Sunak defends controversial migrant bill, UN expresses concern
London, Mar 8 (EFE).- The United Kingdom prime minister on Wednesday defended his government’s controversial migration bill, which aims to scrap the right to asylum for migrants who arrive in the country in small boats and speed up their deportation.
Rishi Sunak, leader of the Conservative Party government, said the plans were being drawn up to tackle a “global migration crisis” and that the legislation would allow the UK to handle migration “fairly and legally.”
“Stopping the boats is not just my priority, it’s the people’s priority,” Sunak told lawmakers during the weekly questions at the House of Commons.
The Illegal Migration Bill sets forth that irregular migrants who reach the British coast will be detained for 28 days without being able to be released provisionally or have their case reviewed in a timely way by a court, the government has said.
It will allow the UK to deport migrants to their home country or, if that is deemed unsafe, to Rwanda as part of the country’s recent deal with the African nation to host asylum seekers.
Migrants who arrive in the UK in small boats could also be banned from re-entering the country or claiming asylum at a future date.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said he was “deeply concerned at this legislation.”
“Such a wholesale ban preventing people from seeking asylum and other forms of international protection in the UK would be at variance with the UK’s obligations under international human rights and refugee law,” he added in a statement.
“All people compelled to leave their country of origin to seek safety and dignity abroad are entitled to the full respect of their human rights, regardless of their migration status or mode of arrival.”
In a separate statement Tuesday, the UN’s refugee agency said the “legislation, if passed, would amount to an asylum ban.”
“The effect of the bill (in this form) would be to deny protection to many asylum-seekers in need of safety and protection, and even deny them the opportunity to put forward their case.”
It added: “This would be a clear breach of the Refugee Convention and would undermine a longstanding, humanitarian tradition of which the British people are rightly proud.”
The controversy surrounding the draft law also embroiled former footballer and broadcaster Gary Lineker, who in a now deleted tweet said the language used by the government in presenting the bill was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.”
The BBC, Lineker’s employer, said it was having a “frank conversation” with the celebrity over his use of social media with regards to the organization’s impartiality guidelines.
The opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer on Wednesday said the bill was a “gimmick” and an “empty promise” from the government.
Sunak said Starmer was “just another leftie lawyer standing our way.” EFE