UK: Plan to deploy Navy to intercept asylum seekers labelled ‘unlawful’
Amnesty International has warned that plans to deploy the Navy to prevent asylum seekers crossing the English Channel would be “unlawful, reckless and dangerous”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has tasked Dan O’Mahoney, director of the joint maritime security centre and a former Royal Marine, with preventing asylum seekers from crossing the channel by making the route “unviable for small boat crossings”.
In a statement, Ms Patel said: “The number of illegal small boat crossings is appalling. We are working to make this route unviable and arresting the criminals facilitating these crossings and making sure they are brought to justice.
“Dan’s appointment is vital to cutting this route by bringing together all operational partners in the UK and in France. This is a complex problem but across government we are working to address many of these long-standing issues.”
In response, Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty’s refugee and migrant rights programme director, said: “Deploying the Navy to prevent people exercising their right to seek asylum in the UK would be unlawful, reckless and dangerous.
“What is needed is cooperation with France to share responsibility for providing a place of safety, including the UK Government reuniting families and enabling more people to travel safely to make asylum claims in this country.
“But while ministers beat their chests, the real and immediate needs of women, men and children fleeing war and persecution are being ignored.
“Tragically, the only people benefiting from the UK government’s increasing determination to shirk responsibility are smugglers and hate-mongers.
“It is wholly legitimate for people to seek asylum in this country - even though relatively few people do - and sadly, for some, these dangerous journeys are the only means available.”