The Illegal Immigration Bill eliminates access to asylum for anyone who arrives “irregularly” in the UK, meaning they have passed through a country – however briefly – where they do not face persecution.
The bill prohibits migrants from presenting refugee protection or other human rights claims, regardless of their circumstances. It has passed through the Commons, but has not yet cleared the Upper House, the House of Lords.
The law as it stands requires their removal to another country without guaranteeing that they should be able to access protections there. The bill also creates new detention powers with limited judicial oversight.
“UNHCR shares the UK Government’s concern about the number of asylum seekers resorting to dangerous journeys across [English] Channel.
“We welcome the current efforts to make the current asylum system work more effectively through fast, fair, and efficient case processing, which allows for the integration of those found to be in need of international protection and the speedy repatriation of those without legal grounds to stay,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“Unfortunately, this progress will be further undermined by the new law. Cooperation with the European and other partners on the routes where refugees and migrants move, is also important,” he continued.
Contrary to human rights
The Bill denies access to refugee protections for anyone who falls within its scope – including unaccompanied and separated children – even if they are at risk of persecution, suffering humanitarian violations rights, or if they are survivors of human trafficking or modern-day slavery.
“Carrying out removals under these circumstances is contrary to the prohibitions of refoulement and collective expulsion, the rights to due process, to family and private life, and the principle of the best interests of the children concerned,” the UN said. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.
The 1951 Refugee Convention, of which the UK was one of the original signatories, clearly recognizes that refugees may be forced to enter a country of asylum irregularly.
Most people fleeing war and persecution do not have or cannot access formal travel documents such as passports and visas. Safe and “legal” routes to immigration are often unavailable to them.
Without sufficient operational capacity to remove large numbers of asylum-seekers or make removal arrangements workable in third countries, thousands of migrants may be expected to remain in the UK indefinitely at the risk of legal circumstances, the agencies said.
“For decades, the UK has provided refuge to those in need, in line with its international obligations – a tradition of which it should be proud. This new legislation significantly undermines the legal framework that protects so many very much, which exposes refugees to serious risks of violating international law,” said Mr. Grandi.
UN refugee and human rights experts say the legislation will also exacerbate the vulnerable situation of refugees in the UK, further limiting their enjoyment of human rights and putting many at risk of detention and deportation. on.
Their rights to health, an adequate standard of living, and employment are all at risk, exposing them to potential exploitation and abuse.
History of mercy
“The UK has long been committed to supporting international human rights and refugee law. Such strong commitment is needed now more than ever,” said UN human rights chief Volker Türk.
“I urge the UK Government to renew its commitment to human rights by changing this law and ensuring that the rights of all migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are respected, protected, and carried out, without discrimination.
“This should include efforts to guarantee fast and fair processing of asylum and human rights claims, improving reception conditions, and increasing the availability and access to safe channels for regular migration,” he added.