India to be added to the U.K. Safe States List

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India to be added to the U.K. Safe States List Blog Image

What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in news?
  • What is English Channel?
  • News Summary: India to be added to U.K. safe states list
  • Key highlights
  • What was the need for such move?
  • What does it mean for India?

Why in news?

  • The UK government has tabled plans to add India to an expanded list of safe states.
  • This would speed up the process of returning Indians who travel from the country illegally and rule out their chance of seeking asylum in Britain.

What is English Channel?

  • About
    • The English Channel, also known simply as "the Channel," is a body of water that separates southern England from northern France.
    • It is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean and is part of the western extent of the North Sea.
    • The Channel is one of the busiest shipping areas in the world and has significant historical, cultural, and economic importance.
    • It is approximately 560 kilometers long and varies in width from about 240 kilometers at its widest point to just 34 kilometers at its narrowest point, which is the Strait of Dover.
  • Strait of Dover(narrowest part of the English Channel):
    • It is where the waters of the Channel and the North Sea meet.
    • It separates England from mainland Europe.

News Summary: India to be added to U.K. safe states list

  • The decision, announced by the UK Home Office, aims to streamline immigration procedures and enhance border control measures.

Key highlights

  • Aim of this move
    • Strengthening the country's immigration system and help prevent abuse by people making unfounded protection claims.
    • Currently, people are exploiting country's immigration system and making dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK from fundamentally safe countries.
  • Countries included in the safe list
    • India, Georgia, Albania, Switzerland, as well as the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) states
      • The EEA links the EU member states and three EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) into an internal market governed by the same basic rules.
  • When can a country be added to the UK's safe states list
    • If the Home Secretary is satisfied that:
      • there is, in general, no serious risk of persecution of its nationals, and;
      • removal of nationals to that country cannot go against the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Convention.

Need for such move

  • Political context
    • Policies to regulate immigration, specifically of undocumented workers and asylum seekers, have always been a sensitive political issue in the U.K.
    • With the rise of anti-immigrant sentiments fuelling some aspects of the Brexit campaign, the U.K. Conservative Party has been a strong advocate for tighter immigration policies.
    • The demand for tighter policy is aimed at protecting U.K. jobs or shifting the focus to skilled workers arriving through legal routes.
    • Against this backdrop, in July 2023, the UK government had passed the Illegal Migration Act 2023.
      • The act makes it the Home Secretary’s duty to remove illegal migrants from the U.K.
      • By decreasing access to routes to asylum, it seeks to deter illegal migration to the country – especially via small boats crossing the English Channel.
    • The latest measures fall within the Illegal Migration Act 2023, which aims to "stop the boats" by changing the law.
  • Rise in illegal immigrants
    • Over the past year, the UK has witnessed a rise in small boat arrivals from India and Georgia.
    • This step is in line with a promise made in January 2023 by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to “stop the boats”.
      • The so-called small boat arrivals comprised approximately 45% of the total asylum applications made in 2022, which was close to 89,000.
  • Need to strengthen country's immigration system
    • Recently, the government felt the need to reassess its approach to asylum seekers from these countries.
    • Hence, such step was needed to stop people making dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK from fundamentally safe countries.
    • Expanding this list will allow UK to more swiftly remove people who have illegally entered into the country.

What does it mean for India?

  • The inclusion of India in the safe states list implies that the UK government considers the country to be generally safe, stable, and free from widespread human rights abuses, ruling out their chance of seeking asylum in Britain.
  • As a result, Indians who travel from the country illegally will have their chances of seeking asylum in Britain diminish.
  • It will enable the detention and prompt return of individuals who enter the UK illegally, either to a safe third country or their country of origin.

Q1) What is Illegal Migration Act 2023?

The Illegal Migration Act 2023 is a law that changes the law so that people who arrive in the UK illegally will not be able to stay. The Act creates new powers to detain people who arrive in breach of UK immigration law until their removal.

Q2) What is European Economic Area (EEA)?

The European Economic Area (EEA) is an area of free trade and free movement of peoples. It comprises the member states of the European Union (EU) and three countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA): Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein.

Source: India to be added to U.K. safe states list, ruling out asylum rights for illegal migrants from the country | UNHCR | United Nations | Hindustan Times