Bad News for International Victims of Modern Slavery:
As the UK continues to develop its post-Brexit legal framework, the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and the Illegal Migration Act 2023 are two pieces of legislation that will affect equitable outcomes in the migrant community.
Whilst the two legislations aimed at reforming the UK asylum system through deterrence of illegal entry into the country, their provisions will have substantial negative impacts on victims of modern slavery, particularly migrants and refugees arriving to the UK through irregular routes.
Restrictive Asylum Claim Locations:
In Part 2, Sections 14-16 of the Nationality and Borders Act, the requirement to make asylum claims at a ‘designated place’ is established and includes the possibility of declaring asylum claims by EU nationals or by persons with connection to a safe third state as inadmissible.
In effect, the provision limits access to asylum for refugees, migrants, or victims of modern slavery who are in need of protection but do not have a legal route to enter the UK, or have passed through a European Union nation before reaching the UK.
In Part 2, Sections 18-19, 22, and 26 of Nationality and Borders Act 2022, there is a requirement for the provision of evidence in support of protection or human rights claims, which damage asylum seekers’ credibility if they fail to comply with priority removal notices or provide late evidence.
The provision seems to be aimed at limiting the ability of victims of modern slavery who may not have sufficient documentation or may be afraid to disclose their experiences due to trauma or a fear of reprisals.
Limiting Appeal Rights:
Part 2, Sections 24-25, 27 of Nationality and Borders Act 2022 seeks to remove the right of appeal for claims certified as clearly unfounded and the introduction of accelerated detained appeals and expedited appeals for recipients of priority removal notices.
This provision limits any second chances for victims by effectively eliminating any opportunities for closer judicial scrutiny and due process for asylum seekers and victims of modern slavery, who often have complex and sensitive cases that require more time to assess the evidence.
Mode of Entry Restrictions:
Part 1, Sections 1-2 of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 emphasises the prevention of those who travel via safe countries and enter the UK illegally from having their asylum claim considered by the UK.
This provision is in direct violation of the core principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which protect the rights of asylum seekers to enter a state, to have their claim assessed, not to be penalised for entering a state illegally.
Extended Detention Powers:
Part 1, Sections 3-4 of Illegal Migration Act 2023 of 2022 places a duty on the Home Secretary to remove illegal migrants and, curiously, empowers the Home Office to detain people for up to 28 days without access to immigration bail or judicial review.
One of the negative outcomes of such a provision is the forcing of victims of modern slavery to return to situations of exploitation, or being properly identified or assessed before removal or detention.
Non-Suspensive Human Rights Claims:
Part 1, Section 5 of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 provides that human rights claims are made non-suspensive or out of the country, unless for people facing a real risk of serious and irreversible harm in the country of removal.
Such a provision will obviously undermine the right to an effective remedy and access to justice for victims of modern slavery who may have human rights claims based on their experiences of exploitation or abuse.
These few examples show how extreme the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and the Illegal Migration Act 2023 are, which, according to experts, ‘effectively ban asylum seeking in the UK’.
The aforementioned provisions will significantly impact asylum seekers and victims of modern slavery and raise concerns about the UK’s commitment to upholding international standards and protecting the rights of vulnerable individuals in need of refuge and support.