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

By M. Louise Pirouet | Go to book overview

3
Making Decisions

The most important part of the whole asylum procedure is the Home Office’s initial decision as to whether or not a person is a Convention refugee. The process by which that decision is reached is therefore crucial. These initial decisions are made on the basis of interviews with the asylum-seeker and information about the human rights record of the country from which the asylum-seeker has fled. No one would suggest that these decisions are easy to make, and no system can be completely foolproof. This chapter will examine the process, and the following chapter will look at the system that enables unsuccessful asylum-seekers to appeal against refusal.

Whilst the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes a right to seek asylum, the countries to which people flee have the right to determine asylum claims, and the onus of proving a need for protection rests upon the asylum-seeker. Settlement in the West is virtually impossible for anyone from the developing world, and some people try to claim asylum as a way of circumventing immigration controls – as Western governments frequently point out. Everyone who knows the refugee communities in the UK is aware of a few such people who have, nevertheless, been recognised under the Convention. Much more disturbing are those individuals who should be recognised as refugees but who are refused. The self-confident con-man who consistently tells a good story carefully manufactured to accord with known facts may find it easier to gain acceptance than the person who has escaped from severe and humiliating torture and death threats, and is too confused and traumatised to present his or her story coherently. So some people are recognised as refugees who should not be, and some people genuinely in need of protection are refused it. It is far more important to guard against

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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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