February 26. 2024. 4:51

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Illegal migration bill will drive traffickers underground, says former PM May

The illegal migration bill could result in modern slavery victims being less likely to give evidence against traffickers, making it harder to catch them, the UK’s former Prime Minister Theresa May warned.

The illegal migration bill would enable the detention of unlawful arrivals without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention until they can be removed. It includes provisions to prevent asylum seekers from claiming to be a victim of modern slavery to avoid or delay their removal.

“My fear with this illegal migration bill is that it will drive a coach and horses through the Modern Slavery Act, denying support to those who have been exploited and enslaved, and in doing so, making it much harder to catch and stop the traffickers and slave drivers,” said May, The Guardian reported.

According to the UK government, if someone is identified as a potential victim of modern slavery, “we will ensure they are safely returned home or to another safe country.”

“Now, there may be some of my colleagues who might say, ‘Well, doesn’t that mean an awful lot of people are going to want to stay here?’ and worry about the numbers, but many people brought here into slavery want to go home, they don’t just want to stay here,” said May.

“Under this bill, I fear it is more likely that they will stay here in the UK and be staying here in slavery,” she added.

On Monday, in a letter addressed to both chambers of the UK parliament, the Council of Europe (COE) Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, urged lawmakers to vote against the bill.

It is now “essential” that lawmakers “prevent legislation incompatible with the UK’s international obligations being passed”, she said in the letter.

For now, the UK parliament will have an opportunity to “thoroughly scrutinise the bill and, once approved, the measures in the bill will have been expressly endorsed by parliament.”

(Sofia Stuart Leeson | EURACTIV.com)