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Friday, March 28, 2008 

Marred by inhumanity.

Again, you probably didn't notice, but yesterday saw the release of a report far more important than Tanya Byron's. The Independent Asylum Commission reviewed the system (PDF), and you probably won't be surprised to learn that it concluded:

Key Conclusions
1. The Commission has found almost universal acceptance of the principle that there must be an asylum system, and that it must be applied fairly, firmly and humanely. These criteria must be fulfilled for the UK system to be ‘fit for purpose’.
2. The Commission has found that the UK asylum system is improved and improving, but is not yet fit for purpose. The system still denies sanctuary to some who genuinely need it and ought to be entitled to it; is not firm enough in returning those whose claims are refused; and is marred by inhumanity in its treatment of the vulnerable.

Luckily, that means that there's someone in it for everyone. The Mail then opens its report with these first two paragraphs:

Public confidence in the asylum system is being eroded by the Home Office's poor performance in deporting failed applicants, a highly-critical report warns today.

The 18-month study by an independent panel also claims the system is failing to deal "firmly" enough with bogus applicants or to give real refugees the protection they badly need.

Throughout the article it's at pains to point out that it's the work of bleeding heart liberal left scum:

The commission is a think-tank of lawyers, clerics, liberal campaigners and experts.

The Independent Asylum Commission said its investigation would take account of a variety of viewpoints.

But critics were uneasy that it was influenced by charities and campaign groups involved with asylum issues, tilting the balance against more rigorous rules.

The body, set up by the Citizen Organising Foundation, which promotes community activism by training local leaders in campaigning techniques, is led by 12 commissioners, many of whom are associated with liberal causes.

They include Katie Ghose, a lawyer and director of the Institute for Human Rights pressure group.

Another is Zrinka Bralo, a journalist from Bosnia, who is executive director of the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum in West London.

Also on the board is Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, canon theologian at Westminster Abbey, who has called for the poorest in society to be exempt from fines and debts, and Dr Silvia Casale, a prison reformer, criminologist and member of the United Nations sub-committee on prevention of torture.

Others include Lord David Ramsbotham, a former chief inspector of prisons and panel cochairman Ifath Nawaz, president of the Association of Muslim Lawyers, who has claimed tougher counter-terrorism laws fuel extremism.

Of course, it doesn't say who these "critics" are exactly; probably because it'd have to list the MigrationWatch head himself, who doesn't seem to have bothered reading the report or even reading its conclusions before commenting, which makes clear that there's a culture of disbelief towards asylum seekers and their claims. He pops up in the Times' report as well with this comment:

“Despite its official-sounding title, this is a private initiative by a number of charities involved in asylum issues,” he said. “If you set foot in Britain and say the word ’asylum’ you have an 80 per cent chance of staying, more often than not illegally. No wonder they are still queuing up in Calais.”

Which appears to be the general attitude towards the report. The comments on the Times, Express and Mail articles are all united in their condemnation of asylum seekers in general. This one perhaps sums them all up:

This is a joke - if the UK were inhumane, it would not be such a magnet.

- Ian Millard, Exeter UK

Sigh. The Telegraph and Sun don't seem to have reported on it at all, or at least I was unable to find an article on it on either of their sites. The Express and Mirror entries seem to be directly from the wire services.

It's impossible not to agree with Matthew Norman in the Independent, the only newspaper which has consistently campaigned about the inhumanity currently inherent in the system, something dismissed by the Border and Immigration Agency's Lin Homer with the following:

The claims made in this report are not based on any thorough knowledge. I totally refute any suggestion that we treat asylum applicants without care and compassion.

110 pages worth of report and the person in overall responsibility says it's not based on any thorough knowledge. Could it possibly be that it's in fact your claims that are not based on any thorough knowledge, Ms Homer? In fact, would it be going too far to call you a fucking ignorant liar?

As Norman concludes:

What we of the liberal centre-left have done is join Brown, Miliband and all those who so absolutely fail to represent our beliefs in allowing ourselves to be brow-beaten into silent, sullen acquiescence by the unrelenting right-wing propaganda of recent decades. We glow in Sarkozy's facetious praise when we should shriek in rage about what a nasty, brutal, mean-spirited country our spineless apathy has helped create, and this report on the systematic maltreatment of asylum-seekers shames and diminishes us all.

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