The Sovereign Borders Bill risks not only violating international law, but leaving asylum seekers in danger.
First published in March 2021.
There are some very concerning aspects of the Sovereign Borders Bill. Safety is a subjective matter. Where may be safe for you or I might not be for an asylum seeker. Only yesterday news was released about Greece conducting pushback operations.
While many countries carry out these illegal operations, what makes the Greek version stand out, aside from the number of them, is that they are alleged to be doing it to refugees who have already arrived and are removed from centres.
France was convicted last year of abusing refugee rights, and the authorities are known to attack them. In addition to this local authorities, such as Calais, have criminalised the provision of aid to asylum seekers.
We see the same story repeated in various versions across Europe and the world at large. So the matter of seeking safety is not necessarily as clear cut as which countries asylum seekers pass through.
Couple this with an obligation under international law that asylum seekers must not be penalised for manner of entry, and pausing of the UK’s resettlement options, and the Sovereign Borders Bill risks not only violating international law, but leaving asylum seekers in danger.
- Greek ‘pushbacks’ brought to European court after child refugees ‘towed out to sea and abandoned in raft’ | The Independent
- European Court of Human Rights condemns France over ‘inhuman’ living conditions for asylum-seekers | France 24
- ‘Help and you are a criminal’: the fight to defend refugee rights at Europe's borders | The Guardian
- Asylum and Migration | UNHCR
- Article 31 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees:Non-penalization, Detention and Protection | RefWorld, UNHCR
▫ Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.
[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 15 March 2021 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]
(Cover: Human Rights Watch/Zalmaï. - Asylum seekers and migrants descend from a large fishing vessel used to transport them from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. | 11 October 2015. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)