In the U.K., the secretary for the Home Department and the Home office are responsible for handling immigration-related issues, including asylum, nationality, and border management regulations. Since 1892, the U.K. has enacted immigration laws restricting aliens’ entry into their country (Library of Congress, 2020). However, immigration laws are subject to frequent change through the issuance of a statement of changes to the laws in the parliament. If the changes receive no objections, the changes become laws within forty days (Immigration Act, 1971). Thus, according to the U.K’s immigration rules, one must obtain a leave to enter the country’s immigration office upon arrival (Immigration Act, 1971).
In 2002, there was an upsurge in the number of people seeking asylum in the U.K, which was about 84,132 (House of Commons Library Briefing, 2015). This increment was after the U.K. embraced the Human Rights Act 1998 in October 2000. U.K.’s acceptance of this Act meant that all the public authorities, including the immigration services, and any bodies performing government roles, would ensure all operations and decisions adhere to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Although the UK had been an ECHR signatory for more than fifty years, it had neither accepted nor implemented the Convention’s human rights. Thus, the full adoption of the ECHR changed even the U.K.’s court decisions to base on human rights compliance (Library of Congress, 2020).
The convention laws protect the refugees from deportation to nations they dread persecution for specific reasons (Owers, 2003). Thus, since the year 2000, the U.K. courts have actively fulfilled this refugee protection regulation by protecting refugees from being returned to nations where they would be persecuted or otherwise deported to unsafe states. Besides, article 3 of the ECHR protects refugees and asylum seekers from torture and any inhumane treatment. The article prohibits returning refugees and asylum seekers to nations that might subject them to such treatments (Library of Congress, 2020).
Moreover, Article 3 eliminates the need to prove the reason for facing mistreatment but will only have to confirm the risk of being subjected to the prohibited treatment. As a result, people from nations experiencing civil wars and face real threats of mistreatment are unreturnable. ECHR Article 8, which focuses on private, and family life, has helped the U.K to reunite immigrants with their family; however, it is unsafe for one to return to countries where the rest of the family members live. Besides, Article 8 requires that asylum seekers live everyday life and be free from health and safety threats. Another critical article is article 14, which prohibits discriminatory treatment of asylum seekers on varied grounds, including ethnicity and race.
Therefore, Convention offers a baseline of human rights for the U.K. and other European Union nations (Owers, 2003) to ensure that governments uphold the human rights protection for the refugees and asylum seekers. U.K.’s compliance with ECHR increased the number of people seeking asylum in the U.K., resulting in public discontent. From 2002, the U.K. began introducing measures to limit aliens’ entry by making it difficult to obtain asylum and reduce asylum’s applicants’ applicants’ benefits in the nation. Thus, in 2014, the number of people seeking asylum in the U.K. dropped significantly (Library of Congress, 2020).
The U.K.’s Proposed changes to the asylum system and their impacts on Refugees and Immigrants human rights
In 2020, the U.K. officially left the European Union (BBC News, 2020), and it has been making amendments to its regulations, including those of the asylum system. The Home Department and Home office secretary proposed several changes to the asylum system to reduce the number of individuals pursuing asylum in the U.K. As per the proposal, refuge seekers who come to the U.K. using illegal routes will not receive privileges given those who use the U.K.’s “legal” ways.
According to the ECHR convention Article 8, host nations should not discriminate persons seeking asylum on any grounds. Thus, when the U.K.’s proposed differential treatment of asylum seekers based on the routes they use to arrive in the U.K., it will result in an automatic denial of human rights to those who fail to receive entitlements. Also, the proposed changes stipulate that asylum seekers who use illegal routes will have limited access to benefits and family reunion rights. Article 8 of the Convention protects asylum seekers’ private and family life by giving them the human right to reunite with family members. Thus, the U.K.’s proposed changes to deny them the right to reunite with family violate the refugees and asylum seekers under Article 8 of the Convention. Besides, the U.K. government seeks to amend legislation to permit asylum seekers’ deportation while their claims or appeals are pending.
Moreover, the proposed changes aim at reforming the judicial and appeal process to speed up the deportation of asylum seekers with denied claims. Deportation of asylum seekers and refugees is a human right violation under Convention Article 3, which prohibits their return to nations that might subject them to banned treatment. Also, the U.K.’s proposed changes to the asylum system want to make it legal for the secretary of the Home Department to help asylum seekers in their home country. This change seeks to remove the need for people to travel to the U.K. to seek asylum. Additionally, the system will make it harder for asylum seekers to receive refugee status by using rigorous assessment, including using a bone scanner for accurate age detection (Grierson, 2021).
Besides, the U.K. courts advocated for lifting the ECHR ban on deporting people from less developed and unstable nations. According to UNHCR (2021), all individual has a right to pursue refuge in any country. Thus, the U.K.’s restriction of people from seeking asylum in U.K. is a desecration of human rights. From the literature reviewed, the U.K.’s proposed changes to the asylum system significantly impact the immigrants’ and refugees’ human legislation. However, the literature does not provide any specific effects of the proposed changes to non-whites. Besides, the literature does not offer recommendations to alleviate the suffering of non-white refugees and asylum seekers in the U.K. Therefore. This research seeks to fill the research gap by exploring the effects of the U.K.’s proposed changes to the asylum system on international human rights, people’s movement, and the policing of non-white bodies in the white spaces. Besides, the study will recommend measures that ensure fair and humanly treatment to the non-white refugees and asylum seekers in the U.K.