British asylum law would ‘undermine’ international law, says UN refugee agency


The UK government has insisted that a controversial plan to bar undocumented migrants from entering the country on small boats is legal, despite criticism from the United Nations and other global bodies.

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman this week introduced an illegal immigration bill to crack down on people crossing the English Channel to reach the UK.

The British government has made stopping small boats a top priority. According to the plans, those arriving via this route face detention and deportation. Those who have been removed cannot return.

But the UNHCR said on Tuesday the bill would be a “clear violation” of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which defines refugees as those who seek refuge from persecution. It also gives them the right not to be sent home in danger except under extreme circumstances.

“Most people fleeing war and persecution simply do not have access to the required passports and visas. There are no safe and ‘legal’ routes available to them. Denying them access to asylum on this basis undermines the purpose for which the Refugee Convention was drafted,” the agency statement said.

An increasing number of refugees and migrants fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty risk the perilous crossing between Britain and France every year, sparking a national debate on the issue of migrant crossings into the UK.

Tens of thousands of people are traveling in dinghies unfit for the journey and at the mercy of people smugglers, hoping to seek asylum or gain economic opportunities in the UK. According to UK government data, 45,755 people will cross the Channel in small boats by 2022. More than 3,000 people have already made the crossing this year.

In December, at least four people died after a small boat believed to be carrying migrants capsized in the English Channel. Last year, 27 people drowned in bitterly cold water off the coast of France in one of the deadliest incidents in the English Channel in recent years.

It has pushed the UK government to adopt increasingly strict policies, a move that has been roundly condemned by humanitarian organizations and NGOs.

“The government’s new legislation ignores the fundamental point that most of the people in small boats are men, women and children fleeing terror and carnage from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran and Syria,” said Enver Solomon, CEO of the charity Refugee Council, v CNN. in a statement.

“We need an approach that replaces the chaos and cost of what we have now and that focuses on compassion and competence, creating safe and orderly routes for refugees to reach the UK, such as refugee visas, and always giving people a fair hearing so that their rights are respected.”

Home Secretary Braverman spoke to British broadcasters on Wednesday to defend the plans, asking questions about everything from their feasibility to how they would apply to the high-profile case of Mo Farah, an Olympian who played the Olympics as a child. smuggled into the UK.

Allaying concerns that the law would violate international agreements, Braverman told Sky News it “doesn’t break the law”.

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman, pictured Tuesday, downplayed concerns that a controversial new bill to tackle illegal immigration is legally weak.

Her remarks come despite the fact that when she outlined the policy on Tuesday she said she could not make a “final statement of compliance” with human rights law.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to “fight” any legal challenge to the British government’s controversial new immigration law. He also downplayed concerns that the bill would conflict with the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

This is the latest in the Conservative government’s campaign to crack down on the Channel crossings.

Last year, the UK government announced a scheme whereby asylum seekers deemed to have entered the UK illegally would be sent to Rwanda to have their asylum applications processed.

The first planned deportation flight to Rwanda was blocked by the European Convention on Human Rights, a major bone of contention in post-Brexit British politics.

However, the controversial policy was ruled legal by the country’s Supreme Court in December.

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