Some of the most exciting news I’ve had during my time as an intern for the campaigns team here was the announcement that all three major party leaders – David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg – have signed our asylum election pledge, which calls upon parliamentary candidates to remember the importance of refugee protection. This shows not only that the three leaders will uphold the British tradition of protecting those with a genuine fear of persecution, but that they would also reaffirm Britain’s compliance with international and European law.
After all, as a postgraduate law student specialising in human rights and public law, I know that it would be illegal not to protect refugees from being deported back to a country where they would risk facing persecution.
During my time studying, I’ve come to see how influential international treaties like the Refugee Convention, the UN Torture Convention, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – all which oblige countries the UK to offer refugee protection – really are.
There are even domestic laws protecting those seeking asylum here in the UK as well, for example the Human Rights Act. We often spend time in class discussing the future of refugee protection if the Conservatives replaced the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights (as they wish to do!). But after reading the Conservative manifesto, which says that ‘providing a safe haven to genuine refugees is bound up in our national identity’, I now feel confident that those facing persecution in their country of origin will continue to be legally protected on a national level.
So it’s really a great relief for me to know that whichever party wins in the upcoming election, their leaders will continue with this admirable tradition of a nation that upholds the rule of law.
However, while Cameron, Brown and Clegg have demonstrated their commitment, many candidates have yet to sign our asylum election pledge. For me, it’s even more important to know that my local MP endorses this very same idea of refugee protection found in the pledge. I can’t say how disappointing it was when my current MP chose not to sign the pledge. I know that complying with legal obligations is not a matter of choice – so when it comes to voting for my future MP, I’m definitely going to make sure s/he intends to do so. Check our list of candidates who have already signed the pledge here.
There is no better way for your candidates to show you their intention than by signing our asylum election pledge, which you can ask them to do in less than five minutes here. Know who you are really voting for – get your candidates to show their commitment to the protection of those fleeing war, torture and persecution today.