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Junior Minister Kelly says those seeking sanctuary need respect, dignity and compassion

22 October, 2008 - by Gerry Kelly

Sinn Féin Junior Minister Gerry Kelly today welcomed the opportunity for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to work with the Law Centre and other local organisations to ensure that those seeking sanctuary here are treated with respect and compassion.

Mr Kelly made the comments during a meeting with Law Centre Director, Les Allamby, to discuss the recent Independent Asylum Commission's Report into the Asylum system here.

Mr Kelly said:

"While immigration is an excepted matter, we have a role in ensuring that all who travel here seeking sanctuary through the asylum system are treated with respect, fairness and dignity.

"We also have a duty to include and represent those who are most vulnerable. The issue of asylum is often viewed with confusion, prejudice and misinformation. We need to move beyond stereotypes and ensure services meet the needs of asylum seekers, many of whom have left families and communities behind as they flee oppression and violence and try to build a new life in a foreign society.

"We in the Office in the First Minister and deputy First Minister are committed to working with the Law Centre and others to achieve progress on these difficult and complex issues. These individuals and families are in a particularly vulnerable position in our society and we need to do all we can to ensure their wellbeing and safety." ENDS

Note to Editors

The Independent Asylum Commission (IAC) was established in 2006 by the Citizen Organising Foundation to undertake an independent citizen's inquiry into the implementation of national policies on asylum. The Commission's inquiry has since made over 180 recommendations which it hopes will restore public confidence in the process and improve the way we decide who needs sanctuary, how we treat them while they are here, and what happens when a person is refused sanctuary.

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