Human rights groups slam UK Rwanda plan after parliament approves bill

    WORLD  24 April 2024 - 07:21

    TRT World has published an article saying both the UN refugee agency and the Council of Europe called for the UK to rethink its plans because of concerns that the legislation undermines human rights protections. Caliber.Az reprints the article.

    Britain’s plans to send some asylum-seekers to Rwanda has been swiftly condemned by international humanitarian organisations after Parliament approved legislation allowing the deportation flights to begin later this year.

    Both the UN refugee agency and the Council of Europe on Tuesday called for the UK to rethink its plans because of concerns that the legislation undermines human rights protections and fears that it will damage international cooperation on tackling the global migrant crisis.

    “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,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.

    “Protecting refugees requires all countries — not just those neighbouring crisis zones — to uphold their obligations.”

    The statement came just hours after Britain’s House of Lords dropped its attempts to amend the legislation, paving the way for it to become law.

    On April 22, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said deportation flights to Rwanda would begin in 10-12 weeks.

    Human rights of asylum seekers

    For his part, Michael O’Flaherty, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, criticised the legislation for preventing asylum-seekers from asking the courts to intervene when they are they are threatened with being sent back to the countries they are fleeing.

    “The adoption of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill by the UK Parliament raises major issues about the human rights of asylum seekers and the rule of law more generally,” O’Flaherty said in a statement.

    “The United Kingdom government should refrain from removing people under the Rwanda policy and reverse the bill’s effective infringement of judicial independence.”

    The reaction came as French media reported that at least five people died Tuesday when a boat carrying about 100 or more migrants got into trouble while trying to cross the English Channel.

    Sunak’s government says its deportation plans will help stop the tide of people entering Britain illegally because migrants won’t make the risky crossing in leaky inflatable boats if they know there is a chance they will be sent on a one-way ticket to Rwanda.

    The number of migrants arriving in Britain on small boats soared to 45,774 in 2022 from just 299 four years earlier as people fleeing war, famine and economic hardship paid criminal gangs thousands of pounds to ferry them across the channel.

     Meanwhile, the Rwandan government welcomed the approval of the bill, saying it underscores the work it has done to make Rwanda “safe and secure” since the genocide that ravaged the country 30 years ago.

    “We are committed to the migration and economic development partnership with the UK and look forward to welcoming those relocated to Rwanda,” government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said.

    Caliber.Az

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