By Tony Hudson
The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) is wasting tax-payers' money due to the staggering amount of initially rejected asylum applications being overturned on appeal, a new report has revealed.
The report by Amnesty International UK and the Still Human Still Here coalition criticised UKBA's track record of rejecting claims based on "patently spurious grounds" and faulty assessments, calling it a testament to ongoing problems within the agency.
"We need an asylum system that gets the decision right first time," said Jan Shaw, refugee affairs programme director at Amnesty International UK.
"Getting the decision wrong in the first instance causes a great deal of anxiety for asylum seekers and prolongs the period in which they are left in limbo.
"It is also wasting tax-payers' money by refusing people on patently spurious grounds, leading to costly and unnecessary appeals."
With as many as 25% of initial rejections being overturned on appeal, the report calls for Theresa May, who has recently called for UKBA to be abolished, to make significant changes to the asylum application process in order to address this problem.
"In disbanding the UK Border Agency, Theresa May has acknowledged defects in the process as it stands, and she must now ensure that this is a watershed moment where a break with flawed practices is made once and for all," Shaw urged.
The report claims 80% of the decisions overturned on appeal were down to flawed credibility assessments, where case workers would dismiss an asylum application on a minor inconsistency or lack of certain documentary evidence.
An example cited in the report was of a Syrian farmer's application being rejected because the decision maker did not think it was possible he would not be able to name all the countries bordering Syria. It was overturned when a judge found it plausible considering the applicant was an uneducated farmer from a rural area.
Amnesty and Still Human's report urges a change in approach is needed to stop cases like this happening in the future and recommends increased flexibility and guaranteed access to legal representation for all asylum applicants.