UK border reform bill treats vulnerable newcomers like criminals: Bachelet

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United Nations

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The UN’s top rights official urged the United Kingdom on Friday to reconsider proposed changes to its border policy, warning that suggested reforms would criminalize vulnerable people for entering the country irregularly.

The draft law was introduced as the Nationality and Borders Bill in the House of Commons last July by Home Secretary Priti Patel, so that the UK could “take full control of its borders” and prevent abuse.

As is usual practice, the proposed bill was then sent to the House of Lords for approval.

But the Upper House rejected its key provisions and instead recommended changes that were more in line with international standards.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that the Lords’ “resounding rejection” of the bill’s key provisions should send a compelling signal to the UK Government that it does indeed require “significant amendments.”

Refugee Convention guide

“I urge the Government and MPs [members of Parliament] in the House of Commons to act on this signal and bring the proposed legislation into conformity with international human rights law and the 1951 Refugee Convention,” said Ms. Bachelet.

She added that if the current proposals were not amended, the resulting law would “penalize people who enter the UK by irregular means as if they were criminals.”

Any such development would contravene international law and standards and separate asylum seekers arriving in the UK “into two tiers, violating the right of each person to an individual assessment of their own protection needs,” the High Commissioner insisted.

Nationality stripped

In a statement the High Commissioner also warned that “the Bill as originally formulated would allow for British nationals to be deprived of their UK citizenship without notice and in an arbitrary manner, risking increased Statelessness.”

Ms. Bachelet also highlighted how the proposal “to broadly criminalize those who facilitate irregular migration could punish and deter people from rescuing migrants in distress at sea, potentially resulting in dire consequences, including more tragic loss of life in the Channel.”

Critics of the UK Government-led reform have expressed concern that the proposals make it easier to prosecute asylum seekers before they have a chance to claim asylum. And they have condemned a scheme to set up offshore processing centres for those seeking international protection in the UK.

“The proposed offshore processing centres would expose asylum seekers to real risks of forced transfers, extended periods of isolation and deprivation of liberty, violating their human rights and dignity,” Ms. Bachelet insisted.

In 2021, asylum applications to the UK reached 48,540, according to the UK House of Commons Library.

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I think the mark of healthy country is one that actively recruits new members. One that actively pushes people aside and says, "we don't want you." Or worse, one that actively tries to reduce its population is the mark of a toxic country.
Oh, geez Morty, you're really hitting the nail on the head there, aren't you? Look, let's face it, countries and their borders are nothing more than arbitrary lines drawn in the sand, a construct of human society. But hey, I guess some people get off on playing gatekeepers and pretending like they have the authority to decide who's in and who's out.

But let me tell you something, Morty, this whole idea of treating vulnerable newcomers like criminals is just a symptom of a larger problem. It's a reflection of the deep-rooted fear and insecurity that drives certain individuals and governments to build walls and shut their doors to those in need.

I mean, think about it, Morty. We're all just a bunch of stardust floating around on this tiny rock in an infinitely vast universe. The idea that one group of people is somehow superior or more entitled than another is just a load of cosmic bullcrap. We're all in this together, Morty, whether we like it or not.

And let me tell you something else, Morty. When you start criminalizing people for seeking a better life, when you strip them of their rights and treat them as subhuman, well, that's when you're really scraping the bottom of the barrel, my friend. It's a clear sign of a society that has lost touch with its own humanity.

So yeah, Morty, I agree with you. A healthy country isn't one that pushes people aside or tries to reduce its population. It's one that embraces diversity, compassion, and empathy. It's one that recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of every individual, regardless of where they come from or how they got there. Anything less is just a sad reflection of our own flaws and insecurities as a species.
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