UK’s Illegal Migration Bill ‘an extremely bleak day for human rights in this country’

7/20/2023 7:37 AM

As the extensive list of proposed amendments to the Illegal Migration Bill put forward by the House of Lords, were voted down in the House of Commons on Monday and as the bill reached its final stage before becoming law, the UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, declared the bill as fundamentally eroding the legal framework of asylum protection. He said:

‘For decades, the UK has provided refuge to those in need, in line with its international obligations — a tradition of which it has been rightly proud. This new legislation significantly erodes the legal framework that has protected so many, exposing refugees to grave risks in breach of international law.’

'The bill [will have an] adverse effect on the international refugee and human rights protection system as a whole.

The UN High Commissioner for human rights Volker Turk, was unequivocal in his condemnation of the bill, as he declared the provisions in the bill for removing asylum seekers under the circumstances mandated, as:

contrary to prohibitions of refoulement and collective expulsions, rights to due process, to family and private life, and the principle of best interests of children concerned. In addition to raising very serious legal concerns from the the international perspective, this bill sets a worrying precedent for dismantling asylum-related obligations that other countries, including in Europe, may be tempted to follow, with a potentially adverse effect on the international refugee and human rights protection system as a whole.

Asylum seekers arriving in Dover on board Border Patrol Boat

Human rights organisation, Amnesty International’s CEO, Sacha Deshmukh said the passing of the bill marked ‘an extremely bleak day for human rights in this country’. She added:

Disqualifying people’s asylum claims en masse regardless of the strength of their case is a blatant assault on international law and is a failure of UK leadership. Ministers are using vulnerable and traumatised people for political ends — feeding the public misinformation about asylum issues, stoking resentment and division, and then pushing through ever more extreme measures to perpetuate the same policies that keep doing so much harm’

Local Residents and Municipal Council members in Dorset insist the barge is both cruel and a strain on their community

The conclusion of several weeks of challenge to the bill, came to an end with residents of Dorset protesting the arrival of the now infamous ‘Bibby Stockholm barge’ as it finally docked in Portland harbor, Dorset. The 93-metre hulk is scheduled to house up to 500 migrants, the first of which are expected to arrive by the end of this month. Protesters which include local residents and municipal council members, have been vocal in condemning the use of the barge as both cruel and a strain on their community.

The Bibby Stockholm Asylum Barge docking in Portland, Dorset

The Bill will now provide the basis for the Home Secretary to detain and deport all those who enter the UK without permission, to their country of origin or to a safe third country. The Labour Party Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper responded by saying that the Conservative party had finally ‘lost all common sense and decency’.

The government lost a legal case in the Court of Appeal last month, which rendered its plans to house asylum seekers in Rwanda as unlawful.