Suella Braverman admits Stop The Boats bill has chance of being incompatible with Convention of Human Rights
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This comes after MPs and peers warned ministers that the new legislation breaches a ‘number of the UK’s human rights obligations’. Most asylum seekers arriving in the UK after the flagship legislation has been passed would have their claim ‘declared inadmissible’, according to a report published by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights.
Chairwoman Joanna Cherry MP said children were ‘affected by every aspect’ of what prime minister Rishi Sunak has dubbed the Stop The Boats Bill – and vulnerable groups, including victims of trafficking and modern slavery, would be disproportionately impacted. She said the knock-on impact could be that the number of people being trafficked increases because of the Government’s proposals.
The Joint Committee is urging ministers to make changes so as not to breach Britain’s legal obligations to those fleeing persecution and conflict. The committee’s findings are published in its report, Legislative Scrutiny: Illegal Migration Bill, published today (June 11).
It includes an annex containing suggestions for how the draft law could be amended. Suella Braverman, Fareham MP, has admitted the legislation has over a 50 per cent chance of being incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The MPs and peers state in the 152-page report: ‘We conclude that this Bill breaches a number of the UK’s international human rights obligations and risks breaching others. The home secretary herself has been unable to certify that the Bill is compatible with Convention rights.
‘We therefore urge the Government to consider our conclusions and recommendations in order to address the human rights incompatibilities within this Bill.’ In a letter to MPs and peers sent in March, Mrs Braverman said she was compelled to make the statement under the Human Rights Act, which enshrined the convention in the UK.
Ms Cherry, a qualified barrister, said: “When she introduced this Bill to Parliament, the Home Secretary took the unusual step of making a statutory declaration under the Human Rights Act that she was unable to state that the bill was compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
‘However, she has stated elsewhere that the Bill is compatible with international law. We disagree. Having carried out legislative scrutiny of the Bill it is overwhelmingly clear that it breaches a number of the UK’s international human rights obligations including the ECHR and risks breaching others.’
The Illegal Migration Bill, which Mr Sunak has said is a key part of his pledge to stop small boats of migrants from crossing the English Channel, has been passed by the House of Commons – though it continues to face fierce opposition in the House of Lords. The bill aims to detain those who arrive in the UK illegally and deport them – either to their home country or a third party country such as Rwanda.
The Home Office said excluding children and modern slavery victims from the scope of the Bill could provide ‘incentives’ to human traffickers. A department spokeswoman said ‘it is not compassionate to allow people to die in the Channel’ and the legislation sends a ‘clear message’ that the exploitation of those ferried into the UK must end.