UK govt refuses to apologise to asylum seekers after ‘error of law’

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The Home Office said: “We must do all we can to prevent the further tragic loss of life on the Channel and put an end to dangerous people-smuggling across our borders…reports Asian Lite News

The UK Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service have refused to issue apologies to a group of asylum seekers who were wrongfully jailed after crossing the English Channel, The Independent has reported.

British judges have so far overturned 12 cases, presenting an obstacle for the Home Office campaign to clamp down on Channel crossings.

The migrants, mostly hailing from Iraq and Iran, were prosecuted for “facilitating illegal immigration” after steering small vessels across the Channel.

And despite the Home Office’s extended campaign to label the men as “people smugglers,” the government body has still not acknowledged the overturning of their convictions.

After the UK Court of Appeal identified an “error of law,” the asylum seekers who had been jailed were released and had their convictions overturned. More are expected to be released later this year.

The Home Office said: “We must do all we can to prevent the further tragic loss of life on the Channel and put an end to dangerous people smuggling across our borders.

“We continue to work with the CPS and National Crime Agency to crack down on and prosecute smugglers who risk lives for profit. These cruel people could face life sentences under our Nationality and Borders Bill.”

Regardless of the claims, the court found that none of the convicted asylum seekers had profited from their trips or were part of any organized crime group.

A CPS spokesperson said: “We won’t hesitate to prosecute those suspected of immigration offenses if our legal test for a prosecution is met and against the law as it currently stands.

“Since prosecuting these cases, new judgments have clarified a very complicated section of law. Immediate steps have been taken to develop updated legal guidance for investigators and prosecutors.”

Lord Justice Edis, the lead judge in the appeals heard so far, said in reference to earlier convictions that the “crown court proceeded on an error of law in that regard.”

A legal ruling in December, that overturned four convictions, stated that “as the law presently stands, an asylum seeker who merely attempts to arrive at the frontiers of the UK in order to make a claim is not entering or attempting to enter the country unlawfully.

“Even though an asylum seeker has no valid passport or identity document or prior permission to enter the UK, this does not make his arrival at the port a breach of an immigration law.”

This legal precedent could change under the government’s proposed Nationality and Borders Bill, which would change the prosecution guidelines to “arrival” as opposed to “entry.”

A government statement said that the proposed bill would “allow prosecutions of individuals who are intercepted in UK territorial seas and brought into the UK.”

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