UK to mark some migrants with electronic surveillance devices

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LONDON – Britain will start installing electronic devices to mark some asylum seekers once they arrive in small boats across the English Channel or on what the government calls “dangerous and unnecessary routes”.

The plan, launched this week, which the Interior Ministry described as a one-year pilot, could include adults facing deportation, impose curfews on some, or allow the detention and prosecution of those who do not comply with the new rules.

The British Home Office said the plan would test whether tracking migrants with GPS devices would help “maintain regular contact” and “more effectively advance their claims”, as well as gather information on how many escaped arrest. But refugee advocates condemned him as treatment of the desperate people seeking shelter as criminals.

The government has indicated that those who could be targeted would include people challenging the decision to be sent to Rwanda after the legal battle ended this week, with the British government canceling the first flight offered under the highly criticized policy.

Britain cancels flights to deport asylum seekers in Rwanda after court dispute

“The government will not be deterred as we plan the next flight to Rwanda,” the Interior Ministry said in an email.

“We will detain as many people as the law allows, but when the court orders the release of a person who is due to fly on Tuesday, we will mark them when appropriate.

While the government said flying migrants to Rwanda would deter dangerous crossings of the English Channel and stop smugglers, the policy caused a stir, including from human rights activists, the United Nations and the top bishop of the Church of England.

More than 10,000 people entered the UK this year across the English Channel. At least 27 migrants in a disaster in November died while trying to cross.

As part of the surveillance test, people equipped with a location tracking device will have to report regularly in person to immigration centers or police stations.

Britain to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to discourage illegal crossings at sea

It was not immediately clear how many people could be tagged, even though it was an internal office program report released on wednesday said children and those who are 18 weeks or more pregnant will be released.

The instructions say that the potential harm to a person’s mental or physical health will be taken into account, as well as whether he or she is a victim of torture or modern slavery, but this does not necessarily preclude the use of a label. The program will target people who have been released on bail from immigration centers after entering the country.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended Saturday’s plans as necessary to ensure that “asylum seekers cannot simply disappear in the rest of the country”, according to British media, as critics highlighted concerns about the impact on mental health and human rights. confidentiality.

Immigration lawyers and attorneys have expressed similar concerns about the use of electronic devices to mark migrants in the United States.

The head of the UK-based Refugee Charitable Organization described the labeling program as a “draconian and punitive approach” against vulnerable people. Enver Solomon also disputed claims that this would discourage refugees from embarking on the trip, instead calling for solutions that ensure safe routes in the country.

“It is appalling that this government intends to treat men, women and children who have fled war, bloodshed and persecution as criminals,” he told The Washington Post in an email.

Monish Bhatia, a professor of criminology at Birkbeck, University of London, warned that monitoring migrants with the devices could lead to “anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts”.

He noted that it is not clear how long people will have to wear the label and whether there are any guarantees of confidentiality of data that the government may collect through the program. “Marking is very intrusive and is experienced as a punishment,” he said tweets.

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