Not a single European country has decided to support the UK government’s controversial asylum schemes, and the UN on Saturday night criticized the proposals as so damaging that they risked Britain’s “global credibility.”
Six weeks after Home Secretary Priti Patel unveiled radical immigration reform that included the deportation of immigrants entering the UK illegally to safe countries like “France and other EU countries,” sources have said the Ministry the Interior has not been able to persuade any European. state to enroll in the scheme.
The UN Agency for Refugees He will soon publish his detailed legal opinion on Patel’s asylum proposals which are likely to conclude that his plans violate international law and are unworkable. Despite this, Patel’s asylum proposals will appear in the Queen’s speech on Tuesday, which sets the government’s legislative agenda for next year.
However, the complete lack of bilateral European agreements to return migrants from the United Kingdom, coupled with a warning from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that the Home Office’s proposals run the risk of undermining global agreements for long history of offering protection to refugees, already casts doubt on their future.
Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, UNHCR representative in the United Kingdom, told the Observer that the UK’s plans threatened the integrity of the UN refugee convention, which the UK government helped draft in 1951, and which seeks to protect people fleeing persecution or catastrophe.
Pagliuchi-Lor said: “If a country like the UK, still rich despite the Covid recession and with a relatively low number of asylum seekers, seeks to move away from its obligations under the convention, what message does it send to others than host a large number?
“There is no doubt that the UK has earned the reputation of a country of asylum and, with it, considerable global credibility, which, incidentally, it has used to defend open asylum abroad. The goal should be a system that balances the sharing of responsibilities between countries. “
Pagliuchi-Lor noted that the UK’s plans appeared not to comply with the 1951 convention that obliges countries to protect refugees on their territory. He added: “As is often the case in international law, compliance depends on the willingness of states to act in accordance with their commitments.”
His comments follow significant concern over the government’s consultation, which ended last Thursday, on its fundamental changes in refugee policy. A total of 192 refugee, human rights, legal and religious groups recently signed a public statement denouncing the exercise as a “sham”.
On Thursday, the Law Society’s presentation to the consultation described the planned changes as “undermining access to justice and mocking British fair play.”
UNHCR also revealed that it has offered to help the UK government reform the asylum system, but has yet to receive a formal response from the Home Office. “Our proposals aim to find quick solutions within the existing system, based in part on experiences from other countries. We are of course ready to discuss further improvements with the UK, ”said Pagliuchi-Lor.
It follows reports from last week that hundreds of asylum seekers in the UK have already been warned that they could be transferred to other European countries, despite Brexit removing Britain’s power to make such transfers. and the fact that it does not have a legal agreement with the EU nations. these people back.
When the UK left the EU single market on January 1, it also abandoned the so-called Dublin regulation, the legal mechanism that allows EU governments to transfer applicants back to other member states where they had previously registered. .
The Interior Ministry has been contacted for comment.