UK’s proposed Illegal Migration Bill keeps Rwanda deportation deal alive

  • Through the UK’s proposed Illegal Migration Bill, failed asylum seekers will be shipped to countries like Rwanda.
  • The British prime minister reassured Rwanda that the UK-Rwanda migration partnership would be a success.
  • The UNHCR says the bill will extinguish the right to seek refugee protection.

The United Kingdom (UK)’s home secretary, Suella Braverman, warned that “if you come here (to the UK) illegally, you will not be able to stay,” as she defended the introduction of the Conservative Party’s controversial Illegal Migration Bill – which, if passed, could see people shipped to Rwanda and other parts of the world.

In a video message promoting the proposed bill that went through its first reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday, she also said that, if denied entry into the UK, such a person would be returned to their home country.

“You will not be able to stay. You will be detained and removed to your home country, if safe, or a safer country, like Rwanda,” she said.

Rwanda is still very much in the UK’s plan for repatriations, despite heavy resistance. 

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday held a telephone discussion with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame about making the deportation deal a success.

“They discussed the UK-Rwanda migration partnership and our joint efforts to break the business model of criminal people smugglers and address humanitarian issues.

The UK government said in a statement:

The leaders committed to continue working together to ensure this important partnership is delivered successfully.

Braverman said many people came to the United Kingdom, and passed through safe countries.

“It’s not fair that people who travel through a string of safe countries and then come to the UK illegally can jump the queue and game our system. Enough is enough!” she said.

International law does not require that refugees claim asylum in the first country they reach.

EXPLAINER | The UK’s proposal to stop migrants arriving by boat

Qays Sediqi, a lawyer who played a role in stopping the first flight to Rwanda through a European Court of Human Rights challenge in July last year, said the bill would be challenged.

“For the record, ‘lefty’ and ‘activist’ lawyers like myself will heavily challenge Suella’s bill because it’s unlawful,” he said.

Médecins Sans Frontières said the government’s approach to the migration debate was “cruel and inhumane”.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned that, if passed, the law would be a blanket ban on asylum matters.

“The legislation, if passed, would amount to an asylum ban – extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how genuine and compelling their claim may be, and with no consideration of their individual circumstances,” the rights body said.

ALSO READ | UK deportation agreement with Rwanda flawed and won’t solve migration crisis, say critics

Under the proposed law, migrants may be detained for 28 days, with no recourse for bail or judicial review, and then for as long as there is a reasonable prospect of removal, the UK government said.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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