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UN probing Britain over Iraqi mistreatment claims

The UN refugee agency said on Friday it is investigating claims by Iraqi asylum seekers that they were mistreated by British officials before being deported back to Iraq.



Geneva: The UN refugee agency said on Friday it
is investigating claims by Iraqi asylum seekers that they were
mistreated by British officials before being deported back to
Iraq.

Fourteen failed asylum seekers told lawyers of the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees in Baghdad that they were
beaten by staff from the UK Border Agency in a London airport
before being forced onto the plane to Iraq yesterday, said
UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic.
"We`ve met with six of them and saw fresh bruises that
indicated mistreatment could have occurred," he told reporters
in Geneva.

The 14 were among 42 rejected Iraqi asylum seekers who
were sent back forcibly to Baghdad yesterday, Mahecic said.

He said the agency spoke to another eight of the 42
deported asylum seekers by telephone.

"All those interviewed reported that 42 deportees were
forcibly returned to Baghdad against their will," he said.
UNHCR has repeatedly told governments that they should
not return asylum seekers to Baghdad and Iraq`s five central
provinces because the area is not secure enough for their
return, Mahecic said.

Matthew Coats, head of immigration at the UK Border
Agency, declined to immediately comment about the asylum
seekers` claims.

PTI

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