National Justice Project urges UK lawmakers to resist offshore processing of refugees

Last Updated on 20/12/2021 by National Justice Project


The National Justice Project has authored a submission to the UK’s House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Nationality and Borders Bill 2021-22.

This Bill’s stated aims are:

  • To increase the fairness of the system to better protect and support those in need of asylum.
  • To deter illegal entry into the United Kingdom, thereby breaking the business model of people smuggling networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger.
  • To remove those with no right to be in the UK more easily.

We are deeply concerned that the Bill emulates the worst aspects of Australia’s refugee policy and could see refugees facing years of detention with no solution in sight.

Sophie Wenderoth, Senior Paralegal with the National Justice Project who assisted in drafting our submission says:

“Working with our Refugee and Asylum Seeker clients, we know all too well the harm that government policies can cause to vulnerable people. When we saw the proposed UK Bill, we knew we needed to make a submission that could influence UK politicians to reconsider their support for some of these proposed legislative changes. Our hope is that the UK considers the human lives being debated here, and not just a political ideology.”

Our submission provides a detailed analysis of:

  • the liability risks arising from offshore processing;
  • lack of durable solutions for resettlement of refugees;
  • the risks of relying on foreign sovereign states to resolve domestic obligations;
  • the logistical challenges arising from relying on foreign sovereign governments;
  • the foreseeable and avoidable harm that offshore processing causes; and
  • the risks relating to pre-emptive removal.

We argue that the Bill does not have the capacity to fulfil the objective to remove those with no right to be in the UK more easily and if the Bill were to pass into law, the UK government would be exposing itself to significant liability risk, as well as being likely to put the UK in breach of its international obligations and exposing asylum seekers and refugees to foreseeable and avoidable harm

We recommend that:

1. Members should oppose any arrangements that seek to outsource the processing of asylum seekers
offshore; and

2. Members should support an amendment to remove Clause 26, Clause 41 and schedule 5, and Clause 11

Click here to read the full submission.