The Case Of Asinimova
Sir, - John O'Callaghan (December 10th), writing about the pending deportation of the Asinimovas, wonders why Ms Asinimova chose not to stay in the UK, since she had a British visa, but to travel on to Ireland to pursue her claim for political asylum. More pointedly, he wonders why this question does not appear to have been raised in the media.
This is a question I have yet to see addressed in any article on individual asylum seekers. The failure to answer it, particularly when the writer is clearly sympathetic to the plight of the refugee and his family, leaves most of us suspecting the worst. In the case of Ms Asinimova I suppose the worst would be as follows:
When she arrived in 1996, a person claiming refugee status here could be reasonably confident of a delay of three years before the substance of his or her claim would be heard and decided upon. Even the most obviously spurious claim would be good for three years living at our expense.
What do we know about the persecution of ethnic Russians in Moldavia? If one had a doubtful claim to asylum in a good place to pursue, it would be one less able to assess its validity. The British, I am sure, have much better contacts in and information on Moldavia than we do.
Even if her claim were unsuccessful, there would still have appeared to be something just short of a 50 per cent chance that she would have been allowed to stay on "humanitarian" grounds (reflecting the experience of those refused refugee status to date). Is it entirely fair to the Asinimovas that silence on this subject by those who support their right to stay here should leave anyone, by default, suspecting their motives in choosing to come to Ireland in the first place?
I think journalists, and those publicly promoting the cause of both individual refugees and asylum-seekers in general, should be aware of this. Failing to address what appears to me, and many others, the most puzzling aspect of the "flood" of refugees, does a disservice to all concerned. - Yours, etc., William Hunt,