the UK aimed at largely abolishing asylum rights is nearing completion

news 20-Jun-2023 Europe

UK's new law aims to abolish asylum rights

A new law in the UK aimed at largely abolishing asylum rights is nearing completion. Although the law still requires approval in the upper house, its adoption is considered inevitable. However, the law is hardly compatible with international law.

At the last Conservative party conference, Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who belongs to the far-right conservative wing, announced, "I have a dream - a dream that the first planes with refugees will take off to Rwanda before Christmas. This would be a victory; it's my dream and obsession."

Braverman's vision essentially requires that so-called "illegal immigrants," who are increasingly landing on the British coast in small boats, be arrested without any judicial review, placed on ships off the coast, or held in barracks, and then flown to a third country such as Rwanda with which the UK has a corresponding agreement. "Illegal" without a visa?

According to Braverman, "illegal immigrants" are anybody who lands in the United Kingdom without a valid visa. She rejects exceptions for children and families. Only after deportation would they have the right to apply for asylum.

If their application is successful, however, there would be no way back to Britain; instead, they would have to remain in Rwanda. De facto, this abolishes the fundamental right to asylum in the UK.

The proposed law is hardly compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Opposition leader Keir Starmer also stated that the draft law violated the obligation of the Geneva Convention to grant people a fair hearing, regardless of their mode of arrival.

International law not immediate factor

Braverman is aware of this. In the House of Commons, she could not answer the question of whether her bill is in line with international law. The draft introduction contains the interesting sentence that she cannot say unequivocally whether the draft is consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.

For the time being, she is prepared to ignore the European Court of Human Rights and create a national law explicitly for that purpose. If that is not possible, she suggests withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights altogether, as Russia and Belarus have already done, although the current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would probably avoid this due to expected international backlash, even if he does not say so publicly. Instead, he hands over his Home Secretary a free hand.

He explains that the bill's real aim is to deter smugglers, well aware that this plan has not worked at all. Last year, the number of boat refugees reached 45,000, the highest ever, and the number of asylum applications rose by 30% compared to the previous year to 75,000. Impractical and extremely costly

The UK government's approach is almost unparalleled in its cynicism, according to the opposition and numerous human rights organizations. The planned radical changes in asylum law are not only incompatible with international law, but are also impractical and extremely costly, as the expected legal disputes are likely to be expensive and lengthy.

Moreover, the Home Office is already hopelessly overwhelmed with processing asylum applications. 160,000 people, some of whom have

UK's new asylum law impractical

Many refugee organizations and migration experts consider the UK's asylum law to be practically impossible to implement. Additionally, the UK is facing a severe labor shortage, and many of the refugees and migrants could be used to boost the UK's economy instead of burdening its state budget.

"Invasions" and a "Front"

Instead, Braverman continues to escalate the rhetoric of fear. In October, she referred to the people arriving on the coast as "invaders," a term previously used only by the far-right scene in the country and made acceptable by Braverman. Shortly thereafter, the BBC reported that the Home Secretary would now inspect on site "how the United Kingdom could defend itself against migrants."

Braverman followed up on this rhetoric with corresponding images when she flew into a refugee center via a military helicopter. It was a deliberately staged appearance since she came from Dover, just a few miles away. She could have easily reached the center by car faster.

Election Campaign View

As with Brexit, the UK is creating problems that do not currently exist. According to migration experts, the relatively low number of tens of thousands of people who annually arrive on the coasts of the UK could easily be managed in a country of 67 million people.

However, the topic is an excellent campaign weapon for the upcoming UK election campaign this autumn. This is probably the real reason why the otherwise pragmatic Prime Minister Sunak continues to tolerate his Home Secretary.

Although there is no practicable solution to the refugee issue, the new law will shift the blame for the alleged wave of refugees on the Brexit opponents, the courts, and "activist lawyers" - a rhetoric that began under Boris Johnson and that Sunak is continuing with his Home Secretary.

Apparently, Sunak is willing to accept that this large-scale distraction maneuver will further undermine confidence in the rule of law and the UK's justice system. His great mantra at the beginning of his term in office was that he would finally bring "moral integrity and professionalism" back into politics after Johnson's tenure. This is obviously worth as much as his predecessor's promises.

Therefore, aggressive rhetoric towards refugees in the UK is likely to intensify in the coming months, while a solution for asylum-seekers stranded in the UK remains a distant prospect.

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