Child asylum cases must be dealt with fairly and transparently

Asylum claims by unaccompanied children must be dealt with transparently, putting their best interests at its heart, the Law Society of England and Wales said today after the Court of Appeal ruled the handling of claims for family re-unification by children dispersed from the Calais ‘jungle’ in 2016 was unlawful and breached rules of fairness.

“We must remember these asylum seekers are just children who want to be safely reunited with their families,” said Law Society president Christina Blacklaws.

“Many are victims of human trafficking and are traumatised. Their best interests must be prioritised by the UK immigration and asylum system.

“This ruling provides yet more evidence of the urgent need for a consistent and transparent process for every asylum claim, particularly for minors.”

The Court found that the Government had committed a serious breach in its duty of candour to the court by not providing all relevant evidence of its decision-making with regards to vulnerable children and emphasised that Home Office decision-making processes must be lawful and fair.

“The decision is a reminder to all lawyers, whether acting for government or private clients, that the duty of candour in litigation is of paramount importance and that clients must be advised to act in good faith,” Blacklaws said.

50% of all immigration and asylum appeals are upheld when reviewed by a judge. This statistic underlines the urgent need for action. The Law Society has warned that grave problems in our immigration and asylum system undermine the rule of law and damage the UK’s reputation for justice and fairness.

“Data on child asylum claims and appeals should be kept separately from adult claims so that the Home Office can be held accountable,” said Blacklaws.

“We need an immigration and asylum process that makes lawful, timely and consistent decisions for everyone in order to maintain trust in the justice system and uphold the rule of law.”

The Court of Appeal ruling is available here.

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