Abuses in the ‘fast track’ asylum system


by Rumbold
27th February, 2010 at 11:05 am    

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, “Fast-Tracked Unfairness: Detention and Denial of Women Asylum Seekers in the UK” 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 UK’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 “claims unlikely to be accepted into fast track.”

# Clarify the criteria for routing a person through fast track, including the factors that would enable a “quick” decision on a claim.

Seems sensible to me.


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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: Abuses in the 'fast track' asylum system http://bit.ly/cyaGXB




  1. Galloise Blonde — on 27th February, 2010 at 12:17 pm  

    Thanks for sharing this Rumbold. The Case Studies are very disturbing:

    Aabida M. claimed asylum based on a threat by her family in Algeria after they found out about her relationship with a man who was not her husband.[127] Her sister sent her a letter in Arabic telling her that she should not come back as her family would hurt or kill her.[128] She showed this letter to officials as soon as she claimed asylum in Croydon. The officer told her to “leave the letter for now” but to show it at her asylum interview.

    At her asylum interview at Yarl’s Wood, she again presented the letter and was told they could not accept it because it was in Arabic. When she subsequently referred to the letter at her appeal hearing, the judge said she should have presented it at her interviews. Aabida wrote about this to her caseworker: “I told about my letter first time, not the last minute as you said in court.”[129] Human Rights Watch is in possession of several requests by Aabida M. requesting a translation of this crucial letter, but at no stage was the process adjourned to allow it to be translated.[130] She stated that, “Fast track is just a factory for sending people away … I think I did everything right, even without lawyer, but they do not care … I am so scared”.[131] Aabida is certain her family will find her and harm her if she is forced to return to Algeria. The morning after Aabida M. told us this, she was taken out of Yarl’s Wood to an airport and put on a flight to Algeria. Human Rights Watch has not been able to contact her since she was deported.

  2. Niels Christensen — on 27th February, 2010 at 4:58 pm  

    Some of the cases are truly awful. But should the western countries give asylum to individuals, who’s problems stem from their local culture.
    Then half of the population in muslim countries have right to asylum.
    And when you know that women is killed for the same reason i England.

  3. Rumbold — on 27th February, 2010 at 7:37 pm  

    People who need sanctuary should get it. We have a duty to help the worst off.

  4. MaidMarian — on 28th February, 2010 at 1:10 am  

    Rumbold – Well….

    Whilst I take your point we do not have a duty. These people may or may not have been victims of terrible crimes but the clear undertone of the report is that abuse should de facto result in asylum. I am not sure about that.

    Being a victim of crime does not lead to asylum, surely? This sounds rather like something to be taken up with other countries.

    On fast-track more generally, this is bull-by-the horns territory. Very much on balance, fast track is a good thing.

  5. damon — on 28th February, 2010 at 1:32 am  

    So far 2,055 women have gone through the fast-track process. About 96 per cent of them were refused on first hearing, while government statistics for 2008 and the first half of 2009 show that 91 per cent of appeals were refused.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/02/asylum-claims-women-fast

    Maybe we have completely the wrong officials and staff working in this area. I know a woman who used to work at the Home Office immigration center in Croydon – and she was somewhat unsympathetic to people’s stories.
    She said she felt like that because she thought so many of them were lies.
    96% is a huge figure.

  6. Rumbold — on 28th February, 2010 at 9:35 am  

    MaidMarian:

    A fast track system is good in principle, but clearly it isn’t working in these cases.

  7. damon — on 28th February, 2010 at 1:18 pm  

    There are also some very serious charges being widely reported of beatings and racial abuse inside Yarl’s Wood detention center where some women have been on hunger strike.
    http://www.google.com.my/#hl=en&q=yarl%27s+wood+black+monkey&meta=&aq=f&oq=yarl%27s+wood+black+monkey&fp=3b9ba321ec88863d

    ”They call us black monkey” says one African woman.
    This is either true or it isn’t. The women who went on hunger strike have certainly shown that they will fight their deportations. And if that means screaming so much as they are put on a plane that the captain refuses to take off, then that is (it seems) one tactic.

  8. Rumbold — on 28th February, 2010 at 1:39 pm  

    Damon:

    I think that sort of work hardens people, but it is still unacceptable (as you point out) if those allegations are true.

  9. damon — on 28th February, 2010 at 2:51 pm  

    Indeed Rumbold.
    I actually find it hard to believe that the allegations are true. Of course I can’t know. But it’s clear that people will fight. And there are many ways to fight.

    It would be interesting to hear it from the people working there.
    In reality I’d guess they are like the people shown in ”Border Force” on the tv.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch#v=BABFzW59Eqc&feature=related

    If these allegations are exaggerated, and the confrontations with staff are stage managed as part of the fight against deportation – then I am a bit disappointed with the left blogs and media who have headlined with these allegations.

    The IRA prisoners in the H Blocks showed what you could do to fight back, by adopting the no wash (dirty) protest and then hunger strikes.

    Reading this report had me wondering if the women at Yarl’s Wood have a similar understanding.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/feb/12/hunger-strike-immigration-centre

    I’m not sure what the left/liberal – humanitarian position should be here.
    Let all the women go?

  10. Bill Corr — on 28th February, 2010 at 4:04 pm  

    Asylum seekers tell every lie in the book …

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/03/28/stop-abou-jahjah/

    … like Roger’s BIG BOOK OF DODGES

    Afghans arriving in Norway have claimed to be Christian converts fleeing Muslim persecution and/or sceaming queenies fleeing homophobic persection.

    At least on Afghan arriving in Britain has claimed to have have embraced Jesus as his Saviour, but it is uncertain whether any Afghans have arrived claiming to be Gay Christians.

  11. Bill Corr — on 28th February, 2010 at 4:09 pm  
  12. bernard — on 28th February, 2010 at 7:28 pm  

    You fucking disgraceful cunt, Bill Corr. I wish I could make it happen to you and have you treated with as much contempt as these poor bastards are. And I’d be laughing.

  13. damon — on 1st March, 2010 at 2:07 am  

    I was about to mention myself that I didn’t think Bill Corr’s contribution was that helpful in this case – and hoped that mine hadn’t encouraged it.

    As well as feeling sympathy for the women in this situation, I also feel some for the officials who have to wade through all this testimony and come to some decision.

    Bernard – what’s your opinion on the case of these women, and why are 91 per cent of appeals being refused?

    Is what’s needed even more time and more lawyers and legal assistance?

    This is certainly one way of viewing the situation at Yarl’s Wood.
    http://www.worldrevolution.org.uk/index.php?id=66,373,0,0,1,0

  14. Bill Corr — on 1st March, 2010 at 7:55 am  

    Not Marx on Hegel but Liddle on Tamponman Woolas:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/rod_liddle/article7043930.ece

    Jolly good, Ron Seacole Liddle!

  15. Bill Corr — on 1st March, 2010 at 8:06 am  

    Questioner:

    Minister, how many illegal immigrants have managed to sneak into our sceptered isle as students in bogus colleges set up for the specific purpose of importing Third Worlders through the back door?

    Tamponman Woolas: “Frankly, I haven’t got a clue!”

    You couldn’t make it up!
    [A Littlejohnism too good not to use]

    In the country where I am these days, runaway Hajjis and Umrah overstayers are rounded up and – improbable though this might sound – driven through the streets in wire cages on the backs of trucks.

  16. Bill Corr — on 1st March, 2010 at 8:25 am  

    To counterbalance, here’s some good drippy Kumbaya-singing let’s-try-to-understand love-the-world stuff from a card-carrying Guardianista:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/aug/27/comment.politics

  17. Bill Corr — on 3rd March, 2010 at 2:04 pm  
  18. Bill Corr — on 3rd March, 2010 at 2:08 pm  

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