The Nationality and Borders Bill, aimed at reforming asylum rights in the United Kingdom, reaches third and final reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday, December 7, before a passage through the House of Lords – which may l ‘amend but not block its adoption. This text, denounced by NGOs and the Labor opposition as an “anti-refugee” law, constitutes the cornerstone of the policy of “regaining control” of the borders after Brexit, promised by Boris Johnson and his Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel.
The law intends to criminalize crossings of the Channel in inflatable boats, migrants who land on the beaches of Kent without authorization incurring prison sentences (even if it is to seek asylum there). It also validates the very controversial principle of “pushbacks”, the return of boats to French territorial waters, and the creation of centers for asylum seekers in third countries while their file is examined. In a scathing report published on 1is December, a week after 27 people were killed in the English Channel, the Westminster Parliamentary Human Rights Committee concluded that the text was “Incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention”. As for the “pushbacks”, they “Will make the crossings even more perilous and they will not have a dissuasive effect on the candidates for the crossing or the smugglers”.
Several British NGOs have already threatened to take the government to court if the law is passed. However, the Prime Minister did not blink, encouraging deputies to vote for a text that “Gives us the power to finally make a distinction between illegal and legal migrants”. In this electric context, elected conservatives have dared to break ranks and plead for a more human approach: they are calling for the creation of “Safe roads” to lodge asylum claims in the UK – a long-standing demand of migrant aid associations.
“We need a firm but fair migration policy”, insists Andrew Mitchell, David Cameron’s former international development minister, in a December 5 article on ConservativeHome, a site maintained by members of the Tory Party. “The deployment of wave machines or Jet-Ski to repel migrant boats [des idées avancées par le Home Office] would lead to disasters and weaken our position on the international scene ”, warns the elected Midlands. He also criticizes the idea of parking asylum seekers “In places where human rights are not guaranteed. We cannot denounce the abuses in Russia or China if, at the same time, images of British offshore detention camps are being broadcast everywhere ”.
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The protest mounts against Boris Johnson’s asylum reform