The new asylum measures will create "safe and legal routes"

Priti Patel, BBC Radio 4

March 24, 2021

Facts

On BBC Radio 4 Today, the Home Secretary said that people who travel from “safe countries” and claim asylum in the UK will be removed, as “they would also have a perfectly acceptable case to be given asylum in the safe countries that they have travelled from.” 

Patel’s plans mean anyone arriving illegally will be further punished with limited family reunion rights and limited access to benefits.

She said these new measures will promote "safe and legal routes" for asylum seekers.

Patel insisted that her proposals were in line with the UN Refugee Convention, international law and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The UN refugee convention specifically prohibits imposing penalties on refugees for their manner of entry into a state or for crossing other countries to reach a country which they feel safe in.

A spokesperson for the UNHCR, which serves as the guardian of the 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 protocol, a piece of international legislation to which the UK is a party, said: “Anyone seeking asylum should be able to claim in their intended destination or another safe country.”

They said while it was correct that the convention did not provide “an unfettered right to choose a country of asylum”, it does not “oblige asylum seekers to apply in the first safe country they encounter”.

“Some claimants have very legitimate reasons to seek protection in specific countries, including family or other links,” they added.

Verdict

Patel’s claim that the new measures to remove asylum seekers who have travelled from safe countries would be “legal” is false. The UN refugee convention specifically prohibits imposing penalties on refugees for their manner of entry into a state or for crossing other countries to reach a country which they feel safe in. It is astonishing the Home Secretary appears not to have known this.

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