'Priti Patel's bill would indefinitely detain a woman fleeing the Taliban'

17 August 2021, 12:44

By Tim Dodd

Director of Detention Action Bella Sankey tells LBC that Priti Patel's Nationality and Borders Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament would "criminalise" and "detain" a woman who had fled the Taliban in Afghanistan.

It comes as charities call on the UK to urgently do more to help refugees fleeing Afghanistan to get to safety. 

Bella Sankey is Director of human rights organisation Detention Action, who provide direct support to those in detention and campaign for reform.

Ms Sankey gave her views on a possible UK refugee scheme for Afghans: "We have had a lot of people from Afghanistan coming here. We have very shamefully removed tens of thousands of people back to Afghanistan who we said would be safe there, so at the very least we have a huge responsibility to try and find those people and bring them back."

David Lammy asked: "How big do you think that scheme should be?"

Ms Sankey replied: "I don't think we should get too hung up on numbers at this point, the urgent task now is getting out the people that are most at risk and who in a matter of days or weeks may have lost their lives or been subjected to the most brutal types of torture or punishment."

Read more: Hundreds of desperate Afghans cram into US cargo plane as they flee Taliban

Read more: Afghanistan: Desperate crowds cling to US aircraft at Kabul in bid to flee Taliban

Ms Sankey said the UK's asylum system also needs reviewing for the "longer term."

"Priti Patel is currently taking a bill through Parliament that would mean a woman that fled the Taliban in Afghanistan today with her daughters... would be criminalised," she said.

"She'd be not eligible to claim asylum, she'd have her claim rejected out of hand without it even being considered.

"She would then be subject to being detained indefinitely in one of our pretty gruesome detention centres, including possibly in an offshore prison.

"That legislation needs to be scrapped, it was never right, but in the context of what's going on in Afghanistan now it's completely intolerable that that should become the law of the land in the UK."

Read more: 'Some people won't get back' Defence Secretary chokes up over Afghanistan