Letter: Protection for asylum seekers

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The Independent Online
Sir: On Monday the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Bill reaches its report stage and third reading in the House of Commons. Despite more than 100 amendments to the Bill during the committee stage, changes remain negligible.

Asylum seekers and their children will still be fingerprinted, and asylum seekers will no longer be eligible for housing under homeless persons legislation, creating a major headache for local authorities, which will be required to check the immigration status of their clients.

A new piece of jargon has crept into the Government's refugee- speak: the 'manifestly unfounded' applicant. This apparently includes all applicants who fall outside the strict terms of the 1951 UN Convention, such as victims of a civil war. Such applicants may be detained, and their applications refused through a fast- track procedure which includes only 48 hours in which to give notice of any appeal. This surely contravenes all principles of natural justice.

The Asylum Rights Campaign hopes that the House of Lords, as with the previous Bill, will highlight the many measures that need to be changed if the UK is to continue giving protection to those who need it.

The recent disintegration of Yugoslavia, and the suffering caused there, highlight the need for the UK to show humanity and flexibility at this time, not to

slam our doors on those fleeing terror.

Yours sincerely,

KATE ALLEN

Asylum Rights Campaign

London, SW8

7 January

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