Sunak’s “ten-point plan” for asylum: legal illiteracy and policy statements in search of a problem

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Description

In an article for the Telegraph as part of his Conservative Party leadership campaign, Rishi Sunak said that one element of his “ten-point plan” for the UK’s asylum system was to:

“tighten our statutory definition of who qualifies for asylum in the UK, bringing our test for protection in line with the Refugee Convention rather than the ECHR. This will prevent anyone who enters the UK illegally from staying here. And where the ECHR is an obstacle, I will tackle it.”

This post demonstrates how this statement is legally illiterate. As a short statement of law, it manages to make four significant errors which render it meaningless: it implies incorrectly that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has jurisdiction to determine who is a refugee; it confuses the influence that the ECtHR has over human rights standard settings with power to do so; it confuses two kinds of legal protections for those at risk of harm (namely, Refugee status and Humanitarian protection); and/or misrepresents the circumstances in which the government’s attempt to remove asylum applicants to Rwanda was thwarted.

Period31 Aug 2022

Media contributions

1

Media contributions

  • TitleSunak’s “ten-point plan” for asylum: legal illiteracy and policy statements in search of a problem
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletRefugee Law Initiative Blog
    Media typeWeb
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Date31/08/22
    DescriptionIn an article for the Telegraph as part of his Conservative Party leadership campaign, Rishi Sunak said that one element of his “ten-point plan” for the UK’s asylum system was to:

    “tighten our statutory definition of who qualifies for asylum in the UK, bringing our test for protection in line with the Refugee Convention rather than the ECHR. This will prevent anyone who enters the UK illegally from staying here. And where the ECHR is an obstacle, I will tackle it.”

    This post demonstrates how this statement is legally illiterate. As a short statement of law, it manages to make four significant errors which render it meaningless: it implies incorrectly that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has jurisdiction to determine who is a refugee; it confuses the influence that the ECtHR has over human rights standard settings with power to do so; it confuses two kinds of legal protections for those at risk of harm (namely, Refugee status and Humanitarian protection); and/or misrepresents the circumstances in which the government’s attempt to remove asylum applicants to Rwanda was thwarted.
    URLhttps://rli.blogs.sas.ac.uk/2022/08/31/sunaks-ten-point-plan-for-asylum-legal-illiteracy-and-policy-statements-in-search-of-a-problem/
    PersonsJonathan Collinson