UK Plan to Stop People-Trafficking Will ‘Push Boundaries of International Law’

People trafficked from France in small boats and were picked up in the English Channel are brought to the port of DoverInternationalIndiaAfricaJames TweedieMore than 45,000 people reached the UK illegally in overloaded small boats across the English Channel in 2022. Another 3,000 have already been trafficked this year despite harsh weather conditions on the deceptively dangerous seaway.The British home secretary has said the plan to crack down on the deadly cross-channel trade in human misery “pushes the boundaries of international law.”Suella Braverman will unveil proposed new legislation to human trafficking and the ongoing migrant crisis later on Tuesday.It will include changing immigration laws to prevent those taking illegal routes to British shores from claiming political asylum or from appealing against deportation orders using human rights law.Those caught making illegal crossings would be deported to a third country and forbidden from returning to the UK or applying for citizenship.Braverman will reportedly ask for the new rules to apply immediately to prevent traffickers using the remaining window of opportunity to rush as many victims across the English channel in dangerously overloaded small boats — where many will end up in below-minimum wage jobs, organized crime or even prostitution.But former Justice Secretary Sir Robert Buckland said the new policy would not step outside current international agreements.”I’ve had assurances that the government isn’t seeking to break international law — that’s its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, the Refugee Convention,” Buckland said.Abandoning those conventions would create “a bit of a free for all for everybody to try and do their own thing” — as other European countries are also struggling to halt people-trafficking.However, the government is also planning to take advantage of the UK’s formal exit from the European Union to overhaul and slim down human rights laws.Buckland said he would examine the new legislation to make sure it contained exemptions for anyone “who clearly is coming for the right reasons to be able to seek asylum here in the UK” — giving examples of those fleeing war, among others.The former minister admitted there had been “a lot of over-promising and under-delivering” on the issue from a string of Conservative governments, but that new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was right in taking things “one step at a time” and focus on initiatives like the recent deal with France “to avert the problem from reaching the Channel in the first place.”Nearly 3,000 people have already made the perilous crossing of the freezing, treacherous waters since the start of this year. At least 45,728 are estimated to have arrived by the same route in 2022, a large proportion of them from the peaceful European country of Albania. Many are being housed in hotels, while others are in reception centres described as overcrowded and squalid.At least 27 people drowned in November 2021 when a traffickers’ boat capsized in the channel. Another 59 died in a similar incident off the Italian coast in February this year.UK Plan to Stop People-Trafficking Will 'Push Boundaries of International Law'WorldSunak Promises No More Migrant Boats as New Law Set to Be Announced Next Week 5 March, 08:24 GMTOpposition parties and refugee NGOs have already condemned the government’s plan as both inhumane and impractical before the legislation has been launched.

"At the moment, a lot of this looks like a rerun of the things they had in last year's law just nine months ago which made things worse and the crossings leapt to a record high," Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said.

“There has got to be action that goes after the criminal gangs and overhauls the asylum system and also gets a new agreement with France,” she added. “We need a serious plan, not just more headlines.”Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, accused the government of shattering “the UK’s long-standing commitment under the UN Convention to give people a fair hearing regardless of the path they have taken to reach our shores,” adding that the plan was “unworkable, costly and won’t stop the boats.”


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