Government wants to add India and Georgia to the list of safe countries of origin for asylum seekers

The government announced yesterday that it had submitted a bill to Parliament to add India and Georgia to the list of countries deemed safe under Section 80AA of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

Asylum applications from nationals from countries on the safe list are considered inadmissible.

Under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, the Home Secretary is authorized to add countries to the safe list if “there is generally no serious risk in that State of persecution of nationals of that State and of deportation to that State of nationals of that State.” that State will generally not breach the United Kingdom’s obligations under the Human Rights Convention.”

Interior Minister Suella Braverman said India and Georgia should be added to the list to allow asylum seekers from those countries to be deported more quickly either to a safe third country or to their home country.

The Home Office found that the number of Indian and Georgian nationals entering the UK on small boats to claim asylum has increased over the past year.

The Home Office added that the new measure represents another next step in the implementation of the Illegal Migration Act 2023, which aims to stop people crossing the English Channel to seek asylum in the UK. “We must stop people making dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK from essentially safe countries,” the Home Secretary said.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has stated that the Illegal Migration Act 2023 results in asylum seekers being denied a fair hearing and many genuine refugees being denied protection, in clear violation of the Refugee Convention.

According to the Interior Ministry, there is “no apparent risk of persecution” for nationals of India and Georgia.

The highly regarded annual country reports on human rights practices published by the US State Department conclude that significant human rights concerns exist in both India and Georgia.

In its latest annual report on India, released in March this year, the US State Department said: “Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful and arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, by the government or its agents; torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by police and prison officials; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners or prisoners; arbitrary or unlawful invasion of privacy; Restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, including violence or threats of violence, unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, and the enforcement or threat of enforcement of criminal defamation laws restricting expression; restrictions on internet freedom; interference with the freedom to peacefully assemble and associate; restrictions on freedom of movement and the right to leave the country; rejection of refugees; severe government corruption; harassment of domestic and international human rights organizations; lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence, including domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, workplace violence, child, early and forced marriage, femicide and other forms of such violence; Crimes involving violence or the threat of violence against members of national/racial/ethnic groups and minorities based on their religious affiliation, social status or sexual orientation; Crimes involving violence or threats of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons; and existence of forced and compulsory labor.”

The U.S. Department of State's most recent annual report on Georgia said: “Significant human rights problems included credible reports of torture or inhumane, cruel or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest or detention, serious problems with the independence of the judiciary, and investigations and prosecutions that were widely viewed as be seen as politically motivated; arbitrary or unlawful invasions of privacy; serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, including violence and threats of violence against journalists; significant interference with freedom of assembly and association; rejection; and crimes involving violence or threats of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people and activists.”

The Refugee Council said on X, formerly Twitter, that the addition of India and Georgia to the safe list was another example of the government trying to exclude more and more people from the asylum system. “They should focus on running an asylum system that gives people in the UK a fair hearing and makes decisions in months rather than years,” the Refugee Council added.