By Carys Davis, Public Affairs Officer
Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech laid out the legislative plan for the next 18 months, listing all the Bills we can expect the government to introduce based on their programme published last week. Some of the policy announcements we’ve welcomed are an end to the deportation of asylum seekers to countries where they will be at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution on the basis of their gender identification or sexual orientation (we look forward to hearing some of the detail with relation to how ‘proven risk’ is to be defined) and a promise to work with other countries to push them to support gay rights and recognise UK civil partnerships. The promise to end child detention was in there (it sounds even better spoken out loud!) and we hear the new Immigration Minister Damian Green will lead a review into how best to manage this – Refugee Action will of course push for families to be kept together and within the community.
On immigration, the coalition has agreed to the Conservatives’ immigration quota for non-EU economic migrants though no numbers have yet been mentioned. From our perspective, we agree that it’s important that the public’s concerns about immigration are addressed by measures which affect economic migrants, rather than any which would threaten the principles of sanctuary for asylum seekers.
The government also promises to explore new ways to improve the current asylum system to speed up the processing of applications. For our clients, a review could prove beneficial but we’re keen to ensure that any improvements made to speed up the asylum system are also efficient, with an emphasis on getting accurate initial decisions.
The theme adopted by the new government is ‘freedom, fairness and responsibility’ – a principle that bodes well at first glance for our clients who have fled persecution abroad, seeking freedom in the UK and fair treatment under our asylum system. We look forward to working with the new government to ensure the rhetoric of today is made reality, and soon. For the full text of the Queen’s Speech and the programme for government, head to the http://www.number10.gov.uk/
Posted by Sara Ayech