Whatever Happened to Asylum in Britain? A Tale of Two Walls

By M. Louise Pirouet | Go to book overview

Foreword

This study has grown out of a personal involvement in the refugee scene over a number of years. As a researcher and lecturer at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda in the 1960s and early 1970s I met Rwandaise and Sudanese refugees, and gained my first insights into what it means to be a refugee, separated from one’s homeland and often from family members, and dependent on others for protection. In the late 1970s, when teaching at Nairobi University, I found myself immersed in the plight of former colleagues from Uganda who had been forced to flee from Amin’s terror. Back in Britain in the 1980s I was asked to represent Amnesty International on the Refugee Council’s Africa Committee where, several times a year, representatives of many of the major aid agencies met to consider the refugee situation in that continent. That committee eventually came to an end in the late 1990s when electronic communication rendered it obsolete.

Out of these experiences, and contacts with Helen Bamber and the newly established Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, Antonia Hunt and I became aware that refugees seeking asylum in the UK were facing increasing difficulties. Charter ’87 for Refugees was the result of that concern. This set out minimum standards for those seeking asylum in the UK under six heads. It urged that they should be treated with dignity and generosity in accordance with international standards; that there should be just and humane entry procedures with a right to legal representation; that there should be an in-country right of appeal for all those initially refused asylum; that only in the most exceptional circumstances should those seeking asylum be detained and that detention should be brought under judicial supervision; that asylum-seekers should be adequately provided with the necessities of life and that children should be given special protection.

-vii-

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Whatever Happened to Asylum in Britain? A Tale of Two Walls
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Abbreviations vi
  • Foreword vii
  • Introduction - A Matter of National Pride 1
  • 1 - Setting the Scene 9
  • 2 - The Tamils and the 1987 Watershed 28
  • 3 - Making Decisions 45
  • 4 - A Right of Appeal 65
  • 5 - Without Charge or Trial 81
  • 6 - Protecting Women, Children and Families 108
  • 7 - Building Walls around Fortress Europe 124
  • 8 - Keeping Them out- Building a Wall around the UK 143
  • 9 - Supporting Asylum-Seekers 166
  • Afterword - What of the Future? 187
  • Bibliography 193
  • Index 201
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