Woodchopper wrote: ↑
Thu Jul 08, 2021 12:03 pm
The whole RNLI issue could be a deliberate distraction by Patel.
It's certainly worked a treat here. The bill is 87 pages long, of which the changing of the wording to criminalise anyone helping an asylum seeker is a single subclause (38(2) if anyone's interested).
Honestly, I kinda regret mentioning it now. The bill has so much other awful stuff in it. For example (from the Free Movement
analysis I linked to originally),
Clause 11 allows for differential provision of accommodation to asylum seekers depending on the stage of their claim and their compliance with various conditions. This makes it look like asylum camps like the Napier barracks will be used as a form of punishment for asylum seekers who travel via safe third countries or do not comply with conditions. Again, there does not seem to be any particular need for this to be in an Act of Parliament as the Home Secretary could already do this and indeed has been doing this. However, clause 15 seems to make an asylum camp the only form of accommodation to which some asylum seekers will be entitled.
For anyone who doesn't remember, Napier Barracks are the former army barracks that have been used to house asylum seekers. They were found to be "cramped", "dirty" and those at risk of self-harm were put in a "decrepit ‘isolation block’ which we considered unfit for habitation" (because the best way to help people suffering from mental distress is to isolate them from everyone
) according to a government inspection
published in March of this year. The High Court
determined that the accommodation failed to meet the minimum required standard for housing which has led to calls for the barracks to be closed down. However, seems this bill would be making this sort of accommodation obligatory rather than a last resort.
The Bill would also allow the government to increase fees for visas or simply block them
for visitors from countries who are believed to be refusing to take back rejected asylum seekers or offenders. This is so incredibly petty that I could quite easily believe this was one of Patel's own ideas.
It will also have "rigorous age assessments" to catch adults pretending they're children. You might see statistics floating around that 65% of people claiming to be children are actual adults, but as you'll hopefully be unsurprised to learn, that's not true. Full Fact
found that this figure relates not to the proportion of child refugees, but the number of unaccompanied minors whose age is questioned by authorities.
“Home Office data indicated that between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017 it had received 2,952 applications for asylum from unaccompanied children.
“In the same period, it had raised 705 age disputes, roughly 1 in 4.
“Of the 705, 618 had been resolved. In 216 (35%) of these 618 cases, the Local Authority assessed the claimant to be under 18, and in 402 (65%) cases they were assessed to be over 18 (an adult).”
I will admit to not knowing much about ageing, other than knowing that stress and deprivation take their toll. A kid who's had to trek across Europe, sleeping rough or in refugee camps for months on end after having left their home because it was blown up and their relatives killed is likely going to look a lot older and more world-weary than a kid whose only worries are A-levels. And while I appreciate there are markers in terms of bone growth, wisdom teeth eruption, etc, that can help age someone, I would want to see evidence that these are reliable and accurate when used on children who have experienced the sort of deprivation, stress and changes in diet that a kid seeking asylum by themselves has experienced. It's one of those areas where my bleeding-heart leftie thinks we'd be better to err on the side of caution and assess them as under 18 - even if they aren't what's the loss? They get a year of school and a foster home? Oh no, how terrible!
Reading the Free Movement analysis it seems that the most useless legislation is cribbed from other countries. For example,
Clause 29 is terrible: it introduces a split standard of proof in asylum cases and, possibly, a requirement for subjective fear. This looks inspired by the approach in the United States.
The piece goes on to say that this has been settled law since the House of Lords case of Sivakumaran in 1987 so all this is going to do is lead to a load of unnecessary litigation until an inevitable Supreme Court Case but will lead to little practical change as judges aren't idiots (most of the time).
Some provisions on “good faith” at clauses 17 and 64 fall into the same category: lots of scope for litigating what it all means but will probably make no real difference in real life. There is a similar requirement in Australia, which is no doubt from where the idea comes.
Why they're bothering with these clauses when they have such little real-world impact is beyond me but ianal.
When it comes to human trafficking, for all the bluster about wanting to protect people it seems the reality will be the opposite (from the Free Movement
there are provisions such as clause 48 designed to make it a bit more difficult for people to be recognised as victims. People will also be disqualified from trafficking protections not only if they are a “threat to public order”, but also if they have claimed to be a victim “in bad faith” (whatever that means).
This Bill will lead to more delays and it punishes genuine refugees for having the temerity to come to seek sanctuary in our country rather than remain someone else’s responsibility.