Abigail Evans comments on OA v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT which reviewed the department’s handling in curtailing asylum screening interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic by asking applicants a narrower set of questions than those which were identified in her published policy guidance.
Abigail Evans states:
In a robustly worded judgment the High Court has found that it was strongly arguable that the Secretary of State for the Home Department has been acting unlawfully by not asking asylum seekers key questions that might identify them as victims of trafficking. The omission of the questions was apparently an attempt to streamline the asylum process during the Covid 19 pandemic. It is interesting that the questions chosen to be omitted were those specifically designed to help identify vulnerable possible trafficking victims, whom, if identified as such, must have their cases investigated with certain safeguarding measures in place. It is reassuring that the Court ordered the Secretary of State to re-instate the questions within 3 days of the judgment.