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Immigration And Asylum

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Iraqi prisoners of war being treated in hospitals in the UK will be eligible to claim asylum. [108032]

[holding answer 8 April 2003]: There is currently a hold on deciding all asylum claims from Iraqis. However, there is currently no question of Iraqi prisoners of war in the UK being granted asylum or Humanitarian Protection. Despite the hold, all Iraqi asylum applicants are fingerprinted and checked against the Immigration Service Warnings Index computer system. As part of the initial screening process, all claimants are interviewed comprehensively about the routes and methods employed to reach the UK.Any cases giving rise to security concerns are immediately referred to the appropriate agencies. When decision-making is resumed, all claims will be considered on their individual merits against the circumstances which then apply in Iraq. But anyone who commits a war crime or is guilty of terrorist acts will be denied asylum, as the Refugee Convention requires. So, too, will anyone committing a serious non-political crime before arrival in the UK.In addition, any other person whether asylum seeker or refugee who poses a threat to national security will be denied the protection of the Refugee Convention.It will not be possible to establish a claim for asylum simply on the basis of having been a Ba'ath Party official, of having supported Saddam Hussein or having been forced to join the party or fight against UK/US troops.We do not expect Iraqis to face persecution following its liberation. We therefore envisage the progressive return ofIraqis to their country now that large scale combat operations are over. They will have an important role to play in rebuilding Iraq's economy and civic society.Arrangements will be made for senior officers to consider any claims raising security concerns, including any evidence of having fought against UK/US troops, or where anything other than outright refusal is anticipated.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether senior Iraqi republican guard commanders have applied for asylum in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [112643]

The Home Office has no record of an asylum application from anyone with a credible claim to have been a senior republican guard commander. Any evidence to the contrary will be thoroughly investigated.All applicants for asylum are screened in order to establish their identity. Anyone who might be of security interest will be detained and referred to the appropriate agencies.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to repatriate (a) Iraqi asylum seekers and (b) Iraqis granted exceptional leave to remain; and if he will make a statement. [112150]

We are working actively to ensure that Iraqis can be assisted to return voluntarily to their homeland as soon as practicable. Many Iraqis in the UK have skills, which will be of value to the reconstruction of Iraq. The Government are committed to helping clear the way for them to do so. We will work closely with the Iraqi communities in the UK and sector experts on voluntary return.We will be looking to commence enforced returns of those who do not qualify for leave as soon as conditions allow.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedures have been put in place in the NASS Restricting Access to NASS Support team to comply with the Court of Appeal judgment on section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002; and whether his Department will be issuing a new policy bulletin in relation to changes to procedure. [112162]

Following the judgment of Mr. Justice Collins of 19 February on the application of section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, we anticipated all of the main points of the Court of Appeal judgment of 18 March. Changes to the procedure have been made. For example:

  • The interviewer and decision-maker are now one and the same person;
  • The purpose of the interview is clearly spelled out to the applicant at the outset;
  • The account given by the applicant about the circumstances in which entry to the UK was achieved is thoroughly probed and warnings are given when the story is not believed; and
  • Article 3 European Convention on Human rights (ECHR) issues are considered in all cases to ensure that a negative section 55 decision would not result in a breach of Convention rights.

An updated version of Policy Bulletin 75 was issued on 11 April 2003 and reflects fully the new procedures set in place following the Court of Appeal judgement. The Policy Bulletin is available on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate's website and the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) will send out copies on request.