NIHRC Response to Public Consultation on the Home Office’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’
Response to Public Consultation on the Home Office’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’
Date produced May 2021.
Below is a summary of the recommendations.
You can also download the full document through the links provided.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC):
- 12.0. recommends that the Home Office insert a provision into the proposed Immigration Plan which contains a commitment to respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights of all refugees and asylum seekers.
- 13.0. recommends that a new provision is inserted into the Immigration Plan which affirms the Home Office’s commitment to the principle of non-refoulement in all circumstances.
- 14.0. recommends that the Home Office ensure that all refugees and asylum seekers have access to, and enjoy, their socio-economic rights such as housing, health, and education on an equal basis to everyone else.
- 15.0. recommends that the Home Office discontinue the use of the phrase ‘illegal routes’ given that this term has no basis in international refugee or protection law and could generate negative and stigmatizing attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers.
- 25.0. recommends that the proposed Immigration Plan contain a clear commitment that the rights and duties which are set forth within the ECHR will be upheld in all refugee, asylum and immigration decisions.
- 33.0. recommends that the proposed Immigration Plan contain an express commitment that the UNCRC’s four guiding principles (non-discrimination, best interests principle, right to life survival and development, and the right to participate) will underpin the delivery and implementation of all future refugee, immigration and asylum policies that will affect children and young people.
- 34.0. recommends that the best interests principle in Article 3 UNCRC is expressly referenced within the Immigration Plan. Further to this, the Commission suggests that the Immigration Plan contain a clause which states that in all actions, decisions, policies, laws, and regulations which are enacted, that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
- 35.0. recommends that the child’s rights to express their views in all matters which affect them, pursuant to Article 12 UNCRC is expressly included within the proposed Immigration Plan.
- 36.0. recommends that all relevant training about children’s rights and in particular their right to be heard, be provided to all staff and professionals working across immigration and asylum services in the UK.
- 46.0. recommends that the Home Office provide further information on the establishment of the proposed National Age Assessment Board and further provide a detailed breakdown in relation to the statutory powers and functions which it, and its officers, will have in order to facilitate a thorough analysis of its human rights compliance.
- 47.0. recommends that statutory guidance be published to accompany the establishment of the National Age Assessment Board which clearly outlines the powers, functions and responsibilities of the Board and the wider human rights, legal and regulatory obligations which will attach to the Board’s operations.
- 48.0. recommends that the Home Office provide further information on how and where age assessments will be carried out in Northern Ireland given that local authorities do not possess comparable powers and/or responsibilities in this jurisdiction. The Commission further recommends that the Home Office engage with the Northern Ireland government to ensure a clearly defined process, with sufficient oversight mechanisms, is established for future age assessments.
- 49.0. recommends that, in the event of the extension of the power to grant all border and immigration officials power to carry out age assessments that the Home Office publish what training and guidance will be provided to such officials in order to allow an assessment of their compatibility with human rights law.
- 55.0. recommends that regionally consistent and accurate data is collected and made available in relation to the number of refugee and asylum applications which are made in Northern Ireland.
- 56.0. recommends that refugees in Northern Ireland (and across the UK) are issued with appropriate travel documentation, which enables them to travel outside the jurisdiction on an equal basis as all other citizens.
- 57.0. recommends that refugees in Northern Ireland, and across the UK, should have full access to, and enjoyment of, the rights set forth in the Common Travel Area, on an equal basis with all other citizens in the UK. The Commission further recommends that, at a minimum, the UK Government should consider granting ‘reasonable exemptions’ to refugees in Northern Ireland which enables them to cross the Irish border and benefit from the Common Travel Area.
- 58.0. recommends that the Home Office ensure that all funds allocated to the VPR Scheme are used to secure acceptable and appropriate housing in NI.
- 59.0. recommends that the Home Office ensure that consideration is given to the UK Government’s legal obligation to ensure that there will be no diminution of rights for refugees and asylum seekers in Northern Ireland because of the UK’s departure from the EU.
- 62.0. recommends that the Immigration Plan provide further clarity on what is meant by the ‘Good Faith’ obligation and particularly in what circumstances will the actions of a legal representative impact a claimant’s application.
- 72.0. recommends that the Government refrains from introducing new standards which require applicants to bring all relevant evidence upfront, and attach minimal weight to evidence introduced thereafter.
- 73.0. recommends that in relation to how the credibility of an applicant should be assessed, that the Government adopts an approach consistent with the guidance set out by the UNHCR and jurisprudence of the ECtHR, particularly where there is a risk that Article 3 of the ECHR may be contravened.
- 74.0. recommends that, in view of the prevalence and impact of trauma upon those seeking asylum and refugee status, the Home Office ensure that adequate training around trauma-informed practice is provided to all officials working with children and adults within the immigration, asylum and immigration system.
- 81.0. recommends that the Government ensure that the asylum claims and appeals procedure entails sufficient safeguards, especially given the risk that an inadequate opportunity to bring a claim or appeal could give rise to a violation of Article 3 of the ECHR.
- 87.0. recommends that the Government reconsiders its proposal to apply rights and protections differently to refugees on the basis of their mode of entry into the United Kingdom.
- 88.0. recommends that the Government ensure that all asylum seekers and refugees are guaranteed, at a minimum, basic civil and political rights and social and economic rights, regardless of how they entered the United Kingdom.