Asylum seekers forced to pretend to shoot guns by immigration officials to stay in UK
Immigration officials gave each other a prize of a toy monkey if they let an asylum seeker stay in the UK, it has been claimed.
By Christopher Hope
The Telegraph (U.K.), March 3, 2010
Officials also forced would-be child soldiers who are claiming asylum to shoot imaginary weapons, according to a former immigration worker.
In another instance, an employee chanted 'Um Bongo, Um Bongo' during a discussion about an asylum application from a Congolese family.
Former employee Louise Perrett told the House of Commons home affairs select committee that one colleague had asked several young African men to demonstrate 'shooting' imaginary weapons to back up their claims they had been child soldiers.
Miss Perrett, who worked at the Cardiff office for three-and-a-half months last summer, said she had been shocked by the tips from one manager on how to interview asylum seekers.
She said: 'When he had young men or children claiming to be former child soldiers, he would make them lie on the floor and demonstrate to him how they would shoot someone from the bush.
'I could not quit understand his rationale but he was saying 'if he didnt do it immediately, or there was some hesitation, you would discover that they were lying'.'
When Miss Perritt asked about other staffs attitudes towards the claimants shortly after starting work, she was told by one colleague at the office that 'if it was up to me I would take them outside and shoot them'.
Staff were ridiculed for approving claims and some workers had used a cuddly toy as a 'grant monkey, which was left on employees desks if they granted asylum, she said, although this practice had now stopped.
Miss Perrett also alleged staff mocked each other when asylum applications were approved, insisting that they had 'let one through'.
Miss Perrett also claimed another employee had sung 'Um Bongo, Um Bongo, they kill them in the Congo when she told him she was assessing an application from a Congolese family.
Miss Perrett had tried to raise her concerns with senior managers in the office but they were 'laughed off'. however, Miss Perrett said she had been impressed by the behaviour of a select few employees in the office.
Asked by Bob Russell MP if the problems were caused by one or two 'domineering people' in the office, she said: 'There are good people there, Dont get me wrong, who act in a professional, courteous manner.
'But the fact is that the culture of the office does not permit those individuals to speak up and say 'this is wrong'.'
Miss Perrett continued: 'The younger members of staff were very 'gung ho, very aggressive and rude from the moment they met an asylum seeker in the waiting room.
They showed a 'general hostility, not so much in the things they would say but in their demeanour and the abruptness and general intimidation that I just thought, as a good official, was totally unnecessary. We would not expect to be treated like that'.
The agency has now launched an investigation. Lin Homer, the agency's chief executive, said: 'We understand the seriousness of the allegations that have been made and they are currently the subject of an independent investigation.
'While the investigation is ongoing it is inappropriate for me to comment further on the claims. We are continuing with the important business of listening to peoples asylum claims and making fair decisions based on the merits of each case.
'The UK Border Agency carefully considers each asylum case and if an application is refused the claimant will normally have a right of appeal to the independent courts.'