A new report released by Bail for Immigration Detainees shows that women asylum seekers are set up to fail if their case is decided when they are in detention.
Since May 2005, the Home Office has detained over 800 women in order to ‘fast track’ their claims for asylum. The report Refusal factory – women’s experiences of the Detained Fast Track asylum process at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre examines the experiences of thirty-one women in the detained fast track (DFT). It also contains interviews with legal representatives and support organisations and assesses current policy and practice in the light of available statistics and information. It concludes that the chance of a female asylum seeker securing refugee status or humanitarian protection is dramatically reduced if her claim is decided while she is detained.
Some of the key findings of the report include:
- Cases in the DFT are processed within a matter of days; the speed of the process makes it nearly impossible to get a fair hearing and the vast majority of asylum claims are refused;
- Women don’t have enough time to disclose traumatic experiences, or to prepare properly for their appeals by gathering expert reports or medical information;
- A high number of women who are sent to Yarl’s Wood detention centre are subsequently found to have cases that cannot be decided quickly and fairly in detention;
- The Home Office is always represented at DFT asylum appeals, but approximately one third of women are not;
- The design of DFT goes against the standards developed in recognition of the particular needs of women who have experienced gender based persecution;
- The provision of legal representation is a lottery, can be poor quality, and women cannot complain effectively if they are badly represented;
- Effective scrutiny of DFT is rendered nearly impossible by the lack of statistics and monitoring.
Refusal Factory sets out recommendations to the Home Office, the Legal Services Commission, Ministry of Justice, immigration judges and legal representatives. The central recommendation is that the Home Office should use non-detained processes to decide asylum claims and end the use of detained fast track. While DFT is in use, urgent action must be taken to reduce the harm done to women.
Refusal Factory can be downloaded from BID’s website.