Proposals would overturn principle of everyone being equal in the eyes of the law
Law Society warns Government's New Plan for Immigration would undermine access to justice and the rule of law
10 May 2021
In a notable press release issued on Thursday, the Law Society warned that the changes to the asylum system proposed under the Government's New Plan for Immigration would undermine access to justice and the rule of law.
"The rule of law and access to justice should underpin any reform of the asylum system. The proposals risk seriously infringing both these pillars of our democracy," I. Stephanie Boyce, the President of the Law Society stated.
I. Stephanie Boyce said that the Plan's proposals to effectively create a two-tier asylum system by penalising asylum seekers arriving in the UK by so-called irregular routes, such as by boat, would overturn the principle of everyone being equal in the eyes of the law and would risk breaching international law.
She added: "The proposals seek to push asylum-seekers who reach the UK by irregular routes into destitution or homelessness as a way of coercing them to leave the country. Extremely vulnerable people who are seeking asylum are exercising their legal right to escape human rights abuses – to penalise them in this way could constitute a further abuse."
The Law Society also warned that the Plan's suggestion of so-called 'good faith' requirements for lawyers working in asylum would undermine trust in the justice system.
I. Stephanie Boyce said: "The proposals individually and collectively lack credibility because they are not supported by evidence, detail and perhaps – most damningly – they muddle immigration, asylum and nationality laws. Combined with the lack of rationale or information on how the proposals could realistically operate in practice, this has made it well-nigh impossible to provide a substantial or detailed response to many of the consultation questions."
Over 190 organisations working in the field of asylum said in an open letter on 30 April that the Government's short six-week consultation on the New Plan for Immigration was a "sham".
The open letter, which you can read here, criticised the consultation for being poorly designed, confusing, inaccessible, and for being "clearly designed to lead people into endorsing the Government's plan."
The organisations said: "Most incredibly, this consultation does not prioritise the views and experiences of refugees and people seeking asylum. Not one question in the official consultation document asks people about their personal experiences of fleeing persecution or seeking safety in the UK. And the inaccessible process will make it more difficult for many of the most important voices of all to be heard."
The letter added that the Plan's proposals were "cruel, unjust and deadly".
Chris Philp MP, the Minister for Immigration Compliance and Justice, told the Guardian in April: "The consultation has been open for over a month and thousands of stakeholders as well as members of the public have shared their views. We will consider all responses carefully before bringing forward legislation."
The consultation closed on Thursday, 6 May.