Yes, there are alternatives

I doubt if there are any descriptions and expletives not used about the Rwanda offshore processing scheme. The scheme in which Priti Patel wants to pack off asylum seekers arriving here by unorthodox means.

You can see the Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary response to the proposal here: OFF SHORING PROCESSING OF ASYLUM SEEKERS IN RWANDA – STATEMENT FROM LD4SoS.

She is demanding to know alternatives, and yes there are. They are firmly embedded in Lib Dem policy.

The obvious one, most talked about, is Safe Routes for Refugees.  This has been mooted by Lib Dems since we first made the policy in 2015, and is as true as well as needed even more than it was in September 2015.  It has been in every manifesto commitment since.

However, more than that is needed.  Lib Dems have another policy, DECISION MAKING ON ASYLUM APPLICATIONS (pdf), saying that:

Liberal Democrats will review and reform all aspects of current asylum rules and operations that offend basic measures of fairness and justice. In particular, we would seek to change the culture of disbelief that affects all people applying for asylum. The Home Office is not fit for purpose and needs radical reform. The political influence must be taken out of decision making.

This is a radical departure from the present system, having respect, dignity and fairness at its heart.

It will cost more at first, with better trained staff, but decisions would be fairer and quicker.  It will be more accurate for the first time, so not so many appeals needed.  Appeals are not only traumatic for those making them, but cost the Ministry of Justice money, and 40% of them are won.  How much better for all if they get the decision right first time!

It would also be a system that took into account the different situations such as family reunion, unaccompanied children, victims of torture and rape, mental and physical health, and LGBT people.

Last year at Spring Conference we agreed another policy on Humanitarian Visas (pdf).  To quote one paragraph from the document:

Humanitarian Visas would provide nothing less than a lifeline for refugees, enabling them to safely and legally travel to the UK, and get the protection they deserve, avoiding dangerous journeys, exploitative traffickers, human rights violations, and ultimately needless and avoidable loss of life. For refugees, these visas are required to uphold the fundamental principle to seek and claim asylum.

None of these solutions is headline making; it takes time to read the detail, but solutions are not simple sound bites.  They are detailed and workable policies that Lib Dems should be proud of, as well as using when speaking out both locally and nationally.

* Suzanne Fletcher was a councillor for nearly 30 years and a voluntary advice worker with the CAB for 40 years. Now retired, she is active as a campaigner in the community both as a Lib Dem and with local organisations.

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One Comment

  • And thank you Suzanne for a sane, compassionate, practical piece to be proud of!

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