USCRI Condemns the UK Bill to Revive Plans to Send Asylum Seekers to Rwanda

By USCRI December 15, 2023

The emergency bill introduced by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would have the UK shirking its international responsibility to provide safe haven to people seeking asylum. The bill revives a plan to send asylum seekers arriving in the United Kingdom (UK) to Rwanda for probable processing.

Last month, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (UKSC) ruled that it is unlawful to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their asylum claims considered there instead of the UK, citing concerns of a risk of refoulement. In response, Sunak created a new treaty with Rwanda and brought forward emergency legislation designed to override legal obstacles that would stop deportations. Notably, the new treaty would allow an asylum seeker to remain in Rwanda even if their claim is denied. In addition, the emergency legislation seeks to establish Rwanda as a safe country despite the UKSC’s conclusion otherwise.

On December 12, the bill passed the first vote in the House of Commons. The bill will now go to committee stage sometime in the new year and will be considered by the whole House of Commons rather than by a dedicated public bill committee, allowing all members of parliament to take part in the debate and vote. The legislation will then undergo a third reading before being passed to the House of Lords, where it is expected to receive strong opposition.

“Governments should not be wasting time trying to find legal loopholes to avoid their obligations to uphold asylum rights,” USCRI CEO and President Eskinder Negash said. “Instead, they should work towards real solutions that prioritize human dignity and life. There is still time to prevent this inhumane bill from becoming law.”

USCRI believes that the right to seek asylum is fundamental and urges UK members of parliament to reconsider the emergency bill and prioritize asylum rights, ensuring the safety and dignity of displaced individuals. Moreover, USCRI strongly encourages other global leaders to also safeguard these rights and comply with established standards of international protection.

USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

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