Amnesty calls on Europe to offer asylum

Amnesty International yesterday called on the governments of Europe to fulfil their obligations and offer asylum to refugees fleeing the violence and chaos in Albania.

The human-rights organisation, which was launching a campaign to highlight the world refugee crisis, talked of the thousands of people attempting to leave Albania daily adding to the 15 million already classified as refugees in different parts of the world.

Amnesty said that while some European countries have been generous in the past, many are increasingly reluctant to honour international conventions. Such countries were making use of a "new battery of techniques" which are designed to keep refugees at bay.

The use of these techniques, which seek to pass the problem on to other countries or which grant refugees only temporary safety, mean that "countless people never get a real chance to escape from torture or death-threats, or else they are sent back to countries where they run a real risk of getting thrown in jail or being handed over to executioners".

The organisation cited several examples of refugees who had been returned, against their will, to the country where they had already suffered persecution or violence. In one case, a woman from Zaire - where an estimated 700,000 refugees are currently trying to flee a civil war - sought asylum in Sweden after escaping from a military prison.

Although she had been tortured, the Swedish authorities rejected the woman's claim on several grounds, including their view that as Zaire's president did not control the military, her torture by soldiers did not constitute state persecution. The organisation added that the new, restrictive approach adopted by many countries included the application of harsh asylum criteria, the forcible repatriation of refugees and the fining of airlines and shipping companies for carrying people without valid travel documents.

The restriction on refugees was often justified on the grounds of economic difficulties, anti-immigrant attitudes or burgeoning xenophobia, but in some cases the new approach to the refugee crisis amounted to a "callous disregard" for human life and suffering, Amnesty said.

It added that "the increasingly restrictive approach that more and more governments take toward refugees makes a mockery of their international and national obligations".

In a series of statements, booklets and reports issued yesterday, Amnesty fingered a number of countries as guilty of what it perceived as a growing hostility toward refugees.

In Britain, measures such as the prolonged detention of asylum-seekers, the Carriers Liability Act, the "white list" of countries (where no serious risk is considered to exist) and restrictions on legal aid and welfare support amounted to barriers to entry. Denmark and Norway, however, were praised by the organisation for their response to refugees from Bosnia in particular.

Amnesty called on the international community to re- dedicate itself to the principles of the 1951 United Nations convention on the status of refugees. The convention includes the frequently ignored tenet that refugees should not be forcibly returned to a country where the applicant's life or freedom could be at risk. Individually, governments should do more to publicise the plight of refugees, set up specialised bodies to deal with applications for asylum, refrain from penalising refugees for illegal entry and provide safe accommodation and adequate subsistence allowances while asylum applications can be considered.

Amnesty also called for an urgent review of funding provisions for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

A full report on the refugee crisis will be published in June, a spokesman for Amnesty said yesterday.

The British Red Cross yesterday launched an appeal to take food, medicine and water to Albania, which is now virtually cut off from outside supply lines. Officials from the Albanian arm of the charity estimate that more than 250,000 people are in need of food and medicine. Donations can be made by telephoning 0171 201 5020.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
musicReview: 1989's songs attempt to encapsulate dramatic emotional change in a few striking lines
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
I'm not worried about United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DT Teacher - Resistant Materials

Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Design Technology / Food Te...

Qualified Teacher's required - Dartford **URGENT**

Highly Competitive Rates of Pay: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education ...

Maths Teacher Norwich

£25000 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Are looking ...

English Teacher, delightful Margate School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: An experienced and qualified Tea...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker