Mps And Academics Write To Rishi Sunak To Withdraw Uk Illegal Migration Bill

Mps And Academics Write To Rishi Sunak To Withdraw Uk Illegal Migration Bill

By Ben Kerrigan-

Over 60 NGOs, MPs and academics have written to Rishi Sunak urging him to withdraw the UK’s illegal migration bill, warning that it will drive modern slavery underground and “cost lives”.

Ahead of the controversial bill’s committee stage debate on Tuesday, signatories, including Anti-Slavery International, After Exploitation and Liberty say it would “rob” people fleeing danger of the right to claim asylum, simply for entering the UK irregularly.

Additionally, they say it offers no blanket safeguards against the detention of women, children, pregnant people or those with serious mental or physical illnesses.

The letter, also signed by Freedom from Torture, the Women’s Institute and Refugee Action, says: “If passed, this legislation would cost lives. It would inflict harm on survivors of modern slavery and other human rights abuses who are trying to rebuild their lives … it threatens survivors with detention and removal for entering the country without immigration leave.

“Under the measures, many survivors would not be recognised as victims, even in cases where they were deceived with fake job offers and documents, or forced to cross borders through threats and violence. If passed, the measures would drive modern slavery underground by removing survivors’ ability to report trafficking and access assistance.”

The letter signed by MPs from Labour, the Lib Dems and the Green party also raises concerns about the “villainisation” of trafficking victims by government officials, highlighting the home secretary, Suella Braverman’s “unsubstantiated claims” that people confirmed as victims are “gaming the system”.

It says victims of exploitation are often left to deal with the legacy of sexual, physical and psychological harm without guaranteed help such as specialist shelters, a basic financial allowance, or access to a caseworker.


The Uk government has admitted that the bill may break international law – would give ministers the power to deport anyone who comes to the UK illegally and ban them from returning.

Some Tory MPs want it to be made even tougher to allow the government to ignore rulings by European judges if they try to block its effect.

On Monday, Dinja Mitavovic, The Council Of Europe for  Human Rights, letter to the speakers of the House of Commons and House of Lords, Mijatović said the legislation would be a hammer blow to the global human rights system.

And he warned it could be used by other countries to ditch their own international obligations.

He said: “Ensuring access to asylum procedures is a key component of the system of human rights protection in Europe and beyond.


The signatories say that last year 4,580 suspected victims “slipped through the net” after authorities flagged trafficking indicators with the Home Office but made no referral. This happens because potential victims do not provide consent for a referral or are too young to do so.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee and migrant rights programme director at Amnesty International, which is among the signatories, said: “Amnesty International is gravely concerned that the government’s latest immigration bill will create the conditions for slavery and similar criminal abuse to thrive – not merely on dangerous journeys to the UK, but in communities up and down the country.

“The bill sets out to make the Home Office a source of terror for thousands of people treated as falling within its reach. By requiring the authorities to treat these people with utter contempt for their humanity, welfare and right to seek safety, this appalling legislation will force people into situations where they are readily exploited and can never escape.”

The bill would mean all those who enter the UK via small boats or in the back of lorries would either be returned or dispatched to a third country, such as Rwanda, despite the fact that the government’s Rwanda deportation scheme has been held up by legal challenges. The illegal migration bill did not contain the customary declaration that it is compatible with the European convention on human rights and experts have warned it could fall foul of fundamental rights such as the right to protection from trafficking and slavery.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The illegal migration bill will change the law so that if someone is identified as a potential victim of modern slavery or human trafficking, we will ensure they are safely returned home or to another safe country, away from those who have trafficked them.”


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