UK police charge two individuals over English Channel crossing deaths News
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UK police charge two individuals over English Channel crossing deaths

The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) announced on Friday that two men were arrested and charged with immigration offenses over English Channel crossings which led to the death of five migrants on a beach in France, including a child. The charges against the two men include assisting unlawful immigration and attempting to arrive in the UK without valid entry clearance. A third man was arrested but has been bailed pending further enquiries.

The two individuals appeared at the Folkestone Magistrates Court and the case was afterwards moved to the Folkestone Youth Court. District judge William Nelson expressed doubts over their ages, stating he “cannot look at both defendants and determine unequivocally they are over the age of 18 and where there is competing evidence to the contrary,” and adjourned the hearing to April 30.

NCA Deputy Director of investigations Craig Turner stated efforts are being made in cooperation with France to investigate the “tragic incident” and stressed the importance of identifying criminal gangs involved in organizing crossings.

The UK has seen an increase in the number of small boat Channel crossings since the beginning of 2024, with a record of 5,000 migrants arriving to the UK via the English Channel. This outcome contradicts efforts by the UK government to “stop the boats.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to reduce the number of illegal entry into the country in 2023, prompting the introduction and passing of the Illegal Immigration Act 2023.

The government went as far as to overlook a ruling by the Supreme Court, which deemed sending asylum seekers to Rwanda would breach international human rights laws, by passing the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act 2024. The UN raised concerns over human rights violations due to legislation and urged the government to withdraw the Act along with certain provision of the Illegal Immigration Act 2023.

Five people died due to severe weather conditions in January which prompted an investigation into “aggravated manslaughter” and other offenses by French authorities. UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron stated that the deaths “shows we’ve got to stop the boats, we’ve got to stop this illegal trade in human beings.”