Human Rights Watch (HRW) have criticised Britain’s ‘fast track’ asylum system, which has left many victims of human rights abuses unable to present their claims properly:
The 69-page report, â€œFast-Tracked Unfairness: Detention and Denial of Women Asylum Seekers in the UKâ€ documents how women asylum seekers with complex claims are being routed into a system designed for much simpler claims. The women are held in detention largely for the UKâ€™s administrative convenience, have very little time to prepare a legal case, and have only a few days to appeal if refused. But the claims often involve such sensitive and difficult issues as sexual violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and domestic abuse. There is little time for lawyers or other representatives to build the trust with their clients needed for them to explain their claims or to obtain medical or other evidence needed to verify them.
No asylum system will never be perfect, and will always be open to abuses. There will be people who get sent back who shouldn’t be, and people allowed to stay who don’t really deserve it. But clearly the system isn’t working. There should be more time and help available to these women to present their cases:
Once routed into the fast track, women with complex cases have far too little time to prepare their case, obtain medical or other expert opinions, and establish the credibility of their claims. This is especially true in cases involving rape or abuse, where women may only be able to come forward with relevant information late in the process, or not at all, because they may be traumatized by their experience, frightened by the procedure, or simply embarrassed to tell an official.
Placing women in detention exacerbates the problems. Some of the women have no access to female interpreters, case workers, or medical staff.
HRW have suggested two steps to improve the situation:
# In the suitability guidance note for routing into this system, add complex gender-related persecution claims, such as sexual violence and domestic violence, to the list of â€œclaims unlikely to be accepted into fast track.â€
# Clarify the criteria for routing a person through fast track, including the factors that would enable a â€œquickâ€ decision on a claim.
Seems sensible to me.
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Filed in: Civil liberties