Letter: Safe havens

PROFESSOR GEARTY is right to characterise the treatment of refugees as a test of a country's commitment to human rights and to criticise the Immigration and Asylum Bill currently before Parliament ("We care, but can we keep the human rights torch burning?", 11 April). Last year, Amnesty International warned the Government that its commitment to an ethical foreign policy would be meaningless without honouring obligations to protect refugees.

The refugee crisis in Kosovo raises important questions about the Bill. All refugees, including Kosovars, face rigorous controls preventing access to safety. The Home Office admits these controls prevent refugees from reaching a safe haven - but the Bill extends them. Those lucky few who make it to the UK will be subject to new powers of arrest, search and detention by immigration officers - without judicial controls. Underpinning the Bill is a press campaign of hatred, which the Government has failed to oppose.

Amnesty International believes that the Bill violates international law. It would be shameful if, while expressing horror at the refugee crisis in Kosovo, the Government proceeded with the Bill's swingeing provisions against refugees coming to the UK.


Amnesty International

London EC1