9. Refugees and asylum-seekers
57. Several interlocutors of the Special Rapporteur stressed that the United Kingdom historically was a hospitable country for people seeking shelter from religious persecution. These interlocutors stated, however, that this no longer seems to be valid and that nowadays there appears to be a presumption against the claims of people seeking asylum, including on religious grounds.
58. The Special Rapporteur has tried to corroborate these allegations but neither the Government nor civil society members provided any precise data on the proportion of asylumseekers in the United Kingdom on grounds of religious persecution or the respective refusal rate. However, official statistics exists concerning asylum-seekers in general terms, i.e. without a breakdown according to the persecution grounds. Thus, 14 per cent of initial decisions of the Border and Immigration Agency in the second quarter of 2007 were to grant asylum and 9 per cent were to grant humanitarian protection or discretionary leave, whereas 76 per cent of initial decisions were refusals. The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal allowed 23 per cent of the appeals in the second quarter of 2007 whilst 71 per cent of appeals were dismissed. Including dependants, a total of 18,235 failed asylum applicants were removed from the United Kingdom in 2006.
59. The management of many immigration detention or removal centres is contracted out to private companies and managers of religious affairs are employed to coordinate multi-faith chaplaincy teams to meet the religious and spiritual needs of detainees. In some cases there allegedly have been frictions between managers of religious affairs and the multi-faith chaplaincy teams with regard to the scope of their religious duties.