Liberal Democrat Press Release, April 16th 1998


Commenting on the publication of the Independent Report on the running of Campsfield House Refugee and Immigration Centre in Kidlington by the Asylum Rights Campaign, local Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris said:

"This report backs up everything I have been pressing the Home Office on since the General Election and before. It is clear that this country detains far too many, for far too long, at far too young an age in many cases; without good reason, without giving a reason, without judicial oversight; under the wrong regimes and with inadequate safeguards,"

Dr Harris and the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team have been pressing the Government to reform detention policy. They have been joined in recent months by the UN High Commission for Refugees who have attacked the arbitrary use of detention.

"There can be no doubt that the Government, just as the Tories did, uses detention policy to deter people from seeking asylum. This is a misuse of administrative detention and a breach of the UN Convention on Refugees."

Official figures show that most applicants gain temporary admission at some point prior to deportation, which shows that the Home Office fear of `disappearances' is not really a valid concern. More importantly, more in-country asylum seekers are successful in gaining Emergency Leave to Remain (ELR) or full refugee status than those who apply at ports. But the in-country applicants are the very people denied benefits under the current administration.

"The Government boasts of its ethical foreign policy. Isn't it about time it had an ethical domestic policy?"

Ian Ridley

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