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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Tamil Refugees & Asylum Seekers > Charter'87 - A Charter for Refugees

Charter '87 - A Charter for Refugees


"Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution" (Article 14, United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

A refugee is anyone who as a "well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion" (Article 1, United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951)

No refugee shall be returned to a country where "his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion" (Article 33, United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951)

Governments should "act in a particularly liberal and humanitarian spirit in relation to persons who seek asylum on their
territory" (Resolution 14 (1967) on Asylum to Persons in Danger of Persecution, Council of Europe)

Guided by these declarations, we the signatories of Charter '87: a charter for refugees (whose text is printed overleaf), urge the government to ensure that British law and practice is fully consonant with the principles enshrined therein.

Lord Adrian FRS, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, The Hon David Astor, Michael Barnes, The Rt Revd Simon Barrington-Ward, The Revd Brian Beck, Sir Isaiah Berlin OM, Dr Geoffrey Best, Swami Bhavyananda, Professor David Birmingham, Louis Blom-Cooper QC, Sir Walter Bodmer FRS FRCPath, Lord Bonham-Carter, The Rt Revd Stanley Booth-Clibbom, The Rt Revd R. Bowlby, Professor Roy Bridges, The British Refugee Council, Professor Ian Brownlie QC FRGS, VladimirBukovsky, David Bull, Lord Bullock, Professor Sir John Butterfield OBE FRCP, Professor Sir Roy Calne FRCS FRS, Dr Sheila Cassidy, Lady Chain, Levon Chilingirian, The Rt Revd Alan Clark, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon the Lord Coggan , Professor Robin Cohen, Professor Norman Cohn, Baroness David, Nadir Dinshaw, Professor Sir Richard Doll FRCP FRS, Ann Dummett, Professor Michael Dummett, Lord EIwyn-Jones CH PC, Lord Ennals, John Ennals, Martin Ennals, Sir James Fawcett QC, Sir Montague Finniston FRS, Lord Foot, John Fowles, Lady Antonia Fraser, Michael Frayn, Rabbi Albert Friedlander, The Rt Hon Lord Gardiner CH, William Golding CBE FRSL, Professor Richard Gray, Graham Greene OM, The Revd Dr Kenneth Greet, Wilfred Grenville-Gray, Rabbi Hugo Gryn, The Most Revd and Rt Hon John Habgood PC, Brigadier Michael Harbottle OBE, Malcolm Harper, The Rt Revd Richard Harries, Sir John Harvey-Jones MBE, Professor Dorothy Hodgkin OM FRS, The Rt Revd R. Holloway, Lord Hooson QC, His Eminence Cardinal Basil Hume, Professor John Humphrey CBE FRS, Dorothy Humphries MBE, Lord Hunt KG CBE DSO, Lord Hylton, Lord Irving PC, Chief Rabbi Sir Immanuel Jacobovits, The Revd John Johansen-Berg, Tony Killick, Professor Bernard Knight FRCPath, Mathoor Krishnamurti, Dr Safa Khulusi, Karel Kyncl (Charter 77), Marganita Laski, Bruce Laughland QC, Anthony Lester QC, Professor Anthony Low FAHA FASSA, The Most Revd Lawrence Luscombe, John MacDonald QC, Sir Brian MacKenna, The Very Revd Michael Mayne, The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, Dr Jonathan Miller CBE, The Rt Revd Harry Moore, The Revd Philip Morgan, John Mortimer CBE QC, Baroness Nicol, The Rt Revd James O'Brien, Sir Peter Parker, Tim Piggot-Smith, Dr Roger Pilkington, Harold Pinter CBE, Dr Richard Plender, Professor Terence Ranger, Professor Kenneth Rawnsley CBE FRCP, Lucie Rie CBE, The Most Revd and Rt Hon Robert Runcie MC PC, Dame Cicely Saunders FRCP FRCS, The Rt Hon Lord Scarman PC, The Rt Revd David Sheppard, Paul Sieghart, Professor Harmindar Singh, Barry Stoyle, The Rt Revd Keith Sutton, George Theiner, Ole Volfing, Professor Andrew Walls, Lord Walston CVO, Sylvia Watson OBE, Pauline Webb, William Wells QC, The Most Revd D.J.H. Worlock.

Section I: Protecting the human rights of all who seek asylum

1. The human rights of all asylum seekers shall be fully protected and their dignity as persons respected in accordance with the relevant international standards, and in the spirit of Resolution 14 (1967) of the Council of Europe.Resolution 14 recommends that governments "should act in a particularly liberal and humanitarian spirit to persons who seek asylum on their territory"

2. No one shall be returned or expelled directly or indirectly (ie be subjected to "refoulement") to any country where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Section II: Just and humane entry procedures

1. All who seek asylum, whether coming directly from their country of origin, or from or through some other country, shall be entitled to a full and fair hearing of their case for asylum within a reasonable time.

2. All who seek asylum shall have the right to legal representation and medical examination by persons of their own choice, and shall be referred within 24 hours to a competent body (eg the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees or the UK Immigrants' Advisory Service) who will advise and assist them.

3. All who seek asylum shall be informed of their rights immediately upon making application for political asylum.

Section III: The right of appeal

1. All who seek asylum shall have a right of appeal to a fully impartial and independent body in the case of a negative decision on their application for asylum.

2. In the case of a negative decision, an asylum seeker shall be informed immediately of his right of appeal. He shall not be
removed before the appeal is heard.

3. Appeal procedures shall comply with the notions of fairness set out in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 6 states that "In the determination of his civil rights and obligations .. everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing
within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law".

Section IV: The detention of asylum seekers

1. Only in the most exceptional circumstances shall an asylum seeker be detained.

2. If there are exceptional circumstances which require an asylum seeker to be placed in detention, he shall be informed inwriting of the reason for his detention, and the detention shall be reviewed by an independent judicial authority.

Section V: The social and economic rights of asylum seekers and refugees

1. All who seek asylum shall have the right to be provided with the necessities of life including adequate and appropriate
accommodation, social security, health care and education.

2. All refugees shall have the right to appropriate assistance to qualify for and enter employment.

Section VI: The protection of children

Where children and minors are among those seeking asylum they shall be treated in the spirit of the principles set out in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations (1959): Principle 1 states: "Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights."

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