Friday, April 04, 2008

An asylum system that “falls seriously below the standards of a humane and civilised society”.

An independent and impartial review of the UK’s asylum system has concluded that two years on from the then Home Secretary John Reid’s infamous speech, the UK’s asylum system is still ‘not fit for purpose’.

The interim findings of the Independent Asylum Commission (IAC) which has conducted a nationwide series of hearings looking into the asylum system was published on the 27th of March.

The IAC Commissioners heard evidence from citizens across the UK, investigating ‘How we decide who needs sanctuary’, ‘How we treat those seeking sanctuary’ and ‘What happens when we refuse people seeking sanctuary’.

The work – and findings – of the commission has created considerable public and political interest, making the report launch a highly anticipated day and receiving positive coverage on BBC Breakfast, Today and on local news among others.

Despite efforts by the Border and Immigration Agency to deal with asylum claims in a more effective manner a ‘culture of disbelief’ still pervades the decision making process resulting in unjust decisions against vulnerable people with limited access to legal advice. The commissioners also found that the detention of asylum seekers is over-used, oppressive and an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer and that the needs of especially vulnerable people seeking sanctuary such as women, children and torture survivors are not properly addressed. The findings also present a system where the enforced destitution of thousands of refused asylum seekers is indefensible and places a ‘shameful blemish on our nation’s proud recode of providing for those who come here in search of sanctuary’.

The IAC will publish its final conclusions in May, June and July. A pdf version of the IAC report and more information about the IAC is available from the IAC website

An article on the report in the Independent newspaper

And leading on from the publication of the report, STAR has teamed up with the IAC to create eleven fantastic volunteering opportunities for students who are passionate about campaigning for the rights of refugees.

A STAR Key Campaigner will be based in each of the 9 English Government Regions, Scotland and Wales. They will be provided with extensive campaigning training and ongoing support to campaign effectively and locally on refugee issues. In addition to forming a unique national network of highly skilled STAR campaigners, Key Campaigners will also form part of the IAC’s Regional Campaign Action Teams. The role will be kicked off with some in depth training in May. More info about the role and how to apply can be found by following the link below

STAR_and_IAC_Key_Campaigners.doc

Posted by STAR team on 04/04/2008 at 04:19 PM