One area I have been heavily involved in so far as MP is campaigning on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers. I tabled an EDM urging the Government to do more to act on the Mediterranean refugee crisis, have been elected chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and have been working closely with the Refugee Council.
David Cameron’s Government has shown little compassion for the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. We have seen the Prime Minister use the dehumanising language of referring to ‘swarms’ of migrants. Britain has committed to resettling only 500 Syrian refugees (compared to Germany’s 30,000 and Canada’s 11,000), and recently the Government significantly cut the refugee allowance, leaving many at risk of poverty and homelessness (which I blogged about here).
However, today there is some good news: the Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling by the High Court that the Government’s ‘Detained Fast Track’ system for asylum claims is unlawful.
The Detained Fast Track system meant that a person claiming asylum could be forcibly detained if it was judged by immigration officers that their claim would result in a quick ruling. Detained Fast Track had been applied to thousands of claims every year, many of whom suffered from human rights abuses and could not properly prepare their cases or access legal advice while being detained. If their claim was rejected applicants were only given seven days to prepare an appeal.
Britain needs an immigration and asylum system that is fair, balanced and compassionate. We should not be deporting people who are at risk of human rights abuses, torture or death because their cases have fallen through the cracks of a system which prioritises speed and efficiency over justice. I am pleased that the Court of Appeal has made the right decision today, but there are many more battles to be won to ensure a fair deal for refugees and asylum seekers, and this will be one of my top priorities during my time in Parliament.