Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The first of three reports of conclusions and recommendations by the Independent Asylum Commission (IAC) was launched last Tuesday at 19 Princelet Street in London’s East End.
Built in 1719 as a home by a Hugenot family fleeing persecution in France, 19 Pricelet Street provided a haven for migrants finding sanctuary in London for over two centuries and in 1869, Jewish migrants, mostly from Poland built a synagogue at the back of the house. The building, now in desperate need of repair, was an entirely fitting venue for the report’s launch, which looks at how public support for sanctuary can be restored and how the way we decide who needs sanctuary can be improved.
Following on from the publication of the IAC’s interim findings in March, the Commission has concluded that there is ‘grave misunderstanding’ in the public mind about the term ‘asylum’ which if not addressed risks eroding the UK’s proud tradition of providing sanctuary to those fleeing persecution. As a result, the IAC Commissioners assert the need for public support for sanctuary to be restored through effective communication. This includes, politicians, government, the media and civil society working together to promote a ‘centre ground’ for sanctuary in line with mainstream British values. There must also be an emphasis on the moral imperative of offering sanctuary, through information and education.
The report also presents 48 recommendations to improve public trust in the way we decide who needs sanctuary, including the need to encourage a ‘protection culture’ among decision-makers rather than the ‘culture of disbelief described in the findings and focussing on improved decision making and access to quality legal advice.
The report was launched on the same day that a poll conducted for the IAC revealed that 18% of the sample population had a positive reaction to the term ‘asylum’ but more than 81% had a positive reaction to the term ‘sanctuary’. This underscores the recommendation in the report, that, the concept of sanctuary must be distinguished very clearly from economic migration, through avoiding the term ‘asylum’.
Two more reports of conclusions and recommendations following the IAC’s 18 month enquiry will take place in Birmingham on the 12th of June and Manchester on the 30th of June.
For more information on the IAC and to read the reports and findings in full, visit http://www.independentasylumcommission.org.uk
Posted by STAR team on 28/05/2008 at 08:33 AM