The UK government has put forth proposals to include India in an extended roster of secure nations, expediting the repatriation process for individuals from India who enter the country unlawfully and eliminating the option for them to seek asylum in Britain.
Legislation in its draft form, presented in the UK House of Representatives on November 8, outlines India and Georgia as the additional countries to be incorporated into the list. The UK Department of Home Affairs has indicated that this initiative aims to fortify the nation’s immigration system and curb misuse by individuals lodging baseless claims for protection.
The UK Minister for Home Affairs, Suella Braverman, asserted, “We must stop people making dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK from fundamentally safe countries. Expanding this list will allow us to more swiftly remove people with no right to be here and sends a clear message that if you come here illegally, you cannot stay. We remain committed to delivering the measures in our Illegal Migration Act, which will play a part in the fight against illegal migration,” she said.
This action aligns with efforts to fulfil the commitment of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to “stop the boats” carrying migrants who illegally arrive at the shores of the country after undertaking perilous journeys across the English Channel. Despite individuals from India and Georgia not being evidently at risk of persecution, the UK Home Office stated that there has been an increase in small boat arrivals from these countries in the past year.
“Deeming these countries safe will mean that if an individual arrives illegally from either one, we will not admit their claim to the UK asylum system,” clarified the Home Office.
The United Kingdom already designates other countries, including Albania and Switzerland, as well as states within the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), as safe.
A country can be added to the UK’s list of safe states, as per legislative Section 80AA, only if the Home Secretary is convinced that there is generally no serious risk of persecution for its nationals, and repatriation of nationals to that country does not violate the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Convention.
“The Home Office has rigorously assessed India and Georgia and determined that both meet these criteria,” highlighted the Home Office.
The presented proposal will now undergo the standard parliamentary examination through debates in both Houses of Parliament before being enacted. These recent measures are encompassed within the framework of the Illegal Migration Act 2023, which seeks to “stop the boats” by amending the law to allow for the detention of individuals who arrive in the UK unlawfully.
This will be followed by their prompt repatriation to a secure third country or their country of origin. Additional measures, including the legal obligation for removal, are slated to be implemented in the forthcoming months.
The Home Office affirmed that the government remains steadfast in its commitment to curbing illegal boat arrivals and dissuading individuals from embarking on perilous journeys to the UK. The Illegal Migration Act is characterised as a crucial component of the government’s strategy to disrupt the cycle, eliminate exploitation by criminal gangs, and prevent further loss of life.
“This issue is being tackled on all fronts, including working upstream with international partners, clamping down on the criminal gangs with stepped-up enforcement, and working with the French to prevent more crossings,” stated the Home Office.
The proposed legislation, incorporating India and Georgia into the Section 80AA list, will be enacted under the UK’s Nationality, Immigration, and Asylum Act 2002, following the authorisation provided by the Illegal Migration Act 2023.