Migrants on a British Border Police boat, in Dover, in the south-east of the United Kingdom, June 16, 2022. BEN STANSALL / AFP
The new British immigration law, which plans to prevent migrants who have arrived illegally from seeking asylum in the country, is contrary to international law, denounced the UN on Tuesday (July 18th). The law, passed by the UK Parliament overnight Monday-Tuesday, “contradicts” the UK’s obligations under international human rights and refugee law, the authorities said in a statement. heads of the UN agencies in charge of these subjects, Volker Türk and Filippo Grandi.
This text, which is crucial for the conservative Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who has made it a priority to fight against illegal immigration, must still be validated by King Charles III. According to Messrs. Türk and Grandi, the law will have “profound consequences for people in need of international protection”, they point out in particular that the law “creates very extensive new powers of detention, with limited judicial control”.
The UN fears that thousands of people could remain in the UK indefinitely in precarious legal situations. ‘For decades, the UK has provided refuge to those in need, in line with its international obligations’, but the new legislation ‘significantly erodes the legal framework that has protected so many, putting refugees at grave risk in violation of international law,” said Mr. Grandi.
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“In addition to raising very serious legal concerns from an international point of view, this bill sets a worrying precedent,” criticizes Mr. Türk, who fears that “other countries, including in Europe” are tempted to follow this model. It calls on the UK government “to renew its commitment to human rights by overturning this law and ensuring that the rights of all migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are respected, protected and fulfilled, without discrimination”.
This law, which has drawn widespread criticism in the United Kingdom and from international organisations, prevents migrants who have arrived illegally on British territory from seeking asylum in the country. The government also wants migrants, after being placed in detention, to be quickly deported, either to their country of origin or to a third country, such as Rwanda, wherever they come from.
London made a deal last year with Rwanda to send illegal migrants there, but no deportations have yet taken place. A first flight scheduled for June 2022 had been canceled after a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
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