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Law Centre welcomes High Court decision in NI Human Rights Commission challenge to the Illegal Migration Act

The High Court today ruled that certain parts of the Illegal Migration Act (2023) amount to a ‘diminution of rights’ in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) brought the case due to the significant human rights implications that the Act will have for asylum seekers in Northern Ireland.

Mr Justice Humphreys, sitting in the High Court in Belfast, ordered the disapplication of provisions of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 in Northern Ireland as they are incompatible with Article 2(1) of the Windsor Framework and declared others to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Liz Griffith from the Law Centre’s Migration Justice Project said:

“Law Centre NI welcomes this ruling. The decision of the High Court comes at a time when the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees throughout the UK are coming under threat. Seeking asylum is a human right - a right which is afforded to all of us. Through this alarming piece of legislation, the UK Government is boldly flouting its legal obligations under international law. Based on our extensive experience in representing asylum seekers in Northern Ireland, we provided affidavit evidence in the case to demonstrate the practical difficulties that many asylum seekers would face in engaging in the legal process given the legislation’s tight timeframes. Northern Ireland has a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. It is a place of refuge for many, and the UK Government should now abandon the Illegal Migration Act and focus instead on ensuring a just, safe, and dignified asylum system for all.

A summary of today’s judgment is available here.

The Law Centre continues to stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers in Northern Ireland whose rights would have been extinguished by this Act.

We provide legal advice and casework assistance in Northern Ireland, including to people seeking sanctuary and survivors of human trafficking and others facing vulnerabilities and hardship.

We take enquiries from voluntary and community sector organisations, as well as from migrants directly. Please note that we are a small team and our capacity to assist is limited. We cannot assist in cases where a solicitor is already involved.

Please ring 028 9024 4401 between 09:30-13:00.