UK Parliament Passes Bill Allowing Deportation of Asylum Seekers to Rwanda Despite Criticism

UK passes controversial bill allowing asylum seekers' deportation to Rwanda, sparking legal challenges and human rights concerns. Sunak stakes political future on deterring Channel crossings, but critics call plan "unworkable and cruel."

Ayesha Mumtaz
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UK Parliament Passes Bill Allowing Deportation of Asylum Seekers to Rwanda Despite Criticism

UK Parliament Passes Bill Allowing Deportation of Asylum Seekers to Rwanda Despite Criticism

The UK Parliament has passed a contentious bill that allows the government to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for their claims to be processed, despite facing significant opposition and legal challenges over human rights concerns. The legislation, known as the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, is a response to a UK Supreme Court decision that previously blocked deportation flights due to concerns about the safety of migrants sent to Rwanda.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has staked his political future on the deportation flights, which he sees as a way to deter migrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats. Sunak has promised to start sending asylum seekers to Rwanda within 10-12 weeks, saying the government has booked commercial charter planes and trained staff for the purpose. The government plans to deport some of the asylum seekers who enter the UK irregularly as a deterrent.

The passage of the bill reflects the political dynamics in post-Brexit Britain, where the Conservative Party is desperate to address public concerns about immigration and close the polling gap with the opposition Labour Party. Sunak has called on the unelected House of Lords to stop blocking this key policy after the legislation was stalled for over two months due to a standoff between the Lords and the elected House of Commons.

However, the plan has drawn widespread criticism from human rights groups, lawmakers, and the United Nations. Charities and rights groups have criticized the plan as "unworkable and cruel" and say they will try to stop individual deportations. The UN has warned commercial airlines against facilitating the removals. Critics argue the policy is illegal and inhumane, and vow to continue fighting it.

Why this matters: The UK's controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda sets a concerning precedent and raises serious questions about the country's commitment to international human rights obligations. The policy's implementation and legal challenges will be closely watched, as it could have far-reaching implications for the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK and beyond.

While the bill has now been approved, further legal challenges are expected to potentially delay the implementation of the deportation flights. The government has stated that it will not send those eligible under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy to Rwanda. The deal is expected to cost £1.8m for each of the first 300 deportees, raising concerns about its effectiveness and value for money. The government is prepared to ignore the European Court of Human Rights if it tries to block the deportations, with a spokesperson stating, "No foreign court will stop us."

Key Takeaways

  • UK passes bill allowing deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda.
  • PM Sunak stakes political future on deterring Channel migrant crossings.
  • Plan faces widespread criticism from rights groups and UN, legal challenges.
  • Deportation plan could set concerning precedent for asylum seeker treatment.
  • Government prepared to ignore European court if it blocks deportations.