On 7 April, the Home Affairs Committee published its report on 'UKBA: Follow-up on asylum cases and e-borders programme'.
The Committee focused on the backlog and the UKBA’s "unambitious" deadline for clearing it and the e-borders programme, which the Committee thought was probably unworkable under EU law.
The Chief Inspector of UKBA confirmed the Committee's fears that the backlog will not be cleared by the deadline and that a new asylum model (NAM) backlog of cases is growing.
The Committee also branded the controversial e-borders project "impossible to achieve" in its current timeline, revealing that the EC sent a letter to the UK Border Authority outlining its concerns over data-protection and rights of passengers.
More evidence that UKBA is failing to clear backlog: our response
Source: Refugee Council
The Home Affairs Committee has raised concerns about the failure of UKBA to process the backlog of asylum claims, stating this will have a ‘serious impact on thousands of people’ over the coming months.
In a new report published yesterday, UK Border Agency: follow up on asylum cases and e-borders programme (pdf), the committee stated that despite reassurances from UKBA, recent evidence from the agency has ‘reinforced and increased’ their concerns that the backlog of 450,000 legacy asylum cases will not be processed by the deadline of July 2011. Further to that, a new backlog of cases is accruing as targets to process new asylum cases within six months are not being met.
The committee also stated that though they usually would not comment on reports like this so close to a general election, they felt it necessary to do so due to the severity of the situation. They have recommended that following the election, their successors follow this matter up with UKBA with urgency. The report comes after John Vine, the Independent Chief Inspector of UKBA, initially raised these issues earlier this year.
The Refugee Council has welcomed the Home Affairs Committee report, and is calling on the government to address the system of processing asylum cases, both old and new, with great urgency.
Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“This report provides more evidence that the process for dealing with asylum cases remains inadequate. It is especially concerning that the Home Affairs Committee felt it necessary to comment on these issues so near to an election, against usual protocol - testament that the system needs to be urgently reviewed.
“It is in everyone’s interests that asylum cases are concluded quickly and fairly. Yet setting targets that firstly, cannot be met, and secondly often result in wrong decisions being made is futile, inhumane, and a waste of public money.
“The future government must concentrate on creating a fair and effective asylum system, with good legal advice from the beginning and more support for asylum seekers to explain why they need protection here. This will result in better decisions on each case, ensuring that those in genuine need of protection are able to get it, which should be the most important target of all.”