The UK government is set to introduce new measures that will prevent migrants who arrive by boat from re-entering the country permanently.
UK PM Rishi Sunak is said to be clamping down on “stopping the boats” and is proposing that anyone arriving on UK shores by small boat be removed to Rwanda or a “safe” third country “as soon as reasonably practicable.”
This move is expected to apply a “rights brake” to avoid the UN’s Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights, which currently allow asylum seekers the right to seek protection in the UK.
The decision comes as the UK government attempts to tackle the rising numbers of asylum seekers crossing from France to the UK. Last year, a deal was reached to send migrants to Rwanda, but no migrants have been sent yet, and any plans to do so are currently on hold.
The Refugee Council has criticised the plans, stating that thousands of asylum seekers will be left “permanently in limbo” as a result.
However, the High Court ruled last year that the scheme did not breach the UN’s Refugee Convention. The decision is currently facing further challenges in the courts, with a preliminary hearing expected on Monday at the Court of Appeal.
The UK government has been accused of breaking its long-standing commitment under the UN Convention to give people a fair hearing regardless of how they get to the UK.
The Refugee Council’s CEO, Enver Solomon, called the legislation “flawed” and stated that it would not stop the boats but could see tens of thousands of people locked up in detention at a huge cost.
Labour’s shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, has also criticised the government’s proposals, calling them “just the latest in a long line of unworkable gimmicks.”
He has suggested taking the hundreds of millions of pounds that would be wasted on the Rwanda scheme and putting it into the National Crime Agency to start rounding up and arresting criminal gangs that are trafficking people.
According to government figures, in 2022, 45,756 migrants crossed the English Channel to Britain in small boats.