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UK warned against deporting Goans, others

Report highlights continued uncertainty faced by 2.9 mn EU nationals including nearly 25,000 Goans

20th December 2016, 12:00 Hrs

PTI

LONDON

A parliamentary report released on Monday warned the British government against plans to deport EU nationals residing in the UK which includes around 25,000 Goans who acquired Portuguese nationality.

The report, prepared by the House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights (JHCR) and led by Labour MP Harriet Harman, said “the government must not use human rights as a bargaining chip” and added that attempting to deport EU nationals could lead to months of “significant, expensive and lengthy litigation”.

It highlighted the continued uncertainty faced by the 2.9 million EU nationals living in the UK, which include an estimated 25,000 Goans who hold a European passport as a result of their Portuguese ancestry.

“The UK government could not deport the large numbers of EU nationals currently in the UK. In the unlikely and unwelcome event that the government sought to deport EU nationals, there could be the potential for significant, expensive and lengthy litigation, leading to considerable legal uncertainty for a prolonged period of time.

“These cases would have the potential to clog up and overwhelm the court system,” Harman warned in her report.

According to data from the Election Commission of India, 11,500 Goans surrendered their Indian passports in favour of Portuguese citizenship between January 31, 2008 and January 31, 2013.

This figure is now estimated to be closer to 25,000.

Majority of these Goans have settled in the UK.

Their fate now also hangs in balance along with other EU nationals who have made Britain their home over the years but are uncertain of the kind of residency rights they would have based on Britain's exit deal from the European Union after the June 23 referendum favouring Brexit.

The report said the government would not be able to establish a rule that would allow the deportation of EU nationals merely on the grounds that they had only been resident for a fixed period of time.

Other factors, such as family connections and the residence rights of children, would be relevant, and each case would need to be considered on its own facts, it said.

The committee called on the government to lay out a detailed list of fundamental rights currently guaranteed to such people by virtue of the UK's EU membership and what approach it intended to take towards them.

The report also said any changes to the status of EU citizens must be voted on by both Houses of Parliament, and not put through in secondary legislation.