UK migrants
Man who took selfies while bringing migrants to the UK was jailed for almost 4 years. AFP News/BEN STANSALL

An Egyptian man has been jailed for piloting a small boat that carried around 50 migrants during an attempt to reach the UK in July 2022.

Reda Hamoud Abdurabou, who is only 25 years old, was sentenced to three years and two months imprisonment at Salisbury Crown Court on 1 September 2023.

While bringing the migrants across the English Channel, Mr Aburabou took photos of himself on board. These images were later used as evidence against him by the Home Office's Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) unit.

Shortly after the images were taken by the 25-year-old, which showed Mr Abduraboa wearing a yellow hoodie and a baseball cap with his hand on the tiller, the small dinghy was intercepted by Border Force Police.

In court, Mr Abdurabou has also been penalised for leading the treacherous journey, with ministers noting that the young man would have known the dangers of crossing the channel in a boat of that size and with the number of people crammed on board.

"Putting lives at risk by steering men, women and children across the Channel in flimsy dinghies will not be tolerated and we will continue to work relentlessly to stop these completely unnecessary crossings and ensure those responsible are put behind bars," noted Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.

Mr Abdurabou would have also been aware of the strict UK laws on migrants, added Mr Jenrick.

The Immigration Minister declared: "This pilot brazenly tried to flout our laws, and has rightly been brought to justice today."

Officers spotted the desperate passengers balancing on the edge of the inflatable dinghy, while other men, women, and children huddled on the floor.

It is common for fuel-contaminated water to make its way into the boat, coating the floor in makeshift laminate flooring.

Video footage shows almost 50 migrants crammed into a small boat.

After the journey was intercepted by Border Force Police, Mr Abdurabou was arrested on arrival to the UK and his mobile phone was immediately seized.

Mr Abdurabou was charged and remanded by Immigration Enforcement Officers on the same day.

As well as the several selfies that depicted Mr Abdurabou steering the boat, the authorities also found messages that discussed the defendant's plan to make his way to the UK.

The Illegal Migration Act, which was adopted in 2023 to suit Rishi Sunak's relentless "stop the boats" campaign, gives Immigration Officers new powers to search and seize electronic devices from migrants who have arrived in the UK.

The new bill also gives the conservative government the right to sidestep the ECHR rulings, which were previously used to stop thousands of asylum seekers being deported to Rwanda.

Chris Foster, the Deputy Director of Criminal and Financial Investigations at the Home Office, said: "I want to praise the quick work of my officers who have brought this criminal to justice. His sentence shows that our teams are working relentlessly to clamp down on this illegal trade."

The UNHCR has accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of "extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the UK".

The controversy surrounding the contentious new immigration laws comes after Home Secretary Suella Braverman was forced to admit that the "stop the boats" was "more than 50 per cent" likely to break human rights laws.

Speaking of the new legislation, Ibrahim Khogali, who fled Sudan in 2010, told reporters: "If this bill were passed some 15 years ago, I might not be alive today."

Despite the journey across the English Channel being life-threatening, the flee from persecution was worthwhile – according to Mr Khogali.

Mr Khogali, who is part of the anti-torture network Survivors Speak OUT for survivors based in the UK, recalled: "Military officers would often detain and interrogate me about my opinion on the government and whether any of the students were participating in anti-regime activities."

"As the harassment escalated into torture, for my own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of my family and friends, I decided to escape," Mr Khogali added.

Mr Khogali emphasised: "I decided to leave because, if I stayed, I would have died."