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

By M. Louise Pirouet | Go to book overview

Afterword
What of the Future?

During its presidency of the EU in the second half of 1998, Austria put forward a ‘Strategy Document on Immigration and Asylum Policy’. The main thrust of this was to strengthen efforts to make the wall round Fortress Europe increasingly impregnable. Front line states to the east have already been made to shoulder responsibilities for keeping asylum-seekers out of the EU, but if this and other measures fail to prevent an influx of refugees, then, the policy document suggested, further strategies might have to be developed:

‘the question actually arises as to whether a new approach should also
include initial steps harking back to the beginnings of the development of
asylum law when the affording of protection was not seen as a subjective
right but rather as a political offer on the part of a host country’.1

This bland phraseology masks an extraordinary suggestion, namely that the Convention should be abandoned, and Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights annulled. Those fleeing persecution would then no longer be able to rely on the protection of the Convention. Protection would no longer be a right. Asylum would be solely at the invitation of a state.2

This suggestion was shelved for the time being, but it rhymes with hints from the present Home Secretary that if the 1999 Asylum Bill does not work, then other ways would have to be sought, rumours that at least one senior minister under the previous government recommended that the UK should withdraw from the Convention, and the present Home Secretary’s threat to demand a re-negotiation of

1. Quoted in Berkowitz and Doebbler, ‘The European Dimensions’, 18.

2. Ibid., 19.

-187-

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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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