Plaid Cymru tables ‘Nation of Sanctuary’ amendment to UK Government’s Illegal Migration Bill
Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams has criticised the UK Government’s “anti-refugee bill”, saying that “it is not up to the Government to pick and choose who is sufficiently human to benefit from human rights”.
His comments come ahead of the House of Commons debating amendments to the Illegal Migration Bill this evening, including one from Plaid Cymru which would require the UK and Welsh Governments to jointly produce guidance setting out how measures under the Act can be exercised in a way which is consistent with the Welsh Government’s commitment to being a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’.
In 2019, the Welsh Government declared that Wales would become the world’s first ‘Nation of Sanctuary’; a move endorsed by the United Nations.
It renewed the Welsh Government’s commitment of working with the UK Government, local authorities, the Welsh Refugee Coalition and people seeking sanctuary themselves to achieve equality of opportunities, including access to resources and mainstream services.
The UK Government’s proposed legislation would threaten asylum seekers with removal, as well as deny access to the asylum system or lawful immigration status to anyone who enters outside normal immigration laws.
This means no asylum seeker entering unlawfully will ever in future be given permission to stay or permission to work and their families, if they have one, will never be allowed to join them lawfully.
This undermines Wales’s aim to expand the rights of refugees and asylum seekers to access services, according to Plaid Cymru.
Mr Williams said: “This Bill is an affront to the values that both my party and so many people in Wales hold dear. People are calling it out for what it is, ‘the Anti-Refugee Bill’.
“Not only is it at odds with the objectives and spirit of international human rights treaties to which the UK is a signatory, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the 1951 Refugee Convention, but it is also counter to Wales’s stated ambition of being a ‘Nation of Sanctuary.’
“Had we our own way, this Bill would not apply in Wales. That is why my party has tabled New Clause 29 which would require the UK and Welsh Governments to jointly produce guidance setting out how measures under this Act can be exercised in a way which is consistent with the Welsh Government’s commitment of being a Nation of Sanctuary.
“No guidance can be published unless it has been approved by the Senedd.
“Denying refugees and migrants the protection of the Human Rights Act is abhorrent and wrong. Human rights are universal. We are all human. It is not for the Government to pick and choose who is sufficiently human to benefit.
“This is but the thin end of the wedge. An attack on one group’s rights is eventually an attack on all. Plaid Cymru will be opposing this vicious, unfair and damaging Bill tonight.”
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