April 13 2024
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Braverman denounces international refugee protections

Braverman denounces international refugee protections

Wikimedia Commons

The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has been criticised for a speech in which she said the UN Refugee Convention was outdated, and described uncontrolled migration as an ‘existential challenge’ for the west.

Speaking at a libertarian think-tank in Washington DC, Braverman questioned whether the 1951 Convention was ‘fit for our modern age’, and said international rules should be rewritten so fewer people are eligible for protection. She described the current system as ‘absurd and unsustainable’ with ‘huge incentives for illegal migration’.

In the speech, delivered as part of her official government duties in the US, she singled out people who seek sanctuary as a result of persecution for their identity, saying that being gay, or a woman, should not be sufficient to qualify for protection.

Much of the criticism of the Home Secretary has noted that the current system already only grants sanctuary where people are facing the serious risk of oppression, torture or persecution for their gender or sexuality. Last year only 1.5% of the UK’s 74,751 asylum claims cited sexual orientation as part of the basis for the claim.

She went on say that ‘uncontrolled immigration, inadequate integration and a misguided dogma of multiculturalism’ have been a ‘toxic combination’ for European countries, echoing some of the continent’s most extreme political factions.

The head of HOPE not Hate, a British anti-fascist charity, said the speech was the ‘most hardline by a government minister I’ve ever heard on immigration and multiculturalism’. In an organisational statement they said: ‘The Home Secretary has the power to reform our asylum system, but instead uses moments like these to play on fears and throw vulnerable people under the bus.’

Sonya Sceats, Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture, has written that Braverman’s speech ‘is not just a surprising position for a liberal democracy to promote, it is positively reckless’. She continued: ‘It will do nothing to stop desperate men, women and children, who have no safe routes, from risking their lives in the Channel, or reduce the backlog of asylum claims that so many torture survivors are languishing in.’

Speaking to the BBC on Wednesday, the UN Refugee Agency said the current legislation is ‘as relevant as ever’, and that it had saved millions of lives. They directly refuted Braverman’s claim that up to 780 million people could soon qualify as refugees, saying that there are around 35 million refugees in the world today and the vast majority of them flee to neighbouring low income countries.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees said: ‘The need is not for reform, or more restrictive interpretation, but for stronger and more consistent application of the Convention and its underlying principle of responsibility-sharing.’

Other government ministers have defended the Home Secretary, including the Home Office Minister, Robert Jenrick. He said ‘the authors of these international frameworks would be appalled that the system they founded is now mired in organisational criminality and exploited by economic migrants.’

Tim Loughton, a Conservative member of the Home Affairs Committee, said Braverman ‘had a point’ as the UK cannot be ‘the refugee camp for the entire world.’

The Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, said the speech was ‘deeply divisive’ and unworthy of the office Braverman holds. The Green party said the comments would ‘not be out of place on a far-right conspiracy website’.

It been reported since Braverman’s speech that its contents were approved by the Prime Minister.