The head of an Oxford-based charity set up to welcome refugees to the country said there was ‘nothing new’ as the Home Secretary suggested a shake-up of international rules to address the migrant crisis.
Suella Braverman questioned whether legal frameworks created more than 50 years ago were still ‘fit for purpose in an age of jet travel and smartphones’.
She has previously said she personally wants the UK to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, signed in 1950, claiming it had hampered the government’s efforts to introduce tougher policies – including sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda.
“Illegal migration and the unprecedented mass movement of people across the globe is placing unsustainable pressures on America, the UK, and Europe,” Ms Braverman said.
The Home Secretary was speaking ahead of a speech in Washington later this week setting out her assessment of the challenges of global migration.
Mark Goldring, director of Oxford-based Asylum Welcome, told the Oxford Mail that there was ‘nothing new’ in Ms Braverman's latest comments.
“It’s a continuation of the hostile environment where, really, the only policy is if we sound nasty we’ll put people off coming and our problems will be resolved,” he said.
Asked what impact Ms Braverman’s words and the headlines had on asylum seekers supported by the charity, Mr Goldring said: “People are very confused because it’s hard to work out what’s rhetoric and what is reality.”
One asylum seeker currently housed in a hotel at the Kassam Stadium complex had been due to speak at Asylum Welcome’s annual general meeting earlier this week, he said.
But shortly before the event, the man received a notification he would be transferred to Dorset-moored mega barge Bibby Stockholm when people could be moved onto the floating accommodation.
Mr Goldring said of the devastated man: “He was in no fit state to talk to anybody and had to withdraw from the event. The emotional pressure is significant.”
On Sunday, chairman of campaign group Migration Watch UK, Alp Mehmet said Ms Braverman was right to ‘call out the conventions’ and suggested the UK should withdraw from the ECHR and the United Nations Refugee Convention if reforms were not made.
“We have long been saying that both the Refugee Convention and ECHR are outdated and ill-suited to modern challenges,” Mr Mehmet said.
However, Refugee Council chief Enver Solomon said: “What we need is a fair process for people who come here in search of safety and protection.”
The government should be addressing the ‘real issues’ in the asylum system, such as the backlog in processing asylum claims.