Changes in asylum-seekers' appeals process are criticised

 

Asylum-seekers will be denied proper access to justice if a "discriminatory" proposed legal change takes effect, according to lawyers and human rights groups.

Opponents of the Government proposal include Free Legal Advice centres, which described it as outrageous and unconscionable and called for its withdrawal.

The appeals process for asylum-seekers refused permission to remain in the State will be tightened up under one of the proposed amendments to the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill to be discussed today in the Dail.

The provision would severely cut the amount of time asylum-seekers have to make an appeal to the High Court against a decision to refuse them refugee status or leave to remain in the State.

Refugee status, which includes the permanent right to live and work in the State, is granted to people who have shown they are fleeing persecution on religious, political or other grounds.

Currently, asylum-seekers have between three and six months to seek a judicial review in the High Court of a decision on their application. Under the proposed amendment, this would be cut to two weeks. The High Court will be able to extend this period if there are good reasons.

The Labour Party's justice spokesman, Mr Brendan Howlin, will attack the proposed amendments during today's Dail debate.