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  • Sarah Henry

UK: Anti-Refugee Bill Suffers Major Defeat In The House Of Lords

1st March 2022

Some light in these dark times. The House of Lords voted against one of the most controversial and shameful parts of the Nationality and Borders Bill, voting to remove Clause 11 which would allow for a categorisation of refugees seeking asylum in the UK depending on how they arrived.

This essentially allows the government to pick and choose who they want to help while also criminalising other vulnerable people fleeing persecution. Essentially, those who do not arrive by a ‘government-sanctioned route,’ would have their cases deemed inadmissible and face criminalisation. Of course, the government sees this as a way of protecting those who are most vulnerable, meaning those who are travelling ‘legally’ into the UK due to a fear of persecution. NONE of this reflects the reality facing asylum seekers on any level. Claiming asylum is not illegal!

The devastating crisis in Ukraine serves to remind us of the markedly diverse reactions to those fleeing persecution from certain countries. All asylum seekers should be treated the same and should be treated with fairness, void of discrimination and pre-judgement.

The defeat suffered in the House of Lords has been hailed by onlookers and campaigners as a victory. Speaking against the clause, renowned refugee campaigner Lord Dubs said people fleeing Afghanistan and Ukraine “give the lie to the idea that somehow you can get here by the sort of route that the Home Office approves of”. This is simply not realistic. We are witnessing first-hand how people can be so rapidly displaced from their homes, and how others are stuck in war-torn cities facing severe harm or even death on a daily basis. This clause was only one of the cruel aspects of the Bill debated. It remains to be seen how MP’s will receive the strongly, outspoken rejection.

The current debate around the ‘anti-refugee’ bill goes to demonstrate how determined this government is to pursue a hardcore post-brexit immigration plan, even though it flies in the face of fundamental principles of humanitarian and refugee law. The proposed legislation only serves to expose an already problematic immigration system by forcing more vulnerable and desperate asylum seekers into further risk or into the hands of traffickers.

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