THE controversial Illegal Migration Bill “makes direct and serious intrusions into devolved powers”, according to a top legal expert.

Kay Springham KC assessed the controversial Illegal Migration Bill on behalf of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS), JustRight Scotland, and the Scottish Refugee Council.

The bill is currently making its way through the Westminster Parliament under the guidance of Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

Springham found not only that the bill encroaches on devolved areas of law – without the consent of Holyrood – but also that Scottish ministers who “cease to support victims of trafficking in Scotland” under the new laws would “breach Scotland’s international human rights legal obligations”.

The legal opinion found that there is a real prospect of legal challenge to aspects of the legislation because they may breach the human rights of trafficking victims and unaccompanied children and young people, many of whom need refugee protection.

Human rights organisations are calling on Scottish ministers and public authorities to commit to “concrete” actions to mitigate the impact of the bill on vulnerable members of society.

Nick Hobbs, acting Children’s and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, said: “The Illegal Migration Bill summit is a chance for the Scottish Government to show real leadership and for ministers and Scottish public bodies to make concrete commitments to mitigate the worst attacks on children’s rights that are in this bill.

"The Legal Opinion sets out some areas in which that needs to happen urgently.”

Jen Ang, director of development and policy at JustRight Scotland, said: “We have already heard about how the Illegal Migration Bill will make it impossible for people to seek safety in the UK and cut off protections for vulnerable people.

“This legal opinion confirms that the bill does so by cutting across areas of law devolved to Scottish Ministers and Scottish public authorities – putting them at immediate risk of breaching international human rights law if they fail to act to stem the significant harms threatened by the bill. We are urgently pressing for Scottish ministers, public authorities and civil society to identify and commit to concrete actions to challenge and mitigate the most harmful impacts of the bill.”

Sabir Zazai, chief executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: "This legislation closes the door to safety that so desperately needed by people seeking asylum, irrespective of where they fled, be that Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan and other wars, oppressive regimes and human rights abuses.

“Expert opinion makes it clear that Scottish public authorities have a legal obligation under European human rights law to maintain trafficking survivor protection that the bill otherwise strips away.

"We must also protect unaccompanied children."

A summary of the legal opinion is being published ahead of a Scottish Government-led summit on the Illegal Migration Bill today.

Cosla, Police Scotland and the Crown Office will attend the summit, alongside representatives from the voluntary sector.