Letter: Asylum blot

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The Independent Online
Asylum blot

Sir: Your headline quotation from Jean Jacques Rousseau (1 May), to the effect that the English people are free only during the period of an election, is given an ironic echo in another article on the front page. Here we learn that the same freedom is enjoyed and evidently exploited by civil servants who are suddenly freed from accountability to government or Parliament.

The revelation that 12,000 "sensitive" asylum cases have been "resolved" by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate through a special unit - "coincidentally" put to work after the dissolution of Parliament - should be a source of national shame. Organisations concerned with refugees and asylum-seekers have repeatedly called for an increase in the number of trained staff available to deal with the huge backlog of asylum applications - all to no avail. Suddenly we learn that the cases of 600 people have been dealt with in three weeks, during a political vacuum which means that they have been deprived of support or advice from Members of Parliament and may be deported without proper government accountability.

Too much of our immigration law depends on unpublished guidelines interpreted subjectively by largely unaccountable officials, but this marks a new blot on our reputation as a haven for the oppressed.


Christian Action for Justice in Immigration Law