`No plans to suspend enforced returns to Iraq’: Foreign minister
24th June 2010: Even as the Iraqi Vice-President Adel Abdul Abdul Mehdi has expressed concern over the alleged roughing up Iraqi asylum seekers deported from the UK, the British Government has made it clear that it has no plans to suspend `forced deportation’ of Iraqis.
Though it is facing criticism from the UNHCR, human rights organizations and refugee agencies, the British government has asserted it will to continue with the policy; and there were no plans to suspend enforced returns to Iraq.
Foreign Office Minister Lord Howell added they will, however, continue to monitor the situation.
He said the UKBA was looking into the allegations of violence being used, but insisted there was no evidence of mistreatment.
Replying to questions in parliament, Howell said the British government was informed by the Iraqi authorities that of the returnees, 30 have been released and the remaining 12 were expected to be freed soon.
On protests from international refugee agencies, the Foreign Office Minister said the UNHCR was looking at some of the central regions of Iraq, which are extremely dangerous. Most of their returnees went to Kurdistan, where they were safe. As such, they were satisfied that it was safe for those who were here illegally, or were failed asylum seekers, or were convicted criminals, to be returned.
He agreed the majority of those deported, being Kurds, would have normally been sent back directly to Erbil, instead of Baghdad, if it was not for the temporary suspension of flights.
In a statement, the Vice-President’s office had earlier called for practicing international laws and norms in dealing with asylum seekers.
It statement said coinciding with the International Refugees’ Day, “we assert the necessity for observing international laws and measures stipulated in international agreements on dealing with refugees and not taking harsh measure in dealing with them.”
The statement added in an attempt to guarantee that justice and the principles of human rights are being implemented in dealing with Iraqis requesting asylum, Iraqi specialized authorities will follow up the issue with international agencies, including UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR, because of the importance of the issue