Refugees

Page updated:

Major revision January 1990

Last amendment September 2014; Spring 2017: change to RA406

(See also Migration chapter)

Background

RA100 There are millions of recognised refugees in the world today, the overwhelming majority in Third World countries.

Principles

RA200 As well as supporting the right to asylum, it is essential to address the underlying causes which result in asylum seeking. These include war, the arms trade, environmental devastation, the consequences of past colonial actions and human rights abuses.

RA201 Asylum and refugee policy should honour fully the right to asylum enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (as amended by the 1967 Protocol). Refugee status should therefore be offered to applicants who, owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, are outside their country of nationality and are unable or, owing to this fear, are unwilling to return to it.

RA202 Refugee and asylum policy should be extended to use the 1969 Organisation of African Unity definition of a refugee. The Organisation of African Unity extends the definition of a refugee by adding "every person who, owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality, is compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his country of origin or nationality".

RA203 Where residence is granted for humanitarian reasons to those who do not meet the definition of a refugee, they should normally be given equal rights to those with refugee status. Residence for humanitarian reasons (known as "exceptional leave to remain") should not be used to avoid granting refugee status.

Objectives

RA300 To build a world in which no one needs to seek asylum. Many Green Party policies aim to address the underlying causes of asylum seeking.

Long-term Policies

RA301 In association with other European countries, to adopt the Organisation of African Unity definition of a refugee (see RA202) as the basis for our refugee and asylum policy. The Green Party calls for the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees to be amended to use this definition.

RA302 The Green Party would end the detention of asylum seekers, which is costly, traumatic, inhumane and totally unnecessary.

Short-term Policies

RA400 To revise asylum laws, policies and practices and associated laws, policies and practices, in consultation with refugee community groups and agencies working with refugees, in order to honour fully the right to asylum. This will include effecting the following principles:

a) Asylum policy should not discriminate on grounds of race, colour, religion, nationality, political belief, disability, sex or sexual orientation.

b) People seeking asylum should not be prevented from reaching the UK by restrictions such as visas and fines on airlines.

c) Immigration officers should be specially trained to deal with asylum seekers, as well as in international human rights issues. Asylum-seekers should be given clear information about their rights and entitlements in English and their mother-tongue.

d) Ministers should show leadership on the importance of breaking down the culture of disbelief in the Home Office.

e) Border Force (formerly the UK Border Agency, or UKBA) should ensure that case-owners grasp the nature and impact of gender and sexuality-related persecution and how it engages the Refugee Convention, and should undertake further research on the quality of decision-making in women’s cases.

f) Training and guidance should be put in place for judges on immigration tribunals on the nature and impact of gender and sexuality-related persecution and how it engages the Refugee Convention.

g) No asylum-seeker should be held in detention other than in the most exceptional circumstances.

h) Every asylum-seeker should have the right to legal advice and representation, supported by legal aid, for asylum applications and appeals.

i) All individuals seeking asylum will be able to access free, quality legal advice, including throughout any possible stays in detention.

j) Applications for refugee status should be dealt with quickly and fairly, normally within three months. After three months, an applicant should receive equal rights with residents in access to public services until a decision is made. However, there are such serious flaws with the Detained Fast Track screening process and in the asylum seekers’ ability to get a fair hearing in the fast track that this process should be ended altogether.

RA401 To provide integrated support for newly-arrived asylum seekers to include reception facilities, temporary housing, language training and assistance with asylum applications and in access to health and welfare services. This will be provided by voluntary agencies or local government but funded and coordinated at a national level.

RA402 To help long-term settlement by funding refugee community groups and agencies working with refugees and encouraging such funding by the European Community.

RA403 Asylum seekers in the UK whose application for refugee status is rejected will not be deported to a country where they face ill-treatment or inhumane punishment. Normally, in this circumstance, they will be allowed to remain for humanitarian reasons. In exceptional circumstances, an alternative country will be sought. 

RA404 The Green Party opposes any common asylum policy for the European Community which results in more restrictions on asylum seeking or in reduced rights for refugees. We support common asylum policies that result in better treatment of asylum seekers across the European Community. Any common asylum policies for EC member states should be formulated under the scrutiny of democratically accountable bodies.

RA405 The Green Party will oppose any person being left destitute after a failed asylum claim or if deemed to have not applied "appropriately". Any person in the United Kingdom should be entitled to the basic necessities of life, including but not limited to food, shelter and medical care, by legal means, whether this be achieved through employment rights or public funds.

RA406 The Green Party supports the recognition of bisexual people, lesbians and gay men as social groups within the meaning of the Convention. The Green Party further recognises that gender issues may be a rightful cause for an asylum claim, as where, for example, a woman or girl may be subject to female genital mutilation or forced marriage were she to be denied asylum. We will adopt this approach in our treatment of such asylum seekers and ensure the training of immigration decision-makers to enable them to properly assess claims for refugee status based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

RA407 Women who have experienced rape, sexual violence and forms of torture will not be detained. If an individual raises these experiences at any point in her asylum claim, she will be released to continue her case in the community.

RA408 There will be no male staff employed in roles where they come into contact with women detainees at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre.

RA409 Pregnant women will not be detained under any circumstances.

RA410 If a woman must be detained prior to removal, this will be for the shortest possible time and only after alternatives to detention have been meaningfully considered. There will be an upper time limit of 28 days on all immigration detention, after which people will be released on temporary admission for their cases to be considered in the community.

[See RA302 for the Green Party’s long-term policy to eradicate asylum detention completely].