I DON’T know whether to laugh or cry at being described as part of an “activist blob”.

The context? Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s "Illegal Migration” Bill and the accompanying narrative criticising those of us who call it what it is – an assault on both refugees and the basic principles of human rights for all.

The Bill marks a new, cruel low. It aims to prevent people from seeking refuge in the UK altogether if they arrive “irregularly”. No more fair hearings for people claiming asylum after surviving the dangerous Channel crossing – instead, they will be detained and removed from the country with no consideration of individual circumstances.

In effect, it’s a ban on seeking asylum, as the UN refugee agency has pointed out. There are simply no alternative safe routes to claim asylum in the UK for people fleeing places such as Iran, Yemen and Syria.

Victims of trafficking and exploitation who arrive in the UK by small boat will be stripped of their rights to support. It will become even more difficult to bring to justice the criminals who trade in people.

Children who arrive alone in the country, scared and vulnerable, will be able to be detained indefinitely, denied any form of status, and then removed at 18.

Survivors of torture, sexual violence and trauma will face punishment instead of finding protection.

It doesn’t have to be like this.


Channel crossings in small boats are dangerous and result in needless loss of life. The right response is a rights-based one. Programmes for refugees from Ukraine and Hong Kong show that safe, dignified and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK can be put in place. There were very few boat crossings before 2020, when the UK Government closed the safe and legal routes that existed previously.

A rights-based approach to asylum and immigration also means clearing the backlog of claims that the Home Office has allowed to build up, and creating a system that is fair, upholds the rule of law, and functions effectively.

So where does this leave us in Scotland? Braverman’s Bill is out of step with all the work under way to strengthen human rights protections in Scotland. It has been called out for breaching human rights by the UN Refugee Agency, by the Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission and by Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner.

Scotland’s Parliamentarians – at Westminster and Holyrood – must resist this Bill with all their power and influence. Should the worst come to pass, Scotland’s Government and public authorities must decide how to respond when they are required by this legislation to act in ways that are nakedly in breach of international human rights law.

Make no mistake. The UK Government’s shameless, unapologetic assault on the rights of those seeking refuge on our shores is an assault on all our rights. For the sake of our shared humanity, and the founding principles of the human rights that protect us all, it must be stopped.

Emma Hutton is Chief Executive of JustRight Scotland, a human rights legal charity based in Glasgow.