Channel crossings: patrol of border forces following deaths
The ex-adviser to the Prime Minister took to Twitter to accuse the government of failing to explain the facts included in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and human rights law ( HRA) which make it “illegal” to stop the flow of migrants trying to cross the Channel in small boats. Mr Cummings asserted that the ECHR and the HRA should be “put aside”. But legal experts say that even with these “out of the way”, No10 couldn’t “just do whatever he wants.”
Mr Cummings’ comments followed the deaths of at least 27 people – 17 men, seven women and three children – who drowned while trying to cross from France to the UK via the English Channel on Wednesday.
France and the UK blame human traffickers and smugglers for the tragedy.
Mr Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed in a phone call on Wednesday that they will step up their collaborative efforts to tackle the migrant problem.
But Mr Cummings, who has no faith in the leaders’ approach to solving the problem, said he expects Downing Street “to echo the tilt, the lies, the delusions and the cheap feelings – his favorite mode ”.
He continued: “No. 10, the parties and the media, some deliberately, out of ignorance, will all fail to explain [the] basic fact established by government lawyers / No10 [in] 2020: ECHR / HRA + JR makes it “illegal” to deal seriously with boats.
“We could sort the boats, it’s not a difficult problem but it means putting aside the ECHR / HRA.
“Or we can prioritize the ECHR / HRA. As with anti-terrorism, both sides prioritize the ECHR / HRA. And lie about it.”
READ MORE: Friends of migrants killed in Channel disaster swear it won’t stop them from trying to reach UK
Dominic Cummings said human rights law should be ‘put aside’ to ‘sort the boats’
Mr Cummings was not the first to suggest that the UK shy away from laws included in the HRA and ECHR.
Yasmine Ahmed, UK director of Human Rights Watch, told Express.co.uk: “In practice, they could.
The government could legislate and say, “We are getting rid of the Human Rights Act (HRA)”.
“There have been long-standing discussions about the possibility of changing the HRA or getting rid of it altogether.
“The problem would be that there is still a party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). And that the ECHR requires states to implement rights at national level.
“So, first of all, we would violate the application of these rights at the national level. Second, people could always go directly to the European Court because there is no internal remedy. “
Despite Brexit, the UK is still determined to meet its current commitments to the ECHR.
However, the government could follow Mr Cummings’ advice and turn a blind eye to the ECHR as well.
Some of the people who survived the Channel crossing on Wednesday
Ms Ahmed, confirming this option, said: “The government could also withdraw from the ECHR.
“So imagine this is all out of the way… That doesn’t solve what Dominic Cummings wants to solve.”
She continued, “He wants to get rid of all the protections so that we can do whatever we want.
“Even if that were the case – we got rid of the HRA and we withdrew from the ECHR – there are still other legal regimes that the UK government is tied to. “
“There is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which in itself offers protections for those who try to come.
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“If you try to push people away and, in this situation, put their lives at risk, that would potentially be a violation of your obligations under the ICCPR, which mirrors what is in the ECHR – so you are not getting rid of it. not. You still have other obligations that exist anyway.
“There is also the refugee law, which applies and which, again, states that you cannot send someone back.
“On top of that, we also have the Law of the Sea, which deals with this idea that there is a long-standing duty to rescue people at sea.
“It’s not as simple as saying ‘let’s get rid of it’ because, in fact, the UK government still has international obligations.
“What he’s talking about is that if you get rid of the HRA and withdraw from the ECHR, it’s very difficult for people to get redress.
“But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any legal obligations.”
Conservative MPs this week urged Home Secretary Priti Patel to ignore human rights and international law to take control of the crisis.
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More than three times as many people have crossed the Channel this year than in 2020 – a figure that is putting increasing pressure on Ms Patel.
A veteran Tory backbench, Sir Edward Leigh, called the crisis a “national emergency” and reminded the Home Secretary: “We told the people in the referendum, we Brexiteers, that we would resume control, it is clear that we have lost control.
“Will the Minister of the Interior bring in [an] emergency powers act to override human rights law if necessary and place these people in safe housing now? “
Blackpool South MP Scott Benton said: “The Human Rights Act 1998 gave power to unelected judges and it is clear that the rampant power of the courts directly interferes with our ability to control our asylum and immigration policies.
“Does my right honorable friend agree that if we are finally going to prevent bogus asylum seekers from coming regularly to the UK, it is time to do away with human rights law altogether?” “
Emilie McDonald, refugee law expert and PhD in philosophy from the University of Oxford, is the UK advocacy and communications coordinator at Human Rights Watch.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, she explained that under the principle of non-criminalization, irregular asylum seekers cannot be ignored.
Ms McDonald said: ‘This is a fundamental principle of the Refugee Act and the 1951 Refugee Convention, which the UK helped to draft and which is bound by the UK Refugee Act. ‘immigration.
“What Dominic Cummings is trying to allow by repealing the HRA would only push people down more dangerous and hidden routes and push them towards human smugglers and traffickers.”
But even if the HRA were repealed, there would still be legal regimes the government would have to follow.
The Convention, she stressed, “protects the right of individuals to flee by all means and the UK and other governments have a duty to protect these individuals when they arrive at their borders.”