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Humanists UK warns that new Borders Bill could breach human rights

Humanists UK has expressed concern about the Nationality and Borders Bill in response to an inquiry by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The Bill has recently passed the second reading in the House of Commons.

The Bill would introduce a temporary protection order, rather than granting asylum, for those who have entered the UK by irregular means. Humanists UK believes this runs counter to the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention 1951. The Bill also seeks to amend the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to allow for the deportation of asylum seekers before the conclusion of their cases. Humanists UK opposes this as it is unfair and undermines the principle of non-refoulement.

The Bill will impose unfair barriers upon asylum seekers, including humanists who face the death penalty in 13 countries. It proposes raising the bar of what is considered ‘a well-founded fear of persecution’. But Humanists UK believes that the Home Office should instead consider how it can improve the quality and accuracy of its decision-making. This is especially true with regard to the level of understanding of non-religious beliefs and the persecution of the non-religious globally, which is currently severely lacking.

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘There are some very serious questions that the Government needs to answer before pushing ahead with this Bill. We are concerned that, in its current form, it might not be compliant with the UK’s human rights obligations or the Refugee Convention. We urge the Government to think again about its approach to asylum reform.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read the Nationality and Borders Bill.

Read more about the inquiry by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Humanists UK’s response to the consultation will be published by the Committee in due course.

Read more about our international campaign work.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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