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Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights today published a report on the Government’s Immigration Bill.
The report raised significant concerns over the reduction in appeal rights, stating: “We are concerned that the Bill’s significant limitation of appeal rights against immigration and asylum decisions is not compatible with the common law right of access to a court or tribunal in relation to unlawful immigration decisions, and the right to an effective remedy. Indeed, limiting rights of appeal to the extent that they are restricted in the Bill constitutes a serious threat to the practical ability to access the legal system to challenge unlawful immigration and asylum decisions, and to enforce the statutory duty to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when exercising immigration and asylum functions.”
The section of the report dealing with appeal rights is available here.
In a press release, the Committee stated: “The Committee believes that the First Tier Tribunal, not the Secretary of State, should decide whether it is within its jurisdiction to consider a new matter raised on an appeal. It therefore recommends that the Government amends the Bill to achieve its purpose in a way which does not appear to make the scope of the tribunal’s jurisdiction depend on the consent of one of the parties to the appeal before it. The Committee is also not satisfied with the Government’s reliance on the continued availability of judicial review to challenge the Secretary of State’s certification that a human rights appeal can be heard out of country, having regard to the unavailability of civil legal aid to bring such a claim and the proposed reforms of judicial review.”
The report also found the Bill could give rise to homelessness and discrimination.
The press release stated:
“The Committee accepts that the measures in the Bill serve the legitimate aim of immigration control, but is concerned that some of them may be applied in practice in a way which breaches human rights in particular cases.
The Committee is particularly concerned about the risk of the new provisions relating to residential tenancies giving rise in practice to homelessness, in breach of the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment in Article 3 ECHR, in the case of people who have no right to remain in the UK but face genuine barriers to leaving. The Committee is also concerned to ensure that these measures do not give rise to an undue risk that migrant children will be exposed to homelessness or separation from family members. The Committee urges the Government to explain fully to Parliament the safeguards that exist to mitigate the impact of these provisions on children.
The Committee is also concerned that the provisions in the Bill on access to residential tenancies may heighten the risk of racial discrimination against prospective tenants, notwithstanding the fact that such discrimination is unlawful under the Equality Act. The Committee is asking the Government not to commence these provisions until the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Government Equalities Office are satisfied that there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent such discrimination from arising in practice.”
Dr Hywel Francis MP, the Chair of the Committee, said: “My Committee is especially concerned about the restrictions on accessing residential tenancies according to immigration status, as these may expose children, and other migrants who have no right to be in the UK but face genuine obstacles to leaving, to the risk of homelessness, and could be applied in a way which is racially discriminatory. We likewise believe that the Bill’s significant limitation of appeal rights against immigration and asylum decisions, when considered alongside other proposals such as a residence test for legal aid and restrictions on judicial review, represent a serious threat to the practical ability to access the legal system to challenge unlawful decisions.”