UK could fit asylum seekers with electronic tags

Home Secretary Suella Braverman says authorities need ‘a power to detain and ultimately control those people’.

UK border force boat
Asylum seekers and migrants picked up while trying to cross the English Channel are escorted from a UK Border Force boat upon arrival at Dover in southeast England [File: Carlos Jasso/AFP]

Britain’s Home Office says asylum seekers arriving undocumented to the United Kingdom could be monitored with electronic and GPS tags, according to a report by The Times newspaper.

Under the Illegal Migration Act, approved by the House of Commons in April, anyone who arrives in the country on small boats will be prevented from claiming asylum, will be detained and then deported either back to their homelands or to a third country, such as Rwanda.

But The Times reported on Sunday that Home Office authorities have been tasked with ensuring that asylum seekers who cannot be detained do not abscond or disappear.

“Tagging has always been something that the Home Office has been keen on and is the preferred option to withdrawing financial support, which would be legally difficult as migrants would be at risk of being left destitute,” a Home Office source told The Times.

In an interview with British broadcaster Sky News, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “We’ve just enacted a landmark piece of legislation in the form of our Illegal Migration Act that empowers us to detain those who arrive here illegally and thereafter swiftly remove them to a safe country like Rwanda.”

“That will require a power to detain and ultimately control those people. We need to exercise a level of control if we are to remove them from the United Kingdom. We are considering a range of options,” she added.

Kolbassia Haoussou, who fled torture in Chad and was granted refugee status in the UK, told Sky News that the electronic tagging would not have stopped him from coming to Britain.

“What I am fleeing is more dangerous than electronic tagging. But it would harm my psychology,” he said.

Electronic tagging is a tool the UK uses regularly to monitor the whereabouts of prisoners and ensure they follow their curfew orders.

In June last year, the Home Office had proposed an electronic tagging scheme to monitor asylum seekers who were due to be removed from the UK but did not confirm if any people had been tagged, according to local media reports.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who oversaw the scheme, told reporters at the time that while the UK is a “very, very generous, welcoming country”, such a measure was important to ensure that those who came illegally, “can’t just vanish into the rest of the country”.

According to the Home Office, as of June this year, 1,924 people were being held in immigration detention.

Commenting on the latest electronic tagging proposal, Enver Solomon, the head of the UK-based Refugee Council, said Britain is “treating people as mere objects rather than vulnerable men women and children who should always be shown compassion and humanity”.

Meanwhile, Braverman said “intense work” to enable swift removals due to limited detention space would continue.

“We have a couple of thousand detention places in our existing removal capacity. We will be working intensively to increase that, but it’s clear we are exploring a range of options – all options – to ensure that we have that level of control of people so they can flow through our system swiftly to enable us to remove them,” she told Sky News.

Source: News Agencies