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UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights


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In accordance with UN General Assembly resolution No. 3449 (9 December 1975), the term ‘illegal’ should not be used to refer to migrants in an irregular situation.


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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.


3 Responses

  1. If a non patrial person has stayed longer than their leave without lodging a further application, entered unlawfully or engaged in verbal deception, they have committed an offense, they are not lawfully present.

    Weighed against this, other than sur place cases, it is not possibly to enter legally and then make an application for protection.

    Colin would describe this as catch 22.

  2. Since entry in order to seek asylum is a valid defence against immigration offences (at least in international law), a person who enters unlawfully in order to seek asylum has no more comitted an offence than a person who kills someone in self defence has committed murder.

    1. In a criminal context it is a defence yes, in terms of the home office serving a notice rendering the person liable to detention and labelling them an ‘immigration offender’ it makes no difference.

      Not withstanding that Colin views myself and my colleagues variously as ‘Borgs’ and ‘Automotons’, it troubles me that on one hand the UK is a signatory to the Geneva convention, but on the other it is virtually impossible to lawfully enter the UK with the intention of claiming asylum.

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