Refugee Council response to JCHR report - Refugee Council
March 30, 2007

Refugee Council response to JCHR report

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) report has been published today. Commenting on the report released today by the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the treatment of asylum seekers, Anna Reisenberger, acting Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

“This report is a devastating indictment of the government’s asylum policy. It criticises almost every aspect of the asylum system suggesting that in numerous areas, international obligations are being breached and asylum seekers are being denied their basic human rights.

“The list of policies that the report criticises is extraordinary:

  • the system of asylum support, which it describes as a “confusing mess,”
  • destitution among asylum seekers, which it describes as “a deliberate tool” and “unacceptable”,
  • the refusal to allow asylum seekers to work, which it says in many cases amounts to treatment that is “inhuman and degrading”
  • the use of vouchers, which it describes as “inhumane and inefficient”
  • the Section 9 policy, which it says “has no place in a humane society”
  • the lack of legal representation, which it says denies many people the right to a fair hearing
  • the standard of some accommodation for asylum seekers, which it says is “inadequate” and again could be breaching human rights
  • the denial of access to health care, which it says is unjustifiable and is “extremely shocking” in many cases
  • the general treatment of asylum seeker children, which it says leaves these children with a “lower level of protection” than other children in the UK
  • the detention of vulnerable people, such as torture victims, which it says is “clearly a violation of the UK’s human rights obligations”
  • the detention of children, which it says “is incompatible with children’s right to liberty

“We have been campaigning and lobbying on all these issues and are very pleased that this influential group of MPs and peers have come out in such clear terms in calling for change. We particularly welcome the calls for asylum seekers to be allowed to work or to be given decent levels of support as long as they remain in the UK. We also welcome the recommendation that asylum seekers, at all stages of the process, should get access to free health treatment, that vouchers should be scrapped and that detention of vulnerable people – and in particular children – should be subject to much higher standards.”


Notes to editors:

1 The Joint Committee on Human Rights publishes its report at 11.00am on 30 March. It is available to the media

2 The Refugee Council campaigns against how the operation of the asylum system leads to destitution for asylum seekers.

3 Along with other organisations, the Refugee Council is campaigning to end destitution for asylum seekers whose claims have been refused