Churches call Panorama to account
The Churchesí Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ) of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) has raised ëserious concernsí about the BBCís judgement over its ëAsylum Dayí programmes, broadcast last week.
The Panorama programme in particular which relied upon a wired BBC reporter disguising herself as a Moldovan asylum seeker ëdid little to focus on the true plight of vulnerable people caught in the asylum systemí, according to the Revd Arlington Trotman.
Mr Trotman, who is secretary of the ecumenical CCRJ, a representative body of the major denominations in Britain and Ireland, said: "Everyone knows there are deep flaws in the Governmentís handling of asylum policy."
"The BBC could have used this opportunity to present the truth about people seeking asylum. Instead it seems to have further reinforced popular misconceptions about benefits and numbers."
"There was virtually nothing about the conditions that create asylum, added Mr Trotman. Britain supplies weapons to regimes that persecute and suppress opposition. It is repression and conflict that exacerbates the flow of people seeking asylum. Poverty and lack of fair access to markets also creates migration."
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) has recently produced ëAsylum Voicesí, a book that highlights the extraordinary circumstances that force ordinary people into seeking asylum. These include death threats and witnessing the murder of relatives.
"The instinct to survive is one we all share," says Mr Trotman.
"We invite the BBC to report the work of Churches and humanitarian organizations as they urge the Government to work with western industrialized powers and multi-nationals for international policies that address the root causes of forced migration: persecution and poverty."
CCRJ is asking the Government to de-politicize asylum policy and practice by creating an accountable multi-agency NGO-led asylum commission. This includes rejecting the arbitrary use of detention, except where there is clear and compelling evidence of a criminal offence or a clear threat to Britainís national security interests.