Yesterday in Parliament, Rachael Maskell MP spoke out about Government’s failings to address crucial international issues, leading to destitution and people being subjected to exploitation and terror. In her speech to the House of Commons, she set out some very clear reasons why 80 million people today are having to flee the dangers of conflict and escape the challenges of the climate breakdown.
The Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill will make it harder for people who are fleeing exploitation to find a place of sanctuary in the UK. In particular, Ms Maskell highlighted how people who have to apply for asylum needed to do so from “place of peril”, not only totally unworkable but also in breach of international conventions. Like this, many measures in the Bill increased the risk of people who are being trafficked or exploited by criminal gangs.
The legislation seeks to judge people’s rights to reside in the UK based on how they arrived, not on the horrors from which they fled. To arrive in accordance with international agreements would be seen as a criminal act and lead to deportation. Even seafarers, who are under international protocol to divert their journey to rescue people in distress at sea could be criminalised for such a humanitarian act if rescuing people who are drowning as a result of a people trafficker placing them in dinghies to cross the Channel.
These are complicated matters, and yet the legislation cut across international agreements, would increase harm and trauma to many, already, victims, and would make their plight more dangerous. The Bill debate is due to close at 7pm this evening and Ms Maskell will be voting against the legislation.
Rachael Maskell MP says:
“As part of the global community we have a responsibility to one another. From the Second World War, when we provided sanctuary to people fleeing the atrocities across Europe, to the genocide in Bosnia, where once again we stepped in to help. Drawing on our British values, we have been able to support survivors who have sought a safe place to live, and advanced human rights.
“York has a special role in this, as the UK’s only Human Rights city, and must therefore, work together to not only support people in their time of need, but to address the causes of such upheaval. When Government cuts international aid, when it sells arms to countries which then use them indiscriminately against vulnerable people groups and when they sit back in the midst of this climate crisis, it is wrong that they scapegoat the victims of these terrible events, while doing so little to create the safe places for people to remain.”
Ms Maskell concluded her speech saying:
“I am so proud to represent the UK’s only Human Rights city and City of Sanctuary, here in York. Where we put the needs of others before our own, where we tear down walls and build bridges and where we take care of those who’s stories break us as they recant the trauma that their lives have endured. We listen. We act. We quicken our resolve to speak up and stand up against human rights violations and abuse. And that is why I have spoken out today to oppose this suppressive legislation. And say – not in my name.”