https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/05/15/home-office-in-the-media-blog-wednesday-15-may/

Home Office in the media blog: Wednesday 15 May

Home Office in the media

Today's leading stories include the case of a humanist asylum seeker and the sale of knives to under-18s.

Humanist asylum seeker

A humanist asylum seeker has had his application granted after initially being turned down for knowing too little about ancient Greek philosophers, The Times  reports. The story is also covered on the Today Programme, who say he was receiving death threats from family members in Pakistan.

Hamza Bin Walayat applied for asylum in 2017, arguing that he faced persecution in Pakistan under blasphemy laws after renouncing Islam and becoming a humanist.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection, with each case assessed on its merits and the evidence available.

We are committed to improving the quality and accuracy of decision-making to ensure we get decisions right the first time.

The Home Office is working closely with members of the APPG for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, as well representatives from a range of faith and belief groups, to provide specialist mandatory training. The aim of this is to ensure decision makers appropriately consider all the available evidence where religion or belief is raised in an asylum claim.

Knife sales

The Times, Telegraph and Mirror report that a test purchasing operation has found that up to six out of ten stores and two out of five websites that stock knives sell them to children. According to the reports, 41% of online retailers made illegal sales to under-18s, while shop staff sold knives to children as young as 14.

The reports state that although the Home Office has provided funding for test purchase operations and to support a national online scheme, the Local Government Association has said that much of the money would have to go on prosecuting businesses already caught.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

As part of the Serious Violence Strategy we are supporting Trading Standards through our Prosecution Fund to help them to prosecute retailers who sell knives to under 18s.

The fund has already supported enforcement activity in more than 1,100 cases.

Through the Offensive Weapons Bill we are making it harder than ever for young people to purchase knives, including online.

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