Skip to main content

Sierra Leone: Asylum Seekers

Volume 590: debated on Wednesday 17 June 1998

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the situation regarding asylum seekers from Sierra Leone. [HL2342]

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Mr. Mike O'Brien) announced on 1 July that he had made a declaration under the Social Security (Persons from Abroad) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 1996 that Sierra Leone had undergone such an upheaval that we would not seek to enforce the return of refused asylum seekers to that country for the time being.Since that time, the situation in the country has been carefully monitored, together with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. More information has become available since the liberation of Freetown by ECOMOG troops in February this year. The democratically elected President returned to the country in March and announced his new broad-based government. Although there is fighting in the east, the rest of the country appears secure.The information received about conditions in Sierra Leone enables us to make an informed assessment of the merits of asylum applications made prior to the upheaval, and subsequently, in accordance with our international obligations. If an applicant is able to demonstrate that his fear of persecution is well-founded then asylum will be granted. In other cases, if there are clear compelling humanitarian reasons not to require a person to return, exceptional leave to enter or remain will be granted. If asylum or exceptional treatment is not merited, the normal course will be to expect applicants to return to Sierra Leone. We will continue to monitor developments in the region.