Turning Asylum Seekers into ‘Dangerous Criminals’: Experiences of the Criminal Justice System of those Seeking Sanctuary
Since the events of 9/11 in the US in 2001 and, four years later, the 7/7 London bombings in the UK, warnings of terrorist attacks are high on the public agenda in many western countries. Politicians and tabloid press in the UK have continued to make direct and indirect connections between asylum seekers, terrorism and crime. This has increasingly resulted in harsh policy responses to restrict the movement of ‘third-world’ nationals, criminalisation of immigration and asylum policy, and making the violation of immigration laws punishable through criminal courts. This paper largely highlights the narratives of five asylum seekers who committed ‘crime’ by breaching immigration laws and were consequently treated as ‘dangerous criminals’ by the state authorities. More importantly it shows how these individuals experienced this treatment. The aim of this paper is to give voice to the victims of state abuse, claim space for victim agency, gather victim testimonies, challenge official explanations and in the process confront criminal and racist state practices.
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