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Fatal flaws in the UK asylum decision-making system: an analysis of Home Office refusal letters

Schuster, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-2896-0575 (2020). Fatal flaws in the UK asylum decision-making system: an analysis of Home Office refusal letters. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 46(7), pp. 1371-1387. doi: 10.1080/1369183x.2018.1552827


The process of deciding who is in need of international protection is well established most western liberal democracies, and has been subject to critical scrutiny for decades. And yet asylum seekers remain vulnerable to serious and ongoing flaws in that system. In this paper, based on research conducted in Afghanistan 2012–2018, Schuster explores a number of shortcomings in the asylum decision-making process, specifically with regard to the rejection of claims from Afghans. The analysis of Reasons for Refusal Letters, allows Schuster to examine the use of key tools in that process (previous cases and country of origin reports). Schuster argues that the current adversarial approach, which seeks to prove an applicant is not credible or does not need protection, undermines the legitimacy of the asylum and risks refusing protection to those in need and or condemning others to years of damaging appeals before they are granted asylum. She concludes by arguing for a shift to a more investigative approach, one that seeks to identify those in need of protection, rather than to keep numbers low.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies on 28 November 2018, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Asylum, Afghanistan, UK, COI, credibility
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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