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Priti Patel’s Channel ‘pushback’ plans ‘will endanger lives’, MPs and peers warn



Home Secretary Priti Patel’s plans to turn back small boats in the Channel should be scrapped as they will endanger lives and breach the UK’s international obligations, MPs and peers have said.

So-called pushbacks are “not the solution” to curbing Channel crossings and would “do the opposite of what is required to save lives”, the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has warned.

Committee chair Harriet Harman said: “The Government is determined to prevent these crossings, but pushbacks are not the solution.

“They will not deter crossings, the seas will become even more dangerous and the people smugglers will continue to evade punishment.”

The Home Secretary’s longer-term legislative plans to overhaul the UK’s asylum system, which she has repeatedly highlighted following the deaths of 27 people in the Channel last week, are meanwhile “littered” with policies that breach human rights laws and the UN Refugee Convention, the committee said.

The plans in the controversial Nationality and Borders Bill to “criminalise” and discourage attempts to enter the UK via irregular means like small boats must be reconsidered, “given the limited options refugees have for entering the UK via legal routes, they said.

It came as Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab rejected calls from broadcaster and former politician Nigel Farage, and political strategist who served as chief adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson until November 2020, Dominic Cummings, to ignore or leave the European Convention on Human Rights as part of efforts to get a grip on the issue.

Mr Raab said there was a “clear argument” for remaining in the post-Second World War agreement “on all sorts of principled and practical grounds”.

But he suggested the Government would look at reforming the operation of Article 8 in the UK, which Mr Raab argued allows foreign criminals to “frustrate” deportation by spuriously claiming the right to family life.

“One of the things we will explore is what proportion of the cases of FNOs (foreign national offenders), for serious offenders, frustrating deportation orders are still these Article 8 claims,” he said.

Responding to the JCHR report, a Home Office spokesman said: “As part of our ongoing operational response and to prevent further loss of life at sea, we continue to evaluate and test a range of safe and legal options to find ways of stopping small boats making this dangerous and unnecessary journey.

“These all comply and are delivered in accordance with both domestic and international law.”



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