A report partially backed by the UK Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, was a cause of deep concern for the UNHCR office yesterday. The report, published by the Centre for Policy Studies (‘CPS’), endorsed a ‘radical crackdown’ on refugee asylum seekers, which the UNHCR has strongly criticized as having many “factual and legal errors.” Braverman wrote the foreword to the report, describing the study as a ‘vital and necessary contribution to the policy debate about what can be done to tackle the crossings’.
The UNCHR expressed deep concern over the CPS’s calls for indefinite detention of all asylum seekers that enter the UK without prior legal permission to do so. A statement issued by the UN Refugee Commissioner was highly critical of the stance that the CPS chose to take, especially regarding the ‘hard-liner’ proposals that it would entail towards the UK asylum system.
The 115-page CPS report was authored by Nick Timothy a former member of the Downing Street Chief of Chief during Theresa May’s premiership. The ‘hard-liner’ proposals in the report included: indefinite detention of all asylum seekers who enter the UK illegally; rapid offshoring to Rwanda for all asylum seekers who enter the UK illegally; new laws that would make it virtually impossible to claim asylum in the UK after travelling from a safe country; as well as effectible barring migrants who enter the country illegally from ever settling in Britain.
The report also recommended that domestic human rights laws be reformed to allow for detention and offshoring – including, if necessary, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights. Reforms to Modern Slavery Act-related claims, tightening the criteria and evidential thresholds available, were additional steps proposed by the report to limit appeals and allow exclusions for whole nationalities where there is alleged to be widespread abuse of the asylum system.
In comments supplementing the report, Timothy said ‘if human rights law prevents us from taking that approach and securing our borders, we must be prepared to change those laws and if necessary, leave the ECHR altogether.’
The UNCHR responded to Timothy’s statements, reaffirming that everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution in another a country, and that the report is factually incorrect because ‘there is no such thing as an ‘illegal asylum-seeker.’