processes. There is a significant financial cost to the government in preparing appeals, and the associated support and accommodation costs.”
- “These failings cannot be addressed through ad hoc or purely procedural adjustments. They can and must be delivered by a systemic overhaul – or transformation of the current system.
The Home Office is repeatedly criticised especially for its denial that a culture of disbelief permeates the system. Despite this denial, a previous Freedom From Torture report from as recent as 2016 discovered more than 84% of cases reviewed by the Home Office rejected evidence.
The report references that at the time of writing, the logistics of the UK’s departure from the European Union are still undecided but whatever happens, “an immigration and asylum system which is both inhumane and inefficient reflects badly on the UK itself, however it chooses to define its future regional and global role.”
The Refugee Council’s Chief Executive, Maurice Wren, commented:
“That those who have looked to Britain for protection from the violence, persecution, rape or torture they have endured, should be treated so unfairly and insensitively at the hands of the UK Home Office, is simply unacceptable. It must end. We are pleased to have contributed to this important report which exposes the deep-seated and historic dysfunctionality of our asylum decision-making process.”
Steve Crawshaw, Freedom from Torture’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, said:
“There are early signs of efforts to change the culture within the Home Office but root and branch reform is urgently needed. Windrush exposed the terrible human cost when the Home Office gets it wrong. The government has a chance to make this right.”