Britannia rolls back the boats

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push people across borders; keep asylum seekers away from the shores. When such tactics were openly adopted and used with impunity by the Australian Navy and border forces, it sparked outrage and concern in the maritime community and sparked the interest of border protectionists around the world.

Disgust and indignation have, over time, given way to admiration for the audacity of Australian governments such as that of Tony Abbott, who introduced a rollback policy as part of an electoral promise to better secure the borders. This meant that ships heading for Australia could literally be turned back to Indonesia without any worries in the world. The drownings would not cease, and the danger to passengers would not be mitigated; they would simply take place in international waters or in the waters of another country.

Other countries duly followed. Greece and Italy have developed their own return to sea policies. Felipe González Morales, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said with despair in June this year that the practice should end. “In the absence of an individualized assessment for each migrant concerned and other procedural guarantees”, he said of the Human Rights Council, “refoulements constitute a violation of the ban on collective expulsions and increase the risk of further human rights violations, in particular refoulement”.

He also stated what all international human rights students know: “States have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of everyone in their territory or under their jurisdiction or effective control, regardless of who they are. migratory status and without discrimination of any kind. “

The concept of control is important in interception, rescue and forced return. As the European Court of Human Rights found in Hirsi Jamaa vs. Italy, which saw the forced return by the Italian authorities of migrants to Libya, the applicants remained under the “continuous and exclusive de jure and de facto control of the Italian authorities ”during their transfer, triggering the obligation to protect their human rights. “Speculation on the nature and purpose of the intervention of Italian ships on the high seas would not lead the Court to any other conclusion. “

The Convention on the Law of the Sea states the obligation of the ships of each State to “assist any person found at sea in danger of becoming lost”. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue affirm this obligation.

LOSC also has a range other relevant provisions on incursions by foreign vessels. Innocent passage through the territorial sea of ​​the State is authorized under article 17; in cases where such passage is not innocent – for example, violation of national immigration laws – states may take action to stop the passage. But under article 18, a ship, if found to be in distress, can also enter the territorial sea of ​​the state in question even if migration laws have been broken.

Such a reflection is sure to appear as legal sopply for Priti Patel, the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, who has come up with his own model of rolling back boats. This is part of an arsenal of hostile measures against migrants, including the proposal Nationality and Borders Bill (Bill 14 from 2021-2022), introduced in July. After going through two readings in the House of Commons, it now belongs to the Public Bills Committee, which is due to release a report in November.

By moving that the bill be read a second time, Patel Recount Members that the British were “fed up with with open borders and unchecked immigration; enough of a failing asylum system costing the taxpayer over £ 1 billion a year; enough dinghies arriving illegally on our coasts, led by organized gangs; enough people are drowning in these dangerous, illegal and unnecessary journeys.

Bill is born despite the warnings from various Australian lawyers, doctors and former officials that their country’s refugee model was hardly the kind of thing that should inspire imitations. In view by Australian Green Senator Nick McKim and Benali Hamdache of the British Green Party, the “New Immigration Plan imports all the worst parts of Australian government policy”. This includes the possibility of establishment offshore processing centers (read detention) in places ranging from Rwanda to the Isle of Man and the creation of a temporary protection regime.

The bill brings the ram into a whole range of maritime practices, to propose criminalize the practice of offering voluntary assistance at sea by targeting ‘those who assist people to arrive in the UK without valid authorization’. This good Samaritan service provided by organizations such as the Royal Lifeboat Institution, which has been accused to be a “taxi service for migrants” by its detractors, promises to be roped up.

Last month, it was revealed that Patel was already urging border forces to engage in pushback in a way that would comply with maritime law. According to “sources” within the Interior Ministry, as reported Per The Guardian, Patel had effectively become “the first Home Minister to establish a legal basis for maritime tactics, working with Attorney General Michael Ellis and QC experts.”

Pushing back ship arrivals is not only devoid of humanitarianism but filled with monstrous danger. The Strait of Dover, for example, is the busiest sea route in the world. A suggestion move in the ranks is targeting certain boats, keeping in mind the issue of safety. Dinghies are unlikely to fall for eviction, however tempting they may be. Bigger and more robust migration vessels are a more likely outlook.

France, the country from which most migrants leave, has taken a particular stand on the issue. Pierre-Henri Dumont, deputy for Calais, suggested that Patel’s policy “destroys the UN conventions in Geneva giving everyone the right to seek asylum in any country”.

Interior Minister Gérald Darminin also Express his dissatisfaction with the new approach, warning Patel that his country “will not accept any practice contrary to the law of the sea, and no blackmail”. Rightly, Darminin also asserted that “the safeguarding of human lives at sea takes priority over considerations of nationality, status and migration policy”. While this is very much in the spirit of protection, it is an attitude that feels worn and tired. Patel, for his part, is hoping his cross-Channel colleagues will see common sense and accept a pledge of British funding to prevent migrant crossings from taking place. They can do just that.

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