FECL 11 (December 1992/January 1993):


The asylum bill, the fist version of which was lost because of the general election in April, has been reintroduced in parliament, and is certain to become law. It is not significantly different from the original. A new provision has been added, which removes the right of appeal for visitors refused entry to the UK. In practice, the right was of limited use, since the vast majority of applicants were obliged to leave the UK before they could lodge their appeal.

The main elements of the bill will be familiar to readers of the CL, since they mirror closely legislative provisions in the rest of Europe:

Interestingly, the bill enshrines in UK law the 1951 Convention on Refugees.

This is presumably because the British government is increasingly confident that as a result of ever more restrictive interpretation of the Convention by the EC-Member States few would-be refugees would have a valid claim.

Certainly, this is an argument regularly being used by the government in refusing to offer asylum to the victims of the war in Bosnia - it is claimed that such people are not "refugees" under the Convention, but merely fleeing from a civil war, or "seeking a better life in the west".

At the time the first bill was introduced last year, a major part of its rationale was that the numbers of asylum seekers arriving per month had doubled from the previous year. Now, the number has returned to its previous level, but this is something that ministers are less anxious to publicise.

Jolyon Jenkins