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Asylum rejects 'get poor advice'

Many young people who are refused asylum in the UK are not being advised properly and are not appealing against decisions even when they have an arguable case, according to research.

The report from the University of Kent's Law Clinic says that although young people are granted asylum until 17 and a half, the Home Office often repeats the original reasons for refusal when further applications for leave are made.

The Home Office also claims the applicant must have accepted their first decision by not appealing against the first refusal, the research said.

The study examined Home Office and tribunal decision-making and reflects on case law dealing with important aspects of child asylum claims.

It is based on an examination of 20 casework files of young Afghans who arrived in Kent, the university said.

Specialist asylum and immigrations solicitors from the Law Clinic found the best interests of the child were rarely considered during asylum cases, other than by inserting standard text often used repeatedly across claims.

The report, which aims to improve outcomes for children seeking asylum in the UK, revealed some young people endured drawn-out appeal processes, with some turning 18 by the time their case went to tribunal, by which time different legal considerations applied.

It added that family tracing - an EU law setting out a duty on the receiving country to try to trace the family of a child asylum-seeker - was not carried out in any of the cases investigated.

The Home Office said family tracing was not possible in Afghanistan. Despite this, family tracing was often used to attack the young person's credibility, the researchers said.

Most Home Office refusals and tribunal dismissals in the research were found to be on the grounds of "incredibility" and "implausibility", despite guidance that children's claims should be treated with special care.

Sheona York, an immigration and asylum solicitor from Kent Law Clinic, said: "This report reveals worrying facts about the asylum determination process faced by children and young people in Kent.

"We hope these findings will raise greater awareness about how young people's claims are considered and determined, and in particular encourage those working with young unaccompanied asylum-seekers to be alert to the problems and ensure they get good legal advice as early as possible in the asylum process."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and we consider every application on its individual merits.

"All unaccompanied child asylum seekers have the right to free legal representation.

"We take our responsibilities towards children very seriously and their welfare is at the heart of all of our decisions."

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