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Just to clarify on asylum seeking

Any time you say something like “asylum seekers should seek in their first safe country” you get referred to this Full Fact piece. Which is a masterpiece of not quite being clear. It’s necessary to read between the lines more than a little to pick out the real story here.

Do refugees have to stay in the first safe country they reach?

The answer to that is, of course, no. Anyone can, of course, go to any country that will have them.

The trick being performed here is in this phrase:

Incorrect. The UN Refugee Convention does not make this requirement of refugees, and UK case law supports this interpretation. Refugees can legitimately make a claim for asylum in the UK after passing through other “safe” countries.

Sure, anyone can make a claim anywhere.

But there’s a huge difference between who *must* grant a claim and who *may* grant a claim if they should so wish.

The asylum seeker, refugee thing, is a right in international law. Rights are things which must be granted. They are not privileges which may or may not be, they are rights which are due simply as being a human being in this specific situation.

If you are at risk in your own country then you have a right to seek safe haven.


However, that *right* extends only to that first safe haven you reach. It’s not the one next door, it’s the first your reach. That first safe haven *must* grant you that asylum, that safe haven. That’s what the right is.

Now, other places might well be willing to grant you safe haven. But they don’t have to. Those after your first safe lace might well do so – and just to be clear I’ve no problem with the UK doing so for all sorts of people in large quantity too – but that is a privilege at their discretion, not a right to be had a of, umm, right under international law.

Which is why people do get denied asylum in the UK as they are deemed to have that right elsewhere – in, perhaps the previous place they were before the UK.

Which is why I say that asylum seekers *should* – please note, not have to – claim in that first safe haven. Because that’s where that asylum is a right to which they have an absolute claim under international law. Claiming anywhere else is a privilege which they may or may not get granted.

As the Guardian says:

There is no obligation under the refugee convention or any other instrument of international law that requires refugees to seek asylum in any particular country. There has, however, been a longstanding “first country of asylum” principle in international law by which countries are expected to take refugees fleeing from persecution in a neighbouring state. This principle has developed so that, in practice, an asylum seeker who had the opportunity to claim asylum in another country is liable to be returned there in order for his or her claim to be determined.

The BBC:

But what happens if they have passed through a safe country on their way to the UK?

There is a general principle observed by many countries that asylum seekers who have passed through a safe third country where they could have claimed asylum can be sent back there in order to make their claim.

All of those waiting in Calais to cross the Channel fit into this category. They are in a safe country but few will have reached France without having crossed another EU border beforehand.


However, asylum-seekers may be returned to a country that is deemed safe based on reliable, objective and up-to-date information, and where they could have sought asylum provided that a fair process is available to them, there are proper standards of reception and their rights under the Convention will be respected in practice.

Me, I’d say this is all a fair enough basis for saying asylum seekers *should* apply in first safe haven because that’s where they’ve got that legal right to it. Anywhere else it’s a privilege which they may or may not be granted.

And I’ve got the Guardian, the BBC and UNHCR on my side in this too. And, as it happens, international law on asylum seeking.

Plus the law:

7.3 However, as currently drafted, they allow claims to be treated as inadmissible only if
the asylum applicant is accepted for readmission by the third country through which
they have travelled or have a connection. A stronger approach to disincentivise
individuals is needed to deter claimants leaving safe third countries such as EU
Member States, from making unnecessary and dangerous journeys to the UK.

7.4 The changes separate the readmission requirement from the inadmissibility decision,
allowing us to treat applicants as inadmissible based solely on whether they have
passed through one or more safe countries in order to come to the UK as a matter of
choice. They will allow us to pursue avenues for their removal not only to the
particular third countries through which the applicant has travelled, but to any safe
third country that may agree to receive them.

Note the point being made there. The first safe haven point always existed. The change in the law (Dec 2020) doesn’t change that first safe country thing either. It changes the ability to deport to, but not that general ability to refuse an application if this is not first safe country.

Or, The Guardian:

Ministers have quietly changed immigration rules to prevent people fleeing war or persecution from claiming asylum in the UK if they have passed through a “safe” third country, prompting accusations of a breach of international law.

From 1 January, claims of asylum from a person who has travelled through or has a connection to a safe third country, including people coming from EU member states, will be treated as inadmissible.

As you can see that’s slightly garbled from what the law says but that same distinction about safe countries is still made.

As here:

In the first two quarters of 2021, 7 cases were deemed to be inadmissible, meaning there was sufficient evidence that the asylum applicant had travelled via, or has connections to, another safe third country, and that country will take responsibility for the asylum application. The UK is preparing the return of these applicants.

First safe haven might be something the UK government can ignore if it wishes. It might be of minor relevance to the vast majority of cases. It could be that it’s a distinction that *shouldn’t* be made on moral or other grounds. But there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s a concept that does exist in the relevant law.

As to the other country being willing to accept them. This is rather “Hmm, so, does the concept of first safe haven exists” “Err, yes” “So, what do we do about it?”” “Ahh, that’s difficult”. OK, it is difficult, but we have established that the concept exists, haven’t we?

36 thoughts on “Just to clarify on asylum seeking”

  1. Writing a blogpost does not make what you say correct.

    There is no such thing as a “first safe haven” under international law, nor under UK law. Please familiarise yourself with the Geneva Convention on Refugees, to which the UK is a signatory and which is the foundation of UK law on asylum seeking.

    The only law where there was such a thing was the EU’s Dublin Agreement, and even that did not refuse asylum seekers the right to travel through safe countries without claiming asylum. All it did was allow EU countries to send asylum seekers to other countries for processing, which could be because they had applied for asylum in those countries or registered their presence, or could be because they had a connection to those countries, eg family members. Under the Dublin Agreement, EU countries could – and did – send some asylum seekers to the UK for processing. However, as the UK has now left the EU, the Dublin Agreement no longer applies in the UK. The UK no longer has any right to send asylum seekers to EU countries for claim processing.

  2. Surely the obligation is on Ms Coppola to point at where international law/ agreed conventions which say the UK /must/ accept refugees who apply there, and the lack of caveats in those laws?

    Hilariously, the “Read the convention” bottom on the UNHCR page yields “page not found” – did you actually click it, madame?

  3. International law obviously isn’t real. If it was, Tony Blair, George Dubya and David Cameron would have been tried and convicted at the Hague long before now, instead of being free and suspiciously wealthy men.

    So the “international law” argument is obviously bollocks. States do what they want to do, for the most part.

    Asylum was a good idea at the time the concept was developed – relatively small numbers of persecuted Cold War dissidents moving over relatively small geographic distances to avoid being murdered by Communists. That era is long gone, and as we’ve seen, asylum seeking is now nothing more than a scam perpetrated at the expense of mug taxpayers and raped children.

    The correct number of “refugees” and “asylum seekers” to allow into our country is zero. We shouldn’t be too prescriptive though. If any of our compatriots are desperate to play Lady Bountiful to semi-retarded goatherds who’d slit your throat at the drop of a hijab, they are free to move to Beirut or Birmingham or whatever.

  4. I will neither wish nor celebrate anyone’s death, but those choosing to cross The Channel illegally take their lives in their hands to do so and while mostly they may succeed, death by drowning is only a wave away.

    The UK might rail against France for inaction against these economic migrants, but it is the weakness and generosity of UK welfare that is the magnet to which these people are attracted. If we actually implemented the rules that we are entitled to do and have threatened for decades (i.e. those coming by illegal means from existing safe havens will be rejected out of hand) then there would only be small numbers attempting such journeys, possibly not even enough to justify the people smugglers making them.

    The second point is that those making such claims need to be contained until their claims are tested and, if rejected, subject to immediate deportation, either back to the country from which they originate or back to the safe haven country from which they arrived.

    Allowing them to mingle within the settled community and weave such lies as the recent Liverpool Hospital bomber does is simply to weaken ourselves against these economic migrants masquerading as asylum seekers. That they are able to use public funds to which they have not contributed in their fight against deportation for illegal entry is an abomination to the taxpayers having to pay for their ingratitude.

  5. The blond clown described today’s Channel dead as victims.

    But victims of what? People smugglers? Well, HMG is the biggest smuggler of people to this country.

    Anyway, why are we paying for a navy? Or a government?

  6. Oh, and here’s UK case law establishing that asylum seekers can travel through intermediate countries to reach the UK without prejudicing their right to claim asylum here.

    The judgment quotes UNHCR guidelines on the interpretation of Article 31:

    “The expression ‘coming directly’ in Article 31(1) covers the situation of a person
    who enters the country in which asylum is sought directly from the country of
    origin, or from another country where his protection, safety and security could not
    be assured. It is understood that this term also covers a person who transits an
    intermediate country for a short period of time without having applied for, or
    received, asylum there. No strict time limit can be applied to the concept ‘coming
    directly’ and each case must be judged on its merits.”

    Lord Justice Simon Brown said that the length of stay in the intermediate country would be a criterion for determining whether the right to claim asylum was forfeit. Note however the comment in parentheses. Making it difficult for asylum seekers to travel here from France means Article 31 is more, not less, likely to apply.

    “I conclude that any merely short term stopover en
    route to such intended sanctuary cannot forfeit the protection of the Article, and
    that the main touchstones by which exclusion from protection should be judged are
    the length of stay in the intermediate country, the reasons for delaying there (even
    a substantial delay in an unsafe third country would be reasonable were the time
    spent trying to acquire the means of travelling on), and whether or not the refugee
    sought or found there protection de jure or de facto from the persecution they were

  7. The UK isn’t “sending people back to the EU for processing”, they’re processing them in the UK and then sending them back to the EU when they fail to show they have a right to stay here.

    And as our host has pointed out, the UK Asylum act is the UK ****CHOOSING**** to extend extra priviledges to people arriving in this country, *****NOT******* an international compulsion placed on the UK.

  8. UK case law is only ever a simple Act of Parliament away from being no longer case law.

    Delia – The blond clown described today’s Channel dead as victims

    If the Spanish Armada met a watery, gurgly end tomorrow we’d have idiots rending their garments and demanding we send compensation to His Majestad Philip II. Though to be fair to the Dagos, they were far more honest about their intentions.

  9. Coppola seems to believe that having the right to ask for asylum is equivalent to the guarantee of being granted asylum upon request.

  10. I prefer to refer to them as Asylum Shoppers. They seem to rate our welfare state as a good buy – not that they are paying of course except maybe to the “people smugglers”.

  11. What am I missing – everything Dr Coppola says seems to agree with what Tim says. Granted, there is a missing link from a link in her first article, which I haven’t pursued as everything else seems to support Tim’s stance.
    But suppose he was wrong. In round numbers 6/10ths of those who cross the channel, who then make a claim, and have had it decided, have had that claim rejected because this wasn’t the right place to make it. Not because they were or were not genuine victims of persecution or met another criterion, but it was done here when it shouldn’t have been.
    You would think the lawyers would have been all over this with winning claims, Brazil vs San Marino style, if these disallowed claims were legally wrong.

  12. Since colonialism is now regarded as wicked, I’d simply argue that any law which allows the colonists to swarm in is immoral and should be cancelled.

    Of course the advocates of this proclaim that the ones they approve of aren’t horrid white Europeans, so that’s different. I’d simply call that wicked racism.

    To me my logic is absolutely impeccable – isn’t it always? – so to the woke it is utterly unacceptable.

  13. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    What am I missing – everything Dr Coppola says seems to agree with what Tim says. Granted, there is a missing link from a link in her first article, which I haven’t pursued as everything else seems to support Tim’s stance.

    Exactly. Isn’t it depressing when our intellectual overlords turn out to be too thick to actually read and understand an article they try to shoot down in their usual patronising fashion? It’s almost as if we are finding out that it’s all smoke and mirrors.

  14. @John77 Well… Would you voluntarily live amongst the french?

    This besides the little detail that the bits where they would end up in in France would be like the place where they ran from to begin with..

  15. The leftists advocating for unlimited immigration remind me of a murder suicide pact.

    “As long as those nasty right wingers get theirs, I dont mind dying in the process.”

    Well, no, you miserable cunts.

  16. Illegal immigrant Crisis: ‘This is becoming an existential issue for the Conservative Party’

    Wow: My South Georgia solution posted on multiple forums for years is gaining traction
    . Albainia £100,000 per illegal? Crazy
    . £1,000 per illegal – Tent, sleeping bag and parachute then deposit over unoccupied
    South Georgia

  17. Must suck to be the great free country next door to the hellhole from which everyone flees in Mr. Wortstall’s scenario.

    International law says everyone must stop there.

    Doesn’t seem fair, somehow.

  18. Bobby B: As our host has pointed out, international law does *not* state that you have to stop there. It states that “there” has a legal duty to consider your application there, and applicants have a right to be considered there. Anything else is entirely the *CHOICE* of the applicant and the *CHOICE* of the processor. But it is entirely that, a *CHOICE*. If you *CHOOSE* to pass through a safe country and apply in another county, you have no *RIGHT* to be processed there, just an ability to ask that the host country process you, and that county has no *DUTY* to process you, just a *CHOICE* to do so.

    The *RIGHT* of application is the first safe country. I have the right to smoke tobacco. That right does not force me to smoke tobacco. I can *CHOOSE* to do something else.
    The first safe country has a *DUTY* of processing an application. That does not force other countries to refuse to process applications. My Mum has a duty to pay her electricity bill. That does not ban me from paying her electricity bill. I can *CHOOSE* to pay it.

    Why are so many people so unable to understand opposites? The opposite of being forced is *NOT* being forced to abstain. It is just plain and simple *NOT* being forced, it leave you completely free to choose.. The opposite of not requiring is *NOT* being forced to, it is plain and simple not a requirement, it leaves it a free choice.

  19. With all respect to the people explaining and indeed quoting the law, this is all very well, but does not change the fact that 99% of the fuckers have no genuine case for asylum. They are economic migrants, looking for opportunities for leaching off better-organised societies.

    Two simple facts prove this. First, if you are seeking asylum from political or religious oppression in your homeland, then in every practical sense there is no real difference between European nations. All will offer safety and the rule of law. France is just as good as the UK. Secondly, a good start in proving that you are fleeing oppression in your homeland is documentation proving that you were indeed resident in said homeland. The illegals get rid of their papers because the documents would undermine their BS sob stories.

  20. There is no such thing as International Law. There are conventions, protocols, agreements etc but there is no International Law.

  21. If the woke lot get all uppity about asylum seekers being called illegal immigrants will they get so concerned if they are called irregular asylum seekers. Those who claim asylum through normal channels such as at airports or at embassies can be called regular asylum seekers. But claiming asylum doesn’t make the person an asylum seeker, it’s just a claim, and one more than likely to be proven wrong. The evidence is there in plain view. Just look at the make up of the people who claim it. The vast majority are young men. Few whole families. To ignore that fact just shows that the people who say that we are under an obligation, nay, legal requirement, to provide everything to these “seekers” are driven by emotion rather than facts.

  22. And the woke lot who say we should keep on providing asylum to anyone who requests it just keeps the supply going. When people get here and find everything provided for them and let others know more will come. And others will take up the opportunity to provide a means for these asylum seekers to get here. So the woke lot think they are being kind with good morals are ignoring the free market which is neither kind nor moral – it is criminals and people smugglers taking advantage of these asylum seekers.

  23. Frances,

    “The judgment quotes UNHCR guidelines on the interpretation of Article 31:”

    Which speaks volumes about our legal system. The judgment should be based on what is precisely written in Article 31, which is what our elected representatives agreed to, what our law is based on. An interpretation of our law by an external organisation is not law and judges who use that should be prosecuted as traitors.

  24. @Bongo

    Thanks for posting that. I was starting to think it was too early in the morning for me to see how COPPOLA’s quotes supported her position not tims.

  25. Steve,

    “Asylum was a good idea at the time the concept was developed – relatively small numbers of persecuted Cold War dissidents moving over relatively small geographic distances to avoid being murdered by Communists. That era is long gone, and as we’ve seen, asylum seeking is now nothing more than a scam perpetrated at the expense of mug taxpayers and raped children.

    The correct number of “refugees” and “asylum seekers” to allow into our country is zero. We shouldn’t be too prescriptive though. If any of our compatriots are desperate to play Lady Bountiful to semi-retarded goatherds who’d slit your throat at the drop of a hijab, they are free to move to Beirut or Birmingham or whatever.”

    We as a country have pretty much done that. We’ve spend billions on refugee camps in countries like Lebanon to help people escaping from war in countries like Syria. It’s also noticeable that those camps seem to have a lot more women and children rather than strapping young men on boats who have to desperately leave the torture of France.

  26. BonM4 “The correct number of “refugees” and “asylum seekers” to allow into our country is zero”. +100.

    The UN (or some other group of NGO parasites) estimates there are about 60 million ‘asylum seekers’ (I prefer the more traditional ‘Illegal Aliens’)currently in Africa who are hoping to get to the UK.
    Ask any of these bleeding heart liberals if we should allow all of them in.
    If they say “no”, then they agree with us, there is a limit. We just differ on what that limit is.

  27. @Frances Coppola
    International law. As Steve says, international law is a fiction. It bears no relationship to national law. There is no legislature to enact it & there is means to enforce compliance with it. It’s simply an agglomeration of treaties & agreements between nations where might is right. Powerful nations choose whether or not to abide by it, although less powerful may be forced to by the powerful. With reference to the various treaties & agreements surrounding asylum, they were dreamed up by woolly minded intellectuals like Ms Coppola when they thought they would only apply to woolly minded intellectuals like Ms Coppola. If they’d envisaged, for instance, the entire population of Eastern Europe decamping en mass to the West & demanding asylum from the horrors of communism & camping on their doorsteps, they’d have opposed with ever atom of their bodies. It was supposed to provide refuge for a few intellectuals, not the proles. They could stay & suffer.
    Rights. Without a matching obligation, rights don’t exist. So it’s not whether asylum seekers have a right to asylum but whether those they want to accept them regard they have an obligation to. Ms Coppola seems to think everyone else but her should be required to accept the obligation. As presumably she doesn’t want them all round her place. Is she housing even one?
    France. I’ve a lot of sympathy for the French. Also some respect. I spent some years living in the part of France these “asylum seekers” are departing from. The idea that the French are doing nothing to impede them is nonsense. I can well remember the Gendarmerie sitting at the Meteren junction of the A25 & being stopped in the early hours if they didn’t recognise my car. Checking for illegal immigrants & traffickers. And that’s 50 kilometres back from the coast. I know what the residents along the coast from Dunkerque past Calais feel about this riff-raff of thieves imposing themselves on them. It’s why it’s more a British problem than a French problem. The French are not welcoming. They don’t claim asylum in France because they’ll hard time from the individual French. They will not provide accommodation for them or give them employment & they leave their own government with no uncertainty in the matter. They’re trying to get to the UK because they think they’ll get a better reception there. And thanks to the influence of woolly minded intellectuals like Ms Coppola they do.
    The answer to the problem is for the UK to unilaterally abrogate its obligations under these various treaties & agreements. Something, as an independent nation state, it’s entirely free to do. Yes, no doubt it’ll be subject to brief international opprobrium. Whilst all affected nations will breath a sigh of relief, quietly thank the UK for taking a lead & get on with doing the same themselves before the entire continent gets overrun..

  28. Interesting to see the data out today – it shows that net migration to the UK has reached a new all time high in 2020.
    The BBC correspondent blissfully unaware – and has used net migration when she means annual net migration which was very low compared to previously.

  29. If most of the regulars posting here were the UK cabinet, this country would be a far better place. Steve for PM. Bloke in Spain for Foreign Secretary. Bloke on M4 for Home Secretary. (While Ecks is away, that is.)

  30. Vroom, vroom.
    I will be tough on immigration to win more votes.
    Vroom, vroom.
    You can trust me. Do you want to be a liar like me? Back me. Vote for me. Make Britain the liar that sleeps with your wife.
    Vroom, vroom.

  31. The idea that an asylum seeker should only be allowed asylum in the first safe country is quite obviously a bogus doctrine invented by people who live far away from danger to avoid their responsibility to help out.

    Germany took in over a million refugees in a short period. I note that there are many people commenting who think that Britain is such a weak nation with such a feeble culture that it couldn’t possibly mangage even a small fraction of that number.

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