Crisis point for hunger strikers

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The Independent Online
Sir: Sam Wells rightly points out (Letters, 28 March) that the position of many of the hunger-striking asylum-seekers in detention is now at crisis point. We are therefore deeply concerned by the Government's continuing failure to address the issues at the root of the hunger strikes.

The essential point - and one we call upon the Government to recognise - is that the detainees are held in contravention of international standards, and it is this basic violation of fundamental rights that has led the hunger strikers to mount their protest.

We are therefore seeking an early meeting with the Home Secretary to ask him:

To establish, as a matter of urgency, an ad hoc independent panel to review the cases of all those asylum-seekers held in detention, with the power to recommend release in all cases where the Home Office is unable to demonstrate to the panel's satisfaction that continued detention is necessary and for reasons recognised as legitimate by relevant international standards.

To give an undertaking to act upon the recommendations of the ad hoc panel (through the existing powers to grant them temporary admission).

To undertake an urgent review of Home Office policy and practice in respect of such detention, with a view to bringing these into line with international

standards.

We firmly believe that the Government's acceptance of these recommendations could bring about an immediate end to the hunger strike, thereby removing the prospect of a wholly unnecessary

tragedy.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID BULL

Director

Amnesty International

(British Section)

HELEN BAMBER

Director

Medical Foundation for

the Care of Torture Victims

London, EC1

29 March

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