WORLD REPORT CRITICISES UK ASYLUM RECORD

The UK entry in the Amnesty International Report 2001 highlights:

* The lack of access to legal advice for 'dispersed' asylum-seekers

* The hostile attitudes facing many asylum-seekers

* The detention of an estimated 1,000 asylum-seekers at any time.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'As you scan through our Report 2001 it is clear that the journey from Afghanistan to the United Kingdom is one from desperation to despair. How can we claim to be a just and tolerant society when we greet those fleeing persecution with such hostility and suspicion?'

The report provides human rights information regarding all the main countries of origin of asylum-seekers coming to the UK. The latest UK Home Office figures show that the largest groups of applicants in April 2001 were from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Somalia – all countries with extremely poor human rights records.

Afghans make up the largest refugee population in the world with 3.6 million people forced to flee their homes. Most live in desperate conditions in Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan. In April, they were the largest group of asylum applicants with 700 seeking shelter in the UK.

Report 2001 describes tens of thousands of Afghan refugees trying to flee war, famine and extremely serious human rights abuses including:

* Harsh restrictions on Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's right to free movement, education and employment

* Punishments including stonings, public executions, floggings and amputations

* The detention of thousands of apparent political prisoners without charge or trial in appalling conditions

* Hundreds of reported cases of torture.

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