This week we take a look at this tweet, published by the UK Home Office on Wednesday (11thNovember).
The UK Home Office is the government department responsible for immigration along with security and law and order. The tweet above strongly suggests that not all individuals who travel to the UK to seek asylum have the right to do so. It implies that migrants who come to the UK through other countries such as France and Belgium are not allowed to do so but are instead obligated to stay in those countries.
This message has no basis in international laws that the UK Government is subject to. According to Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ‘everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution’. There is no obligation for asylum-seekers to make their claim in the first country they enter, in spite of the tweet’s insinuations.
If a migrant makes an asylum claim in the UK, they do have the right to remain in the country whilst they wait for their asylum decision. An asylum-seeker is only able to obtain permanent residency in the UK after their asylum claim has been processed and accepted. Therefore, the UK Government cannot deny an asylum-seeker either the right to temporarily remain in the UK whilst their claim is processed or to permanently remain in the country without beginning that process in the first place.
This tweet has been published in the same week that more than 110 migrants died in the Mediterranean over a three-day period. The Guardian’s report on Thursday evening, linked below, highlights how dangerous travel by sea has been made by existing border policies across Europe.
Reports suggests that the UK Government have long advocated an alteration to Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2016, newly-selected Prime Minister Theresa May used her first speech at the United Nations to argue for a ‘better distinction between refugees and economic migrants’. In an article linked below, you can read more about these comments and the development of UK government policy towards the issue.
According to international law, the Home Office’s tweet is misleading. However, it will also do nothing to make the migrants’ journeys across water any safer. The number of fatalities in European seas continues to rise whilst national governments continue to mislead.
The Home Office tweet – https://twitter.com/ukhomeoffice/status/1326540193885642752
Universal Declaration of Human Rights – https://www.ohchr.org/en/udhr/documents/udhr_translations/eng.pdf
UK Government guidelines – ‘Claim asylum in the UK’ – https://www.gov.uk/claim-asylum
‘More than 110 migrants die in Mediterranean in three days’ – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/12/bodies-of-74-migrants-wash-up-on-libyan-beach?fbclid=IwAR2Niif8bajr1tLwwPTIZakKVLasogIk2dKN8LKQ-bcm74mwdbaYrfTYqWM
Theresa May’s comments at the United Nations – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/19/theresa-may-united-nations-right-claim-asylum-migration-refugees