Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Save Refugee and Migrant Justice

Via Left Outside and Anji Capes at The F-Word, the news that the charity Refugee and Migrant Justice, which provides free legal representation for asylum seekers, is in danger of closing.

They have produced a leaflet (PDF) explaining the reasons for the problem and summarising the valuable work they do.

If you have time, please write to Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Minister for Justice, and to Damian Green MP, Minister for Immigration, to ask them to reverse the changes in how legal aid funding is paid and so keep a valuable service running.

Here's the letter I've sent. Refugee and Migrant Justice have their own suggested letter (though, if you have the time to write your own, do so - it will have more impact) and contact details for the ministers.

Dear Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor

The charity Refugee and Migrant Justice, which provides asylum seekers with legal representation, is currently facing major financial problems due to a change in the way that the Legal Services Commission funds legal aid work.

Rather than being paid monthly to cover costs incurred, payment is now being made only at the conclusion of each case, which can take many months, and leaves the charity having to fund a large amount of expenditure in advance.

The charity does excellent work in its provision of representation, which improves the efficiency and accuracy of the asylum process. It would be extremely unfortunate if it were to close solely due to a failure of the Legal Services Commission to pay promptly the money owed to it.

Without the work of Refugee and Migrant Justice and other organisations, asylum seekers that the previous government would have wrongly and shamefully sent back into danger would not have had access to the representation they needed.

Please ensure that the asylum system is able to conduct itself with fairness, transparency and integrity, show that you are committed to improving on the record of the previous government in this area, and either reverse the change in the Legal Services Commission rules, or if this is not possible, provide interest-free loans to Refugee and Migrant Justice to allow it to keep operating under the new rules.

Yours sincerely,