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Samphire’s Open Letter to the Government Regarding the Nationality and Borders Bill

Samphire’s open letter to our Government regarding The Nationality & Borders Bill

Every human being seeks a place where they feel safe. It is a basic human instinct, one we have all experienced during Covid.

The Nationality & Borders Bill currently before Parliament, deals a body blow to this human instinct. It is a deeply disturbing piece of legislation, containing clauses which contravene laws on refugee and human rights. 

Under this Bill, if a yachtsman sailing from Dover Marina spots a capsized boat of migrants and rescues a child, he has committed a criminal offence and is liable to “imprisonment for life” for helping an asylum seeker enter Britain, even though his motive is human kindness, not financial gain. Are we shocked?

The Bill divides asylum-seekers into ‘lawful’ and ‘unlawful’ according to their route, entry method,  and documentation. The only way for an asylum-seeker to enter Britain lawfully is by a direct flight from the country he is escaping. Obviously, no victim fleeing state-sponsored terror can arrive in this manner; he will be arrested by state police in the departure lounge.  Those who enter the U.K. by other means, without documentation, commit a criminal offence.

Social media abounds with references to ‘illegal’ or ‘bogus’ asylum-seekers. But we note that close to 70% of people who seek asylum in Britain[1], are deemed to be genuine refugees – some after a court appeal. Here are examples of genuine refugees who would not be able to lawfully enter our country and place an asylum claim if this Bill is passed:-

 

  • E was living in a secret gay relationship in a country where this is against the law. He was arrested and imprisoned. His family ‘arranged’ for his release on condition that he left the country. He agreed.
  • A belonged to a religious sect which was prohibited in his country. He was arrested, tortured, and held in a container for six months. He managed to escape and fled the country.
  • S and his brother were political activists from a minority ethnic group. His brother disappeared, presumed arrested or killed. S was warned his name was on a government hit-list. He fled.
  • H was a medical student. A powerful rebel leader fell in love with her and threatened to kill her family if she did not marry him. She and her family fled their country with the help of smugglers.

If these people were to arrive on our shores in the future, the Bill allows for their removal to an undisclosed offshore site while their claims are considered. The new legislation also suggests that “unlawful” refugees will have restricted family reunion rights, thus separating families and loved ones. Under the present laws, the U.K. is the only European country which permits the indefinite detention of asylum seekers.

Along with 148 other countries, the U.K. has signed the Refugee Convention 1951.  This states that a person has the right to seek sanctuary in any country, regardless of their manner of arrival, and specifically mentions that they are unlikely to be able to arrive by regular means. It does not insist that they seek asylum in the first safe country they reach. This Bill is in contradiction of these rights. If passed, it will result in legal challenges and a costly waste of tax-payers’ money.

But more importantly, everyone in Britain is diminished by the hostile parts of this Bill, for it will stifle our public instinct for fairness, kindness and empathy. Our fathers and grandfathers fought against Hitler in World War 2 to maintain those values in our society, and this is the reason why the Refugee Convention was signed by our nation.

Therefore, we ask you to amend this Bill before it becomes law,

 

[Signed]

 

Joy Stephens

Signed on behalf of SAMPHIRE Trustees

16.07.2021

Copies sent to

  • The Home Secretary Ms Priti Patel
  • P. for Dover, Ms Natalie Ekphicke

[1] Stats from www.gov,uk/ 

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