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Groups call on Home Secretary to abolish safe return review policy for refugees

Date of Publication: 
28 April 2017

Open letter says the policy will be disruptive, expensive and inhumane and should be reversed

Groups call on Home Secretary to abolish safe return review policy for refugees

28 April 2017

Over 60 organisations this week wrote to the Home Secretary urging her to reverse the decision to subject refugees to a "safe return review" five years after their refugee status is granted.

As we reported on EIN last month, the Refugee Council strongly criticised a new Home Office policy to actively review the cases of those granted refugee status or humanitarian protection after five years, which the Home Office said had been introduced in February 2016.

Right to Remain was among the organisations calling on Amber Rudd to reverse the policy, and the full letter is available on their website here.

The letter says that "[t]he awarding of refugee status should bring with it the promise of stability and security. It is a chance to build a new home, to study or work, to become a part of the community."

"The Home Office's decision to review every application at the end of the five years to see if their home country is 'safe' undermines this promise, bringing with it the threat of deportation. These changes put an end to that hope of stability, and introduce an additional layer of bureaucracy, uncertainty, and evaluation at the hands of a dispassionate state. All of the difficult administrative hurdles to get status in the first place will be repeated. There is no question that this will have a devastating impact on the mental health of those who have sought to make a new life in the UK."

The letter adds that safe return reviews will be disruptive to the lives of refugees, expensive to administer and inhumane. The groups say they have yet to hear of any benefits that are expected to outweigh such significant costs.

Lisa Matthews, a coordinator at Right to Remain, was quoted as saying: "Having already survived so much, it's imperative that refugees are given the safety and security to rebuild their lives - and be part of our communities. This new policy harms all of us and we urge all parties to prioritise strong and inclusive communities this election, and pledge to reverse this cruel and unworkable policy".

Luke Butterly, from the Belfast-based Participation and the Practice of Rights, said: "We're asking Amber Rudd to listen to the voices put forward in this letter and recognise that this policy will have a devastating impact on people's lives and will cost the Home Office an awful lot of money and serves no interest in the public good."

According to BBC News, Home Office guidance states that "all those who apply for settlement protection after completing the appropriate probationary period of limited leave will be subject to a safe return review with reference to the country situation at the date the application is considered," and adds "[t]hose who still need protection at that point will normally qualify for settlement."