TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

UK Rwanda asylum plan against international law, says UN refugee agency

UK Rwanda asylum plan against international law, says UN refugee agency

The UNHCR says the scheme to send some migrants to claim asylum in Rwanda is shifting responsibility. Leak shows that some of the money UK pay to Rwanda will be paid back to few British officials.

The UK's proposal to send some migrants who arrive in Britain on small boats to Rwanda is a breach of international law, the UN's refugee agency has said.

The UNHCR called it a "troubling development" and said the UK was seeking to "shift responsibility".

The pilot scheme would see people sent to the east African country to claim asylum there.

Boris Johnson has said he believed the scheme was "fully compliant" with international law.

But he acknowledged he expected it to be subject to legal challenge in the courts and from a "formidable army of politically-motivated lawyers".

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who signed a £120m deal in the Rwandan capital of Kigali on Thursday, also said her department expected legal action but believed any claims could be successfully contested.

Ms Patel issued a so-called "ministerial direction" to introduce the policy, it has emerged. These are issued when civil servants have concerns about a proposed policy, but not necessarily because they are opposed to it, and can be issued based on a variety of reasons such as value for money, propriety or feasibility.

A Home Office source said the asylum system cost the taxpayer more than £1.5bn a year and officials were clear that deterring illegal entry would create significant savings, although the effect of such a deterrent could not be quantified with certainty.

"It would be wrong to let a lack of precise modelling delay a policy aimed at reducing illegal migration," they said.

The government has said the first people could be flown to Rwanda within weeks as part of the scheme - which would initially mainly focus on single men who crossed the Channel in boats or lorries.

Gillian Triggs, an assistant secretary-general at the UNHCR, said the agency strongly condemned "outsourcing" the responsibility of considering refugee status to another country.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's World At One programme, the former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission said such policies - as used in Australia - could be effective as a deterrent but there were "much more legally effective ways of achieving the same outcome".

Australia has used offshore detention centres since 2001, with thousands of asylum seekers being transferred out of the country since then.

It has been frequently criticised by the UN and rights groups over substandard conditions at its centres and its own projections show it will spend $811.8m (£460m) on offshore processing in 2021-22.

Ms Triggs pointed out Israel had attempted to send Eritrean and Sudanese refugees to Rwanda, but they "simply left the country and started the process all over again".

"In other words, it is not actually a long-term deterrent," she added.

More than 160 charities and campaign groups have urged the government to scrap the plan, while the major opposition parties have also hit out at it.

Launching the scheme on Thursday, the prime minister said it would "save countless lives" and break the business model of "vile people smugglers".

Mr Johnson said the agreement with Rwanda would provide "safe and legal routes for asylum", adding the British taxpayer could not "write a blank cheque" to cover the costs of anyone who might want to come to live in the UK.

'Just another risk to factor in'

By Jessica Parker, at a camp in Dunkirk, northern France


No-one we initially spoke to yesterday seemed to know about the Rwanda announcement - but it wasn't long before word spread.

Soon a group of men was asking us lots of questions: "When will this happen? Why? If I come from Afghanistan will it still apply to me?"

Shafi, who told me he had fled Afghanistan, said: "[Rwanda] is a lot worse place than Afghanistan, there is no future for us in Rwanda."

But I didn't meet anyone who said the government's plans would prevent them from trying to cross the Channel, including Shafi, who said he had no choice.

Many of these men have already faced huge risks to get this far and are willing to risk their lives crossing the Channel on a small boat.

The risk of being sent to Rwanda, at this stage, seemed like just another thing to factor in down the line.

Many lawyers have warned the plan would face legal hurdles, with many likely to come under the international principle of non-refoulement - which guarantees no-one can be returned to a country where they would face irreparable harm.

Ms Patel said the British public had been "crying out for change for years" and it was "incredibly unfair to the British public to see organisations in their own country effectively just putting blockages after blockages in the way".

The announcement came as part of a broader strategy to reduce the number of people entering the UK by crossing the Channel in small boats.

The Royal Navy has taken operational command of the Channel from UK Border Force in an effort to detect every boat headed to the UK.


Some 562 people on 14 boats made the journey on the day the new scheme was announced, according to the Ministry of Defence. No-one making the crossing was believed to have arrived on UK soil "on their own terms", it added.

Last year, 28,526 people made the crossing, up from 8,404 in 2020.

Two further crossings were recorded on Friday morning despite thick fog, the BBC's Simon Jones said.

Concerns have also been raised about Rwanda's human rights record, although Mr Johnson described Rwanda as one of the safest countries in the world.

Last year, the UK government expressed concern at the United Nations over "continued restrictions to civil and political rights and media freedom" in Rwanda.

But justice and migration minister Tom Pursglove said Rwanda was a progressive country that wanted to provide sanctuary and had made "huge strides forward" in the past three decades.


Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
0:00
0:00
Close
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×