The United Kingdom has started a pilot project to electronically tag asylum seekers in the country, The Guardian reported on Saturday. The scheme was launched on June 15 in parts of the country and Wales.
Refugee rights activists have described the project as draconian.
The country’s Home Office said the project aims to determine whether the method is an effective way of “improving and maintaining contact” with those arriving in the UK to seek asylum.
Under the project, those seeking asylum will also have to regularly report in person to authorities, according to The Guardian.
They may also be subjected to a curfew or excluded from certain locations. Any failure to comply with the rules could result in them being returned to detention or prosecuted.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that the scheme was essential so that people could not “simply vanish” into the rest of the country, reported Sky News.
“This [the United Kingdom] is a very, very generous welcoming country,” Johnson said, according to Sky News. “Quite right too. I am proud of it, but when people come here illegally, when they break the law, it is important that we make that distinction.”
Opposition leaders and human rights activists, however, criticised the government’s plan.
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer claimed that “the government is chasing headlines”.
Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said that it was appalling that the government was treating asylum seekers “who have fled war, bloodshed and persecution as criminals”.
“This draconian and punitive approach not only shows no compassion for very vulnerable people,” Solomon said. “It will also do nothing to deter those who are desperately seeking safety in the UK.”
At least 11,000 undocumented migrants have crossed the English Channel to reach the United Kingdom this year, The Guardian reported.