The Shame of Britain’s Asylum Policy

For hundreds of years Great Britain has been home to thousands of activitists who fled their homeland in search of a port of refuge. But, a new report by the Independent Asylum Commission has issued a searing indictment of the Home Office’s failure to deal fairly with those applying for sanctuary in Great Britain. The commission found the nation’s treatment of asylum seekers “falls seriously below the standards to be expected of a humane and civilised country.” The Home Office apparently is confused regarding its own policy and there is a “lack of access to legal advice for aplicants” which frequently results in unjust decisions about their desire for safety. Three areas of concern include: the use of detention centers which often find torture victims, women and children incarcerated under terrible conditions, the use of force against detainees, and the use of destitution to force people to leave.

Among the most painful episodes in this story of failure is an inability to recognize that many asylum seekers are suffering from post traumatic stress having been brutalized in their home nations and now find themselves once again treated in an inhumane manner. The report took special note of many rape victims who initially felt unable to discuss the experience and their plight became overlooked in the final decision. Cuts in the budget have also meant there are insufficient legal advisers for sanctuary seekers and not enough psychological services.

Many of us raised in the Western world always looked to Great Britain as a model of hope for oppressed people and this report can only sicken those concerned about human rights abuses.