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The UK’s asylum system is a dangerous joke

Now we are offering safe haven to known extremists and crime lords.

Rakib Ehsan

Rakib Ehsan
Columnist

Topics Politics UK

The Conservative Party won a huge parliamentary majority back in 2019, after promising to ‘take back control’ of Britain’s laws and borders from the EU. Yet today, post-Brexit Britain’s borders are anything but secure. Two cases, which emerged in the past week or so, highlight just how dysfunctional Britain’s approach to immigration, citizenship and asylum has become.

At the weekend, the Mail on Sunday revealed that an ISIS propagandist, who arrived in Britain illegally, was able to acquire UK citizenship and gain the legal right to remain here on human-rights grounds. The man, known only as ‘S3’ for legal reasons, is of Sudanese origin. He entered the UK illegally 18 years ago and was granted asylum on the grounds that he might be tortured in his homeland. Yet after he gained British citizenship, he regularly returned to Sudan without any issues. In 2016, British security services discovered that he had actively disseminated pro-ISIS propaganda across social media.

Two years later, S3 was stripped of his UK citizenship by the Home Office while he was abroad. But he soon managed to enter the UK illegally for a second time. According to MI5, he remains a serious security risk. Nevertheless, his lawyers successfully argued in court that depriving him of his UK citizenship and deporting him would breach Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – the right to life and the right to be protected from torture. Last month, judges granted S3 the right to remain in the UK indefinitely and the right to lifelong anonymity.

It is dumbfounding that an ISIS fanboy can be offered this degree of protection by the courts. His frequent trips to and from Sudan alone make a mockery of his claim that he fears being tortured. Worse still, the granting of anonymity means that his own neighbours will be completely unaware of the fact that they live next door to a man who has given succour to a barbaric death cult. When our migration system prioritises the whims of Islamist extremists over the needs of the law-abiding majority, then something has gone badly wrong.

In a similarly shocking case, immigration judges ruled last week that a crime lord from Albania, who holds both British and Albanian citizenship, must also have the right to remain in the UK on human-rights grounds. Gjelosh Kolicaj was jailed for six years for smuggling £8million of his gang’s profits out of the UK. The National Crime Agency has warned that he poses a threat to the public and, following his release from prison, is likely to return to a life of crime. And yet he is still the UK’s problem.

Kolicaj became a dual national in 2009 after marrying a British woman and acquiring UK citizenship. After divorcing her, he married an Albanian national in 2013, with whom he has two children. His current wife does not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Yet, despite this, the Home Office’s attempts to revoke Kolicaj’s British citizenship and remove him from the UK have been blocked thanks to Article 8 of the ECHR – once again, the right to family life.

Systems-level change is required in the UK when it comes to matters of asylum, border security and human rights. The asylum system has been exploited for too long by those who are obviously not fleeing immediate risk of violent persecution in their homelands. These people are jumping the queue ahead of the many genuine would-be refugees who are in far greater need of sanctuary. What’s more, the authorities are clearly failing to carry out the most basic of security checks before granting asylum or UK citizenship. Far too many of those who have been waved through by officials have later turned out to pose a serious security risk.

Any self-respecting, self-governing nation must have democratic control over its own borders. It must also have the right to prioritise public safety and social cohesion over the ‘rights’ of those who arrive illegally or who commit criminal offences in the UK. As things stand, post-Brexit Britain is a world away from this.

Tory ministers tend to point to the ECHR, the Human Rights Act and the UN Refugee Convention to explain away these failures. But, while it is true that Britain’s hands are tied by these treaties and laws, the government must shoulder the bulk of the blame. After all, if senior ministers believe it is not in Britain’s national interest to remain a signatory of these treaties, then they should campaign to leave or update them. Clearly, despite the Tories’ tough rhetoric on migration, getting to grips with our borders is not really a priority for them.

The UK’s asylum and migration system is a dangerous mess. This is bad news for Britons, whose right to safety is now routinely compromised. And it is bad news for law-abiding newcomers, whether that be genuine refugees who deserve our help or those economic migrants whose skills we desperately need. Support for a generous asylum policy will be impossible to sustain if the system can be so easily exploited by bad actors.

We need a radical shake-up of Britain’s border controls. And we need it now.

Rakib Ehsan is the author of Beyond Grievance: What the Left Gets Wrong about Ethnic Minorities, which is available to order on Amazon.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics UK

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