A group of Civil Society organisations from across Europe have written to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in an 11th hour call on his Government to drop the ‘irresponsible’ Illegal Migration Bill.
The organisations, which include the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Greek Council for Refugees, and the Public Law Project, warn that to pursue the Bill at a time of conflict and crisis in Europe is ‘reckless and risks further instability.’
The signatories say the Bill signals to the world that the UK is ‘willing to undermine the international rules-based system.’
When the Bill was introduced, UK critics warned that its provisions would contravene and contradict the European Convention on Human Rights, the 1951 Refugee Convention, and the European Convention on Action Against Trafficking.
The Bill has also been criticised by key international office holders and institutions:
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission has expressed serious concern that the legislation risks placing the UK in breach of its international legal obligations to protect human rights.
- European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson has told the UK Government that the Bill violates international law.
- The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović has urged UK parliamentarians to prevent this legislation being passed.
- The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has expressed profound concern that the Bill would amount to an asylum ban. It has urged the UK Government and parliamentarians to reconsider the Bill and instead pursue more humane and practical policy solutions.
The letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says: “This Bill is a far cry from Britain’s history in participating in the creation of an international rules-based order.”
“If enacted, this Bill will degrade the concept of what it is to be human . . . it will place the UK as one of the outliers and an example to authoritarian powers in Europe and across the world.”