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UN calls on Rishi Sunak to scrap Rwanda plan

28 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a press conference in the Downing Street Briefing Room Photo James Manning/PA Wire

Rishi Sunak has been urged to abandon his Rwanda scheme by a United Nations human rights watchdog.

The Prime Minister hopes to get planes carrying asylum seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda in the air this spring, but the legislation is still held up in Parliament.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) called on the UK Government to abandon the scheme and repeal measures already in legislation as part of Mr Sunak’s plan to “stop the boats” crossing the English Channel.

But UK sources accused the UN of “double standards” because the international body already sends refugees to Rwanda.

‘Deeply concerned’

The international panel was “deeply concerned about the introduction of legislative initiatives containing elements that discriminate against migrants and that seek to limit access to rights for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants”, such as the Illegal Migration Act 2023.

The committee said the law, which is intended to stop people who arrive in the UK illegally from being able to stay here, effectively amounts to an “asylum ban”.

The human rights body said it “regrets” the Rwanda plan and the Government’s efforts to adopt the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill “despite the ruling of the UK Supreme Court that the arrangement would not be compliant with international law”.

The legislation, which is due to return to the Commons when MPs come back to Westminster following the Easter break on April 15, is designed to make the Rwanda plan legally watertight following the Supreme Court defeat.

The Safety of Rwanda Bill and a treaty with Kigali are aimed at addressing concerns about the scheme and the potential for people sent to the African nation to be removed to another country – a process known as refoulement – where they could face persecution.

The UN body said the Government should pull the legislation, or repeal it if passed by Parliament, “with a view to strictly upholding the principle of non-refoulement in both law and practice”.

‘Irony’

A source close to Home Secretary James Cleverly dismissed the committee’s finding.

“It has always been the height of irony and double standards that one arm of the UN says it has concerns about Rwanda as a country and another arm of the same organisation continually and consistently uses Rwanda to house and process asylum seekers as a third-country destination and celebrates their deal with the Rwanda for doing so,” the source said.

UN refugee agency the UNHCR has evacuated people from Libya to Rwanda, but that is a temporary and voluntary scheme.

The Government’s plans would see people who arrive on small boats sent to Rwanda to claim asylum there, with no right to come back to the UK.

The report published on Thursday was issued by the Human Rights Committee, which monitors countries’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Its 18 members are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world.


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Jeff
Jeff
12 days ago

One amendment the Tory party were upset was put in by the Lords was looking after Afghans that had helped UK forces. Leadsom was evil over the vote forgetting to mention that she was all for sending the people that helped UK forces to Rwanda. Now we have Braverman, she is going to share a platform with Victor Orban. Gullis, that braying simian, as a deputy chair. EHCR is still under threatThese are the sorts of people in the Cons Sunak is running scared from. I cant see him backing down now, he will inflict harm on vulnerable because he… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
12 days ago

But as we are regularly informed, the ” UK parliament is sovereign ” and if they declare Rwanda a safe country, regardless of what the UN or any other organisation or country says, then safe it is, and as parliament is “sovereign” they are not subject to any other law. This is who Cymru are ruled by. Despicable bunch of imperialist little Englanders.

Richard 1
Richard 1
12 days ago

The High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) uses Rwanda temporarily in pursuit of its purpose, which is to “aid and protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people”. That’s not the same as Sunak’s scheme to dump unwanted migrants permanently.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
12 days ago

Rwanda is slightly safer than Libya and Libya is a dangerous lawless hellhole thanks to being bombed by britain, France and the usa in 2011. Given a choice between the two countries you would select the safer country but that doesn’t mean it is safe! The tories don’t want to stop the small boats crossing the channel, if they truly wanted to, if saving lives was their true intention then they would’ve accepted the French offer to have a refugee processing centre on French soil. Those granted the right to come to the uk then provided with legal means to… Read more »

David
David
12 days ago

The UK should have its veto rights removed by the UN as a start.

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