Bill violates human rights, says Justice

Legal pressure group Justice is the latest body to attack the Immigration and Asylum Bill, highlighting more than a dozen potential breaches of human rights and calling for the Government to amend the offending clauses.

The Justice “audit” of the Bill follows a damning Law Society report to the special standing committee, which accuses the Bill of failing to meet basic human rights and equal opportunity standards (see The Lawyer, March 22).

The accusations come in spite of Jack Straw's assertion that the Bill is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Justice claims that the clauses relating to sham marriages, immigration officers' powers of entry, search and seizure, and detention of asylum seekers, all raise “clear questions of compliance with the Human Rights Act”.

It also claims that the ability to impose fees on protection seekers, the extension of deception offences/penalties and carrier sanctions, and the certification of asylum claims, undermine protection rights guaranteed under the 1951 refugee convention and the ECHR.

The Law Society submission says that asylum seekers applying for judicial review who have their benefits withdrawn “may be forced to live on the streets and to beg or work illegally”.

The Home Office says: “The Bill has been evaluated in light of the European Convention on Human Rights.”