| 24 May 2024, Friday |

As UK passes illegal migration bill, UN says it is against international law

The United Nations has strongly criticized Britain’s illegal migration bill shortly after it received parliamentary approval on Tuesday, July 18. The UN has firmly stated that the bill, which is awaiting the formal “royal assent” to become law, contradicts London’s commitments under international law. In a collective statement, the UN’s leaders in refugee and human rights matters expressed that the bill “deviates from the nation’s responsibilities under international human rights and refugee law, and will have significant implications for individuals seeking international protection.”


The controversial bill seeks to stop thousands of migrants arriving on British shores in small boats. The bill has cleared its last parliamentary hurdle. The members of the House of Lords, the unelected upper house defeated a string of challenges to the government’s Illegal Migration Bill

The bill is central to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats”.

“This new legislation significantly erodes the legal framework that has protected so many, exposing refugees to grave risks in breach of international law,” said UN refugees head Filippo Grandi.

“I urge the UK government to renew this commitment to human rights by reversing this law and ensuring that the rights of all migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are respected, protected and fulfilled, without discrimination,” said UN human rights chief Volker Turk.

The bill, when it becomes a law will mean that anyone arriving by boat will be denied the right to apply for asylum in the UK. As the parliament has passed the bill it will now await the formality of the “royal assent” from King Charles the Third.

‘Safe’ country Rwanda
The legislation provides for measures which are seen as a deterrent to migrants. The bill says that all irregular arrivals may be transferred to “safe” third countries such as Rwanda. This means that a migrant, who may not be from Rwanda, can potentially be transferred there.

In 2022, more than 45,000 migrants arrived in small boars on the shores of southeast England. This was a 60 per cent annual increase in the influx of migrants. The sea route is perilous and has been used by more people since 2018.

Recently, three Court of Appeal judges in the UK ruled that Rwanda cannot be considered a safe third country. The UK government said last month that it would appeal the judgment.

PM Sunak has said he respected the court but “fundamentally” disagreed with the conclusions drawn by the judges.

Till now, no deportation flights to Rwanda have taken place.

Rights groups accuse Rwanda — ruled with an iron fist by President Paul Kagame since the end of the 1994 genocide that killed around 800,000 people — of cracking down on free speech and opposition.

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