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Migration bill ‘would rock the UK’s standing as a reliable nation’

By Gazette Reporter >>

(13 March 2023)

Law Society speaks out as measure aimed at tackling small-boat crossings goes before House of Commons. 

The government should reconsider its approach to refugees and asylum, the Law Society said ahead of the second reading of the Illegal Migration Bill today. The silicitors’ representative body said the measure – aimed at stopping small-boat crossings, could rock the UK’s standing as a law-abiding nation. 

 ’The rule of law and justice are at the heart of Britain’s identity and our position in the international community,’ Society president Lubna Shuja said. ’There is a high chance this bill may not comply with international and domestic law. It could lead to the British state violating fundamental rights such as the right to life, to be protected from torture, trafficking and slavery, to liberty, to fair trial.

’The bill would also give the Home Secretary broad powers, drastically reduce oversight by British courts and diminish access to justice for those seeking asylum.’

Shuja said that the Home Office accepts that more than three in four people claiming asylum in 2022 are refugees. ’The near-total ban on asylum this bill proposes would mean most refugees seeking asylum in the UK in future would be refused the protection they have as a right under the UN Refugee Convention.

’’The home secretary would also have the power to deport unaccompanied children, potentially exposing them to human trafficking and other risks, with no clarity on how this power could be used. This may breach the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

’If the UK were to violate international law in this way it would jeopardise the British government’s reputation for upholding the rule of law and delivering justice. This would rock the UK’s standing as a reliable nation that upholds its international responsibilities, which has underpinned its position as an attractive hub of global investment and a bastion of the rule of law.’

Shuja added: ’Good law-making requires rigour and attention to detail. But there has been no public consultation, including with lawyers who have practical experience of these cases, to ensure this bill is workable or provides due process for those claiming asylum.’

Rather than introducing new legislation, she said the Home Office ’should instead fix the administrative problems with the asylum system so it is fair and fit for purpose. And it should make any decisions which have a profound impact on people’s lives in line with our international commitments’.

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)