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Thursday, October 27, 2016
Charity calls asylum proposals 'morally indefensible'
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 Proposals to introduce further legislation to deter asylum seekers and regulate the process of assessing their claims have been strongly criticised by the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK. They are expected to be included in the Queen's Speech tomorrow (26 November). In a written submission to the Home Office, the JRS's Director, Louis Zanré says that if the British Government were to adopt the measures proposed, it would seriously undermine the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. "Instead of looking at the asylum process as being one based on protection needs, the government continues in its short-sighted attempts to deter people from coming to the UK to claim asylum and to make things as difficult as possible for those seeking asylum in the UK. It must be remembered that asylum is a human right and should therefore be administered on a rights-based/protection needs basis", Ms Zanré adds. The Jesuit Refugee Service says it is particularly concerned by the proposal to introduce a new single tier of appeal for refused asylum applications, and urges the Home Office to improve its current decision-making process instead. It is critical of proposals to introduce new legislation that would make it a criminal offence to have false or no documents, saying they "contravene the duty not to impose sanctions in Article 31(1) of the 1951 Convention." But the charity, which actively defends the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people in over 50 countries worldwide, saves its strongest language for the government's proposal to restrict family support. Under these proposals, families whose appeals had been unsuccessful, would have support withdrawn, unless they are willing to take a paid voluntary route home. The JRS condemns this as "morally indefensible". Ms Zanré concludes the submission: "It is questionable whether their [the families'] decision will indeed be voluntary if faced with the alternative of being left with no means of support (no financial assistance from the government, no permission to work) in the UK or returning to a country in which they fear they will be persecuted or be otherwise unsafe, eg Afghanistan, Iraq or Zimbabwe." The full version of the Jesuit Refugee Service's response to the Proposed Asylum Measures is available in .pdf format on
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