Whatever Happened to Asylum in Britain? A Tale of Two Walls

By M. Louise Pirouet | Go to book overview

4
A Right of Appeal

At the end of Chapter 3 the importance of appeals against refusal of asylum was noted, but the right of all rejected asylum-seekers to remain in the UK whilst an appeal was heard was not won easily. The saga of the Tamil asylum-seekers might have turned out very differently had they had the right to remain in the UK whilst appealing against the decision to refuse them asylum. Until 1992 the government remained steadfastly opposed to extending to those who applied for asylum at a port of entry full rights of appeal, with the right to remain in the country while their appeals were being heard.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when the number of unplanned refugee arrivals was low, assessing their claims was not too onerous, and many people who did not meet the 1951 Convention criteria, but who still needed protection, were given exceptional leave to remain. Even so, the refugee organisations believed that wrong decisions were sometimes made, and that some people were returned to further persecution. As the number of people seeking asylum rose, and they arrived from situations that were more varied and more difficult to assess, an increasing number of the refusals of asylum became contentious. All the refugee agencies could do, in the absence of an in-country right of appeal for all, was either to make representations to Home Office officials, or, in the last resort, seek to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights, a procedure which could take years. By 1987, a full right of appeal for all rejected asylum-seekers topped the refugee agencies’ agenda.

The UNHCR had long recognised the need for full appeal rights for asylum-seekers:

-65-

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Whatever Happened to Asylum in Britain? A Tale of Two Walls
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Abbreviations vi
  • Foreword vii
  • Introduction - A Matter of National Pride 1
  • 1 - Setting the Scene 9
  • 2 - The Tamils and the 1987 Watershed 28
  • 3 - Making Decisions 45
  • 4 - A Right of Appeal 65
  • 5 - Without Charge or Trial 81
  • 6 - Protecting Women, Children and Families 108
  • 7 - Building Walls around Fortress Europe 124
  • 8 - Keeping Them out- Building a Wall around the UK 143
  • 9 - Supporting Asylum-Seekers 166
  • Afterword - What of the Future? 187
  • Bibliography 193
  • Index 201
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