Alexander Downer calls on UK to allow boat pushbacks in damning review

australia longest-serving foreign minister called on the UK follow Australia’s lead by backtracking immigrants boats and sea arrivals to third countries.

In a damning critique of Britain’s Border Force published on Wednesday, former Liberal leader Alexander Downer described the department as “less than the sum of its parts”, a “sub-optimal” organization “struggling to break out of a cycle of crisis management”.

On the growing number of asylum seekers crossing the Channel from France on small boats, the former UK high commissioner said Border Force efforts had been “ineffective and possibly counterproductive “.

FILE – People believed to be migrants who undertook the crossing from France in small boats and were picked up in the English Channel in June. (AP)

The report was among critical reports released this week, Parliament’s last week before summer recess and the election of a new Conservative leader and Prime Minister, on the UK government‘s handling of migration and asylum seekers. ‘asylum.

“The volume is unprecedented, and on some days the system is clearly overwhelmed,” Chief Border and Immigration Inspector David Neal said in a separate report.

Neal described the department’s data as “inexcusably horrendous” and said its security screening equipment was “often first generation and unreliable”.

“The systems, processes and pathways for resourcing, which months into the crisis should be routine, codified, verifiable and familiar, have been provided on a ‘best effort’ basis. That’s not good enough,” said he said.

In Downer’s 60-page report commissioned by Home Secretary Priti Patel, he called on the department to withdraw from regular search and rescue operations altogether, with better-suited vessels instead contracted and operated by the Coast Guard or the Royal Navy.

Former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was commissioned by the Home Secretary to write the report. (Getty)

‘Border Force, which exists to protect the UK border, effectively rescues people and then escorts them to port and allows them to enter the UK,’ he wrote.

“It is not surprising that there is some public concern about this issue.”

Downer was a key architect of the Howard government’s peaceful solution, placing asylum seekers who arrived on boats in camps on Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Christmas Island.

He spoke to Australian Border Force officers as part of the review and made direct reference to Australia’s approach to border patrol.

“People who have entered the UK should be quickly transferred to a third country to be assessed under the UN Convention and other relevant legislation,” Downer wrote.

“The rapid movement of people who have entered the UK illegally to a third country reduces the risk that the deportation process will be frustrated. Eligibility for deportation should encompass all cohorts of people who enter the UK illegally United.

“Lessons from Australia’s experience on this issue suggest that the pace at which people are moved, while avoiding routine commentary on numbers, is helpful for success.”

An Australian Border Force (ABF) rapid response boat patrolling off Thursday Island. . Photo: Kate Geraghty (Kate Geraghty)

Downer also called for the provision of “turning tactics” to deter migrants from crossing.

“Taking a given tactic off the table is pointless when one of the desired outcomes is a deterrent effect,” he wrote.

“All feasible legal and operational options should be on the table.

“The government should maintain the option of rollover tactics where it is safe and legal to do so.”

Australia’s own implementation of boat pushbacks has been heavily criticized by international non-governmental organizations and the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

Labor Minister Tony Burke has reaffirmed the new government’s commitment to turn back the boats in June after at least two boats arrived after the election.

France has said it will not accept a general policy of “turning back boats” from the UK, which would appear to breach international law.

A group of people believed to be migrants are brought to Dover, Kent, on board a Border Force ship. Gareth Fuller/PA wire (AP)

The accusations of incompetence came amid criticism of Britain’s increasingly tough measures to try to stop small boat crossings. In April, the government struck a controversial deal with Rwanda to deport some migrants who entered the UK illegally to the East African country.

The first such deportation flight was due to take off last month, but the plane was grounded after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights.

Opponents, including Church of England leaders and the UN refugee agency, condemned the move as immoral and inhumane.

British Foreign Office officials have warned against the plans, citing the country’s human rights record, according to documents cited in a lawsuit filed against the British government on Tuesday.

Authorities are struggling to cope with a growing flow of people fleeing countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq to seek asylum and better opportunities in the UK.

So far this year, around 15,100 people have reached Britain’s shores after crossing the English Channel – one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes – from France in unseaworthy vessels like dinghies. The figure is almost double the 7,735 recorded last summer in the northern hemisphere.

A group of people believed to be migrants are brought to Dover, Kent, on board a Border Force vessel/ (AP)

On April 13, 651 people made the crossing in 18 boats – the highest daily total so far this year.

More than 200 migrants fled from secure hotels after arriving in Britain in just four months, according to Neal’s report, and some failed to enroll their biometrics.

The inspector said his report was submitted to Home Secretary Priti Patel in February and should have been published in April. He said he was “frustrated” with the way the Home Office sat on its findings for months.

The Home Office said it had accepted all of Neal’s recommendations and had already changed the way it handled migrants arriving in small boats.

Pratel described Downer’s recommendations as “broad”.

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“I welcome the general direction of the report and the vast majority of the recommendations,” she wrote in the foreword to the report.

“I have instructed my department to come up with a strong and timely implementation plan on how we will address the review.”

– Reported to Associated Press