Struggling dinghy not rescued after entering UK waters, shows maritime logs

A boat carrying nearly 40 passengers that had difficulty navigating the Channel was not rescued but instead was left to drift back towards France, revealed internal maritime logs on Sunday.

In January, Defence Ministry officials, who were managing small boats in the Channel at the time, told The Guardian that they disputed that the dinghy had even entered UK waters. The boat was carrying 38 people, including children.

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However, on 2 January, HM Coastguard officers “organised for people to be returned to France from UK waters through subtler means, allowing a dinghy to drift back when they thought they could get away with it,” according to Alarm Phone’s Channel Group, which obtained the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s log after a freedom of information request.

“Dover Coastguard and Border Force deliberately refused to assist an unseaworthy, overcrowded and broken-down dinghy in UK waters,” they added.

Instead, they “watched” while the boat was pushed back by the wind and tide into the French Search and Rescue Region (SRR), “where there was no French vessel to assist them.”

Additionally, the Observer revealed that according to the internal Maritime and Coastguard Agency log, at least 440 people appear to have been abandoned in November 2021, The Guardian reported.

The UK has been working on an illegal migration bill, which would enable the detention of unlawful arrivals without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention until they can be removed. It includes provisions to prevent asylum seekers from claiming to be a victim of modern slavery to avoid or delay their removal.

“My fear with this illegal migration bill is that it will drive a coach and horses through the Modern Slavery Act, denying support to those who have been exploited and enslaved, and in doing so, making it much harder to catch and stop the traffickers and slave drivers,” said former Prime Minister Theresa May, The Guardian reported.

On 27 March, in a letter addressed to both chambers of the UK parliament, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, urged lawmakers to vote against the bill.

​​A new clause was added to the bill, which ensures that no decision by a UK court can prevent or delay the removal of a person from the UK, “whether on the grounds that their removal would violate their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) or for any other reason,” according to the independent research organisation, UK in a changing Europe.

MPs backed the bill by 289 votes to 230 last Wednesday. It will now go to the House of Lords, where it is expected to face opposition and could even be amended or delayed.

(Sofia Stuart Leeson |

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