UK to deny asylum to refugees passing through ’safe’ third country
Immigration rule will also prevent migrants from making a claim in UK territorial waters
Ministers have quietly changed immigration rules to prevent people fleeing war or persecution from claiming asylum in the UK if they have passed through a “safe” third country, prompting accusations of a breach of international law.
From 1 January, claims of asylum from a person who has travelled through or has a connection to a safe third country, including people coming from EU member states, will be treated as inadmissible.
The changes will also prevent asylum seekers from being able to make a claim in the territorial waters of the UK.
The UK government will be able to remove refused asylum seekers not only to the third countries through which they have travelled, but to any safe third country that may agree to receive them, an explanatory memo states.
A 10-page statement (▻https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/943127/CCS207_CCS1220673408-001_Statement_of_changes_in_Immig) outlining the changes to the rules was published online without a press or public announcement.
However, the changes highlight a significant hurdle for the UK government: claims will only be treated as inadmissible if the asylum applicant is accepted for readmission by the third country through which they have travelled or another safe state agrees to take them.
Immigration law experts have said this could render the new policy “pointless” and would most likely delay asylum applications and leave refugees in limbo in the UK.
Colin Yeo, a leading immigration barrister with expertise in asylum law, wrote on Twitter: “The policy is pointless because the govt has negotiated no such return agreements, so all it does is delay decisions on all claims, which is cruel to genuine refugees, and delay removal of non genuine cases.”
The Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, said the changes were “yet another breach of international law”.
He said: “The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, but now the Conservative government is turning its back on refugees. This latest nasty policy from [the home secretary] Priti Patel goes against our commitments under the refugee convention and against everything the UK stands for. It’s yet another breach of international law by this irresponsible tory government.”
Beth Gardiner-Smith, the chief executive of Safe Passage International, a charity that help refugees access safe and legal routes to asylum, said: “The government’s changes to the immigration rules are a direct assault on the fundamental human right to asylum. These chilling changes on International Human Rights Day do a disservice to the UK’s proud record of providing safety to those fleeing persecution and violence.”
The number of small boat arrivals across the Channel has surged to record levels this year, with more than 8,000 migrants and refugees travelling across the Dover Strait, compared with less than 2,000 in 2019. However, total asylum applications are down year on year as the Covid-19 pandemic has cut off other methods of travel and limited migration flows.
Patel has been accused of responding haphazardly with kneejerk proposals ranging from sending asylum seekers thousands of miles away to islands in the South Atlantic, to using giant water cannons to repel boats. The prime minister has reportedly become frustrated with Patel’s handling of the situation.
The UK is a party to the UN’s 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and to its 1967 protocol, a piece of international law designed to protect refugees.
The Home Office provided a statement through the immigration compliance minister, Chris Philp. He said: “We are determined to fix the broken asylum system to make it firm on those who come here through illegally facilitated routes and fair on those who play by the rules. There is no reason to leave a safe country like France to make a dangerous crossing. These measures send a clear message and are just one of the steps the government is taking to tackle the unacceptable rise in small boat crossings.”
#UK #Angleterre #asile #migrations #réfugiés #droit_d'asile #Manche #eaux_territoriales #pays_sûr #transit #pays_tiers_sûr #brexit #EU #Europe #UE #renvois #expulsions #01_janvier_2020 #inadmissibilité #attente #limbe #accords #droit_international #Priti_Patel