Nationality and Borders Bill - Briefings for House of Lords Report Stage
The Nationality and Borders Bill seeks to change the UK asylum and trafficking systems in ways that will significantly curtail the rights of survivors and deny many the protection and support they need. It will increase the numbers of survivors at risk of exploitation and re-trafficking.
The Bill will effectively punish refugees and survivors of human trafficking for behaviour and actions that are inextricably linked to the human rights violations and trauma they have experienced and the means by which they have had to reach safety. Refugees who have come to the UK by land and sea will be given fewer rights (even though no alternative ‘safe and legal routes’ are being proposed in the Bill). Many survivors of human trafficking who have been imprisoned for crimes they were forced to commit will be given no protection at all. All survivors risk not being identified and supported if they do not disclose what happened to them immediately. The Bill will establish large-scale accommodation centres in the UK and offshore asylum processing sites, which will cause lasting and profound harm to the health and wellbeing of people seeking asylum. It will increase the number of children whose ages are disputed and end up placed in immigration detention or unsupervised accommodation with adults.
Many people who claim international protection, who have fled war, torture and human cruelty, are under the control of human traffickers or are dependent on people smugglers, risking abuse and exploitation to reach safety in any way they can. These proposals will not ‘deter’ them from seeking safety and they will do nothing to ‘break the business model’ of smugglers and criminal networks. Instead, provisions in the Bill will drive those who are vulnerable away from protection of the trafficking and asylum systems and into the hands of criminal networks and individuals who would exploit them further after arrival to the UK.
For Report Stage in the House of Lords, HBF, in coalition with many expert organisations, briefed Peers urging them to support the following amendments/new clauses:
- The removal of a two-tier system whereby refugees with successful asylum claims are treated differently based on how they arrived in the UK, granted only a temporary form of status with restricted rights to family reunification and financial support (clause 11).
- The removal of clauses that would mean that survivors of trafficking who disclose ‘late’ or are convicted of criminal offences are excluded from protection (clauses 57, 58 and 62) - read our Detention Taskforce and trafficking sector briefings.
- An amendment that would maintain the current ‘well-founded fear’ test for assessing asylum claims to prevent people wrongly being denied protection (clause 31)
- A new clause setting out what the process for age assessments should look like, based on existing domestic and international principles, to reduce the risk of children being treated as adults and placed in detention/unsupervised accommodation (part 4 of the Bill)