Emily Dugan’s exclusive article in yesterday’s BuzzFeed reports on “the Home Office has kept Disabled People in the Dark about their Rights to Asylum in Britain for Nearly Three Years”

The 11 April 2018 article uses a 2015 unreported Tribunal determination of an asylum-seeker from Zimbabwe, living with a disability called “W”, promulgated in June 2015, as the basis of demanding urgent action to address the asylum claims based on disability, three years later.   

No5 Barristers’ Chambers’ S Chelvan appeared as Counsel for the successful appellant, instructed by Derek McConnell of SouthWestLaw.  The Tribunal accepted the appellant came within the Convention reason of membership of a Particular Social Group, as she would be treated differently by surrounding society because of her disability.  This treatment would involve “harsh societal discrimination and exclusion as a result of her disability”, amounting to persecution as there was no effective state protection against such harm in Zimbabwe.  “W” was granted refugee status in 2015.

Prior to this 2015 determination, disability cases were often run on the basis of a lack of medical treatment or care (Articles 3 and 8 ECHR), rather than asylum claims.  The positive determination has been brought to the attention of the Home Office in order to address a lack of any published policy specifically relating to asylum claims based on disability.

The article highlighted the fact the Home Office, some three years after the ruling, have failed to update its published asylum policy to reflect this, thereby failing to notify those living with disability of this route to asylum in the UK.  Emily Dugan highlighted:

“The situation has left disabled people vulnerable to deportation to countries where they’re persecuted without even realising they’re eligible for sanctuary in Britain.

S Chelvan, the barrister at No5 Chambers who represented W, has been pushing the Home Office to make it clear that this is an asylum route. “They accept that [disabled people] are a particular social group but they don’t have a published policy,” he said.

“I think a lot of people, including those working in the disability sector, don’t know that it’s a basis to claim asylum. They always think it’s a medical treatment case.

“There’s an urgent need for policy guidance to be published because there are people who have genuine claims for asylum who don’t even know that this is a route available to them. The Home Office has to have published policy.”

While a specific policy update has been given on the issue of sexual orientation making people part of a “Particular Social Group”, there is no evidence the policy has been updated to reflect that this category can apply to disability. The general asylum policy does not deal with disabled people as a Particular Social Group.”

Read the full article on Buzzfeed’s website here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/emilydugan/the-home-office-has-kept-disabled-people-in-the-dark-about