UK asylum requests down 50 percent
LONDON: Britain’s Labour government patted itself on the back on Thursday for halving the country’s influx of asylum seekers and announced new measures to dissuade potential immigrants.
“The statistics show that the number of applications has halved since October last year ... and record numbers of failed asylum seekers are now being removed at an average of 1,500 a month,” the Home Office said in a statement. In October 2002, 8,700 people applied for asylum. By September 2003, monthly claims had dropped 52 percent to 4,225.
The government announced on Thursday it was tightening the screw still further, with a bill that penalises both traffickers and asylum seekers. “Those claiming to be escaping death and torture must be honest with us. Those who cannot explain how they got here without travel documents should not expect to benefit from our protection,” Home Secretary David Blunkett said in a statement.
The bill says that after May 2004, foreigners applying for asylum will only be entitled to legal advice if the British Legal Service Commission considers in advance that their claim is merited. —AFP