Minister for Immigration Robert Jenrick has defended the lawfulness of the Government’s Illegal Migration Act in response to an open letter from Public Law Project and other European human rights organisations.

On 14 July 2023, PLP wrote an eleventh hour call to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, urging him to abandon the cruel and inhumane Illegal Migration Act. The letter, co-signed with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Greek Council for Refugees, and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, warned that pursuing the Act was reckless not only because of its impact on vulnerable people, but also because it violated important international legal obligations.

In his reply, the Minister insists:

“The Government takes its international obligations very seriously and there is nothing in the Act which requires the Government to act incompatibly with those obligations… The Government is satisfied that the provisions of the Act are capable of being applied compatibly with the Convention rights, and we continue our work with European counterparts.”

This claim is inaccurate. Here are four ways the Act fails to comply with international law:

  • By detaining refugees of all ages indefinitely and arbitrarily, the Act breaches Article 5 of the ECHR, which protects the right to liberty.
  • By deporting victims of human trafficking and modern slavery without any period of recovery, the Act violates Article 13 of the European Convention on Action Against Trafficking (ECAT). 
  • By completely ignoring the best interests of refugee children and detaining them, the Act disregards Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and was therefore condemned by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Read Robert Jenrick’s full response here