HomeNewsDiplomatic NewsTransfer of asylum seekers to Rwanda raises concern at UN

Transfer of asylum seekers to Rwanda raises concern at UN


London, 24 April 2024 (TDI): The transfer of asylum seekers to Rwanda led two United Nations officials to call the United Kingdom to rethink its plan, cautioning that the move would have a devastating impact on human rights and refugee protection.

In a joint statement, Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the UK to take practical steps to address the inconstant flow of migrants and refugees.

Asylum seekers and UN

“The new legislation marks a further step away from the UK’s long tradition of providing refuge to those in need, in breach of the Refugee Convention,” reports UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Whereas, Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has been critical of the plan before, reporting that the legislation “seriously hinders the rule of law in the UK and sets a perilous precedent globally.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stood fast to his promise on Monday to begin sending asylum seekers to Rwanda within 10 to 12 weeks.

After a “ping pong” battle over the key legislation between the Commons and the Lords, the bill finally passed, after the opposition paved the way for it.

The bill is expected to be given royal assent by King Charles.

The Home Office has reported that they have identified a group of asylum seekers with legal claims that are not strong enough to remain in the UK, who will be part of the first batch to be sent to East Africa in July.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to put the bill and deport asylum seekers who arrive in the UK through illegal means to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is critical to his attempt to halt small boats crossing the Channel.

The home secretary, James Cleverly, reported it was a “landmark moment in our plan to stop the boats.”

Criticism against Rwanda Bill

Denisa Delic, Director of Advocacy at International Rescue Committee UK, reported that “Irrespective of today’s passage of the Safety of Rwanda bill, sending refugees to Rwanda is an ineffective, unnecessarily cruel and costly approach.”

She further reports that it is important the government abandon this ill-considered plan and instead place focus on a more human and well-ordered immigration system in the country.

Lawyers have reported to the Guardian that, they will begin legal challenges on behalf of every individual asylum seeker. They can challenge their removal on a case-by-case basis, which can result in their names being taken off a flight list.

The bill does allow challenges if a detainee experiences a “real, imminent and foreseeable risk of serious irreversible harm if removed to Rwanda,” the lawyers report.

The detainees must first place an appeal within eight days of receiving a deportation letter. The Home Office would be given multiple days to respond. If their appeal is rejected, the asylum seeker would be granted seven days to place a final appeal to an upper tribunal court, which would seek a decision on their claim with an additional 23 days.

The deal is reported to cost £1.8m, for each of the first 300 deportees, the National Audit Office reports.

Also Read: UN expresses concern over new US Border Policy

Death of migrants

Five people, which also included a child, died while attempting to cross the English Channel, from France to Britain, on an overfull boat.

Around 110 migrants were on the boat when the alarm broke out. The coast guard was still conducting search and rescue operations at sea, a spokesperson reported.

“These tragedies have to stop,” said Home Secretary James Cleverly.

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