Refugee Council, Liberty and the Scottish Refugee Council election pledge

Pledge to protect the right to asylum

Before the next election, the Refugee Council, Liberty and the Scottish Refugee Council are calling on all elected representatives to sign our asylum election pledge and remember Britain’s history as a place of refuge for the persecuted.

If you are an MP or prospective parliamentary candidate, you can sign the asylum election pledge here

There is no place for racism and xenophobia in modern British politics. Nor is democratic debate advanced by the denigration of the most vulnerable in our country, including children and asylum seekers who do not enjoy the right to participate in elections.

I promise to remember the importance of refugee protection, even in free and wide-ranging debates about immigration policy. I will never play fast and loose with the proud tradition of a nation that must always offer succour to those in genuine fear of persecution.

Arise and Shine. Self-advocacy. Asylum Seekers.

The Cast. Lydia Besong’s play “How I became an Asylum Seeker”. April 2, 2010 (without photos)

As this blog reaches it’s first anniversary the stories that have been whispering in my ear over the past twelve months are drawn together:

The Yarl’s Wood hunger strike. The forthcoming election. War and refugee movements. The unsavoury ways in which political parties capitalise on people’s fears about immigration. A lack of funding for investigative journalism, censorship – and recurring, stereotypical images of asylum seekers in the press.

Attending the “Arise and Shine” woman asylum seekers self-advocacy event in Manchester last week addressed all of these narratives.

The play and workshops were billed as a ‘Professional Development Opportunity’. As a trained teacher in Adult Education as well as a journalist I had a critical eye on how the event was organised. I was impressed from the start. Continue reading

Almost 80 per cent of asylum seekers wrongly refused legal representation at appeal

A ground-breaking project at Devon Law Centre has found that asylum seekers are being wrongly refused publicly-funded legal representation for their asylum appeals in 79 per cent of cases, and that at least 30 per cent of these people have a legitimate claim to some form of protection.

Thursday 1 April 2010: The project’s final report warns that recent reforms to legal aid have made it harder for asylum seekers to get a fair hearing. The report includes several compelling case studies in which people were only recognised as refugees after the project had secured representation for them at appeal. Continue reading

Welcome ruling on detained Iraqi Kurds

A ruling in February that the continuing detention of one of the thirty-four Iraqi Kurds deported to Baghdad and refused admission to Iraq was unlawful, should benefit others held for deportation for years with no prospect of speedy return.

In October 2009, a charter flight left the UK with forty-four Iraqi deportees on board, bound for Baghdad. The flight, the first for five years, was the culmination of five years’ negotiation with the Iraqi authorities. But the flight returned to the UK with thirty-four Iraqi Kurds still on it, all refused entry to Iraq. The refused Iraqis were returned to detention. A number of them launched legal challenges against their detention. In the lead case, that of Mr A, the High Court judge made a ruling which, although addressing Mr A’s specific situation, will have positive implications for the other detainees. Continue reading

How to find your prospective Parliamentary candidates

Addresses of prospective parliamentary candidates

Three main parties

The following addresses take you directly to the right page. Putting in your postcode will give you the details.

If there are email addresses it’s probably best to write by that means at this stage so close to the election.

http://www.conservatives.com/People/Prospective_Parliamentary_Candidates.aspx

http://www2.labour.org.uk/ppc

http://www.libdems.org.uk/parliamentary_candidates.aspx

The Greens and UKIP

Go to each party’s website, and search for PPCs. You will find them listed under different area or regional headings.

http://www.greenparty.org.uk/

http://www.ukip.org/

Quakers’ letter to Jack Straw – use with prospective Parliamentary candidates

What can you do?

The letter that has been sent from Quakers to Jack Straw on 1 April 2010 can be used to address issues with prospective Parliamentary candidates: http://www.qarn.org.uk/homepage/2010/04/01/letter-to-jack-straw-secretary-of-state-for-justice-1-april-2010

‘We agree to the letter being sent and made public for a wide dissemination of a Quaker voice on this matter. We welcome the strategy suggested in the paper, particularly seeking alternatives to detaining children, who need to be protected and kept with their families. We ask Friends to use this letter in canvassing Parliamentary candidates at this time.’  MfS 28.3.2010

See also:

http://www.qarn.org.uk/homepage/2010/03/25/suggested-letter-to-prospective-parliamentary-candidates

http://www.qarn.org.uk/homepage/2010/03/26/general-election-2010-background-information-and-suggestions-for-action-for-local-meetings

Letter to Jack Straw Secretary of State for Justice – 1 April 2010

To Jack Straw, from the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain:

We are writing on behalf of Meeting for Sufferings, our national representative body, to express our dismay at the continued detention of children who are subject to immigration control in Britain. We remain deeply concerned at what amounts to the imprisonment of children despite very clear UNCHR guidance that young people should not be subject to immigration detention. We do not consider that this practice reflects the humane values of this country or corresponds to any proper understanding of the rule of law.

We urge you  to reconsider your current policy in the light of the recent report of Sir Al Aynsley-Green the Children`s Commissioner, the overwhelming evidence offered by the Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists, Paediatricians and GPs in their recent report of the harmful effects of such detention and the report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers on Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre that sharply criticised the detention of children. We draw to your attention the findings of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights that “detention centres are prison like” and the Home Office Select Committee`s finding that “present practice is unacceptable.”

In the light of these reports, we would like to know what changes you have made or are planning in the way children are taken from their homes and transported to detention and the efforts made to ensure their well-being while they are detained.

We would also like you to clarify, in particular, what action the UK Government will be taking in the light of the recent judgment in the European Court of Human Rights in the case of ‘Muskhadzhiyeva’ where it was found that the detention of children in Belgium was unlawful.

Susan Seymour, Clerk, Meeting for Sufferings

Gillian Ashmore, Recording Clerk