LondonNet News Headlines
31/05/01
Don't Treat Refugees like Criminals, UN Tells UK
- Straw and Hague battle for King of the Clampdown crown

A TOP UN official has slammed British politicians for their obsession with clamping down on asylum seekers rights in the run up to the June 7th election.

"We at UNHCR are definitely against the automatic imprisonment - putting in detention centres - of asylum seekers." said Anne Wilhelm Bijleweld, a UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "It is clear that if you treat people like criminals, then they may behave like that."

Bijleweld's comments come on the day Tory and Labour politicians traded blows over which party was the toughest on asylum and immigration. For the Tories, William Hague's speech on Friday is peppered with references to supposed "bogus asylum seekers" who view Britain as a "soft touch" to be "systematically abused." In the unlikely event he wins the election, Hague plans to build a series of secure detention centres in which to house all those claiming asylum.

Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw, who has already opened one detention centre, latched onto the Tory building programme as one way to prove his party was the tougher on asylum. "It would take years to do it," Straw said. "Meanwhile what other policies have they come forward with?"

Straw also claimed proposed Tory cuts in the civil service would result in 4,000 fewer immigration officers. Labour has recently announced the recruitment of thousands of extra such staff, many of whom are to be organised into snatch squads to hunt down runaway immigrants.




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