Conservatives Policy on Asylum Does Not Befit Britain
When I arrived in Britain at the end of 2012, my asylum claim was processed successfully within six weeks only. Currently, asylum seekers with a similar case may wait weeks or months for their applications to be processed. This huge difference is caused by a set of laws that the Conservative government has proposed regarding asylum since July 2020. But it appears that these proposals have practically entered into force even before they were enacted.
Historically, Britain has a stellar record with regard to asylum and reception of refugees fleeing the inferno of wars. Besides, the United Kingdom was one of the first countries to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention and its Protocol in 1967. But since the Conservative Party took power in July 2019, this proud heritage has started to decline.
The Tory government has proposed a set of regulations regarding asylum, to say the least, that it is unfair and not befitting Britain's honourable record in this field. Perhaps, the strangest proposal is the possibility of transferring asylum seekers to camps outside Britain while their applications are considered.
The second point that angered human rights organisations is the demand for a law allowing to arrest refugees who arrive in Britain via the English Channel and considering them criminals. These two clauses were suggested among 40 others by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, in the House of Commons last July as part of the so-called “Nationality and Borders Bill”.
Britain’s Home Secretary explained that the aim of these proposals is to undermine human smuggling trade. In addition to favouring refugees who arrive legally and putting obstacles in front of those who enter illegally.
But it seems that the underlying goal behind these ideas is far beyond limiting human trafficking trade or encouraging legal asylum and discouraging illegal asylum. The goal is to adopt a new harsh and strict asylum policy that suits the visions of the hawks of Tories who led Britain out of the EU.
The distinction between legal and illegal refugees is only a pretext to pass and enact the new Conservative plan on asylum and immigration in Britain. All this to reduce the number of asylum seekers and to discourage many from heading to Britain.
UNHCR commented on the new British government's plan for asylum by stating that: "The plan, if implemented as it stands, will undermine the 1951 [Refugee] Convention and international protection system, not just in the UK, but globally ... If states, like the UK, that receive a comparatively small fraction of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees appear poised to renege on their commitments, the system is weakened globally".
Regrettably, it appears that disavowing moral and humanitarian obligations towards refugees has become a global trend and phenomenon. This phenomenon emerged and grew with the rise of the Populist Right in Europe and U.S. Indeed, it is shocking that Britain has become one of the countries that has begun to shirk from its moral and humanitarian commitments towards refugees. Especially, since Britain is one of the states that historically contributed to the legalisation and globalisation of solidarity with refugees.
BY: Jwan Dibo