The Illegal Migration Bill, which has been passed by Parliament in the United Kingdom, is at variance with the country’s obligations under international human rights and refugee law and will have profound consequences for people in need of international protection, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned.
The Bill extinguishes access to asylum in the UK for anyone who arrives irregularly, having passed through a country – however briefly – where they did not face persecution. It bars them from presenting refugee protection or other human rights claims, no matter how compelling their circumstances. In addition, it requires their removal to another country, with no guarantee that they will necessarily be able to access protection there. It creates sweeping new detention powers, with limited judicial oversight.
The Bill denies access to protection in the UK for anyone falling within its scope – including unaccompanied and separated children – regardless of whether they are at risk of persecution, may have suffered human rights violations or whether they are survivors of human trafficking or modern-day slavery and may have other well-founded claims under international human rights and humanitarian law.
“Carrying out removals under these circumstances is contrary to prohibitions of refoulement and collective expulsions, rights to due process, to family and private life, and the principle of best interests of children concerned,” said High Commissioner Türk.
The legislation will exacerbate the already vulnerable situation of people who arrive irregularly in the UK, drastically limiting the enjoyment of their human rights, and putting them at risk of detention and destitution.
As a result, their rights to health, an adequate standard of living, and to work are at risk, exposing them to the risk of exploitation and abuse.
For more information see UNCHR Press Release.
Read the Open Letter to the Secretary of State on the Illegal Migration Bill signed by UNA-UK.