The campaign is supported by a number of
organisations including national STAR, Amnesty International, Refugee
Council and others. For a full list, and to learn more about the
national campaign, please go to
STILL HUMAN - The right to seek asylum is
fundamental to any attempt to protect human rights globally. Asylum
seekers are not illegal, and the UK is under international legal
obligation not to penalize them. Amnesty Interational and other groups
documented the results of the
government's new policy towards refused asylum seekers. There are
between 155,000 and 283,500 rejected asylum seekers still in the UK
(2004 estimate, National Audit Office), and possibly many more, who are
forced to beg for even their most basic needs, and often victims of
mental and physical health problems without treatment or assistance.
STILL HERE - The government withdrew support in an attempt to
force rejected asylum seekers to leave the country, but the policy has
been proved ineffective as well as inhumane. The initial refugee
determination procedure in the UK is deeply flawed, with a Home Office
culture that has been criticized for seeking to lower the number of
successful asylum claims at the expense of informed and impartial
judgment on the merits of each case. Moreover, legal aid cuts mean that
many asylum applicants receive inadequate advice and representation, or
none at all, as well as having their claims compromised by errors in
procedure and judgement by the responsible authorities. The result is that some asylum seekers whose claims are
rejected are forced to choose between destitution in the UK or return to
life-threatening conditions in countries like Iraq, Sudan, Zimbabwe,
Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
STILL HUMAN STILL HERE - Where individuals do not have protection
needs, we believe that their return should be safe, sustainable and
carried out with dignity. It is morally acceptable for governments to
control their borders. It is morally acceptable for governments to
return refused asylum seekers when they do not have protection needs. It
is, however, morally reprehensible for governments to make refused
asylum seekers destitute in order to starve them as the cheapest method
of attempting to hit the Prime Minister's Tipping Point target.
WHY THEY CAN'T RETURN - There are many
reasons why the return of rejected asylum seekers may be impeded. For
• In most cases people fleeing persecution
cannot safely obtain travel documents or valid visas from the
authorities that are persecuting them. They resort to the services of
smugglers and traffickers and are often instructed to return or destroy
the travel documents. Many countries of origin do not cooperate with the
re-documentation and readmission of their nationals.
• A country may not be safe for people to be
returned there. The circumstances may be life-threatening, even though
asylum seekers from that country are not granted protection.
Until recently the government more readily granted a temporary form of
protection – called ‘Exceptional Leave to Remain’ – to asylum seekers
from unstable countries. In 2002 ELR was applied to one in four initial
asylum determinations. This was replaced in 2003 and by 2005 only one in
ten received this type of protection. Many of those who would once have
qualified for protection today find themselves refused and destitute.
• It may be difficult to transport people to a
place where an airport is not operational.
• Individuals may not be well enough to travel
or may be unable to access adequate health care on return.
• It may not be possible to trace the parents of
Down and out in London: the road to destitution for rejected asylum
seekers Amnesty International, November 2006)
The latest on the campaign from National STAR,
including a range of recent newspaper articles on the topic, can be