UNHCR challenges US refugee laws

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The Independent Online
Geneva (Reuter) - The United Nations refugee agency, making a rare foray into United States domestic politics, said yesterday it would lobby "at the highest levels" against planned US laws it feared could deny asylum to genuine refugees.

A senior official with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Dennis McNamara, said bills before the US Congress to curb illegal immigration could violate the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 additional protocol, to which the US is a party.

"Our concern is that we will have people removed to unsafe situations." Mr McNamara said.

One section of the proposals, due to go before the Senate in mid-April, and to which the UNHCR objects, would allowofficials to deny potential refugees a judicial hearing if they did not establish in a preliminary interview a "credible fear of persecution" if they were forced to return home.

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