Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that
“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death.
They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life. They can never be taken away, although they can sometimes be restricted – for example if a person breaks the law, or in the interests of national security.
These basic rights are based on values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence. But human rights are not just abstract concepts – they are defined and protected by law. In Britain our human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998.
We Are All Born Free & Equal: We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.
Don’t Discriminate: These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.
The Right to Life: We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.
No Slavery: Nobody has any right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone our slave.
No Torture: Nobody has any right to hurt us or to torture us.
You Have Rights No Matter Where You Go: I am a person just like you!
We’re All Equal before the Law: The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.
Your Human Rights Are Protected by Law: We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.
No Unfair Detainment: Nobody has the right to put us in prison without good reason and keep us there, or to send us away from our country.
The Right to Trial: If we are put on trial this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.
We’re Always Innocent Till Proven Guilty: Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proven. When people say we did a bad thing we have the right to show it is not true.
The Right to Privacy: Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters, or bother us or our family without a good reason.
Freedom to Move: We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish.
The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live: If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.
Right to a Nationality: We all have the right to belong to a country.
The right to seek asylum
If you come into the UK and you are escaping persecution you have a right to seek asylum.
But you will only be given refuge if you show that:
- You are outside your own country;
- You have a well-founded fear of persecution;
- That persecution is because of your race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; and
- You can’t rely on your country’s government to protect you from the persecution.
If you can show that you meet all the criteria above, then the UK has a duty not to return you to where you will face persecution.
For more information, see: https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/asylum-and-borders/right-seek-asylum
Obtaining refugee status
When an asylum seeker receives ‘leave to remain,’ that is refugee status there are still many hurdles to overcome. Finding accommodation is one and signing on for Job Seeker’s Allowance can be another. Asha’s Support Worker, Lydia Mugoyikaze, is a qualified British Red Cross Support Worker and if necessary she can bring her expertise to bear by advocating with the DWP on behalf of an asylum seeker who now has refugee status if they encounter difficulties with their claim.
Asylum seekers in Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent is an area of high deprivation. The English Indices of Deprivation (2015) ranked Stoke-on-Trent as the equal 13th deprived area of the 20 local authority districts with the highest proportion of neighbourhoods in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods.
This index of multiple deprivation is based upon income, employment, education, health, crime, housing and living environment. The same report lists Stoke on Trent as 19th Local Authority District in terms of working age adult employment deprivation. This shortage of employment options is conducive to some local people being hostile to newcomers. Asha is acutely aware of the difficulties many of our service users face when trying to integrate into this community and the role we can play in advancing a more tolerant community.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has no specific services for asylum seekers and refugees except for referral on arrival to a GP practice.The lack of solicitors for refugee services in Stoke on Trent results in our service users having to travel to Birmingham or Manchester for legal assistance with their claim for refugee status. This situation is partially ameliorated by the attendance of the British Red Cross and Refugee Action every Thursday.
The Home Office does not release figures on numbers dispersed to various regions but experience and knowledge of the area leads us to believe that there are approximately 1300 asylum seekers/failed refugee status in our area. The numbers attending Asha’s services continue to grow.