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UK judge, rights groups say forced return of Iraqi asylum seekers unlawful

[JURIST] A British High Court judge has warned that forcible returns of failed asylum seekers to Iraq could be unlawful. While not blocking removals during the urgent judicial review application brought by a Kurdish Iraqi, Justice Lawrence Collins said it was "improper" to enforce removals of people who may be protected and that removal is not proper until the case is fully heard in court. The UK had planned to deport 43 Iraqi asylum seekers [BBC backgrounder] within the next few days. BBC News has more. Meanwhile Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged the UK government Friday to "carefully consider the consequences" of forcibly returning Iraqi asylum seekers to Kurdish areas of Iraq. The group issued a statement [press release] saying, "To physically force people back, or to deprive them of their rights in a way that leaves them with no choice but to return would be a breach of international human rights and refugee law." Human Rights Watch has made a similar call [press release], stating that "At a time when the Foreign Office advises British citizens against traveling to Iraq and warns of attacks by insurgents, it is perverse to round up Iraqis to send them back against their will." The Independent has local coverage.

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