Clause 185 - Asylum appeal to High Court

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 16 January 2003.

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Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Criminal Justice System IT) 4:00, 16 January 2003

The contributions of the hon. Members for Surrey Heath and for Torridge and West Devon tell us exactly what the clause is designed to do. Of course we must deal with an expeditious disposal of the process. The problems, which I will spell out, are costly, bureaucratic, and deny justice in the fullest sense of the word. Equally, as the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon said, we must balance the rights of the individual, which is what the clause aims to do.

The clause deals with a situation in which someone who is subject to extradition proceedings has claimed asylum but has been refused. Ordinarily, that person can appeal to an adjudicator. The clause replaces that appeal, as reference to section 83 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, with an appeal to the High Court. Under existing legislation, someone who is the subject of an extradition request would be entitled to apply for asylum like anyone else. Refusal of their application would open up several avenues to appeal the decision, which, when added to the various routes of appeal in extradition cases, could lead to a lengthy and complex process that overlaps with and duplicates arguments in court.

The provisions simplify and expedite the process while safeguarding the rights of the individual. The Government are determined that the asylum system should not be abused to delay a person's extradition. At the same time, we must be concerned that no person is deprived of the fundamental right to seek refuge in the face of persecution. Clauses 185 and 186 ensure that the asylum system will not be abused, but that it will not unfairly deprive the individual of their fundamental human rights. We have been invited to go further, which we do not want to do, and risk breaking our obligations under the refugee convention. Taken as a whole, clauses 185 and 39 strike a balance between these two different imperatives.

I hope that I have managed to satisfy both hon. Gentlemen.