Source: Human Rights Watch (HRW) |

United Kingdom’s Harmful Rwanda Bill to Become Law

Government Should Abandon Cruel Scheme and Protect Asylum Seekers

NEW YORK, United States of America, April 24, 2024/APO Group/ --

It is a dark day in the United Kingdom as the Safety of Rwanda Bill will soon become law after passing its final stages in parliament yesterday. This will have a devastating impact on human rights and the rule of law, risking the lives of people who came to the UK seeking safety and setting a dangerous global precedent.

The government’s new law tries to legislate away the facts and declare Rwanda safe to send asylum seekers despite the UK Supreme Court’s November 2023 ruling and abundant evidence to the contrary. The law compels UK courts and civil servants to “conclusively” treat Rwanda as safe, while severely limiting access to appeals and remedies. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said that flights will take off in 10 to 12 weeks and reserved 2,200 detention spaces in the UK, amid reports that detaining asylum seekers could start within days.

The government’s blatant disregard for international obligations and the rule of law has already received international condemnation. The United Nations high commissioner for refugees and UN high commissioner for human rights warned of the law’s wide-ranging consequences for global responsibility sharing, human rights, and refugee protection. These sentiments were echoed by the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights who cautioned that the new law raises “major issues about the human rights of asylum seekers and the rule of law."

This week several UN experts publicly warned airlines and aviation authorities that removing asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, even if the Safety of Rwanda Bill passed, could make them complicit in violating human rights and court orders. The Ministry of Defence has suggested that Royal Airforce planes may be used as commercial airlines face pressure not to participate.

The UK’s efforts to shirk its asylum responsibilities are undermining global responsibility sharing and have not gone unnoticed by other governments, who have told Human Rights Watch that the UK has lost credibility to call upon other states to uphold their obligations towards refugees.

The fight is not over. Legal challenges are expected against individual removals and the law itself. The UK should urgently adopt humane and fair asylum policies, including ensuring people can have their claims heard in the UK and expanding safe routes so people are not forced into deadly journeys.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).