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Law lords ruling tightens up asylum procedure even further


A recent Law lords ruling (April 2, 1998) means the requirements for those seeking asylum from political torture, murder, violence, repression or civil war will be much tougher.

The decision effectively means that an asylum seeker will have to prove that she or he personally was in danger of their life, not just that the ethnic group they are a member of is persecuted. Even if everyone in that ethnic or political group faced state repression, the applicant would have to prove that they are at a special risk, greater than other members of the group. they would also have to prove they were in fear of their lives at the moment they applied for asylum in the UK, not when they fled their native country.

The decision is clearly a racist and deeply callous one. It would have meant, in the 1930s, that Jews fleeing mass extermination from Nazi Germany would have had to prove that they were individually at risk, rather than in danger because Jews as a race were being exterminated. to prove such individual risk may only have been possible by returning to Germany and heir inevitable deaths. The decision means that families fleeing from bloody civil war in Somalia, Algeria or the former Yugoslavia would have to prove personal risk. Let nobody be in any doubt that this decision will lead to the increased murder and torture of people throughout the world, denied asylum here.

The Labour Government's racist Home Office officials said they were very pleased at the result. The ruling was what Jack Straw and his cronies had asked the Law lords to arrive at. This government, which claimed to care about asylum seekers whilst in opposition has shown itself more ruthless than even Michael Howard and the Tories.

Tony Blair, Jack Straw and the rest of them have the blood on their hands as they tighten the gates of entry to Britain for those fleeing torture and murder abroad. Don't let these creepy politicians convince you they care or they are not racist, judge them by their brutal actions.

If this had happened under the Tories the "official" anti-racist lobby would be up in arms. Now their silence is deafening. they are all too busy getting on in their new jobs working for the New Labour government. they have forgotten about ordinary black people or asylum seekers. Not so the Movement for Justice. We will continue to fight for the scrapping of al racist anti asylum laws and expose Straw and his goons at every opportunity.

Below is how The Times newspaper reported the ruling:

The Times, April 3 1998

Law lords ruling a setback for asylum-seekers

By Richard Ford, Home Correspondent

Thousands of people fleeing civil wars will find it more difficult to win asylum after a House of Lords ruling yesterday narrowing the definition of a refugee.

Refugees from a particular group involved in civil conflict will have to prove they are personally at greater risk of persecution than other members of the group.

It will no longer be sufficient for a refugee to win asylum on the basis that he or she fears persecution as a member of a group involved in a civil war, even if the conflict is based on racial or religious grounds.

In a unanimous ruling, five law lords upheld an appeal by the Home Secretary against a Court of Appeal judgment. A Home Office spokesman said last night it was an important case and the Government was "very pleased the law in this area had been clarified".

The case had been taken to the House of Lords by Hassan Adan who fled from ethnic conflict in Somalia in 1988 and arrived in Britain in 1990. He was refused asylum but he and his wife and two children have been given exceptional leave to stay on humanitarian grounds.

Mr. Adan claimed that as a member of the Habrawal sub-clan of the Issaq clan, he would suffer persecution if he returned to Somalia. But the law lords ruled that all sections of society in northern Somalia were equally at risk so long as the civil war continued and that there was no ground for differentiating between Mr. Adan and anyone else. They said that an individual had to show a well-founded fear of persecution, above the risk to life and liberty involved in being caught in a civil war.

Lord Lloyd of Berwick said: "In a state of civil war between clans, an asylum-seeker must be able to show that he is at greater risk of ill-treatment than other members of his clan." He added that where a state of war existed it was not enough for an asylum-seeker to show he would-be at risk if he were returned to his country. "He must be able to show differential impact. In other words, he must be able to show fear of persecution for [Geneva] Convention reasons over and above the ordinary risks of clan warfare."

Lord Lloyd said that fighting between clans in a civil war was not what those drafting the convention had in mind when they used the word persecution.

The law lords also delivered another setback to refugees by ruling that at the time they apply for asylum, they must have a present fear of persecution. It is not enough to claim they feared persecution when they fled their home.

Peter Jorro, manager of the tribunal team at the Refugee Legal Centre, said last night the decisions were a setback for asylum-seekers. He said the Government had been willing to describe Kurds fleeing from Saddam Hussein as refugees.

"We would say that they were refugees because the reason they were being attacked by the Iraqis was that they were Kurds and racially different. What the House of Lords is saying is that they would not be refugees unless individually there is a specific reason whey they are personally being targeted."

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