HC Deb 19 May 1999 vol 331 c370W
Ms Buck

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what account will be taken of the confiscation from Kosovar Albanians of documents issued by the former Yugoslav authorities when deciding what penalties to apply to(a) Kosovar Albanians seeking asylum in the UK and (b) carriers who transport Kosovar Albanians to the UK; [84216]

(2) what penalties may be applied to Kosovar Albanians seeking asylum in the UK if they arrive (a) without proper documents and (b) clandestinely. [84215]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

The Government, in line with other European Union member states, are committed to a policy of protecting Kosovar refugees in the Balkan region as far as possible. Where this is not possible, and in response to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) requests, the United Kingdom has agreed to the evacuation to this country of refugees. No account is taken of whether evacuees under this programme have documents, and liability under the Immigration (Carriers' Liability) Act 1987 has been waived for these specific flights.

Kosovans who arrive in this country by their own means will be able to apply for asylum in the normal way. The general policy is to grant refugee status if there is no doubt as to nationality. A person entering clandestinely has committed an offence under section 24 of the Immigration Acts and asylum applications from undocumented applicants may be certified under the provisions of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993. But sanction under either provision would only apply if an asylum application were refused. Carriers who bring undocumented passengers to the United Kingdom other than under the agreed UNHCR evacuation programme are liable to a charge under the Carriers' Liability Act. But where such a person is subsequently recognised as a refugee under the 1951 Convention, it is our normal policy to waive the charge or to refund it if it has been paid.