Dr Bernard Andonian responds to recent UK Immigration News (Deportation of 50,000 migrants and the use of lie detectors)

The Article in the Times on 11th January 2019 by Richard Ford, home correspondent entitled “the Home Office has failed to send back over 50,000 rejected asylum seekers”, fails to give a balanced view and recommend measures to deal with the problems raised. The figures may have been far less if legal aid had not been all but withdrawn, forcing those with genuine claims to represent themselves. This together with the difficulty in accessing legal services in remote areas of Britain, where asylum seekers are dispersed, pending the consideration of their applications, has contributed to high failure figures that may otherwise have been far less.

For the Home Secretary and others then to question the probity of many asylum applicants as economic migrants, undermines the confidence genuine claimants have in the British system of justice, as scant regard appears to be given to the fact that historically English has been the diplomatic language, and many of those crossing the channel preferring Britain to, for example, France, a safe third country for their asylum claim, only speak English and have family here.

In addition it would be wrong to brand those coming off the boats, many of whom are well dressed and can afford to pay agents vast sums for perilous crossings, as economies migrants, rather than give them the benefit of doubt until their claims are tried and tested in our courts and tribunals, as fleeing persecution for reasons of either race, religion, nationality , sexual orientation or political opinion, pursuant to the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees 1951.

The poor we shall always have with us, but there are systems in place to distinguish economic migrants from genuine asylum claimants, as there are, to bring to justice opportunistic lawyers who for financial gain abuse the system to frustrate removals by feeding off the venerability of others.

It is incumbent upon the Government to invest properly in its enforcement measures, to prevent those who are appeal rights exhausted from remaining here without further permission, thus removing them swiftly, to obviate the gaining of additional human rights through for example marriage or cohabitation

Finally, on the issue of the debate about introducing lie detector tests at interviews or on other occasions, to ascertain whether or not an asylum seeker has simply made up a story to stay here, is not to be recommended. The asylum seeker has the burden of proof on the lower standard, lower than the civil balance of probabilities, to convince the decision maker that he/ she is telling the truth. If there is a one in 10 chance that the story might be true then his case should succeed, because otherwise he/ she may be sent back to an uncertain fate. A lie detector, therefore, would disregard that safety net of the very low standard of proof required and would either detect that the story is true or a lie. There will be no way of dealing with the possibility that the story might be true, and the asylum seeker be given the benefit of doubt that it is probably true. Using such technology, therefore, could unfairly prejudice the outcome of what may indeed be a genuine claim. Many asylum seekers are traumatised because of their past experiences in the country from where they fled, and there are also unaccompanied children who claim asylum. Depending on their age and the extent of their personal suffering, their reactions to questions as to the reason why they fear persecution upon return may give a distorted view on the lie detector test to the detriment of the asylum seeker

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