LETTER:EU will soon have a uniform approach to asylum-seekers

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From Mr Richard Dunstan

Sir: Some of your readers may have been surprised that a Home Secretary noted for his Euro-scepticism should seek to defend his aim of creating an asylum-free "white list" by claiming that "most European countries employ a similar form of control" ("Dismay as Howard signals new asylum- seekers' law", 26 October). But it is a sad truth that the Government's asylum policy is now almost entirely driven by a secretive and undemocratic process of creating uniform asylum procedures throughout the European Union.

Contrary to Mr Howard's claim, as yet only a minority of European countries operate formal "white list" mechanisms.However, it is likely that more and more countries will shortly introduce this measure, as it is specifically provided for in a resolution on harmonised asylum procedures adopted by EU home affairs ministers at a meeting in London in December 1992. And once such a measure is adopted by one or two EU member states, the rest are sure to follow.

Similarly, the other main element of the Home Secretary's forthcoming Asylum and Immigration Bill - the abolition of the right to appeal prior to expulsion in those cases where the applicant has arrived at the UK's borders not directly from the country of persecution, but via one or more transit countries - just happens to be a key provision of a resolution adopted by Mr Howard and his EU colleagues at a meeting in Luxembourg in June this year. Accordingly, this regressive and highly dangerous measure is now being introduced throughout the EU.

Yours faithfully

Richard Dunstan

Refugee Officer

Amnesty International

London, EC1

27 October

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