Evidence-gathering procedures in United Kingdom immigration law: A critique of Home Office decision-making, use of country guidance information and country expert reports in asylum cases

Panjwani, Imranali (2019) Evidence-gathering procedures in United Kingdom immigration law: A critique of Home Office decision-making, use of country guidance information and country expert reports in asylum cases. In: Muslim minorities and the refugee crisis in Europe: Narratives and policy responses, SGH Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland.

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Abstract

Using the United Kingdom’s asylum and immigration laws as a case study, this paper critiques three of its mechanisms with a view to improve legal representation of asylum seekers in determining their status as refugees. These are: the methodology of granting asylum by the Home Office, the use of country guidance information and country expert reports in supporting asylum cases. Despite the value in all of these processes in producing just and transparent UK immigration laws, they have distinct limitations because they do not adequately investigate the religious, political, cultural, linguistic and social dimensions of an asylum seeker’s case. It is left to an unwitting member of the Home Office or one expert to make sense of an asylum seeker’s race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. The result is that asylum seekers are not given a fair and rigorous voice to represent themselves. As Refugee Action states, “People seeking asylum arrive in the UK with almost nothing. Many have made a long and perilous journey. War and persecution have forced them to flee the homes they love. They hope and expect that they will receive a compassionate welcome. But for too many, the asylum system that they are confronted with in the UK is a hostile one, characterised by long delays, poor decisions, and a total lack of information” (Refugee Action, 2018). And, the Law society has stated, “As UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) faces possibly the largest single influx of applications in its history when EU nationals living in the UK seek to settle their status post-Brexit, the Law Society of England and Wales is raising the alarm on a system that – despite areas of good practice – is already failing too many applicants and their families. “Almost 50% of UK immigration and asylum appeals are upheld – clear evidence of serious flaws in the way visa and asylum applications are being dealt with,” said Law Society president Joe Egan. “Solicitors, charities and the media have long reported huge delays and unreliable decisions in many areas of immigration – from business and worker applications to family, children and asylum cases. “We know there is good practice in the Home Office and officials who clearly want to make a difference, but each error or delay may – and often does – have a devastating effect on someone’s life” (Law Society, 2018). My question, therefore, is: how effective are current evidence-gathering procedures in UK immigration law to help us understand an asylum claim? In order to answer this question, my chapter will give case studies from the field of immigration and asylum law to demonstrate the current limits of evidence-gathering procedures. By undertaking this evaluation, it is hoped that judges, decision-makers, lawyers and experts focus more on an asylum seekers’ religion, theology, politics, culture, language and ultimately, identity to fully comprehend the vital details and subtleties of their asylum claim.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: UK immigration law, human rights, evidence, expert reports, Home Office, asylum seekers, country reports
Faculty: Faculty of Business & Law
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic User
Depositing User: Symplectic User
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2019 12:33
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2019 16:07
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/704191

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