Alexander Betts, RSC Director, spoke with Christiane Amanpour on CNN yesterday regarding the UK’s Illegal Migration Bill, including claims made by the Home Secretary on the number of people seeking to come to the UK and also Gary Lineker’s tweet.
Betts dismisses the Home Secretary’s ‘100 million people’ claim as “an exaggeration at quite a populist and irresponsible level”, and makes the following points regarding the policy itself:
- It implies that people who cross the English Channel to seek asylum in the UK will immediately be liable to detention,
- They won’t have access to bail or judicial review,
- They’ll be confined to detention centres,
- They won’t be able to have their asylum claim assessed even if they are refugees coming from war-torn societies,
- They will face immediate removal either to their country of origin or a third country that might be one that they have never been to and might be one in a different part of the world, such as Rwanda.
He continues, “So this policy, this Bill, if it is enacted…the historical significance is it’s effectively a liberal democratic state abandoning the principle of the right to asylum. It abandons the principle that universally anyone seeking sanctuary can come to the UK, or another country, and say ‘I am a refugee, I would like a fair hearing to assess my claim’.”
He also states regarding the legality of the Bill that “it’s very difficult to see how disallowing people from availing themselves of the right to seek asylum doesn’t violate the right to seek asylum, which is an established principle of human rights law and international refugee law, that’s part of English law, part of law within the…European Union and the wider European region through the European Convention on Human Rights... It’s very difficult to see what the government’s case would possibly be that justifies that this could be compatible with national and international human rights and refugee law standards.”
Betts also discusses the significant practical obstacles to actually implementing the Bill if it did manage to pass through Parliament and the courts.