THE United Kingdom (UK) government has successfully passed the controversial ‘Illegal Migration Bill’ despite opposition and fears about its impact on human rights and refugees.
The bill is set to become law pending approval from the King and poses significant obstacles for migrants entering the UK, especially those arriving via small boats across the Channel.
The bill enforces a “legal duty to detain and remove anyone entering the UK illegally,” a move that aims to halt small boat crossings and discourage asylum applications via irregular routes.
Efforts were made by the House of Lords to introduce amendments to the bill, including reinstating time limits on child detentions and ensuring protection under the Modern Slavery act.
However, the government reversed most of these amendments in a late-night voting session on July 17.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick asserted that the bill aims to send a clear message that those entering the UK illegally will face detention and be returned to their home country or safe third countries they passed through en route, effectively denying such individuals the chance to apply for asylum and seek protection.
The UK deems 57 countries worldwide, including EU member states, as safe destinations.
However, securing the agreement of these safe third countries has become challenging following the UK’s departure from the EU and the Dublin Treaty.
The treaty allowed countries to send migrants back to their first entry point in the EU or a country where they previously initiated the asylum process.
The United Nations has expressed concerns about the bill, arguing that it contravenes the UK’s obligations to uphold international human rights and protect refugees.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, stressed that the legislation could set a dangerous precedent, potentially influencing other countries to weaken their asylum-related obligations, thus jeopardizing the international refugee and human rights protection system.
Türk called on the UK government to reverse the law, renew its commitment to human rights, and uphold its responsibilities in safeguarding individuals in need of international protection.