IFIR accuses British Government of double standards
02 September 2010: More Iraqi asylum seekers are to be deported ‘forcibly’
Criticism from the UNHCR, human rights organizations and refugee agencies notwithstanding, at least 15 Iraqi and Kurdish failed asylum seekers are to be `forcibly’ returned to Baghdad, the campaigners say. As of now Oakington detention centre houses refugees fighting forcible deportation
The move comes even as the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees insisted the migrants’ safety would be jeopardised in Iraq. It claimed a further flight carrying as many as 50 failed asylum seekers was expected to take off for the Iraqi capital on 6 September.
The Federation said on one hand the UK government was advising Britons not to go to many parts of Iraq, on the other it was allowing deportations. The Foreign Office website, updated on 6 August, warns Britons against traveling to Baghdad and its surrounding areas.
The website says although there has been a decrease in the level of violence throughout Iraq, the situation remains highly dangerous with a continuing high threat of terrorism throughout the country except in the Kurdistan Region.
Accusing the UK government of double standards, the Federation spokesman said many of the refugees have specific threats and dangers they left behind, as well as the general violence.
A UK Border Agency spokesman, meanwhile, said it returned only those people the agency and the courts were satisfied do not need protection and refuse to leave voluntarily.
The spokesman said currently they have an agreement with the government of Iraq to return all Iraqi citizens to Baghdad.
Arrangements are made for those who require onward travel to their home towns, and this includes those travelling to the Kurdistan Region.
These arrangements worked well on the recent charter flights to Baghdad and the Agency was confident they would continue to do so, the spokesman added"
Only about two months back the Iraqi Vice-President Adel Abdul Abdul Mehdi had expressed concern over the alleged roughing up Iraqi asylum seekers deported from the UK, even as British Government made it clear that it had no plans to suspend `forced deportation’ of Iraqis.
Though it was facing criticism from the UNHCR, human rights organizations and refugee agencies, the British government had asserted it would to continue with the policy; and there were no plans to suspend enforced returns to Iraq.
At that time, Foreign Office Minister Lord Howell had added they would, 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