WIDDECOMBE SPEECH: ASYLUM DETENTION MEASURES UNJUST

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

'Locking people up is not going to improve the asylum system. Detention will risk adding to the misery of those escaping from human rights abuses.

'Instead of pandering to xenophobic fears, instead of playing political games with people fleeing for their lives, we challenge the Conservative Party to engage in a grown-up debate to improve Britain's shambolic asylum system and to ensure that those fleeing repression are protected.'

Amnesty International believes that Conservative Party proposals to detain all asylum-seekers until their cases are resolved will be unjust.

The current practice of arbitrarily detaining some asylum seekers at the initial stages of their application is itself an unwarranted deterrent measure and may be in breach of international law. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has condemned the UK's routine use of detention.

It has been estimated that holding an asylum-seeker in detention costs £1300 per week. The Home Office has stated that to detain all asylum-seekers it would have to spend £1.68 billion in start-up costs and as much as £420 million in annual running costs.

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