THE deepening failures of moral leadership in the EU and UK have now been laid bare. The no-longer-secret plans, which have been cooking for a while, have been exposed.

The plan is that anyone not at the top of a hierarchy of vulnerability will be detained and deported. The project is to spend vast amounts of taxpayers’ money on the security and detention industry and to manufacture trauma. It’s a model used, to international condemnation, in Australia. It has led to widespread abuse in detention centres and includes a law making it illegal for doctors to report on child abuse in detention centres.

Early in the summer, Denmark announced a revision to its guidance on Eritrea, meaning many asylum applicants could be returned there. The UK quickly followed suit with an alleged agreement with President Afwerki’s government that if people were deported, they wouldn’t be tortured immediately upon arrival. These proposals were met with careful, thoroughly researched rebuttals from the UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

The human rights abuses in Eritrea are terrifying. If you refuse to be indentured for military service from age 16 to 40 on no pay, if you practise some forms of religion – not least Protestantism – if you oppose the state, you will be imprisoned and, likely as not, tortured. Forms of torture used in the container prisons in Eritrea include the helicopter method, where people have their hands and ankles tied behind their back before being suspended from a ceiling. It is excruciating.

Here are five things I would say about the proposals being put forward by EU leaders:

1) It sets aside the binding obligations of the Council of Europe and European Convention on Human Rights to which members signed up. The obligations say protection first, border security second. The proposal reverses this.

2) It enshrines the security-detention industry and its massive global corporations G4S and Serco as the default players in migration politics.

3) It sets aside the rule of law and international treaties at the time when human protection is most needed. It tears up treaties set in stone after the slaughter of millions of Jews, homosexuals, Roma and political dissidents during the Second World War.

4) It is catastrophic for international relations. Quite simply, it weaponises aid, blackmailing struggling countries with de-development and aid sanctions. It is the same injustice as the benefits sanctions but writ large across vulnerable nations.

5) It is cowardly and abdicates responsibility for human beings. It breaks the laws of hospitality. It turns away from what many call Europe’s cultural traditions.

Alison Phipps is professor of languages and intercultural studies at the University of Glasgow and co-convener of Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network