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Lib Dem MEP condemns EU asylum policy over Mehdi Kazemi

March 13, 2008 9:19 AM

Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford MEP has spoken up again about Mehdi Kazemi, who unsuccessfully applied for asylum in the United Kingdom, following the execution of his partner by Iranian authorities. He fled to the Netherlands, but Dutch authorities say under EU rules he must be returned to the UK. She said, "Almost a decade ago, EU leaders gave a pledge that they would have a common asylum system which fully respected the UN Refugee Convention 'thus ensuring that nobody is sent back to persecution'. They have broken every one of those promises.

Sarah, a member of the European Parliament's Gay and Lesbian Intergroup, condemned the EU asylum system, saying "The only thing common about the EU asylum scene is 'lowest common denominator' as governments have stubbornly refused to agree on truly harmonised rules which would stop vulnerable people being shuffled around in a macabre game of pass-the-parcel."

"Rigorous but fair asylum procedures should mean the EU harmonising on best practice, not worst. It cannot be fair for the Home Office to demand that Mr Kazemi demonstrates that he risks persecution without looking at the whole record of Iran's repression of gay people by detention, torture and execution.

"It is absurd that EU governments can have a common view on the risks Iran's nuclear development poses to Europeans but no common assessment of the threats Iran's political system poses to its own citizens.

"As long as the UK and other governments misunderstand the facts, there must be an EU-wide moratorium on sending gay people to Iran."