The UK government has proposed including India in a list of safe states to expedite the process of returning Indian nationals who leave the country illegally and eliminate their opportunity to apply for asylum in the UK. Georgia is also set to be added to this list under draft legislation presented to the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The move by the UK Home Office is aimed at strengthening the country’s immigration system and preventing abuse by people making unfounded protection claims. The inclusion of India and Georgia in the list is part of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s commitment to “stop the boats” of migrants landing illegally in the UK after making dangerous journeys across the English Channel.
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman emphasized the need to halt “dangerous and illegal journeys” to the UK from countries that are considered fundamentally safe. Expanding the list of safe states will allow the UK to swiftly remove individuals with no right to be in the country and send a strong message that illegal entry will not be tolerated. Braverman reaffirmed the government’s dedication to implementing the measures outlined in the Illegal Migration Act, which plays a crucial role in combating illegal migration.
The Home Office highlighted that small boat arrivals from India and Georgia have increased in the past year, despite individuals from these countries not being at obvious risk of persecution. By deeming these countries safe, any individual arriving illegally from India or Georgia will not be admitted to the UK asylum system, according to the Home Office.
The UK already considers countries like Albania, Switzerland, and the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) states as safe. In order to be added to the UK’s safe states list, known as Section 80AA, a country must meet specific criteria, including the absence of serious risk of persecution for its nationals and compliance with the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Convention. The Home Office confirmed that India and Georgia have been rigorously assessed and meet these criteria.
Before coming into force, the proposal to add India and Georgia to the safe states list will undergo parliamentary scrutiny through debates in both Houses of Parliament. These measures are part of the broader Illegal Migration Act 2023, which aims to detain and swiftly return individuals who enter the UK illegally to a safe third country or their home country. Additional measures, such as the legal duty to remove, will be implemented in the coming months.
The Home Office emphasized the government’s determination to deter people from making dangerous journeys to the UK and to disrupt the cycle of illegal migration, exploitation by criminal gangs, and loss of life. Efforts to address this issue include collaborating with international partners, enhancing enforcement against criminal gangs, and working with France to prevent further crossings.
The draft legislation to add India and Georgia to the Section 80AA list is based on the UK’s Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, which was enabled by the Illegal Migration Act 2023.
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