The Bar Human Rights Committee has condemned the British Government’s recent announcement that only 150 further child refugees will be admitted to the United Kingdom, under provisions in the Immigration Act commonly referred to as the “Dubs Amendment”.
The thousands of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Europe are at the forefront of the refugee crisis that has gripped the EU over the past two years. The majority have escaped unimaginable horrors in their home countries and undertaken perilous journeys in order to find a safe haven, during the course of which they have been exposed to sexual exploitation, human trafficking and the risk of smuggling.
BHRC legal observers were present during the dismantling of the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais in October 2016, and witnessed first-hand the squalid and inhumane conditions that many of these children were exposed to. Similar reports abound in relation to the conditions in the camps and settlements in Greece, Serbia, Hungary and Macedonia.
A forthcoming BHRC report on human rights violations during the Calais camp’s closure is expected to be highly critical of both the French and UK governments.
BHRC Chairperson Kirsty Brimelow QC said:
“The Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Goodwill MP, wrote to me on 24 January 2017, in response to a letter from BHRC sent in September 2016 raising urgent concerns over conditions in the camp in Calais.
He reassured me that “more eligible children will be transferred from Europe, in line with the terms of the Immigration Act, in the coming months”, and gave no indication that a closure was looming.
The Immigration Act does not restrict numbers or time period. It is not in keeping with the spirit of the Dubs Amendment, as undoubtedly understood by Parliament, to now bring its power to a close. At a time when 10,000 lone children are missing in the EU, the UK can and should be doing more to take them in.
I urge the Prime Minister to recall this country’s proud tradition of welcoming vulnerable children displaced by war and terror, and return to implementing these values.”