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Reforms to asylum decision making and child age assessments in Nationalities and Borders Bill investigated

16 November 2021

The Joint Committee on Human Rights continues legislative scrutiny of the Nationalities and Borders Bill with a session focusing on the asylum decision making process and age assessments.

Witnesses

Wednesday 17 November 2021

At 3.00pm

Panel one:

  • Zoe Gardner, Policy and Advocacy Manager, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
  • Lucy Moreton, Professional Officer, Immigration Services Union (ISU)

Panel two:

  • Luke Geoghegan, Head of Policy and Research, Association of British Social Workers
  • Stewart MacLachlan, Representative of Refugee and Migrant Children’s Consortium

In response to a growing backlog of asylum cases awaiting initial decisions, the Nationalities and Borders Bill introduces a number of changes to speed up the decision making process.

However, there are concerns that imposing tight deadlines on asylum claims could fail to allow sufficient time for supporting evidence to be compiled and presented adequately. The Committee will examine the impact of the reforms on the quality of decision making and whether they are compatible with human rights law.

The Bill also proposes changes to age assessments, where an individual seeking asylum or making an immigration application claims to be a child, but the authorities have insufficient evidence to be sure of their age.

The Bill gives the Home Secretary the power to set out most of the detail concerning age assessments within secondary legislation, including the details of a new centralised decision-making body.

The Bill also provides powers for the Home Secretary to allow the use of scientific methods to determine age, although the exact methods will be set out in secondary legislation.

The Government has also indicated that it will lower the threshold for giving age-disputed individuals the benefit of the doubt, however, the test has not been set out in the Bill. The Committee will examine how well the rights of children are protected in the legislation and examine the accuracy of age assessments.

Further information

Image: PA