UK government denies that the expulsion of asylum seekers is illegal

Suella Braverman, Britain’s interior minister, said the government’s plan to stop almost all migrants from claiming asylum was legal despite warnings that it would violate international law. According to Reuters, lawyers and charities said the plans would violate the UN convention on refugees, introduced after many countries turned away Jewish refugees during World War II.

Under successive prime ministers, the Conservative government has put forward a series of immigration policies to stop people from arriving by small boats on the English coast. Asylum seekers who reach Britain in small boats will be detained without bail before being deported to their home country or, if this is not safe, to Rwanda.

Deportees will also lose the right to challenge their deportation while in Britain, and will be automatically barred from returning once deported. More than 45,000 people crossed the Channel in small boats last year, mostly from France. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives hope that by taking a harsh line on immigration they can rebuild their popularity. They trail the opposition Labour party by around 20 percentage points.

Opposition politicians and migration experts have criticized the legislation. A legal challenge has stalled plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, including by the European Court of Human Rights, which last year blocked the first flight carrying detainees to Kigali. Without other agreements, this could result in tens of thousands of new arrivals being detained.