We are inviting individuals and organisations to add their names to our statement. You can do so by completing the form at the bottom or emailing [email protected]
We are increasingly concerned at the hostile and dehumanising rhetoric from the Home Office, and the Home Secretary in particular, around people seeking sanctuary. This concern was compounded by the announcement earlier this week of a new government proposal the ‘Stop the Boats’ or Illegal Migration Bill that threatens the right to seek asylum in the United Kingdom to individuals arriving by boat– a right enshrined in international law more than half a century ago. Penalising people and threatening their asylum claims based on how they travel to seek asylum contravenes this right and undermines our history of offering sanctuary to people who need it.
Ignoring international conventions
This new law would ban asylum seekers who arrive on small boats from claiming asylum and from re-entering the UK after deportation. As of now asylum seekers coming to the UK have the right to seek protection under the United Nations’ Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK government is trying to circumvent this.
The government states the bill “will remove the incentive for people to risk their lives through these dangerous and unnecessary journeys and pull the rug from under the criminal gangs profiting from this misery once and for all”. The proposed legislation will strip people fleeing war and persecution of their right to seek safety in the UK and punish them based on how they came here, rather than whether they need protection. The government is using the rhetoric of safety, to justify this inhumane bill.
Detention without legal recourse
The measure would give the government legal power to detain thousands of people arriving via small boats and send them to another country or back to the country from which they came. Migrants may be detained for up to 28 days with no recourse for bail or judicial review. The UK Home Office registered 45,755 people arriving by small boats in 2022, 40% of whom come from Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Eritrea, and Sudan, who, unlike refugees from Ukraine or Hong Kong, have limited safe routes to reach the UK.
Unaccompanied minors to be sent back
The bill also outlines that unaccompanied children (minors) who come to the UK illegally will be removed to a safe third country once adulthood is reached. The home secretary failed to answer a question from Olympian Sir Mo Farah- trafficked to the UK as a child , if he would have been deported as soon as he turned 18 years old under the proposed regulations, or why he would not have been deported.
Annual Cap on Safe Routes
The government wants to set an annual cap on the number of refugees settled via safe and legal routes. Most European countries take many more refugees than the UK. Germany takes more than three times the number. This proposed legislation will take the UK far outside playing a fair part in its global responsibility.
We agree that the asylum system needs a massive overhaul. In its current state, it is ineffective and inhumane; these proposals will only make that worse. Penalising people for seeking sanctuary here through irregular routes is unfair and unjust, especially when there is little other option. The Home Office says that “Britain needs a firm but fair system.” We believe that this is anything but fair.
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