“The government downplayed the risk of human rights abuses in one of the world’s most repressive regimes in an attempt to reduce asylum seeker numbers despite doubts from its own experts, internal documents have revealed.
Home Office documents obtained by the Public Law Project detail efforts by the government to seek more favourable descriptions of human rights conditions in Eritrea, an east African country that indefinitely detains and tortures some of its citizens as well as carrying out extrajudicial executions and operating a shoot-to-kill policy on those caught trying to flee the country.
But despite the doubts about a real improvement in the human rights situation expressed by UK officials in the internal documents, the Home Office went ahead in March 2015 with issuing new guidance to those making decisions on asylum seekers stating that the human rights situation in Eritrea was not as bad as previously thought.
However, a significant case in the upper (immigration) tribunal last October, known as a country guidance case, found that the new Home Office guidance on Eritrea was not credible. The Home Office has acknowledged the reality of the human rights situation and withdrawn its flawed guidance.
The role of judges in overturning politically-“guided” refugee status determination decisions is key. Access to justice is essential for the effective protection of the rights of each migrant and refugee.
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