Countries added to list due to increase in number of Indian and Georgian nationals arriving in UK via small boat
The Government announced yesterday that it had laid draft legislation in Parliament to add India and Georgia to the list of countries deemed safe under Section 80AA of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.
Asylum claims made by nationals from countries on the safe list are considered inadmissible.
Under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, the Home Secretary is able to add countries to the safe list if "there is in general in that State no serious risk of persecution of nationals of that State, and removal to that State of nationals of that State will not in general contravene the United Kingdom's obligations under the Human Rights Convention."
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said that India and Georgia are to be added to the list to allow asylum seekers from those countries to be removed more swiftly, either to a safe third country or their home country.
The Home Office noted that the number of Indian and Georgian nationals arriving in the UK via small boat to claim asylum has increased over the last year.
The Home Office added that the new measure represents another next step in the delivery of the Illegal Migration Act 2023, which aims to stop people crossing the Channel to claim asylum in the UK. "We must stop people making dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK from fundamentally safe countries," the Home Secretary said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that the effect of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 is to deny asylum seekers a fair hearing and deny protection to many genuine refugees, in clear breach of the Refugee Convention.
According to the Home Office, nationals of India and Georgia are 'not at obvious risk of persecution'.
The highly respected annual country reports on human rights practices published by the U.S. Department of State finds that significant human rights concerns exist in both India and Georgia.
In its latest annual report on India published this March, the U.S. Department of State said: "Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful and arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents; torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police and prison officials; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners or detainees; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including violence or threats of violence, unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, and enforcement of or threat to enforce criminal libel laws to limit expression; restrictions on internet freedom; interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; restrictions on freedom of movement and on the right to leave the country; refoulement of refugees; serious government corruption; harassment of domestic and international human rights organizations; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, including domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, workplace violence, child, early, and forced marriage, femicide, and other forms of such violence; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting members of national/racial/ethnic and minority groups based on religious affiliation, social status or sexual orientation; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons; and existence of forced and compulsory labor."
The U.S. Department of State's latest annual report on Georgia says: "Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: torture or inhuman, cruel, or degrading treatment; arbitrary arrest or incarcerations; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary, along with investigations and prosecutions widely considered to be politically motivated; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including violence and threats of violence against journalists; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; refoulement; and crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons and activists."
The Refugee Council said on X, formerly Twitter, that adding India and Georgia to the safe list was another example of the Government trying to exclude more and more people from the asylum system. "They should be focusing on running an asylum system that gives people a fair hearing in the UK, making decisions in months not years," the Refugee Council added.