• Sunday, January 29, 2023

HEADLINE STORY

UN criticises ‘factual errors’ in asylum report backed by Suella Braverman

The Centre for Policy Studies paper with the home secretary’s foreword called for barring migrants illegally coming to Britain from ever settling in the country.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

The United Nations refugee agency has criticised a centre-right think tank’s hardline report supported by Home Secretary Suella Braverman that proposed permanent detention of asylum seekers entering the UK illegally.

The Centre for Policy Studies paper with the home secretary’s foreword called for barring migrants arriving in Britain illegally from ever settling in the country.

It also sought new laws that would make it impossible to claim asylum in Britain after travelling from a safe country and the UK’s withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights if necessary.

Braverman wrote she did “not agree with everything in the report” but said Britain had “enough of the persistent abuse of human rights laws.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s representative to the UK, Vicky Tennant, said the report contained “critical factual and legal errors” about the international legal status of refugees and asylum-seekers.

There is no such thing as an “illegal asylum-seeker”, Tennant said as she insisted that “everybody has the right to seek asylum from persecution in another country”.

Indefinite detention of asylum seekers based only on their mode of arrival would amount to “punishing people in need of help and protection” and “constitute a clear breach” of Britain’s obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

“A blanket ban on claiming asylum in the UK for those arriving on small boats would also breach the Refugee Convention if this results in refugees having no means to establish their status and places them at risk of enforced return to their own countries. Resettlement is a complementary system. It cannot replace obligations under International Law to provide access to asylum,” she said.

Tennant, however, said the refugee agency shared the UK’s concerns over the rising numbers of asylum seekers dangerously crossing the English Channel.

“But access to asylum should never be contingent on the mode of arrival or nationality”, she said, adding “the only way to establish whether people are refugees is through a fair and efficient determination of their claims.”

She urged the UK to pursue “humane and cost-effective measures” to ensure that refugees would receive the protection they needed,” she said.

Meanwhile, prime minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman pointed out that Braverman did not agree with all of the report’s suggestions.

He, however, said the government understood “the need to go further” on the migrant crisis.

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