In 1954 the UK signed up to the Refugee Convention, and today almost every country is bound by this international law.
Under the law:
- the UK Government has an obligation not to forcibly return anyone to a country where they have a genuine fear of being persecuted
The right to seek asylum is completely separate to the issue of immigration.
- There is no human right to immigration, so fair and non-discriminatory limits can be placed on economic migration.
- But the right to seek asylum can never be limited.
Human rights, including the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment; the right to a private and family life; the right to free expression and protest etc, apply to all human beings. These rights do not depend on citizenship. Some of the UK's immigration and asylum policies have undermined these basic rights, including:
- Laws passed following 11 September 2001, which have now been repealed, allowed for the indefinite detention without charge of foreign nationals;
- The unnecessary and inhumane detention of men, women and children for extended periods;
- The ‘fast track’ system of asylum determination which results in applicants being detained pending extremely fast determinations of their claim, resulting in sometimes complex and sensitive claims being unfairly refused;
- Previously named “ID cards for foreign (non-EU) nationals” which served to exacerbate racial and ethnic tensions;