Afshin asylum campaign enters a crucial stage

PUBLISHED: 10:37 18 December 2006 | UPDATED: 10:28 07 September 2010

AFTER years of fighting desperately for the right to call himself a citizen of the United Kingdom, asylum seeker Afshan Azizian found himself amid exalted company in the impressive surroundings of London s Living Room earlier this week. He was there becau

AFTER years of fighting desperately for the right to call himself a citizen of the United Kingdom, asylum seeker Afshan Azizian found himself amid exalted company in the impressive surroundings of London's Living Room earlier this week. He was there because the Ham&High's campaign to help win him asylum status has been recognised in the Mayor's annual press awards for responsible reporting of these issues.

It was a hopeful moment for an Iranian exile who at times has been very close to hitting rock bottom. Hopefully this very public recognition of his plight will provide some encouragement in his long and arduous fight for justice.

The mayor's awards rightly draw attention to asylum issues and the need for good practice in the reporting of them.

More important than this, however, is the need for good practice in the Home Office's handling of asylum applications. In this respect Afshan has clearly been failed by a system which often seems incapable of identifying even the most genuine of cases.

When it comes to asylum issues, the natural course of justice, on which this country thrives, is turned on its head.

In this unfriendly and sometimes hostile environment, it is all too easy for all applicants to be regarded initially as 'guilty' parties, until their innocence can be proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

It is no easy job to judge asylum applications but there are exceptions where a compelling case can be demonstrated. Afshan's is one such case and that is why we have campaigned so vigorously on his behalf.

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