Briefing Papers

These are an occa­sional series of brief­ings aimed at provid­ing the reader with a crit­ical intro­duc­tion to the sub­ject mat­ter. Draw­ing on PAFRAS’s extens­ive work with refused and des­ti­tute asylum seekers at our twice weekly drop-in these papers offer an insight into a corner of soci­ety that exists bey­ond the reach of main­stream provision.

PAFRAS brief­ing papers provide con­cise ana­lyses of key policies and con­cerns about those indi­vidu­als rendered des­ti­tute by the asylum pro­cess. In doing so, the human impacts of des­ti­tu­tion policies are emphasised.

Avail­able Now!

Brief­ing Paper 14: Where Now for Justice? Legal Aid in West Yorkshire

Janu­ary 2011, Laurie Ray

Novem­ber 15 marked the begin­ning of a new three-year Stand­ard Civil Con­tract for Legal Aid pro­vi­sion in Eng­land and Wales. The tender pro­cess for this con­tract, which closed on 28 Janu­ary 2010, was plagued by con­tro­versy around the Legal Ser­vices Commission’s declared inten­tion of greatly redu­cing the num­ber of pro­viders deliv­er­ing legal aid work and by crit­ical flaws in the selec­tion cri­teria used. This lat­ter con­tro­versy recently cul­min­ated in a High Court vic­tory for the Law Soci­ety, when the court ruled the family-law ten­der­ing pro­cess had been unlaw­ful, can­celled its res­ult and ordered the LSC pay them £300,000 in costs.

On Novem­ber 8, a sim­ilar case brought by South Manchester Law Centre won the right to pro­ceed with a Judi­cial Review against the ten­der­ing pro­cess for asylum and immig­ra­tion. The Judi­cial Review will be heard in Janu­ary 2011.

Where Now For Justice, PAFRAS’s four­teenth brief­ing paper, takes a crit­ical look at legal aid pro­vi­sion in West York­shire and more widely and explores the implic­a­tions of the new con­tract for access to justice.

Brief­ing Paper 13: Bey­ond the Edges of Health­care Pro­vi­sion: the Impact of Des­ti­tu­tion on the Health of Refused Asylum Seekers

Septem­ber 2010, Laurie Ray

In July 2009 PAFRAS pub­lished a brief­ing paper focus­ing on the pro­vi­sion of health­care to refused asylum seekers and ana­lys­ing devel­op­ments in gov­ern­ment policy on health­care pro­vi­sion to them. Writ­ten in the wake of an appeal court rul­ing that with­drew free sec­ond­ary health­care pro­vi­sion from refused asylum seekers, ‘Bey­ond the Edges of Health­care Pro­vi­sion’ also looked at access to primary (GP and dental) care pro­vi­sion; the­or­et­ic­ally unaf­fected by the rul­ing. This new brief­ing paper, writ­ten one year later, brings us up-to-date with devel­op­ments in the policy arena and reflects on the rami­fic­a­tions of policy for the lives of the people with whom PAFRAS works.

Brief­ing Paper 12: Forced Inactiv­ity and Bar­ri­ers to Participation

Septem­ber 2009, Jon Bur­nett & Fidelis Chebe

Forced Inactiv­ity and Bar­ri­ers to Par­ti­cip­a­tion among Refused Asylum Seekers focuses on the ‘deskilling’ of refused asylum seekers. Whilst the asylum pro­cess works to ensure that all of those who are forced to seek sanc­tu­ary are denied par­tic­u­lar oppor­tun­it­ies, end of pro­cess asylum policy adds to these bar­ri­ers. By explor­ing this frame­work this brief­ing paper aims to make clear one aspect of asylum policy, as it effects those whose claims for asylum are rejected.

Brief­ing Paper 11: Bey­ond the Edges of Health­care Provision

July 2009, Jon Burnett

PAFRAS Brief­ing Paper 11 focuses on the pro­vi­sion of med­ical assist­ance avail­able for refused asylum seekers. The level of med­ical care that refused asylum seekers are able to access has, for some years, been a source of con­ten­tion. The present gov­ern­ment has made clear that, where pos­sible, access to med­ical sup­port will be denied and the res­ult has been ongo­ing; appear­ing before the courts on numer­ous occa­sions. At the same time, issues around access to med­ical sup­port have caused debate, and in many cases protest, within the med­ical pro­fes­sion itself with many indi­vidu­als call­ing for improved health­care services.

Brief­ing Paper 10: The Polit­ical Eco­nomy of Malnutrition

April 2009, Jon Burnett

The UK is one of the richest nations in the world. Yet accord­ing to a report pub­lished by the Brit­ish Asso­ci­ation for Par­enteral and Enternal Nutri­tion (BAPEN), in Feb­ru­ary 2009, more than 3 mil­lion people either suf­fer from or are at risk of mal­nu­tri­tion. The reas­ons for this reflect a mix of factors includ­ing, BAPEN states, poverty and social isol­a­tion and this influ­en­tial study recom­mends the need for a strategy to be estab­lished tar­get­ing mal­nu­tri­tion within the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. for those who are refused asylum there is a unique and spe­cific bar­rier in that their mal­nu­tri­tion is a dir­ect res­ult of gov­ern­ment policy. This brief­ing explores the polit­ical eco­nomy driv­ing gov­ern­ment policy and exposes some of the bru­tal real­ity of enforced destitution.

Brief­ing Paper 9: What is Destitution?

Feb­ru­ary 2009, Jon Burnett

It is estim­ated that there are up to 280,000 asylum seekers in Bri­tain who have been forced into home­less­ness by the asylum sys­tem. In this paper Jon Bur­nett looks at des­ti­tu­tion as a core com­pon­ent of an asylum policy aimed at deter­ring those seek­ing sanc­tu­ary from com­ing to the UK and for­cing those already here to leave and the impact of this policy amongst PAFRAS ser­vice users.

Brief­ing Paper 8: No Dir­ec­tion Home?

Janu­ary 2009, Jon Burnett

No Dir­ec­tion Home? The Polit­ics of Return for Refused Asylum Seekers focuses on routes of return for asylum seekers whose claims have been refused. Since com­ing into power the New Labour gov­ern­ment have placed con­sid­er­able emphasis on return­ing refused asylum seekers – for­cibly or oth­er­wise. Ensur­ing that the num­ber of removals of refused asylum seekers is greater than what are classed as ‘unfoun­ded’ asylum applic­a­tions is described as ‘per­form­ance improve­ment’. These removal policies have been imple­men­ted, fre­quently, in the face of warn­ings from NGOs, law­yers, inde­pend­ent experts and even the UNHCR that deport­a­tions may well lead to tor­ture and severe injury.

Brief­ing Paper 7: Wage Exploit­a­tion and Undoc­u­mented Labour

Octo­ber 2008, Jon Burnett

The right to work for asylum seekers, gran­ted in 1986, was abol­ished in 2002, since which point sig­ni­fic­ant resources and efforts have been chan­nelled into pre­vent­ing those who are seek­ing asylum from enter­ing the labour mar­ket. This brief­ing paper looks at the policy and it imple­ment­a­tion as well as bring­ing to light exper­i­ences of asylum seekers, forced to join the black mar­ket in labour for their survival.

Brief­ing Paper 6: Racism, Des­ti­tu­tion & Asylum

June 2008, Jon Burnett

The sixth of PAFRAS brief­ing focuses on des­ti­tu­tion and racist vic­tim­isa­tion. In the 1998/99 year the Home Office began to record racially and reli­giously motiv­ated har­ass­ment, wound­ing and assault. The total num­ber of recor­ded incid­ences was 17,720. In 2006/7, the last year from when stat­ist­ics were avail­able, this had increased to 38,454. Stat­ist­ics for offences against those seek­ing asylum are not recor­ded sep­ar­ately, but inde­pend­ent stud­ies indic­ate that asylum seekers are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­able to racism violence.

Brief­ing Paper 5: Men­tal Health, Des­ti­tu­tion & Asylum

March 2008, Jon Burnett

Accord­ing to Dr Angela Bur­nett of the Med­ical Found­a­tion for the Vic­tims of Tor­ture, between 5% and 30% of all Asylum Seekers are reckoned to have been vic­tims of tor­ture in their nat­ive coun­tries. Dis­tress, anxi­ety, depres­sion and other men­tal health prob­lems are per­haps nat­ural reac­tions to the extreme cir­cum­stances from which they have fled and the dis­lo­ca­tion of arriv­ing in an alien coun­try. These trau­mas can also impact neg­at­ively on an individual’s memory and their abil­ity to effect­ive present their case for asylum and sub­stan­ti­ate their claim.

Fur­ther­more how­ever, it is a widely acknow­ledged fact that the asylum pro­cess can have a neg­at­ive impact on the men­tal health of indi­vidu­als sub­ject to it. This brief­ing paper looks at the links between des­ti­tu­tion and men­tal health prob­lems amongst refused asylum seekers.

Brief­ing Paper 4: Dawn Raids

March 2008, Jon Burnett

PAFRAS’s fourth brief­ing paper casts a crit­ical eye over the much cri­ti­cised use of dawn raids in the deten­tion of asylum seekers, includ­ing asylum seek­ing fam­il­ies. This is a prac­tice still very much at the heart of the UKBA’s strategy for intim­id­at­ing its vic­tims and one that was recently cri­ti­cised by the Inde­pend­ent Chief Inspector of the UKBA (see “Immig­ra­tion inspector cri­ti­cises dawn raids on fam­il­ies facing deport­a­tion” in The Guard­ian 27 July 2010).

Brief­ing Paper 3: No Access to Justice

Janu­ary 2008, Jon Burnett

No Access to Justice: Legal Aid and Des­ti­tute Asylum Seekers invest­ig­ates New Labour’s reforms of the Legal Aid sys­tem and their dra­matic impact on refused asylum seeker’s access to justice.

Brief­ing Paper 2: Detain­ing the Destitute

Novem­ber 2002, Jon Burnett

Des­ti­tu­tion and deten­tion are expli­citly linked by policy, which crim­in­al­ises asylum seekers whose claims are rejec­ted. All asylum seekers are liable to be detained at any point. For the des­ti­tute, deten­tion is util­ised in a num­ber of ways to coerce removal.

Brief­ing Paper 1: Sec­tion 4 Support

Jon Bur­nett, August 2008