Government’s migration bill condemned as illegal

Tom Franklin (head shot)
York Green Party Chair, Tom Franklin

York Green Party’s chair Tom Franklin has written to the city’s two MPs to condemn the governments proposals in the “Illegal Migration Bill”.


Dear Julian, Rachel

I am deeply shocked and appalled by the Home Secretary and Prime Minister’s plan to destroy the right to asylum in the UK with their ‘Illegal Migration Bill’.

If this bill becomes law the last fig leaves of being part of a “rules based” system will fall off leaving the government exposed in all its lies and deceit. It is quite clear to anyone with any understanding of the International Law that the illegal must refer to the bill and not to migration.

The 1951 Refugee Convention, of which Churchill and the British Government were key authors will be trashed. The convention, to which we are signatories, is absolutely clear that refugees do not need to stop in the first “safe” country that they come to, and that they may use any means to travel to what they consider a safe country. It is worse still. The Bill would breach the following articles of the convention:

  • Article 16(1) A refugee shall have free access to the courts of law on the territory of all Contracting States.
  • Article 16(2) A refugee shall enjoy in the Contracting State in which he has his habitual residence the same treatment as a national in matters pertaining to access to the Courts, including legal assistance and exemption from cautio judicatum solvi.
  • Article 32(3) The Contracting States shall allow such a refugee a reasonable period within which to seek legal admission into another country….

The United Nations, the EU and many others including a wide variety of lawyers have made clear that the bill breaches our international obligations, and the Home Secretary herself has said at the front of the Bill in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights “I am unable to make a statement that, in my view, the provisions of the Illegal Migration Bill are compatible with the Convention rights”.

This Bill is not a serious attempt to deal with the supposed refugee problem that we face. I say supposed because the UK takes a relatively small number of refugees compared to other European countries with similar populations. (France more than twice as many, Germany many more again). It is absurd to say that refugees should use “legal routes” when, for instance, only 22 (that is 22, not 22 hundred or 22 thousand) Afghan refugees were settled through the so called legal routes.

Most refugees are internally displaced (ie within their country of origin), and then in countries adjacent to their country of origin. The result is that the highest proportion of refugees fall on some of the poorest countries (Lebanon and Jordan with Palestinian and Syrian refugees); Bangladesh with Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, Turkey with Syrian refugees.

The UK is simply shirking its responsibilities and using the excuse of “first safe country” because we happen to be a long way from areas of conflict and have closed routes for refugees to come directly.

The Bill plans to basically constitute internment or concentration camps for people, many of whom have suffered hugely both in their country of origin and on the route here. Many have been tortured and had members of their family killed. To lock them up in the way proposed in the Bill will simply compound their suffering.

Even refugee children, fleeing persecution and arriving here all alone, would be shoved into an unsafe, overcrowded Home Office hotel whilst they wait in limbo to turn 18 at which point, they will be rounded up and deported to Rwanda. 

What is more, the evidence from Australia is that the Bill will fail on its own terms. People coming here are desperate and are not reading government bills or acts of parliament. Those that come here have compelling reasons to risk everything to come here. And, it is worth pointing out that the vast majority of those that arrive in small boats are (eventually) granted refugee status.

To proudly tweet, as the prime minister did “If you come to the UK illegally you will be… DENIED access to the UK’s modern slavery system” is one of the most appalling things I have ever read. The Prime Minister of the UK is saying slavery in the UK is OK now, so long as the slave arrived illegally. If you are not shocked by that then I cannot imagine what would ever shock you.

If you have any humanity you must oppose this illegal bill.

In Friendship

Tom Franklin (chair) & Martina Weitsch (vice chair)
York Green Party

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