The Edition
facebook icon twitter icon instagram icon linkedin icon


UN urges UK to reconsider Rwanda deportation plan

23 April 2024, MVT 13:37
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during a press conference, at the Downing Street Briefing Room, in central London, on April 22, 2024 regarding the Britain and Rwanda treaty to transfer illegal migrants to the African country. Rishi Sunak promised on April 22, 2024 that deportation flights of asylum seekers to Rwanda will begin in "10 to 12 weeks", as the plan entered its final stage in parliament. -- Photo: Toby Melville / POOL / AFP
23 April 2024, MVT 13:37

The UN called Tuesday on Britain to reconsider plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, warning it threatened the rule of law and set "a perilous precedent globally".

The UK government's controversial Rwanda scheme has been beset by legal challenges since 2022, but was passed by parliament late on Monday after a marathon tussle between the upper and lower chambers.

UN rights chief Volker Turk and UN refugee head Filippo Grande called in a statement on the government to "reconsider" the scheme, urging it to instead "take practical measures to address irregular flows of refugees and migrants, based on international cooperation and respect for international human rights law".

The government has been under mounting pressure to cut record numbers of asylum seekers crossing the Channel from northern France in small boats, particularly following a promise of a tougher approach to immigration after the UK left the European Union.

Its plan would compel judges to regard Rwanda as a safe third country.

It would also give decision-makers on asylum applications the power to disregard sections of international and domestic human rights law to get around a UK Supreme Court ruling that sending migrants on a one-way ticket to Kigali was illegal.

In their statement, the UN officials lamented that the plan would "restrict the UK courts from properly scrutinizing removal decisions, leaving asylum-seekers with limited room to appeal even if they face significant risks".

"By shifting responsibility for refugees, reducing the UK’s courts' ability to scrutinize removal decisions, restricting access to legal remedies in the UK and limiting the scope of domestic and international human rights protections for a specific group of people, this new legislation seriously hinders the rule of law in the UK and sets a perilous precedent globally," Turk cautioned.

Grandi agreed.

"The new legislation marks a further step away from the UK’s long tradition of providing refuge to those in need, in breach of the Refugee Convention," he said.

"This arrangement seeks to shift responsibility for refugee protection, undermining international cooperation and setting a worrying global precedent."

The UN refugee chief highlighted Britain's "proud history of effective, independent judicial scrutiny".

"It can still take the right steps and put in place measures to help address the factors that drive people to leave home, and share responsibility for those in need of protection, with European and other international partners."

© Agence France-Presse

Share this story