§ Lord Beaumont of Whitley
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What is the legal status of the supporting statement for proposed use in respect of Oakington Barracks on behalf of the Home Office (Ref: EM/1998) and in particular of the statement in paragraph 4.2 that "ordinary law-abiding citizens of other countries held at Oakington will have their application for asylum automatically refused if they leave the Centre during the time they are held there"; and whether the statement that the application will automatically be refused conforms to the requirements of natural justice. [HL1989]
§ Lord Bach
I confirm that the statement to which the noble Lord refers has no legal status and does not represent the action that is taken if people abscond from Oakington.
The Government will fulfil their obligations under the 1951 Convention and no-one will be removed until their claim has been properly decided. Asylum applicants at Oakington are reminded that they have an obligation to co-operate with the authorities in the consideration of their claim. In the case of an applicant who absconds, their claim will be decided on the information available. That might result in the claim being refused. Such refusal is not mandatory. In the event that we are aware that an applicant who has absconded meets the necessary criteria for refugee status, that applicant must be granted asylum in accordance with paragraph 334 of the Immigration Rules. However, if the applicant's claim falls to be refused, he/she will then be liable to removal once located, subject to consideration of any further information provided at that time.