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“This is an immeasurably cruel policy aimed at the most vulnerable with language not unlike that used by Germany in the 1930s.”
This tweet from the BBC’s star sports presenter Gary Lineker, in which he criticized the British government’s new asylum policy (a proposal whose fate would be decided by parliament), led to a debate over neutrality that left the former footballer off screens.
But what does this new policy consist of?
A new immigration law that executive Rishi Sunak has begun to tackle in the British Parliament seeks, according to the government, to reduce the number of migrants arriving “illegally” in the UK. However, it has received harsh criticism from the opposition and organizations working with refugees.
As Sunak himself declared, from now on, “illegal” immigrants who arrive in the UK in small boats cross the English Channel, They will be arrested and expelled from the countryeither to Rwanda or to another third country deemed safe.
In 2022, the United Kingdom agreed with Rwanda on a program to send migrants and refugees who had clandestinely entered its territory to the African country.
(However, since plans to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda were announced last April, no one has yet been sent there, as the move has been legally challenged by human rights groups.)
These immigrants arrive by boat They will not be able to apply for asylum Once expelled, they will not be able to return or apply for British citizenship in the future.
Migrants will also not be able to obtain bail or be allowed to seek judicial review during the first 28 days of detention.
According to the British Prime Minister, the law is “fair”, both for people already living in the UK and for those who “have a legitimate right to seek asylum”.
can be expelled deferred to minors, Those who are medically unable to travel or at risk of serious abuse in the country to which they will be transferred.
The legislation, which was introduced this week and has already begun its process in the House of Commons, will be applied retroactively to everyone who arrives clandestinely in the UK since March 7.
The government wants refugees to use “safe and legal pathways” to seek asylum, but it will also put a limit on the number of people it will settle in this way.
The new law is located at The limits of international lawHome Secretary Soella Braverman conceded but didn’t break it like she said.
The British government said the law also seeks to break the pattern of smuggling rings facilitating these “deadly dangerous” journeys and will act “as a deterrent and save lives,” Braverman said in December.
For the leader of the opposition, Labor Keir Starmer, the plan put forward by the government is “unfeasible”.
more than 45,000 people entered via this route to the UK in 2022, a sharp increase from 2018, when just 300 people crossed the dangerous sea lane by boat. Shipwrecks are frequent and many have sunk.
The British government believes that the issue of boat migrants is, and will be, a matter of interest to voters key in the next election, so ministers are willing to test their legal limits to deal with it. It was one of the central promises of Sunak’s tenure.
Within this strategy, the United Kingdom has strengthened its cooperation with France, from where most of the boats carrying refugees and migrants leave. Sunak announced, during a summit held in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron, on Friday, that Britain would finance a new detention center on the French coast and hire 500 additional personnel at the border, at a value of 600 million US dollars.
For organizations that work with immigrants, the new law will leave thousands of people in limbo.
“It’s useless, expensive, and it won’t stop the boats from comingEnver Solomon, director of the Refugee Council, one of the NGOs that has denounced the government’s plans. The organization believes the new law undermines the UK’s commitment to providing a fair hearing to refugees, regardless of how they reach the territory, according to the UN convention.
Currently, asylum seekers arriving in the UK are entitled to seek protection under the United Nations Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees called the measures in the new law “extremely worrying” because it believes it will leave even those with a satisfactory asylum claim without protection.
His representative in the UK, Vicki Tennant, confirmed to the BBC Newsnight program that the action violated international law. “We believe it It is a clear violation of the Refugee ConventionHe noted that “even people with very convincing requests will not have the opportunity to submit them.”
The Refugee Convention, first approved in 1951, is a multilateral treaty that defines who qualifies as refugees and the obligations of signatory states to protect them.
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