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Migration bill will ‘rock’ Britain’s standing, say lawyers
Law Society of England and Wales HQ at Chancery Lane in London Pic: Shutterstock

14 Mar 2023 / global Print

Migration bill will ‘rock’ Britain’s standing – lawyers

The Law Society of England and Wales has issued a statement on a measure aimed at tackling small-boat crossings, which is going before the House of Commons.

The solicitors’ representative body said that the measure to halt small-boat crossings could rock Britain’s standing as a law-abiding nation.

The British Government should reconsider its approach to refugees and asylum, the Law Society said ahead of the second reading of the Illegal Migration Bill yesterday.

Reputational jeopardy

“If the UK were to violate international law in this way, it would jeopardise the British Government’s reputation for upholding the rule of law and delivering justice,” Law Society President Lubna Shuja said.

“This would rock the UK’s standing as a reliable nation that upholds its international responsibilities, which has underpinned its position as an attractive hub of global investment and a bastion of the rule of law. The rule of law and justice are at the heart of Britain’s identity and our position in the international community,” she added.

“There is a high chance this bill may not comply with international and domestic law. It could lead to the British State violating fundamental rights, such as the right to life, to be protected from torture, trafficking and slavery, to liberty, to fair trial.

“The bill would also give the Home Secretary broad powers, drastically reduce oversight by British courts, and diminish access to justice for those seeking asylum.”

Three in four are refugees

Shuja said that the Home Office accepted that more than three in four people claiming asylum in 2022 were refugees.

“The near-total ban on asylum this bill proposes would mean most refugees seeking asylum in the UK in future would be refused the protection they have as a right under the UN Refugee Convention.

“The home secretary would also have the power to deport unaccompanied children, potentially exposing them to human trafficking and other risks, with no clarity on how this power could be used. This may breach the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Attention to detail

Shuja added: “Good law-making requires rigour and attention to detail. But there has been no public consultation, including with lawyers who have practical experience of these cases, to ensure this bill is workable or provides due process for those claiming asylum.”

Rather than introducing new legislation, she said that the Home Office “should instead fix the administrative problems with the asylum system so it is fair and fit for purpose. And it should make any decisions which have a profound impact on people’s lives in line with our international commitments”.

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