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UK advances Illegal Migration Bill as protests continue

London's plan to prevent irregular migrants using small boats to cross the Channel has been met with criticism

March 14, 2023 at 3:16 pm

Hundreds of people gathered outside parliament in London to protest against the government’s new asylum bill and to show solidarity with people seeking refuge in the country.

The protest was backed by the Fire Brigades Union, the Muslim Association of Britain, human rights charities and opposition politicians.

The UK government’s new plan to stop small boat migrants has been met with criticism from human rights organisations and refugee advocates who argue that it violates international law and the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention.

The plan includes detaining the majority of those arriving on small boats for the first 28 days without bail or judicial review and preventing them from making claims to stop deportation until after they have been removed.

The crowd were chanting slogans such as “Who built the NHS? Migrants built the NHS” and “Refugees welcome here: blame austerity, not migrants.”

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“In any normal society and in any safe society, in any compassionate society, the right of any person is to be protected. This bill seeks to attack some of the most vulnerable people in society,” Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn told Anadolu.

The protest was held as members of parliament voted to advance the bill to its second reading. Some 312 MPs voted for the controversial bill, and 250 voted against.

Former British Prime Minister Teresa May warned: “By definition, someone fleeing for their life will more often than not be unable to access a legal route.”According to Amnesty International, the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are protected by international law regardless of how and why they arrive in a country.

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has expressed concern over the matter, saying that if passed, the legislation would amount to an “asylum ban”.

According to the UK Home Office, the top countries of origin for migrants crossing the English Channel in 2021 were Iran, Iraq, Eritrea and Syria.

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