The British High Commission in Banjul yesterday issued a press release to convey its government’s resolve and considered method to tackle a number of problems such as illegal migration and trafficking. The method, according to the release, would involve the use of the UK’s international co-operation to "strengthen the UK's border controls, crack down on migration abuse and tackle trafficking."
The release made reference to UK government’s statement dated 18th June and a pledge reinforcing this position by Home Secretary John Reid, who was speaking from Washington, US, where he announced that the two countries should routinely share information about travellers of interest; people using false documents and other immigration offenders.
The statement further disclosed that the "Immigration Minister Liam Byrne and Lord Triesman, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Returns, also met with their new French counterpart on 18 June to begin discussions on new measures to strengthen both countries' borders. The ministers signed a treaty which will pave the way for successful juxtaposed controls to continue when Eurostar relocates its London operations to St Pancras and Ebbsfleet."
The agreements mark the launch on 18 June by the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of their joint international strategy: Managing Global Migration, which sets out the UK's global plans in the fight to halt illegal immigration.
A focal point in the implementation of the strategy, the release states, is working with other governments to prevent illegal migration and expedite the deportation of those with no right to be in the UK. "Through working with countries which act as 'transit' points on illegal immigration routes, the UK intends to put migration at the top of the agenda internationally.
Home Secretary John Reid said:
"Every issue we face, whether it involves immigration, identity or counter-terrorism, has international relationships at its very core. That is why today's international strategy is crucial to our future.
"We cannot protect Britain's borders by operating in a bubble. The only way to tackle these 21st Century issues is through countries working together. We are undertaking to improve that co-operation through better exchange of immigration data and working together to tackle the reasons for migration."
As part of UK’s anti illegal immigration process, law enforcement liaison officers will be deployed to countries on key routes to the UK, developing joint investigations to target traffickers.
A rapid response team will be established in the UK before the end of 2007, with specialists ready to be sent abroad to offer advice, support and training.
The release also quotes the Immigration Minister, Liam Byrne, as having said:
"Britain is now laying the foundation stone for offshore borders all over the world.
"But we cannot act in isolation. It is crucial we build on our international alliances to close down routes to those attempting to abuse the system, while enabling legitimate travellers to pass freely.
"We have already seen success in tightening border controls. By exporting our border abroad through juxtaposed controls in France we have slashed illegal entrants detected in Kent by 88 per cent since 2002.
"Now we want to develop this further by sharing data where appropriate, offering our expertise abroad, and putting migration at the heart of our foreign policies."
The strategy, the release went on, is said to have been developed jointly by the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, following close consultation with the Department for Trade and Industry and the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
Lord Triesman, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Returns, said recently of the strategy:
"Migration is a cross-government priority. We welcome those who come to the UK legally and make a valuable contribution to our economy and society.
"But tackling illegal migration effectively is key to maintaining public confidence. This means ensuring that we can return those who have no right to be in the UK.
"In my role as the PM's Special Envoy for Returns, I have been giving a new focus to this work by exploring the scientific and technical options to remove the barriers to removal. With others, we are looking at the scientific and technical identification of nationality. This will be an important tool in a series of measures to improve the redocumentation and return of immigration offenders."
The key messages in the strategy are:
The UK is leading international cooperation on immigration. We want to ensure global migration is managed in the best interests of Britain and the global community.
The impacts of migration are not issues which Britain faces alone. Through this strategy the Government is calling for a united approach to the challenges and the benefits posed by immigration.
Managing migration is a key part of the Government's international and bilateral relationships. The UK has already achieved agreements which ensure countries take greater responsibility for the movement of their nationals and their return. Through measures set out here the Government intends to build on this work and broaden the number and range of partnerships already in place. We have increased resources to reflect the priority we attach to this work.
The Government is determined to stop illegal migrants and those who would cause harm to the UK from coming here, while ensuring legitimate travellers can do so simply and quickly. Jointly capturing biometrics with other countries and legally sharing data with them is essential.
We will set up a team of immigration specialists by the end of 2007 who can be deployed abroad routinely and quickly to offer advice, manpower and training to help tackle illegal migration routes to the UK.
We will continue to work closely with our EU partners and the European Commission to further reduce "asylum shopping", while continuing to support UNHCR's efforts to protect genuine refugees worldwide.
We want to attract the skills, talent and business legal migrants can bring to the UK. We will work abroad to promote the UK as a destination, and work with diaspora communities at home to create strong links to growth markets. Through the introduction of the Australian-style points-based system for managing migration the UK is sending a clear message that it will welcome migrants contributing skills the economy needs, using a simple and robust system.