William Eichler 04 October 2018

Government acted ‘unlawfully’ over Dubs Amendment

Government acted ‘unlawfully’ over Dubs Amendment  image

The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the Government acted ‘unlawfully’ in not giving reasons to children refused entry to Britain under the Dubs Amendment.

Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, otherwise known as the Dubs Amendment, stated that the UK had to take in a ‘specified number’ of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.

Initially the number, which was to be determined in consultation with local authorities, was set at 350. However, after an investigation by the charity Help Refugees, the figure was increased to 480.

This quota is yet to be filled.

The ruling by the Court of Appeal is the result of a two-year-long legal action brought against the Government by Help Refugees, who were represented by Leigh Day.

The charity argued that children being considered for relocation had been denied fundamental procedural safeguards. They were given no written decisions and no detailed reasons for the grounds of their refusal.

As a result, the children were effectively unable to challenge Whitehall’s decisions in court.

The Home Office claimed it was unable to give a reason for refusal to each child because this would take too long. The court heard, however, that the Home Office had decided internally not to provide reasons for fear of legal challenges.

The Court of Appeal concluded the Home Office had acted ‘unlawfully’.

‘For two years, we have fought tooth and nail for the rights of these vulnerable children. Today, I’m relieved to say that it was worth it,’ said Lord Alf Dubs, who originally put forward the amendment.

‘Every unaccompanied child we have turned away deserves an explanation and a chance to appeal the decision, and we’re delighted to courts have agreed with us on that.

‘The decision gives some hope to thousands of vulnerable child refugees in Europe.’

Josie Naughton, CEO and co-founder of Help Refugees, commented: ‘Today’s judgement rightly forces the Government to recognise that every child must be given reasons for refusal under the Dubs scheme.

‘For two years, vulnerable children have been rejected without any explanation. Children who received these decisions are now missing; for them it is too late. These spaces, that still remain unfilled, could have saved their lives. Instead, children have been left in mental anguish, at risk of exploitation and abuse.

‘We’re saddened that there will be no further consultation, but remain committed to hold the government to account to ensure all 480 spaces are filled. Winter is fast approaching and we have a responsibility to keep these children safe.’

Help Refugees also argued that the Government’s consultation with councils concerning the number of spaces available for children was wholly inadequate. The Court of Appeal, however, dismissed this claim.

‘This judgment confirms that the Government’s consultation with local authorities, in which they said they could provide 480 places for eligible children from Europe, was lawful,’ said a Home Office spokesperson.

‘We continue to accept further referrals and transfers are ongoing.  We will continue to work closely with participating states, local authorities and other partners to relocate eligible children here quickly and safely.’

For more on this topic read our feature, 'Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children – the local authority conundrum.'

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