In a recent development, the United Kingdom has put forth plans to include India in an expanded list of safe states, which will have significant implications for individuals arriving in the UK illegally from these countries. This move, which aims to expedite the process of returning Indian nationals who have traveled illegally from India and simultaneously eliminate their chances of seeking asylum in Britain, has been met with both support and criticism.
Strengthening the Immigration System
The UK Home Office has taken this step as part of its broader strategy to reinforce the country’s immigration system and to curb potential abuses by individuals making unfounded protection claims. The objective is clear: to deter illegal migration and to swiftly repatriate those found to have no legal basis for staying in the UK.
India and Georgia on the List
India and Georgia are the two countries featured in the draft legislation that has been laid in the House of Commons. The inclusion of these countries has been justified based on the premise that citizens from these nations are not typically at risk of persecution. This underscores the UK’s determination to discourage people from making perilous and unlawful journeys to its shores.
Preventing Illegal Boat Arrivals
These actions are part of a broader initiative to fulfill British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s promise to prevent the arrival of migrant boats on UK shores following treacherous journeys across the English Channel. Despite the absence of apparent risks of persecution for Indian and Georgian nationals, the UK Home Office has noted an increase in small boat arrivals from these countries over the past year.
Criteria for Inclusion in the Safe States List
The UK’s safe states list, known legislatively as Section 80AA, includes countries like Albania, Switzerland, and the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) states. For a country to be added to this list, the Home Secretary must be convinced that there is, in general, no serious risk of persecution for its nationals, and the removal of nationals to that country should not contravene the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Convention.