Dear Daily Mail: not all asylum seekers are sexual predators

The Mail uses Libyan soldiers case to blast asylum and human rights


Reporting on asylum claims by three Libyan soldiers convicted of sexual assault while training in Britain, the Daily Mail makes no bones about why the story is plastered on the front page:

“The case shows yet again how human rights laws can scupper the deportation of foreign offenders.”

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The paper’s editorial column hammers the point home:

“How much longer can we allow our asylum system to be mocked and abused – and victims betrayed – in the name of criminals’ human rights?”

As it happens, criminals do have rights, and are entitled to apply for asylum if they feel they might be in danger if deported to another country.

Some readers might be sympathetic to the idea that these men have committed crimes (and served their short sentences), and should be sent back to where they came from without delay.

They ought to notice that the very same newspaper has rather little regard for the rights of British criminals, catering to the ‘hang ’em, flog ’em’ tendency in public opinion.

In other words, human rights are for everyone.

These asylum claims surely demonstrate some nerve on the part of the offenders, but they should be decided by the Home Office applying the legal criteria for asylum, rather than a national newspaper weighing in on the side of rejection.

If this was a court case, the Mail could be in contempt for prejudicing the decision.

What is really happening is made clear by the passages above and the Mail’s past form. After all, the paper’s newfound compassion for victims of sexual assault rarely extends to female refugees.

These claims, which might be rejected, are being used to discredit the entire asylum process (and non-specified ‘human rights laws’) to suggest Britain is a ‘soft touch’ on asylum.

The reality is that:

  1. Britain receives fewer asylum claims than other European countries.
  2. While the number of asylum claims rose 2 percent last year, at 24,257 they are down massively from their peak of 84,132 in 2002.
  3. It’s very tough to be granted asylum in Britain. Many wrong decisions by the Home Office have had to be overturned by the courts.

And guess how many asylum seekers are Libyan soldiers convicted of sexual assault? Er, just these three men.


The Daily Mail  takes human rights very seriously. The second story on today’s front page has a picture of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney with the headline: ‘How killer heels are wrecking Amal’s feet’.

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Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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