More than 300 academic experts have signed a joint letter against the government’s Illegal Migration Bill, calling it “a deterrence approach” to the current “maritime humanitarian crisis.”
The scholars, mostly from British universities, argued the policy is not “evidence based, workable, or legal under human rights law”.
They warned the Bill will not stop small boats crossing the Channel, but would increase “the chance of death” as people will be forced into more dangerous journeys.
The letter was published online and in The Times on Wednesday (15 March) pointing to the Australian government’s failed attempt to deter boat arrivals with offshore detention or break people smuggling networks.
Experts say the “Pacific solution” had instead resulted in “enormous financial costs” to Australian taxpayers, the violation of fundamental rules of international laws and numerous legal challenges.
The government’s controversial asylum proposals cleared their first Commons hurdle on Monday (13 March). The legislation aims to stop people claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means. The measures are part of the Prime Minister’s plan to deliver on his pledge to stop small boats of migrants from crossing the English Channel.
‘Illegal and immoral, unworkable and flawed’
The group claimed the Bill will not stop small boats crossing the Channel as "it is not workable".
The experts said: “A large and growing population of people who would otherwise have a strong case for asylum will be turned into ‘illegal immigrants’.
“They will be detained, or housed in hotels or army barracks at great expense to the state, with no clear mechanism to resolve their status. In many cases (for example, Afghan, Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers) it will not be possible to return them to their country of origin.”
The group added: “Again, there is already a large body of research evidencing the consequences of maintaining a vulnerable population of people in a state of deportability, poverty, and destitution.
“At least one consequence is that these people become extremely vulnerable to exploitation and forced labour.”
The letter concluded that the Bill will be “counter to all evidence on forced migration journeys” as well as being “illegal and immoral, but also unworkable and flawed on its own terms”.
The letter from the group comes after the Tory party chairman apologised to the head of the civil service after an email sent out in the Home Secretary’s name blamed “an activist blob of left-wing lawyers, civil servants and the Labour Party” for blocking previous attempts to prevent migrants arriving in small boats across the Channel.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she did not sign off the correspondence which said public servants had held up efforts to tackle unlawful migration.