Wrongful convictions of refugees and asylum seekers: responses by the Criminal Cases Review Commission

Mai Sato, Carolyn Hoyle, Naomi-Ellen Speechly

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The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) reviews possible miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland when applicants have exhausted other avenues of appeal, with a view to referring unsafe convictions back to the appeal court.2 This article considers the CCRC’s handling of applications from refugees and asylum seekers who claim to have been wrongly convicted of entering the UK illegally. These cases commonly relate to people who could not obtain travel documents lawfully and were erroneously advised by defence lawyers that they should plead guilty. The article first examines the sources of these wrongful convictions by reviewing CCRC referrals to the appeal court. It then reviews the CCRC’s wider engagement with other criminal justice agencies in an effort to prevent further wrongful convictions of refugees and asylum seekers. The failing of the criminal justice agencies to properly protect refugees and asylum seekers reflects a wider anxiety about the negative effects of immigration, and the societal appetite to use punitive measures to control immigration. The article concludes by arguing that the CCRC’s campaign was effective, and demonstrates the importance of inter-agency communication in preventing miscarriages of justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-122
Number of pages17
JournalCriminal Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Asylum seekers
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Immigration offences
  • Miscarriage of justice
  • Refugees

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