Legislative Scrutiny: Nationality and Borders Bill (Part 3) – Immigration offences and enforcement Contents
Appendix 2: Analysis of survey responses
On 26 July 2021, we published a call for written evidence for individuals and organisations to respond to the questions in the Terms of Reference. Alongside this, we also published an online survey, promoted on our website and through our social media account, so we could hear a wider range of views on the human rights implications of the Bill. Our survey closed on 17 September 2021 and we received 84 responses.
Although our self-selecting survey is unlikely to be fully representative, we were keen to hear varied points of view and provide a way for people with different opinions on the Bill or experiences of the issues it raises to engage with our work.
Compassion for refugees
Many people who responded to our survey had compassion for the plight of refugees, regardless of their views on the Nationality and Borders Bill. Comments included:
- “People fleeing conflict and persecution have the right to life and safety, to be treated with justice and dignity, the same as those of us lucky enough to be born in a country that is not at war.”
- “People found to be trafficked as slaves into this country need protecting and a safe place to live for at least 3 years to pick up the pieces of a broken life. They are vulnerable and need safe housing for a while and then monitoring as they learn how to live again.”
Need for reform of the UK’s asylum system
We asked whether the UK’s asylum system required reform to better protect human rights. Of those who responded to this question, 47 people (57%) told us that they ‘completely agreed’ that the asylum system required reform, with a further 5 (6%) ‘somewhat’ agreeing. Just 16 people (19%) completely disagreed, with a further 5 (6%) ‘somewhat’ disagreeing.
The UK’s international obligations to refugees
We asked whether the Nationality and Borders Bill met the UK Government’s human rights obligations to refugees. 23 people (27%) told us that they either ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat’ agreed that the Bill was compatible with the Government’s obligations. However, 38 people (45%) said they ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat’ disagreed with this. Responses to our survey included:
- “I’m shocked that the government has such disregard for the Refugee Convention (which the UK actually helped to draft) and other pieces of international human rights legislation, which for 70 years have protected numerous vulnerable people from further abuse.”
- “Criminalising those who enter the UK irregularly would be an act in contravention of basic humanitarian principles, if not also of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
- “In my view, the Nationality and Borders Bill is fundamentally incompatible with the UN Refugee Convention. It denies the possibility of giving indefinite leave to remain to people who have arrived in the UK by “irregular” means – indeed it seeks to criminalise such people as well as the people smugglers who bring them in.”
Opposition to the Bill
Several respondents expressed concerns around aspects of the Bill, including: the criminalisation of people who make irregular journeys to the UK; the creation of a ‘two-tier system’ for refugees; proposals to return refugees to safe third countries; and the evidence requirements for asylum applications. One respondent told us:
- “The Nationality and Borders Bill completely disregards the UK’s commitment to human rights. Punishing those desperate enough to flee their countries on dinghies with up to 4 years imprisonment goes against the rights to liberty and freedom from cruel/degrading treatment and punishment. Incarcerating those who seek asylum in this country directly contradicts the obligation to protect refugees, and incarcerating parents is not in the best interests of their children, many of whom have experienced trauma relating to war.”
Support for the Bill
There was also support for the Nationality and Borders Bill from a large number of respondents, many of whom were sceptical of human rights-based criticisms of the Bill. We were told:
- “Those who are in real danger will still be able to claim asylum, and the legal system will protect the most vulnerable.”
- “I want genuine asylum seekers not those who are economic migrants making traffickers wealthy with no regard for human life.”
- “My human rights are adversely affected by mass migration which impinges on my right to decent housing and health care. Human rights are dependent on the law [ … ] Illegal migration is a crime. Illegal immigrants should be in jail.”
We are grateful to everyone who took the time to send us their views.