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Protect the Human - Sinn Féin back Amnesty International campaign on refugees

17 October, 2005

Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson, south Down MLA Caitriona Ruane has attended the launch of the Amnesty International campaign 'Protect the Human' on the rights of refugees.

Speaking from the Stormont launch Ms Ruane said:

"Seeking asylum is not a crime. People fleeing religious or political persecution are not criminals. It should never be seen as such, yet on a daily basis refugees are being treated as criminals. More and more people are being detained under the Immigration Act powers and being forced to live under prison conditions while organisations offering support struggle against financial constraints and institutionalised disinterest.

"There are no time limits the detention, and there is no automatic or regular review by a court or a similar competent body to examine the lawfulness of the decision to detain.

"It was particularly powerful to see so many articulate and motivated young people expressing their opposition to the way that refugees are being treated.

"Across Ireland refugees are not being treated as equals. The lives of people already in turmoil are being made immeasurably more difficult by a response to refuges, asylum and immigration that is at best uncaring and at worst driven by a conservative and racist agenda.

"The objective must be to create a fair and effective asylum system and to build an Ireland that can become a safe place for refugees and that can fully embrace difference and diversity." ENDS

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