Bishops hit out at ‘criminalisation of Good Samaritan’ over Channel crossings

Barbara Forbes has drawn our attention to yesterday’s letter from twelve Anglican  Bishops.  They describe the Nationality and Borders Bill as ‘an affront to justice’.   

The signatories are listed at the foot of the letter. If you live in the diocese of any of these bishops you might like to write and thank them. If they sit in the Lords you could ask them  to work against the Bill when it reaches the House of Lords. If you are in a diocese that is not represented in the list you might write in terms that would encourage them to join the protests.   

12 September 2021: Guardian: Bishops hit out at ‘criminalisation of Good Samaritan’ over Channel crossings

Letter from 12 C of E bishops says nationality bill is ‘affront to justice’ by penalising the saving of a life

Twelve Church of England bishops have accused the government of criminalising “Good Samaritans” who seek to save the lives of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.

The bishops, who speak on asylum and refugee issues within the church, said the nationality and borders bill before parliament is an “affront to justice” by putting the saving of life under a legal penalty.

Record numbers of people have crossed the Channel in small boats this summer, including more than 1,500 people last week.

Under the bill, migrants could face up to four years in prison. Plans put forward by Priti Patel, the home secretary, will require Border Force vessels to turn back migrant boats rather than bringing passengers safely into the UK.

[…]

In a letter published by the Guardian, the bishops said: “We are deeply concerned about the government’s approach to migrant crossings of the Channel.”

The bill “would criminalise not only attempts to cross the border irregularly, nor even simply people smuggling, but even those who take part in the rescue of boats in distress at sea.

“This would require those who see asylum seekers at risk to choose between ignoring a moral imperative (also established in maritime law) to assist them, or to risk prosecution and imprisonment.

“This amounts to a criminalisation of the Good Samaritan who did not pass by on the other side, and an affront to justice to put the saving of lives under any sort of legal penalty.

“The new ‘turn back’ policy, which will see boats forcibly returned to France, also raises significant moral concerns. It starkly increases the risks at sea and endangers the lives of those attempting the crossing.” […]

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/12/bishops-hit-out-at-criminalisation-of-good-samaritan-over-channel-crossings

The signatories are:

Rt Revd Paul Butler Bishop of Durham
Rt Revd David Walker Bishop of Manchester
Rt Revd Jonathan Clark Bishop of Croydon
Rt Revd John Perumbalath Bishop of Bradwell
Rt Revd Sarah Mullally Bishop of London
Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin Bishop of Dover
Rt Revd Rachel Treweek Bishop of Gloucester
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun Bishop of Southwark
Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani Bishop of Chelmsford
Rt Revd Tony Robinson Bishop of Wakefield
Rt Revd Vivienne Faull Bishop of Bristol
Rt Revd David Hamid Suffragan Bishop in Europe