Five plucky Iranians have crossed the Channel in a dinghy in order to be able to claim asylum in our sceptered isle. This is a claim which should be rejected out of hand. No, not because they’re Iranian, not because asylum shouldn’t be granted where it is justified and not because of any idea that foreigners shouldn’t just be allowed to turn up as they wish. Rather, because they should have claimed asylum in France, if not before, and that’s just the way the system works. Britain isn’t the place for them to claim. If they’d arrived on a jetliner directly from Tehran then it would be. They didn’t therefore it ain’t.
You may think this harsh but it is the way the system works:
Five illegal Iranian migrants sailed their dinghy into the heart of the port of Dover before walking to a police station to claim asylum in the most brazen Channel crossing to date. In a border breach that raises serious security concerns, the five landed their dinghy overnight on Christmas day morning before lighting a fire on a beach in the port, possibly to warm themselves up after the crossing, according to port sources. They then walked to the central police station in Ladywell, Dover, where they handed themselves in and claimed asylum having successfully navigated one of the busiest sea lanes in the world.
Could there be reasons why Iranians can claim asylum from us? Most assuredly – being gay, and yes this is one of those things the international treaties cover, sexuality, can get you hanged for example, so can interesting business practices as just happened – this is possible, that people can have a righteous claim.
It’s also true that we must grant asylum to those who have a justifiable fear for their lives from their home government. However, there’s a caveat to all of this.
Anyone fleeing for their life, other governments have a duty to offer asylum and safety. Those fleeing have a right to it being offered. The general principle being that we never quite know when Jezza is going to appoint the Senior Lecturer the Tax Censor and so we’ll need to be fleeing out. This right though is absolute in one sense and not in another. It’s absolute in that everyone gets to claim it and everyone has to listen and decide. But the decision rests upon people claiming such asylum in the first safe place they reach.
Imagine the claim that Iran is not safe for these individuals for whatever reason. OK. Imagine they step off a plane at Heathrow – assuming there are still direct flights – then Hounslow in our fair land is the correct place to claim that asylum that we’ve got to grant. And we’d be entirely happy to do so too. However, same people, same righteous fear, crossing the Channel by dinghy. The claims must be rejected. Because no one has sailed around from the Persian Gulf in that craft. They’ve been on land at some point and on land in Europe too. Actually, obviously enough, they’ve been on land in France and while France has its perils – a distressing lack of soap use perhaps – they’re not enough to make a place unsafe to an asylum seeker. Thus they’ve already been in a place where they should have claimed that asylum.
That they should have claimed elsewhere is enough for us to righteously reject their application here. That’s just the way the system works.