Despite significant opposition from human rights, anti-trafficking and refugee right organisations, and significant opposition from fellow MPs and the Scottish Parliament, the Illegal Migration Bill has passed in the House of Commons at Westminster. The Illegal Migration Bill is catastrophic for refugee rights. The bill breaks the principle of non-refoulement set by the UN Refugee Convention, in a move described by the UN Refugee Agency to extinguish right to asylum in the UK.
"The legislation will exacerbate the already vulnerable situation of people who arrive irregularly in the UK, drastically limiting the enjoyment of their human rights, and putting them at risk of detention and destitution"
- High Commissioner on Human Trafficking 17.7.2023
The Bill is a gross violation of international human rights, and there is no evidence indicating it will manage the influx of refugees to the UK. There also is no evidence that supports Westminster's framing of human trafficking as an immigration issue. There is however overwhelming evidence that dismissal of refugee rights will endanger thousands of vulnerable people often running from dangerous conditions in their home country.
"Carrying out removals under these circumstances is contrary to prohibitions of refoulement and collective expulsions, rights to due process, to family and private life, and the principle of best interests of children concerned,”
- UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Volker Türk 17.7.2023
This is unacceptable from a country claiming to be a global leader in anti-trafficking and human rights. Furthermore, the legislation prevents Scotland from committing to human rights-based refugee and anti-trafficking policy.
The UNHS strongly condemns the passage of the Illegal Migration Bill and urges all organisations across the UK and Europe to show their agitation and disgust of Westminster's actions. Any neutral stance on this legislation absolves Rishi Sunak's government from responsibility.
There is no situation where backtracking on human rights and breaking international law is acceptable, and we need to hold Westminster accountable for this.
To learn more about the work being done by the UN House Scotland Human Trafficking Team, click here.