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Council of Europe Commissioner condemns anti-migration rhetoric by Cameron and May


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The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights today published a Memorandum addressed to the UK Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, in which he condemns the use of anti migrant language and rhetoric by Ministers including David Cameron and Theresa May, criticises discriminatory and disproportionate measures against migrants and expresses disappointment with the UK’s lack of solidarity with other EU Member States.

The Commissioner commends the UK’s efforts in providing resettlement to Syrian refugees. However, he expresses disappointment with the UK’s lack of solidarity with other EU Member States by refusing to participate in the EU relocation programme. He notes the low number of asylum claims in the UK compared to elsewhere in the Eu then going on:

The UK government’s lack of readiness to show more solidarity with other European countries is also at odds with the very small share of asylum seekers in net migration in the UK, which since 2005 has ranged between 3% and 10%. It appears that UK government policies in this context are determined by a flawed assumption that migration flows are strongly linked with asylum seekers rather than with labour migrants, who make up the vast majority of new arrivals in the UK.

The Memorandum also highlights the plight of the 67 refugees and asylum seekers who have been in the UK Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus since 1998. The government is urged to resettle them to the UK thus putting an end to their extremely precarious legal and social situation.

On migration policy generally, the Commissioner uses strong language. He refers to the Government’s policy of reducing net migration and continues:

The above goals have been accompanied by public rhetoric and language of criminalisation that views migrants, particularly irregular ones, as a threat to UK society. One of the most characteristic examples is the May 2012 interview of the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who, after stressing the need to reduce migration inflows in the UK, stated that the government’s aim “is to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration”.

He also criticises David Cameron, who is said to have “scaled up the alarmist rhetoric targeting migrants,” and goes on to highlight UK immigration detention policy, express grave concern at the discriminatory effect of the “right to rent” scheme, the “excessively inflexible” minimum income rules for family migration, which particularly adversely affect women, the young and children of parents affected by the rules. He urges the UK Government to

overhaul and enhance migrant family reunification rules whose excessively restrictive nature has in fact run counter to the government’s proclaimed goal of promoting social cohesion and respecting equality.

Unsurprisingly, the UK response is to reject all of this.

The Memorandum follows up the Commissioner’s visit to the UK carried out last January.

Source: Commissioner publishes Memorandum on asylum and immigration in the UK – View

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.


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