Rwanda plan should be scrapped after court ruling - campaigners
Campaigners and politicians have called on the Government to abandon plans to send migrants to Rwanda in the wake of a court ruling which raised concerns about “deficiencies” in its asylum system.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been urged to scrap the “unworkable and unethical fever dream of a policy” after the Court of Appeal judgment was handed down on Thursday.
The Government will seek permission to appeal against the ruling that its plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda are unlawful, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he “fundamentally” disagrees with the decision.
In the latest stage of the court case, an earlier High Court judgment that found the east African nation could be considered a “safe third country” was overturned.
Duncan Lewis Solicitors, which represented seven of the asylum seekers who were due to be on the first flight to Rwanda in June last year, said Government officials “were well aware of the crucial deficiencies in Rwanda’s asylum system from the inception of this policy” and ministers “glossed over and failed to properly examine the adequacy of Rwanda’s asylum system.”
Yasmine Ahmed, UK director of Human Rights Watch, said: “This verdict is some rare good news in an otherwise bleak landscape for human rights in the UK.
“Hopefully, it will be respected by the Government and we can consign this cruel and inhumane proposal to the history books.
“The Home Secretary should now abandon this unworkable and unethical fever dream of a policy and focus her efforts on fixing our broken and neglected migration system.
“This verdict presents the Government with an opportunity to change course. Rather than treating human beings like cargo it can ship elsewhere, it should be focusing on ending the hostile environment towards refugees and asylum seekers.”
Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s chief executive, said the Rwanda deal was a “cynical distraction from the pressing need to radically reform our own chronically failing asylum procedures – which are slow, increasingly chaotic and leave thousands of people stranded in limbo for years.
“The Government should now completely abandon the Rwanda deal – and any others like it – before doing any more damage to our international reputation or to the people threatened by such plans.”
The Liberal Democrats said Ms Braverman needed to “finally accept reality” over the Rwanda plan.
The party’s home affairs spokesman, Alistair Carmichael, said: “Instead of wasting even more taxpayer money by defending this plan in the courts, the Home Secretary should scrap her vanity project and focus on tackling the asylum backlog created by her own Government’s incompetence.”
Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK, branded the plans “completely impractical” and “destructive”.
Campaign group Detention Action said it was “relieved” by the ruling and urged Ms Braverman to stop the “cruel” policy and redirect “the resources it wasted” on clearing the asylum backlog “fairly and efficiently” and to create “more safe routes” for people seeking asylum in the UK.
Meanwhile, Refugee Council chief executive Enver Solomon described it as an “exorbitantly expensive project that may make headlines but will do absolutely nothing to sort out the very real problems in our asylum system”.
Steve Smith, chief executive of charity Care4Calais, said the Government should instead “offer safe passage to refugees in Calais as the effective and compassionate way to put smugglers out of business, end small boat crossings and save lives.”
Josie Naughton, chief executive of Choose Love which helped fund charity Asylum Aid’s case, said the policy “doesn’t belong to this age”, adding: “Today’s ruling sends a message to the world: forcibly displaced people have the right to seek safety, and it is the job of governments to support them to claim their right to asylum.”
The ruling was also hailed as a “victory for reason and compassion” by Freedom from Torture’s chief executive Sonya Sceats.
Academics also warned the ruling would have “important ramifications” for UK asylum policy and the future of the Illegal Migration Bill currently going through Parliament.
Dr Peter William Walsh, senior researcher at the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The Bill is predicated on the idea that the UK will remove asylum seekers to safe third countries. Even with a Rwanda deal in place, it has never been clear how easy this would be.
“If there are no safe third countries accepting the UK’s asylum seekers, the core idea behind the policy can’t be implemented. In essence, all the eggs are in one basket and this basket is looking fragile.”Published: by Radio NewsHub