Clause 35 - Article 33(2): particularly serious crime

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:30 pm on 26th October 2021.

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Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 5:30 pm, 26th October 2021

The amendment is a probing one. The basic point is that if someone is at risk of persecution, we must be incredibly careful when creating gaps, loopholes and exceptions that would still see that person subject to removal to the very place where they would be at risk. The convention creates and recognises very specific exceptions to the fundamental principle of non-refoulement.

If someone is a danger to security here or has committed a particularly serious crime, they constitute a danger to the community. The amendment challenges the attempts in the clause to broaden the scope of the exceptions so that persons are automatically deemed and not just presumed to have committed a serious offence if they are sentenced to one year in prison, rather than two years. We have particular concerns about the circumstances where the crime has been committed overseas. How do the Government intend to be sure about the safety and appropriateness of prosecution, conviction and sentence?

Nobody is saying that refugees should not face appropriate punishment for their crimes, but the danger is that those sentenced to one year or more face an additional punishment that puts them at risk of persecution, torture and death. That is way beyond what is merited by the crime. The withdrawal of refugee rights should not be done in anything other than the most serious circumstances. We fear that the clause goes beyond what the convention envisages.