UK’s controversial refugee plan becomes law


Britain’s controversial plan to send refugees to countries like Rwanda so that their paperwork can be completed there will now become law after the British government won a final round of votes in the upper house.

The Illegal Migration Bill will now go to King Charles III for Royal Assent after which the legislation will be passed.

The controversial bill aims to prevent thousands of refugees and migrants from crossing the English Channel on small boats. This includes victims of human trafficking and slavery as well as children with their parents or guardians, or children fleeing on their own.

BBC reports that the British Home Secretary has, in terms of the bill, a legal duty to detain and eventually deport anyone who enters the United Kingdom illegally; either to Rwanda or another so-called safe third country.

The United Nations, meanwhile, said the bill “will have profound consequences for people in need of international protection”.

“This new legislation erodes the legal framework that has protected so many and exposes refugees to serious risks in violation of international law,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said on Tuesday.

It is unclear where migrants will be sent, as the British Court of Appeal declared the so-called Rwanda plan illegal last month. The British government is still contesting this ruling.

Volker Turk, the UN’s human rights chief, for his part, said the bill created a “worrying precedent for the dismantling of asylum-related obligations that other countries – including those in Europe – could be tempted to follow”.

The bill was approved in the last few days first in the British lower house and then in the upper house.

Opponents in the unelected upper house tried to soften the bill by proposing changes, but amendments to parts of the legislation, including modern slavery protections and limits on how long child migrants can be detained, were voted down in a series of votes.