EU criticised over ‘pass the parcel’ asylum policy

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A London MEP has called for an end to the “shameful shuffling” of gay and other asylum-seekers between EU member states.

Tomorrow the European Parliament will vote on an emergency resolution calling for an Iranian teenager currently in Holland not to be sent back to the UK.

19-year-old Mehdi Kazemi had unsuccessfully applied for asylum in the United Kingdom, following the execution of his partner by Iranian authorities after being found guilty of sodomy.

He fled to Holland.

Dutch authorities have decided he must be returned to the UK, where he faces deportation to Iran and possible execution.

Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman and member of the European Parliament’s Gay and Lesbian Intergroup Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP 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.

“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.”

Under the EU’s so-called “Dublin system” the Dutch government has returned him such that the UK government is now left with the final decision on his possible deportation to Iran.

Sarah Ludford added:

“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.”

Mr Kamezi is expected to be returned to the UK in the next 48 hours.