Plans to process asylum seekers on UK islands including Scottish isles and Gibraltar are being considered

Friday, 19th March 2021, 11:18 am
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 11:18 am
The Isle of Man is one of the locations suggested under new plans (Photo: Shutterstock)

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is said to be considering using some UK islands to process asylum seekers attempting to reach the country.

Under plans to overhaul the UK immigration system, The Times reports that asylum seekers may be sent away to British island territories for processing.

Gibraltar, the Scottish Islands and the Isle of Man are all locations reportedly under consideration for processing asylum claims.

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This isn't the first time the UK Government has considered off-shore asylum processing, with a series of leaks last year revealing plans to send asylum seekers to Ascension Island, over 4,000 miles from the UK, for processing.

At the time, the Labour Party condemned the plans as "inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive".

'We all have a collective responsibility to safeguard that system'

The new plans have already been met with considerable backlash both from human rights organisations and some of the proposed locations for processing.

Leaders of Gibraltar and the Isle of Man both immediately ruled out the prospect of their territories being used in this way, with the Chief Minister of the Isle of Man suggesting the proposals must be an early April Fool's Day joke.

The UK representative for the UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency), meanwhile, has said the organisation is "extremely concerned" by the proposals.

UK rep Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor told The Guardian: "We urge the UK (and other countries) to refrain from these practices.

"These obligations cannot be outsourced and transferred without effective safeguards in place, both in law and in practice.

"Externalisation arrangements can run counter to the spirit of international solidarity and burden-sharing and risk a gradual erosion of the international protection system, which has withstood the test of time. We all have a collective responsibility - and a common interest - to safeguard that system."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the plans, however, saying that the intention is to "save lives" by deterring asylum seekers from making the dangerous Channel crossing.

“The objective here is to save life and avert human misery because people are crossing the Channel who are being fooled, who are being conned, by gangsters, into paying huge sums of money, risking their lives,” he said on 18 March.