Monday, December 26, 2005

Iraq: Asylum Seekers 19 Dec 2005

Iraq: Asylum Seekers

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the letter from the Minister of State for the Home Office, Mr Tony McNulty, of 18 October stating that operational issues had developed which would prevent the removal of failed Iraqi asylum seekers within a reasonable timeframe, why the Home Office announced the recommencement of removals, starting on 20 November. [HL2763]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Home Office announced its intention to commence an enforced returns

19 Dec 2005 : Column WA222

programme to Iraq in February 2004. Having these arrangements in place brings Iraq into line with arrangements we have for other countries. As my honourable friend's letter dated 18 October highlighted, we were obliged to defer an enforced return in October for logistical reasons. These reasons have now been worked through and resolved, which resulted in the first enforced return flight on 20 November.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the 21 Iraqi asylum seekers who were in detention on 14 October awaiting enforced removal were released on the Chief Immigration Officer's bail in accordance with the letter from the Minister of State for the Home Office, Mr Tony McNulty, of 18 October. [HL2764]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Thirteen of those detained were advised that the Immigration Service was considering release on bail and invited to provide details of proposed sureties and addresses. The remainder were assessed as posing too great a risk of absconding. Six of those were subsequently invited to provide sureties and addresses and were granted bail by an Immigration Judge. The remaining seven individuals were removed.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What procedures they followed to ensure that persons removed to Iraq on 20 November (a) were from the Kurdish regional government; and (b) were without families; and that their cases did not fall within the Rashid judgment (EWCA/Civ/2005/744). [HL2765]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: All enforced removals are carried out on a case by case basis. Those returned to Iraq were aware that they were being removed to Erbil. All potential returnees were carefully screened to ensure that they were from the three northern governorates and they had no dependants on their asylum claim; this was carried out again before removal took place. Until the timeframe which Justice Collins has highlighted is clarified we will seek to remove only those claimants whose cases were not decided in that timeframe or whose cases otherwise fall outside the potential scope of Rashid, even on a wide reading of that judgment.

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