This week Freedom United joined a group of NGOs, advocates and academics in sending a letter to U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to withdraw the Refugee Ban Bill currently making its way through Parliament.
The proposed legislation, officially titled the ‘Illegal Migration Bill’, would rip up modern slavery protections and undermine the international refugee protection system. In doing so, it would go against international law, a fact that the U.K. government itself has acknowledged.
Incompatible with international law
Under the proposed law, people reaching the U.K. through irregular routes including on small boats and in the back of trucks would face being returned to a third country such as Rwanda. This means that trafficking victims who reach the U.K. against their will risk being blocked from accessing support and denied the right to claim asylum.
The Council of Europe’s group of experts on action against trafficking in human beings (Greta) stated this week that the law would be incompatible with the U.K.’s obligations under the Council of Europe convention on action against trafficking in human beings.
Under the Council of Europe’s anti-trafficking convention the U.K. is obliged to identify trafficking victims and not remove them from the country until it has been conclusively established whether they are trafficking victim or not. Crucially, this”obligation applies regardless of the manner in which a person has arrived in the country. Traffickers often take away victims’ travel and identity documents, as a way of exerting pressure, or give them false documents.”
Strong opposition against the bill
Freedom United proudly joined 320+ charities, unions, businesses, & faith leaders in calling on the U.K.’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to scrap the appalling Refugee Ban Bill which is opposed by communities across the U.K. Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee and migrant rights programme director at Amnesty International, who signed the joint letter told the Guardian:
“The bill sets out to make the Home Office a source of terror for thousands of people treated as falling within its reach. By requiring the authorities to treat these people with utter contempt for their humanity, welfare and right to seek safety, this appalling legislation will force people into situations where they are readily exploited and can never escape.”
The inhumane Refugee Ban Bill would strip modern slavery protections for victims who arrive in the U.K. through an irregular route, even if forced. Trafficking victims risk being thrown in detention centers, left to languish indefinitely or deported to an unsafe country where their lives could be at risk.
Take action NOW!
It’s clear that unsafe migration and lack of safety nets for migrants and trafficking victims mean men, women and children everywhere are at risk of exploitation, trafficking and abuse.
But, united, we can make a difference by holding governments accountable and demanding better. Take action today.