Ex-judges and lawyers criticise UK response to refugee crisis

Lord Phillips, former President of the Supreme Court and Senior Law Lord

Over 340 leading ex-judges and lawyers have criticised the UK government’s response to Europe’s refugee crisis in an open letter published on the Internet.

The Lawyers’ Refugee Initiative website carries a call for the UK to “take a fair and proportionate share of refugees, both those already within the EU and those still outside it”, signed by hundreds of figures in the legal profession.

Twelve retired judges signed the letter, including Lord Phillips, former President of the Supreme Court and Senior Law Lord, and Sir Nicholas Bratza, former President of the European Court of Human Rights.

It was also signed by 127 barristers, 103 Queen’s Counsel, 30 partners and directors, 24 professors of law and international migration, 23 solicitors, and 23 law academics.

Catriona Jarvis, a former judge of the Upper Tribunal, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that the UK had been “too low, too slow and too narrow” in responding to the crisis.

She added: “Around the Balkan crisis we were receiving around 75,000 a year. It was within our capability. We managed it well.

“We are the sixth or seventh richest country in the world, it is not beyond our capabilities to make the necessary changes to receive our share.”

The letter criticises the EU’s Dublin Regulation as “dysfunctional” and hints towards the creation of “a visa for travel from refugee-producing countries such as Syria, Iraq, Eritrea or Afghanistan, permitting entry in order to claim asylum”.

It adds: “This situation, coupled with draconian penalties on airlines and ships which carry undocumented passengers, including those fleeing persecution, has created the conditions which drive individuals and families into the hands of people-smugglers, with unseaworthy and overloaded boats or suffocating lorries.”

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