As an Asylum seeker Law student from Northumbria University, I think- The new bill will only aggravate the problems with the current UK asylum system. This new bill will make the sanctuary seekers’ lives more precarious and vulnerable to injustices in the coming days. The bill will face legal challenges which will also create chaos in the broken immigration system.
The new Nationality and Borders Bill would make it a crime for asylum seekers to “knowingly arrive in the UK without permission” and make it illegal for anyone to assist an asylum seeker to enter the country. The Law Society of England and Wales has warned the plans are likely to breach UK obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, the cornerstone of international asylum law.
Outsourcing our asylum processes and threatening other countries with petty sanctions makes a mockery of ‘taking back control’ and ‘Global Britain’. All nations have a duty to protect refugees and our government is no exception.
According to Amnesty, between 2014 and 2020 the UK has only “legally” resettled roughly 18,252 Syrian refugees from refugee camps, compared to some four million in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan
The government also proposed transferring asylum seekers out of the country whist their applications are processed and speeding up the appeals and judicial process to remove those whose claims have been rejected.
They are also considering using bone scanners, dental records and x-rays to determine an asylum seeker’s age to stop what they say are adults who are pretending to be children.
As YouGov found in 2018, there is a tendency among the British public to overestimate the number of asylum seekers coming to the UK. At a time when the UK received 26,547 asylum applications, YouGov found that 31% of the public believed the UK received more applications than France and 16% thought the figure was about the same. France actually had around four times the UK’s figure, with 102,900 applications. Only 28% of the British public surveyed by YouGov correctly thought France received more applications than the UK.
In 2019, there were around 5 asylum applications for every 10,000 people
living in the UK. Across the EU28 there were 14 asylum applications for
every 10,000 people. The UK was therefore below the average among EU
countries for asylum applications per head of population, ranking 17th
among EU28 countries on this measure.
Some of the legal complications and changes are been highlighted by Colin Yeo ( Immigration and Asylum Barrister). I will try to reflect on some of his analyses here. But before I go further I would like to share my own opinion of being a victim of Modern-day slavery and Trafficking in the UK. I was been trafficked and enslaved by my ex inlaws. I was deceived and did not have any choice left to see my newborn son other than coming to the UK facilitated by ex inlaws and traffickers. So what option does the new bill left for the people like me? I leave that to you after you read the following legal injustice by this new bill and would like to hear back from you what do you think?
*Clause 11 allows for the differential provision of accommodation to asylum seekers depending on the stage of their claim and their compliance with various conditions. This makes it look like asylum camps like the Napier barracks will be used as a form of punishment for asylum seekers who travel via safe third countries or do not comply with conditions. Again, there does not seem to be any particular need for this to be in an Act of Parliament as the Home Secretary could already do this and indeed has been doing this. However, clause 15 seems to make an asylum camp the only form of accommodation to which some asylum seekers will be entitled.
**Clause 12 adjusts the existing legislation on where refugees may claim asylum. Reading through the clause, I cannot immediately see the point of the changes, given that the Home Secretary was already able to designate specific places to claim asylum. The new legislation seems to reduce the Home Secretary’s flexibility.
**The power to remove an asylum seeker to a safe third country is introduced by clause 26 alongside Schedule 3. Any such removal depends on the agreement of a third country to accept the asylum seeker in question and no such agreements have yet been reached.
**Clause 43 reforms the removal power in the Immigration Act 2014. I am not sure I am reading this quite right as it appears to introduce additional procedural safeguards, perhaps linked to the series of cases the Home Office has lost on so-called “removal windows“.
**Under clause 45, there is a new consideration for those considering whether to release someone from detention on immigration bail. The decision-maker will have to factor in whether the person has “failed without reasonable excuse to cooperate” with the Home Office in various ways.
**Clauses 18 to 21 introduce “Priority Removal Notices”, as if adding the word “priority” will magically make it so. These can be imposed on any person liable to removal or deportation. Rather than increasing resources for the efficient First-tier Tribunal, these will cause an appeal to be heard directly in the Upper Tribunal. Such appeals have to be determined “more quickly than an appeal under section 82(1) would, in the normal course of events, be determined by the First-tier Tribunal.”
**Clause 24 gives us “accelerated detained appeals”, the latest incarnation of the Detained Fast Track procedure designed to hustle asylum seekers out of the country with as few questions asked as possible. The Bill gives the Secretary of State the power to certify certain cases as suitable for an accelerated appeal. Only cases of a “prescribed description” can be so certified, and the meaning of prescribed description is left up to future regulations.
**Clauses 27 to 35 add various glosses to the wording of the Refugee Convention. It is never desirable to add domestic interpretations of an international treaty, but some of these provisions merely reflect the status quo. Clauses 28, 30, 31, 32 and 33 seem to replicate the provisions of the EU’s Qualification Directive. The Refugee or Person in Need of International Protection (Qualification) Regulations 2006 that currently do this job will be repealed. A close reading may reveal differences but the new clauses look at least broadly in line with the old law.
***Clause 29 is terrible: it introduces a split standard of proof in asylum cases and, possibly, a requirement for subjective fear. This looks inspired by the approach in the United States. Historical facts will be determined on the balance of probabilities standard and future risk on the reasonable degree of likelihood standard. This is likely to lead to a LOT of unnecessary litigation in the courts while judges work out what on earth it means and how it works in practice
The offence of illegal entry is being re-written and will attract a maximum sentence of 12 months or up to four years on indictment, up from six months now. On our reading of clause 37, it looks like any asylum seeker knowingly arriving without entry clearance or entering the UK without permission (“leave”) to enter will have committed an offence. If this reformed offence is actually enforced and prosecuted (unlike the overstayer offence, for example) it looks like we are talking about thousands of additional convictions every year and significant growth in the prison population. It is also clearly in violation of the non-penalisation clause at Article 31 of the Refugee Convention and therefore in breach of international law.
This Bill will lead to more delays and it punishes genuine refugees for having the temerity to come to seek sanctuary in our country rather than remain someone else’s responsibility.
The government has effectively closed all legal routes for the sanctuary seekers and is now criminalising those who are driven to seek alternative routes out of desperation. So, if you still think you ( if you were an asylum seeker) or I can fit myself in this bill then the answer is a Big No.. I am oppressed, controlled and dehumanise by the new Border policy.
By- MD Mominul Hamid ( LLB LAW Student, Northumbria University, Victim of Modern-day slavery and Trafficking in the UK, Asylum Seeker and Community Advocate) – Social media link- https://linktr.ee/abirking2017
Sources used in this article-
- The Nationality and Borders Bill 2021: first impressions- https://www.freemovement.org.uk/the-nationality-and-borders-bill-2021-first-impressions/
- Asylum Statistics By House of Commons Library- https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN01403/SN01403.pdf
- NEW NATIONALITY AND BORDERS BILL BLATANT DISREGARD FOR OUR OBLIGATIONS AND HISTORY- https://www.bestforbritain.org/new_nationality_and_borders_bill
- Amnesty International UK website.
- The Law society UK Twitterfeed.