1000th prospective MP milestone for asylum pledge

06 May 2010

Today Liberty announces the 1000th parliamentary candidate has signed up to the organisation’s asylum election pledge. By signing the pledge, which is promoted by Liberty, the Refugee Council and the Scottish Refugee Council, candidates agree to ‘never play fast and loose with the proud tradition of a nation that must always offer succour to those in genuine fear of persecution’.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:

“1000 parliamentary candidates have also said loud and proud that they respect the importance of refugee protection. This groundswell of compassion may shock some on the far-right but will never surprise those who believe in the fundamental fairness of British society.

Among the 1000 candidates who have made the asylum promise are the leaders of all three main political parties. Liberty will be watching closely from tomorrow to hold whichever party leads the Government to their pledge.”

The UK is a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, which guarantees any person who is not safe in their own country the right to claim asylum elsewhere. The convention has saved millions of lives, and no country has ever withdrawn from it. The UK is home to less than 2% of the world’s refugees, out of 16 million worldwide, with 80% living in developing countries.

Contact Liberty’s press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831 128

Notes to Editors

1. The full text of the Asylum Election Pledge is as follows:

'There is no place for racism and xenophobia in modern British politics. Nor is democratic debate advanced by the denigration of the most vulnerable in our country, including children and asylum seekers who do not enjoy the right to participate in elections.

I promise to remember the importance of refugee protection, even in free and wide-ranging debates about immigration policy. I will never play fast and loose with the proud tradition of a nation that must always offer succour to those in genuine fear of persecution'

2.  Journalists can contact the press office for a copy of the full list of signatories.

3.  The top countries of origin for refugees coming to the UK in 2009 were: Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Iran, China, Sri Lanka, and Eritrea. The UK is home to less than 2% of the world’s refugees, with 80% living in developing countries. Europe gives protection to just 14%.