Concerns mount in UK as contentious bill debated in House of Lords
New bill is criticized for controversial articles on revoking citizenship and criminalizing illegal arrivals of asylum seekers
With the controversial Nationality and Borders Bill reaching the British House of Lords for further debate, opposition to the legislation is growing, with a measure allowing for easier revocation of citizenship drawing especially sharp criticism.
Article 9 of the bill, titled “Notice of decision to deprive a person of citizenship,” has been under fire by human rights groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and various community leaders since the bill’s introduction in parliament.
The clause, if it receives Royal Assent without changes in later stages, would give extended powers to the Home Office to revoke the citizenship of any individual.
The bill, commissioned by Home Secretary Priti Patel, also includes an article that would criminalize illegal arrivals of those seeking asylum in the UK.
Criticizing this aspect of the bill on the first day of debate at the House of Lords, Lord Rosser said the Refugee Convention “provides that states shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees where their life or freedom was threatened.”
“And (if) they present themselves without delay and show good cause for their illegal presence for entry,” he added.
Lord Rosser also said that “if all countries were to take this approach of criminalizing those who enter illegally, for the purposes of claiming asylum, the entire international system for refugee protection would fall apart.”
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi also took a stand against the bill during debate.
“These laws have the potential to include members of parliament and their families. They include our loved ones, friends, and colleagues. They include some of us,” she said.
“This is not scaremongering, this is fact. And this is why families across our country are campaigning to push back against the real-life consequences they are today experiencing as a result of years of incremental legislation.”