Voice For Life: speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves

Amnesty International speaks out against incarceration of refugees

October 27, 1997

The October 1997 action alert issued by Amnesty International USA opposes the incarceration of Chinese refugees and other asylum seekers in Kern County's Lerdo Detention Facility near Bakersfield. The international human rights organization is currently focusing its concerns on Zhou Shiu Yon, who has been incarcerated for nearly four and a half years.

"Amnesty International believes that the prolonged detention of Ms. Zhou and others has been in clear violation of international standards for the treatment of asylum seekers. When detention goes beyond a few weeks, it clearly [can become] abusive of asylum seekers' rights. We believe that no purpose is served by the continued detention of Ms. Zhou," said Nicholas Rizza of Amnesty International. The document goes on to express concern that the detention of asylum seekers in the Lerdo facility for prolonged periods of time may have "corrupted the asylum process in other cases as well."

The goal of Amnesty International USA's campaign on refugees is to ask "the U.S. government to 1) distinguish between asylum seekers and other immigration detainees; 2) not to detain asylum seekers in county jails; and 3) to establish national standards for detention of asylum seekers in accord with international standards which the United States has agreed to adhere to."

Amnesty International asks concerned individuals to write letters (before the end of 1997) to President Clinton and INS Commissioner Doris Meissner, with copies sent to Congressman Henry Hyde.

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