Peers oppose plan that may stop women fleeing rape gaining refugee status

Peers are attempting to block plans which could prevent women who are fleeing rape, forced marriage, trafficking or female genital mutilation from securing refugee status – a move that critics say was sneaked into the nationality and borders bill.

The Labour peer Lady Lister, with support from the crossbencher Lady Coussins, the Liberal Democrat Lord Paddick and the bishop of Gloucester, have tabled an amendment to the bill due to be discussed on Tuesday.

If passed it will reverse a clause added to the controversial bill after the consultation period had ended. Peers say the belatedly added clause will seriously damage the ability of survivors of gender-based persecution to be recognised as refugees and granted protection, a change that will disproportionately affect women and girls.

Lawyers say the clause, if approved, will change how the 1951 UN refugee convention is interpreted.

句 32 of the convention refers to membership of a “particular social group” and is a key ground to qualify as a refugee. It is used by women and girls fleeing gender-based persecution.

The current definition of “particular social group” in domestic law contains two conditions, either of which can be satisfied to demonstrate someone is in need of refugee protection. しかしながら, the new clause reverses this legal principle and substitutes it with what lawyers from the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) say is an erroneous definition from European law which states that both conditions must be satisfied before refugee status can be granted.

The introduction of this technicality would present a significant additional hurdle to women accessing refugee protection in the UK, meaning that some of the most vulnerable people seeking protection could no longer get it.

Lister, who tabled the amendment to reverse the change, 前記: “Clause 32 is one example of how the bill will seriously damage women fleeing gender-based violence and abuse, by creating a significant barrier to refugee protection, as the UNHCR [United Nations high commissioner for refugees] 警告しました. It is crucial that the Lords overturn this change.”

Alphonsine Kabagabo, the director of the charity Women for Refugee Women, 前記: “The government’s nationality and borders bill is the biggest threat to women being able to access refugee protection in the UK that we have ever seen. The bill is dangerous and discriminatory.”

Zoe Bantleman, the legal director at the ILPA, 前記: “The bill introduces a regressive definition of ‘particular social group’ for the purposes of the 1951 refugee convention that reverses case law of senior UK courts, contravenes UNHCR standards, and reinstates an erroneous EU law standard, which will disproportionately affect women and girls fleeing gender-based persecution.”

ホームオフィスのスポークスマンは言った: “The UK has a proud history of providing protection to the most vulnerable people in genuine need, including women, and this will not change. The changes we are making are to ensure we have a more consistent approach to assessing asylum claims and it is wrong to claim female asylum seekers will be excluded from being considered as a member of a particular group. The nationality and borders bill will deliver the government’s new plan for immigration – the most comprehensive reform in decades – to fix the broken asylum system.”

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