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Commonwealth: Asylum

Volume 482: debated on Wednesday 5 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on whether Commonwealth states whose subjects frequently request asylum in the UK on grounds of political persecution should be suspended from the Commonwealth. (227833)

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) deals with member countries that are judged to have violated the Harare Declaration, which lays down the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values. CMAG assesses the nature of any infringement and recommends measures for collective Commonwealth action. CMAG can recommend suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth as one of those measures, though this has not historically occurred as a result of asylum claims relating to a member of the Commonwealth.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions UK diplomats have had with the Governments of Commonwealth countries on claims for asylum on political grounds by people from those countries. (227835)

We have regular discussions with Commonwealth countries about a range of issues, including human rights, which can have an impact on asylum claims. Individual asylum cases are dealt with on a case by case basis, and in confidence. We do not discuss them with other Governments. All asylum seekers are treated the same regardless of which country they come from. The key concern in all cases is the risk to the individual on return to their home country.