UK Govt Wants Faster Deportations of Criminal Migrants, but Won’t Withdraw from Euro Human Rights Law: Report

Police officers congregate outside a cordoned off block of flats where the suspect of a multiple stabbing incident lived in Reading, west of London, on June 23, 2020. - British counter-terrorism police have been given until June 27 to question a suspect widely identified as Libyan Khairi Saadallah in an …
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

The British government is reportedly planning to speed up the deportations of failed asylum seekers and criminal migrants. However, there are no plans to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits returning migrants to failed states.

The report comes after a Libyan refugee with a criminal record was detained on suspicion of carrying out a knife terror attack on Saturday that left three people dead.

Khairi Saadallah, 25, came to the country illegally in 2012 and was reportedly known to MI5 and was enrolled on the government’s de-radicalisation programme, Prevent. Saadallah had been released from prison early, 16 days before the reading terror attack, having been sentenced for a range of convictions including racially-motivated assault and public fighting.

Sources speaking to The Times said the Home Secretary Priti Patel wants to be able to remove criminal migrants sentenced to one year or more in prison. Another measure is automatic prison sentences for deportees who return illegally to the UK. Ms Patel also wants to be able to stop failed asylum seekers delaying their deportation by filing numerous last-minute legal appeals.

A Whitehall source told the newspaper: “We need to restore trust in our immigration system and that means protecting our borders, reforming the asylum system and promptly returning those who have no right to be in the UK. We won’t allow our generous asylum system to be repeatedly abused by those who have no right to be here.”

The Home Office has seen a fall in the number of forced removals, down 22 per cent on last year and at the lowest figure since 2004. Voluntary returns and the deportations of foreign criminals have also fallen. The department has said that it has seen an increase in late claimants, and some believed to be lying and claiming that they were not illegal migrants but the victims of modern slavery to avoid deportation.

Experts have claimed, however, that the measures may be difficult to enact, with migrants often having destroyed their own papers confirming their country of origin. Without those documents, home nations are reluctant to provide entry or supply entry documents.

Another problem that The Times report did not explicitly outline, but that has been documented elsewhere, is the refusal of home countries to take back their own citizens. Such a problem occurred in 2016, where Germany struggled to return failed asylum seekers to countries in North Africa. Germany had threatened to stop economic aid to North African countries that refused returns; with the British government overhauling its foreign aid policies, that could be a likely avenue for consideration for the Johnson administration, as well.

However, the measures would be entirely useless in returning failed asylum seekers or criminal migrants to countries like Libya. Sources told The Times that there are no plans to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits returning migrants to failed states or to places where they are likely to be tortured or suffer inhumane treatment.

Reports from earlier this week claimed that Saadallah was not deported to Libya after completing his shortened sentence due to the British government’s policy of not sending migrants back to failed states, which poses a breach to their human rights.

The European Convention on Human Rights is enforced by the European Court of Human Rights, a Council of Europe body. The European Union has adopted the convention. As the Council of Europe is not an EU body, there is no automatic withdrawal from the document after the end of the Brexit transition period. Also, the Human Rights Act enshrines that ECHR into British law.

The ECHR has been used before to stop terrorists from being deported from the UK. In 2017, it was reported that more than 40 convicted terrorists had used the Human Rights Act to avoid deportation, some of whom used legal aid in their appeals.


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