We’ll keep working for a just and humane asylum system, following the passage of the Nationality and Borders Bill (the Bill) through parliament last night.
At the heart of the Bill is a matrix of measures to punish refugees for arriving spontaneously or travelling via other countries, including discrimination against recognised refugees on the basis of how they travelled, and criminal penalties for arriving without documents. This punitive approach to irregular entry has been deemed illegal by numerous experts and condemned by the United Nations Humanitarian Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Bill also includes: a process for fast-tracking asylum appeals in detention. This resurrects a previous system of ‘detention fast-track’ that was so unfair it was ruled illegal by the courts; provisions to roll-out asylum accommodation centres, which are currently being trialled at the asylum camp at the former Napier barracks; and provisions that would make it harder for victims of modern slavery to gain recognition and support.
Sophie Cartwright, JRS UK’s Senior Policy Officer, said: “The passage of this anti-refugee Bill is tragic. It will punish men, women, and children seeking sanctuary on our shores for the sheer realities of forced migration. It treats hostility and cruelty as virtues. It not only disregards human dignity, human connection, and human life – it is an attack upon them.”
The Bill’s cruel measures appear to be at odds with public sympathy towards refugees. For example, more than 200,000 people signed up to host refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine; and recent research from the British Red Cross shows that over 62% think that the UK should welcome refugees.
Sophie continued: “This is not the end of the story. We will continue to stand in solidarity with refugees, resist the impacts of this Bill, and demand justice and compassion. We will build communities of hospitality and welcome in place of this hostility.”
Together with over 200 other organisations, we’ve signed a pledge to fight the forthcoming anti Refugee Laws that the Bill will make a reality.
The government pushed the Bill through, without concessions, despite strong opposition and attempts to amend the Bill from opposition parties across parliament and Conservatives in the House of Lords. It is reported that dubious Conservative parliamentarians were heavily pressured to backdown on proposed amendments.
Contact your MP to express opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill Act, and also raise concerns about the plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda.