UK continues to return migrants arriving on boats, and charges man with assisting unlawful Channel crossings

Thirty-six migrants intercepted by UK Border Force off the UK coast of Kent face being returned to France or other European Union countries under the Dublin Regulation.

On 22 April 2019, three small boats with 36 migrants on board were intercepted off the UK coast. All 36 migrants were brought to Dover by the UK Border Force to be processed. Their nationalities were yet to be confirmed, but news reports said they claimed to be Iraqis or Iranians.

These migrants, along with others attempting to cross the English Channel,  face return to France or other EU countries. The Dublin Regulation, signed by all EU members, requires migrants to apply for asylum in the first EU country they reach.

“It is an established principle that those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and since January more than 20 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to Europe,” said the UK Home Office.

France has agreed to take back migrants whose biometric data had been filed in any EU country. The EU wide biometric data system known as Eurodac helps immigration authorities determine if the migrant had already applied for asylum in an EU country or had illegally transited through other EU countries.

As the number of migrant boat arrivals to the UK increased in late 2018, authorities in the country is cracking down on smugglers, increasing coastal security, and strengthening cooperation with France to prevent smugglers from sending boats out to the dangerous Channel waters.

Most recently the UK charged Sarbast Mohammad Hama, 31, with conspiracy to facilitate unlawful immigration. He is connected with the smuggling of 27 migrants to the UK.

The first happened on early Christmas morning in 2018, when 13 people including a child were rescued. None of the passengers on board the boat were wearing life jackets.

The alleged smuggler is also being charged for a Channel crossing that happened on 27 March when a group of nine Iraqis and two Iranian men were rescued. The group of 11 men, one woman and two children were spotted after midnight close to Folkestone, heading towards the English coast.

People smugglers face thousands of pounds in fines and years in jail. Over the past few months, French and UK courts have issued a series of long prison sentences to people smugglers.

Sarbast Mohammad Hama has been remanded in custody to appear at Lewes Crown Court on 15 May 2019. If convicted, he will face years in jail for facilitating unlawful immigration and endangering lives.

TMP – 29/04/2019

Photo credit: Susan Pilcher / Shutterstock

Photo caption: UK Border Force coastal patrol vessel returning to Folkestone Harbour after operations to bring migrants ashore. Folkestone, Kent, United Kingdom – February 24th 2019