New UK asylum law will punish refugees

The Nationality and Borders Act will fundamentally change the UK immigration system for asylum seekers and refugees and damage Britain’s reputation as a just nation, the Law Society of England and Wales said as the bill became law.

“The UK helped create the United Nations Refugee Convention after the Second World War. The Nationality and Borders Act will undermine this international accord, damaging the rule of law and Britain’s reputation for justice and fairness,” Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said.

“New rules will punish vulnerable refugees who arrive in the UK without prior permission from the government, giving them only temporary protection – which would be regularly reviewed. The threat of return could hang over them indefinitely and they may be denied the right to settle in the UK or to be joined by their family.

“We believe this is unjust: most people fleeing persecution can’t simply present themselves to a British consulate or UN agency – they will often have no choice but to use irregular and unorthodox methods of travel, as we have seen with people fleeing Ukraine and Afghanistan.

“The act also makes it much more difficult for people to prove they are at risk in their country of origin and so is likely to deny people fleeing persecution the protection they're entitled to under international law.”

I. Stephanie Boyce concluded: “Others are better placed to say if the Nationality and Borders Act will deter the people traffickers we all want to stop, or if it will in fact drive refugees into greater danger. The Law Society and our members will be closely monitoring the impact of this new legislation.

“What I can say is the Nationality and Borders Act is a step backwards for global Britain. What we should be building is an asylum system that is fair and fit for purpose – that makes decisions which have a profound impact on people’s lives in line with British values and our international commitments.”

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Harriet Beaumont | 0208 049 3854

Maximise your Law Society membership with My LS