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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Lords capitulate

Depressing news this morning as the House of Lords finally capitulated and allowed the Government's Rwanda Bill to pass into law. The Council of Europe’s human rights watchdog has stepped in immediately to condemn Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda scheme, saying it raises “major issues about the human rights of asylum seekers and the rule of law”.

The Guardian reports that the body’s human rights commissioner, Michael O’Flaherty, said the bill was a grave concern and should not be used to remove asylum seekers or infringe on judges’ independence:

“I am concerned that the Rwanda bill enables the implementation of a policy of removing people to Rwanda without any prior assessment of their asylum claims by the UK authorities in the majority of cases,” O’Flaherty said, adding that the bill “significantly excludes the ability of UK courts to fully and independently scrutinise the issues brought before them”.

The UK remains a member of the pan-European body that promotes human rights, democracy and the rule of law across the continent.

O’Flaherty warned that the UK was prohibited from subjecting, even indirectly, people to “refoulement” – the act of forcing a refugee or asylum seeker to a country or territory where he or she is likely to face persecution – including under article 3 of the European convention on human rights, under the refugee convention, and under “a range of other international instruments”.

Sunak has said flights will begin taking asylum seekers to Kigali within 10-12 weeks, admitting he would miss his target of flights taking off by spring. Speaking after the passing of the bill, the prime minister pledged it would be a “fundamental change in the global equation on migration”.

But a Home Office minister said the government was prepared for “inevitable” legal challenges to the Rwanda scheme, saying there were those who were “determined to do whatever it takes to try and stop this policy from working”.

Charities and rights groups have condemned the passing of the bill as a “stain on this country’s moral reputation”.

It doesnt matter what the government puts in an Act of Parliament, they cannot just legislate away their international obligations.
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