Asylum rights must be respected
The latest attempt to clamp down on asylum
rights has been a combination of proposals in Parliament as
part of the fifth piece of legislation in the last eleven years.
These attacks are being justified as being necessary to tackle
the rise of racism — but it is clear that, rather than stopping
racism, further restriction of asylum rights fuels the rise
of racist hostilities against all black communities and gives
a life line to the extremist policies of the far right.
The measures contained in the current Asylum and Immigration
Bill include severely reducing asylum seekers access to judicial
scrutiny of asylum decisions, when one in 5 asylum decisions
are overturned by appeals. This proposal has been severely criticised
in the House of Lords and has led to the government conceding
greater scrutiny by the courts, but limiting legal support.
Other proposals are to take away children of failed asylum seekers
into care and removing legal aid from those seeking asylum.
In addition to the bill, legal aid is being restricted overall
to asylum seekers, which will adversely affect the most vulnerable
asylum seekers’ ability to successfully gain refugee status.
These draconian policies are accompanied by inflammatory rhetoric
by politicians, fuelling sections of the tabloid media who continue
their daily diet of anti-asylum hysteria. This can only lead
to a rise in racism and hostility towards asylum seekers and
move Britain further away from its international obligations.
It will continue undermining the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees,
which defines refugee status and outlines the approach by signatory
countries for the treatment of asylum seekers.
Furthermore, the failure to confront racist scapegoating of
asylum seekers contributes to myths and lies becoming firmly
embedded in British society. Britain takes less than 2 per cent
of the world’s refugees, ranking eighth in the EU on number
of asylum seekers per 1000 inhabitants. Migrant workers make
an overall contribution to the economy, and standards rise in
schools with asylum seeker children.
Visit www.naar.org.uk to
sign the statement against the Asylum and Immigration Bill and
to download our pack on the Myths and Facts on Asylum.