UN: London's plan to Stop Illegal Migrants violates International Law
The UK government's proposed asylum law is "very worrying", the UN refugee agency has warned.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative in the United Kingdom, Vicky Tennant, commented to the BBC that the measure would violate international law and was not necessary to stop Channel crossings.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was "ready for the fight" to introduce the law and to overcome all legal challenges.
"Labor" said the plans risked increasing chaos.
On Tuesday, the government outlined a new law that would effectively ban anyone arriving in the UK illegally from claiming asylum.
In addition, anyone found to have entered the country illegally will not be able to return or apply for British citizenship in the future. The measure is part of attempts to deal with the increasing number of people arriving in the UK across the Channel each year. It grew from about 300 people in 2018 to more than 45,000 in 2022.
Asked for comment, Tennant said: "We are very concerned. This effectively closes access to asylum in the UK for people arriving irregularly." "We believe this is a clear violation of the Refugee Convention and remember that even people with very compelling claims will simply not have the opportunity to present them."
The 1951 Refugee Convention is a multilateral treaty that defines who qualifies as a refugee and the obligations of signatory states to protect those people.
Tennant pointed out that the UK has a "long-standing humanitarian tradition" and that migration problems can be solved with proper controls and a better-administered system.
"Make the asylum system work," she said. "Ensure fair, efficient and faster processing of asylum applications".
"If people don't have a right to asylum, send them back to their own countries, and if they do, then allow them to integrate and continue that process much faster," Tennant added. Home Secretary Suella Braverman has written to all Conservative MPs that there is a "more than 50% chance" the legislation is not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and is expected to face legal challenges.
At a Downing Street press conference, Sunak expressed confidence that it would not be necessary for the UK to leave the ECHR to introduce the policy and the government was "meeting its international obligations".
"I understand there will be debate about the firmness of these measures," he said. "All I can say is that we tried every other way and it didn't work."
"My policy is very simple: this country and your government should decide who comes here, not criminal gangs," he stressed.
He said the policy would "quite quickly" have a deterrent effect on those trying to enter the UK via illegal routes.
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