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UK is seeking special deal to speed up deportations to Turkey: report

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The United Kingdom’s home secretary, Suella Braverman, is seeking an Albanian-style agreement to speed up deportations to Turkey following a “huge uptick” in the arrival of migrants from the country by boat, British daily newspaper The Telegraph reported over the weekend.

More than 1,000 migrants from Turkey are believed to have arrived in the UK via the English Channel since the beginning of the year, representing a significant increase over previous years. Turkey has now become one of the most common countries of origin for those landing illegally in Britain.

Braverman and Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, are urgently examining the possibility of striking a deal with Turkey akin to an agreement to speed up the deportation of English Channel migrants from Albania.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to stop the passage of small boats carrying migrants across the English Channel, and return agreements are seen as a deterrent, particularly if individuals believe they are unlikely to be granted asylum.

The disclosure comes as the British government prepares to face down final attempts by peers to neuter provisions in its Illegal Migration Bill, which is seen as key to Sunak’s pledge.

Ministers fear that one amendment by Baroness Chakrabarti, the former Labour frontbencher, could lead to the UK having to follow orders issued by European Court of Human Rights judges despite provisions in the legislation to disapply certain laws.

Braverman wants to be able to ignore so-called Rule 39 orders from the European Court of Human Rights that could block deportation flights, The Telegraph said. The amendment requires ministers to adhere to a string of specific treaties, including the European Convention on Human Rights.

Jenrick is expected to fly to İstanbul to open talks with the Turkish government later this month over a potential new deal to make it easier to remove illegal migrants from the country.

A source close to the home secretary said: “It’s early days, but the home secretary is looking at how we can improve our agreements for returns with countries where we have high numbers of illegal arrivals, particularly this year.

“Turkey is a real concern as we’ve had a huge uptick in numbers and we need to be able to remove people there more easily.”

More than 12,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel so far this year, following a record total of 45,755 crossings in 2022.

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