Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

UK to Electronically Tag Some Illegal Migrants to Track Movements

Under a 12-month pilot, the country will tag some migrants seeking asylum, said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
June 20, 2022

The UK government plans to launch a 12-month pilot scheme that will involve some illegal migrants seeking asylum in the country being electronically tagged to keep track of their movements.

Speaking to reporters on his return from Ukraine on June 18, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the plans, as he said it was essential that people who arrived through dangerous routes on small boats and hidden in lorries could not simply “vanish”. The government wants to get data on how frequently asylum seekers abscond, suggest the documents linked to the UK Home Office proposals.

“This is a very, very generous welcoming country. Quite right too. I am proud of it, but when people come here illegally, when they break the law, it is important that we make that distinction,” Johnson said, adding, “That is what we are doing with our Rwanda policy. That is what we are doing to make sure that asylum seekers can’t just vanish into the rest of the country.”

Rights campaigners, however, say ‘appalling’ pilot scheme treats those fleeing conflict and persecution as criminals. The Guardian, in a report, says that critics believe the “draconian” move will do nothing to stop people, like those arriving in small boats or in the back of lorries, from taking risky journeys to reach the country in search of asylum.

“It’s appalling that this government is intent on treating men, women and children who have fled war, bloodshed and persecution as criminals,” said Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council in an interview to The Guardian.

Meanwhile, the UK Home Office e-tagging trial began on June 16 in England and Wales to test whether it helps maintain regular contact with asylum claimants and progresses their claims more effectively. It will also collect data on how many people flee and vanish. People who have been tagged may be subject to a curfew, and those who fail to comply with their conditions could be taken back to detention or prosecuted. According to reports, those tagged with such location-tracking devices will not include children or pregnant women.

The government has said the scheme, which has come at an initial cost of GBP 120 million, would discourage people traffickers from facilitating dangerous crossings in unsafe boats.