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Illegal Migration Bill breaches UK human rights obligations, MPs warn

11 Jun 2023 4 minute read
Photo Gareth Fuller PA Images

The Illegal Migration Bill breaches a “number of the UK’s human rights obligations”, MPs and peers have warned ministers.

Most asylum seekers arriving in the UK after the flagship legislation has been passed would have their claim “declared inadmissible”, according to a report published by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Chairwoman Joanna Cherry MP said children were “affected by every aspect” of what Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has dubbed the Stop The Boats Bill – and vulnerable groups, including victims of trafficking and modern slavery, would be disproportionately impacted.

She said the knock-on impact could be that the number of people being trafficked increases because of the Government’s proposals.

The Joint Committee is urging ministers to make changes so as not to breach Britain’s legal obligations to those fleeing persecution and conflict.

The Illegal Migration Bill, which Mr Sunak has said is a key part of his pledge to stop small boats of migrants from crossing the English Channel, has been passed by the Commons – but continues to meet fierce criticism in the Lords, including from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The Bill aims to ensure those who arrive in the UK without permission will be detained and promptly deported, either to their home country or a third country such as Rwanda.

The committee’s findings are published in its report, Legislative Scrutiny: Illegal Migration Bill, published on Sunday. It includes an annex containing suggestions for how the draft law could be amended.

The MPs and peers state in the 152-page report: “We conclude that this Bill breaches a number of the UK’s international human rights obligations and risks breaching others.

“The Home Secretary herself has been unable to certify that the Bill is compatible with Convention rights.

“We therefore urge the Government to consider our conclusions and recommendations in order to address the human rights incompatibilities within this Bill.”


Home Secretary Suella Braverman has admitted the legislation has more than a 50% chance of being incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

In a letter to MPs and peers sent in March, Mrs Braverman said she was compelled to make the statement under the Human Rights Act, which enshrined the convention in the UK.

Ms Cherry said: “When she introduced this Bill to Parliament, the Home Secretary took the unusual step of making a statutory declaration under the Human Rights Act that she was unable to state that the bill was compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

“However, she has stated elsewhere that the Bill is compatible with international law. We disagree.

“Having carried out legislative scrutiny of the Bill it is overwhelmingly clear that it breaches a number of the UK’s international human rights obligations including the ECHR and risks breaching others.”

Ms Cherry, a qualified barrister, said most people fleeing persecution or conflict currently have “no safe and legal way of getting here”.

She continued: “Under the Bill, any refugee or victim of modern slavery who comes to the UK irregularly and indirectly, as most do, will automatically have their asylum claim declared inadmissible.

“They will also be subject to detention without time limit and removal from the UK irrespective of the merits of their claims.

“The Bill applies not only to refugees but also to victims of trafficking and slavery. By treating victims of modern slavery as ‘illegal migrants’ subject to detention and removal, this Bill would breach our legal obligations to such victims and would risk increasing trafficking of vulnerable people.”

The SNP MP added: “The UK has international legal obligations to those fleeing persecution and conflict, victims of modern slavery, and children. The Bill needs to comply with these obligations.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

One against the many, not quite, there is no Braverman without Sunak…

Both must be put before a jury…

A General Election is urgently required to provide that jury…

Enough damage has been done to the UK, end it now…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

A new book is published on 1940’s France, ‘France on Trial’: The case of Marshall Petain*…

The author Julian Jackson might be persuaded to sharpen his quill for a follow up; England on Trial: The Case of Al Johnson and Rishi Sunak…

*Agnes Poirier in the Guardian on-line this morning…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

This morning’s Tory mouthpiece Grant Shapps, other names are available…

Would you buy a second-hand car off this man?

Kuenssberg; didn’t she used to work for Fat Shanks?

Who to trust?…Nobody from the BBC or No10 for a start…

10 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Was she Prime Ministers spokesperson, or was it BBC Political Editor her job title, can’t remember?

Gwyn Morris
Gwyn Morris
10 months ago

Ceridigion is suffering from a depopulation of its more talented and productive individuals.

The obvious solution is to replace them with thousands of these readily available skilled technicians and medical practitioners from Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

After all, we are a Nation of Sanctuary.

Sue Todd
Sue Todd
10 months ago
Reply to  Gwyn Morris

Skilled medical doctors and other professional technical people will hardly be coming illegally across on rubber dinghies. No, they would be arriving legitimately and properly, on a plane. And of course would be welcomed for their technical and medical skills and hopefully their spoken English language, Note, English,the global language, they won’t know any Welsh. Anyway, these hypothetical people wouldn’t come here, they would go to Australia or USA for a larger salary than Wales could possibly afford. And why shouldn’t they? They want to provide for their family the best they can. Nation of Sanctuary, that’s quite funny. No… Read more »

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
10 months ago
Reply to  Sue Todd

Ha Ha Ha Ha, I think you need to do a little research about the refugees that are risking everything coming across the channel.

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