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MP Said Deaths In Lorries Were Predicted

Former immigration minister Mike O’Brien said there have long been fears that the trade in trafficking people into Britain would eventually lead to tragedy.

Mike O'Brien MPThe North Warwickshire MP said illegal immigration is not the same issue as asylum, because many illegal immigrants do not claim asylum. 

He said Britain is not the only country with a problem, as other European nations, especially Germany, France and Italy have a higher level of clandestine entry.

Mr O’Brien said of the deaths of dozens of Chinese people in the back of a lorry last week:

"The tragic death of 58 clandestine entrants in the back of a hermetically sealed refrigerator lorry is an indictment of the criminal traffickers in human misery.

"These poor people were seeking a new life and ended up dead. I do not wish to prejudge the police investigation, but for some time the authorities have feared that the international criminal gangs who traffic in illegal immigrants would kill someone.

"There is evidence of trade in bound labour from the far east where poor people promise to work for a pittance for years in the west to repay thousands of pounds charged by these smugglers. These gangs operate out of a number of countries smuggling people into Europe, especially to France, Germany and Britain."

He explained how he was involved with new legislation which was aimed at warning drivers off taking part in the trade:

“The 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act, which I put through Parliament, introduced civil penalties on hauliers and drivers found with illegal immigrants in the back of their lorry. 

“Previously lorry drivers found with them just denied any knowledge that they were in the back. Now, they will be fined £2,000 per clandestine. 

“As a result drivers now search their lorry and the numbers of clandestines going through Dover has already been cut by 26 per cent in the two months since the Act came into force.

"There is close co-operation with other countries in tackling the criminals and these links are being progressively strengthened. These gangs are killers, often located in other countries. They do not care about human safety, caring only for profit".

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CWN / Politics / MPs / Mike O'Brien  / 29 June 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM