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Rights and Rhetoric: The Politics of Asylum and Human Rights Culture in the United Kingdom

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No assessment of the state of human rights today could be complete without some consideration of the situation of asylum seekers and the political trends behind it. Four years after the implementation of the 1998 Act, asylum seekers are perhaps more denigrated in rhetoric and harsh practice than they were even before the first promise that rights would be ‘brought home’ for all ‘people’ in the United Kingdom. This piece looks at the undermining of the very concept of asylum, dehumanizing policies such as forced destitution, and attacks on access to legal process for those making asylum claims. It goes on to consider judicial attempts at coping with the arena in which high politics and fundamental rights seem in greatest tension. Finally it considers potential implications for the broader aspiration of building a human rights culture in this country.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Director, Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties), 21 Tabard Street, London SE1 4LA, England

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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