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New bill deprives citizenship while curtailing asylum rights

31st Dec 2021
New bill deprives citizenship while curtailing asylum rights

(photo credit:OpenClipart-Vectors)

Most criticism of Boris Johnson is centered on his authoritarian governance and his inclination for evading accountability at all costs. Less attention, though, has been paid to the series of draconian legislation passed under his tenure that threatens personal liberties and undermines domestic and international laws.

The new Nationality and Borders Bill is one case in point, it represents much more than tinkering with what is already on the statute books while tending to give much more oppressive powers to ministers.

At its heart, the legislation seeks to criminalise saviours of refugees. The post-war international consensus on refugees was aimed to protect fleeing victims forced to escape persecution by irregular routes having conventional methods denied them. It also sought to protect from prosecution those who assist refugees for genuinely humanitarian reasons.

The bill seeks to demolish both basic principles. The inflated number of small boats crossing the Channel, a number that has been falling and coincidentally accounts for a miniscule portion of all refugees entering the UK has been cited as knee-jerk excuse for the legislation.

The Bill includes the new offence to include not just illegal entry but simply arriving without valid entry clearance that requires a refugee to somehow secure a visa before fleeing persecution in their home country. The other nefarious aim is to target any individuals who assist an asylum seeker purely out of humanitarian concern with the threat of imprisonment.

A report commissioned by the human rights group Freedom from Torture concludes that the controversial new Borders Bill breaches international and domestic law in at least 10 ways. “This Bill represents the biggest legal assault on international refugee law ever seen in the UK.

The principle seeking to penalise, both criminally and administratively, those who arrive by irregular means in the UK to claim asylum aims to “reverse a number of important decisions of the UK courts, including at the House of Lords and court of appeal level, given over the last 20 years.”

If passed, the nationality section also puts millions of people in Britain in fear of repatriation and deportation. Under the proposals, any foreign-born British citizen can be deprived of their citizenship, without notice or notification. Dual citizenship is not a precondition; they can be made stateless so long as the British Government believes they are eligible for citizenship of another country.

As The Muslim News reports analysis from the 2011 census, by the New Statesman, finds an astronomical number of people – 5.5 million in England and Wales – who fall into this category, including about 408,000 people born in the UK.

Author and Guardian columnist Zoe Williams suggests that it is “hard to imagine a more flagrantly racist idea emanating from anywhere but a National Front manifesto.” It affects half of British Asians and 39 per cent of Black Britons.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, herself the daughter of immigrants, is transforming citizenship into a hierarchical system of entitlements. If there ever was legislation sowing the seeds of division and xenophobia, it must be this reckless and dangerous bill.

Already Johnson has been using jingoism as part of his concept of “British-ness” with flag-waving seen as a must to show allegiance and loyalty to the country. There are deeply uncomfortable undertones of a purge.

Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, has already launched plans to dismantle the Human Rights Act putting the Government above the reach of the law, while new measures are also expected to alter British television to be uniquely nationalistic.

Even the vaccine rollout has been made to sound super patriotic by the Prime Minister. Brexit zealotry and hostility to migrants have already fuelled deeply worrying trends paving the way not just for separatism from Europe but even towards the breakup of the UK. Where will it end?

Up to six million British citizens, including Muslims, could be stripped of nationality

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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