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Britain in 2005 - is there any access to justice for asylum seekers and migrants?

 in association with Bail for Immigration Detainees and Asylum Aid

Speakers: Maurice Wren, Asylum Aid; Sarah Cutler, Bail for Immigration Detainees; Richard Stanton, Senior Policy Officer at the Greater London Authority
Chair: Professor Lydia Morris, Visiting Fellow, Centre for the Study of Human Rights
April 2005

Abstract

In 2004, asylum seekers, migrants, human rights and refugee organisations and the legal profession opposed drastic government cuts to legal aid for asylum and immigration work. We argued that the cuts would undermine a vital human right by denying individuals a fair hearing before an independent judiciary assisted by effective legal representation. A year on from the cuts, many legal practitioners have stopped doing publicly funded work and many asylum seekers and migrants are unable to find legal representation. Charities Bail for Immigration Detainees| and Asylum Aid| have been collecting evidence about the impact of the cuts around the country; this event will launch a dossier on the subject based on over 70 submissions. The speakers will highlight how the denial of effective legal advice and representation for these vulnerable groups amounts to a charter for discrimination and they will also consider the next steps in the campaign to reinstate access to justice.

We are getting many referrals from people who came here as young unaccompanied minors, whose asylum claims have been refused and find themselves with no representation. The situation is quite desperate and the result is a significant reduction in the rights of people claiming asylum because they cannot access due process.

Kate Adams, Kent Campaign to Defend Asylum Seekers

Evidence clearly demonstrates that the cuts in legal aid have prevented those law firms who are cautious of acting within the LSC guidelines, from operating effectively. Those law firms who flout guidelines continue to do so. The only difference is that they now have a greater share of the market place

Kate Mcname of the Leo Schultz Project

Because of the nature of HIV... people find out that they are positive after an initial application has been made, often it can be very relevant to the case either because of circumstances of transmission (rape)...This means where legal representation hours are restricted, the presentation of the evidence related to HIV can be really poorly collated. Sometimes no evidence is presented even in cases where it is crying out

Lynda Shental, of George House Trust, an HIV organisation in the North West

E was actively involved with a political party in his native Darfur, and was wanted by the Sudanese government. He had phone numbers of leading rebels on his mobile phone. His solicitor told him they could not assist him further, and despite contacting many other solicitors it was not possible to refer him. He was removed to Khartoum.

London Detainee Support Group

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