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Thursday, September 23, 2021

In breach of international law

I don't suppose that it matters to Priti Patel if her UK Nationality and Borders Bill is considered to be inhumane and illegal, but it should matter to anybody who cares about those fleeing starvation, torture and oppression and in need of our help.

The Independent reports on the view of the UN Refugee Agency that the Home Secretary's new asylum plan stigmatises those seeking asylum in the UK as “unworthy and unwelcome” and creates a two-tier system that would be in violation of international law:

The bill, which was published in July and is currently going through parliament, would make it a criminal offence for an asylum-seeker to arrive in the UK without permission. Asylum seekers would face up to four years in prison if convicted.

It also seeks to “rapidly remove” asylum seekers who arrive in the UK via unauthorised routes, and grant them only temporary protection, with limited rights if it cannot immediately do so.

Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, UNHCR’s UK representative, said there was no evidence the bill would achieve its aim of deterring asylum-seekers from travelling to the UK without the correct documents.

She said: “This bill would undermine, not promote, the government’s stated goal of improving protection for those at risk of persecution. It seems to be aimed at deterring refugees, but there’s no evidence that would be the result.

“Those arriving irregularly will be stigmatised as unworthy and unwelcome, kept in a precarious status for ten years, denied access to public funds unless destitute. Family reunion will be restricted.”

The bill is based on the notion that asylum-seekers should seek sanctuary in the “first safe country” they arrive in – however the UNHCR said there was no such requirement under international law, and the principle was not in the 1951 Refugee Convention.

The UN body said requiring all refugees to claim asylum in the first safe country would be “unworkable”.

Ms Pagliuchi-Lor added: “This differentiation of treatment has no basis in international law.

“The Convention’s definition of a refugee doesn’t vary according to the route of travel, choice of country of asylum, or the timing of a claim. Are we saying that an Afghan refugee is less deserving in the UK than when in Iran or Pakistan?

“There are no quick fixes to what is a global problem. The humane solution lies in working with neighbours on refugee transfers – and with countries of origin on returns of those who are not refugees and have no right to remain – and improving the UK system.”

The intent behind this bill is to pull up the drawbridge, while ignoring the plight of those worse off than ourselves, why do ministers pretend otherwise?
How long will it be before other countries draw up the drawbridge on us? Biden has put us on the bottom rung of trade deals
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