Ministers abandon efforts to turn back migrant boats in the English Channel

Ministers abandon efforts to turn back migrant boats in the English Channel

Ministers abandon efforts to turn back migrant boats in the English Channel

Just over a week before they were to be challenged in court, the UK government scrapped plans to send back individuals crossing the English Channel.

Campaigners argue that the strategy, which would empower Border Force personnel to stop boats and return people to France, is inhumane and dangerous.

The PCS civil servants’ union described the government’s decision as a “humiliating climbdown.”

However, the Home Office stated that ministers were “united” in their desire to end border crossings.

The policy was discontinued by the government ahead of the High Court case, thus the so-called “pushback” techniques are no longer in effect.


The PCS and advocacy groups like as Care4Calais, Channel Rescue, and Freedom from Torture have maintained that the Border Force lacks the legal jurisdiction to drive the vessels back and that doing so would violate migrants’ human rights.

They have now withdrawn their judicial review claims, which were scheduled to be heard on May 3rd, in response to the Home Office’s decision.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This humiliating climbdown by the government is a stunning victory for Home Office workers and for refugees.

“PCS is proud to have brought this legal action alongside refugee groups in order to prevent this morally reprehensible and utterly inhumane proposal from ever seeing the light of day. There is little doubt that lives have been saved.”

But a Home Office spokesperson said: “The entire government is united in our efforts to prevent these lethal crossings and break the business model of the criminal gangs exploiting people.

“It is right that we consider all safe and legal options to stop these unnecessary journeys, including turning boats around.”


They added: “As we have set out previously, this tactic fully complies with both domestic and international law. However, there are extremely limited circumstances when you can safely turn boats back in the English Channel.”

The government authorized Border Force agents to employ the approach of sending back boats carrying migrants last year, but only in limited instances.


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