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Friday, November 28, 1997 Published at 14:03 GMT



UK

Church attacks asylum law
image: [ Asylum seekers: Church wants claims to be dealt with more swiftly ]
Asylum seekers: Church wants claims to be dealt with more swiftly

The Church of England's ruling body, the General Synod, is considering a motion criticising the current asylum law.

Opponents of the legislation say it has led to hundreds of asylum seekers being detained without proper rights and left thousands waiting for their cases to be considered.

They want asylum seekers who have been in the UK for five years to be allowed to stay, and fairer and faster treatment for those in search of refuge from violence and tyranny.


[ image: Opponents of asylum law say thousands are waiting for their cases to be heard]
Opponents of asylum law say thousands are waiting for their cases to be heard
The private members motion - which is likely to get the support of the church hierarchy - is critical of both Conservative and Labour policies on the issue.

It welcomes the Labour Government's review of asylum policy, but criticises the slow progress made so far.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Thomas Butler, says: "If people have been here over five years and if they have children aged two years or over, who have been born here, let us wipe the slate clean and say you are welcome to stay."

He is also calling for a swifter system for new asylum seekers so they do not languish in jail or a detention centre for a year or more while their case is considered.

Support groups say people who apply for asylum when already in UK and all those waiting for their appeals to be heard are denied welfare benefits. They say that the suffering for torture victims in such circumstances is very considerable in spite of the support they get under the National Assistance Act.

The proposer of the motion, the Father David Houlding says: "It is not a popular issue. That is why it is very important that the church gives a clear lead on this issue. They are our fellow human beings and God loves them as much as all of us."

Church leaders say the problems created by the influx of refugees in Kent should not be allowed to confuse the issue of their basic human rights.

Alex Kirby, the BBC's religious affairs correspondent , investigates the plight of an anonymous asylum seeker (Dur: 1'53")
Alex Kirby, the BBC's religious affairs correspondent , examines the Church's position (Dur: 1'04")





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