United Nations warn of human rights violations if Nationality and Borders bill passes


The United Nations' warning that passage of the nationality and borders bill risks violating human rights is the latest in a long line of harsh criticism of the bill. The UN statement focuses on the bill's impact on asylum seekers, children, and migrants, echoing similar concerns made recently by Amnesty International and other leading civil liberty organisations.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Siobhán Mullally, emphasised that if passed, the law would “seriously undermine the protection of the human rights of trafficked persons, including children; increase risks of exploitation faced by all migrants and asylum seekers; and lead to serious human rights violations.”

She added: “The bill fails to acknowledge the Government’s obligation to ensure protection for migrant and asylum-seeking children, and greatly increases risks of statelessness, in violation of international law.”

In September last year, Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, the UNHCR's representative to the UK spoke in a public bill committee meeting and also suggested that the bill could violate long standing principles of international law if passed. This is because the measure would establish a new lower-class status for refugees who arrive in the UK spontaneously. This would effectively criminalise asylum seekers who enter the UK but do not have entry clearance, resulting in up to four years in prison. Experts have also warned that the changes will violate the principle of non-punishment in international law which is meant to protect asylum-seekers and refugees.

The UN's strongly worded statement will not alter the bill's passage, but it does provide another perspective on its assault on human rights. The equally troubling implications of clause 9, which would give the Home Secretary the power to strip people’s citizenship without warning, continue to stoke public opposition and necessitate the organisation of civil liberty groups across the country continue to protest and demonstrate to the nation's lawmakers that this bill is not in the national interest.


Mayowa Ayodele