Reports

VOICES Network Ambassadors on the Safety of Rwanda Bill


Published on Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

Reports

VOICES Network Ambassadors on the Safety of Rwanda Bill


Published on Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

 

As people with lived experience of migration and navigating the UK asylum system, we have shared these key points on the UK Government’s Safety of Rwanda Bill, everyone is welcome to use them for raising awareness. These have been contributed by VOICES Network Ambassadors based in Scotland, Wales and England. 

  1. Asylum seekers should not be sent to Rwanda, a country that is still healing from genocide. Compassion, empathy, and fair treatment are what vulnerable individuals need. Our claims must be handled with justice and timeliness, as is our human right.  

  2. For people from the LGBTQ+ community, Rwanda is not a safe country as they face abuse on a daily basis. Rwandan authorities rounded up and arbitrarily detained over a dozen gay and transgender people, sex workers, street children, and others in the months before a planned June 2021 high-profile international conference. People will have to hide their sexuality in Rwanda and will not be free, it is as good as going back home or to another country where people would need to flee persecution and homophobia for who they are or who they love

  3. It is disconcerting to witness how adamant the government is on insisting on forcing this law to pass. It has been refuted not only by the ECHR, but was also found not to be compatible with UK domestic law. With the fractures to the Bill, it is also evident that it is not sustainable either morally, financially, or operationally. Having instead a better structured and efficient asylum system is the most important thing; it is a humane approach where asylum seekers will be recognised and provided with safe routes to arrive and make their claims. The Bill also contains numerous contradictions to international human rights law

  4. People seeking asylum have been forced to flee their countries for reasons that are beyond their control. We’ve never imagined and had no idea that such devastation would continue to happen even in the country where we seek refuge! I call on the government to think deeply about how to protect the lives of people who need their families to live in peace and security by enhancing current and introducing more safe routes for families in the UK. 

  5. Ambassadors are concerned that once in Rwanda people seeking asylum will be forgotten, they will not have the same human rights protections or access to language support, health care, safeguarding, support with their asylum claim and particularly with their mental health. If they are moved to rural areas, they may not even have access to a safe water supply.  

  6. We do not feel that the decision of the UK government to send asylum seekers to a third-party country is humane, and we find it hard to believe that after everything including the recent supreme court decision the UK government still wants to send people in need of protection to Rwanda. The UK government at this time should be focussed on more pressing matters affecting citizens and getting its priorities right instead of focusing on strangers running away from death traps, when all they want is to be alive and live in dignity. We urge the UK government to strongly reconsider their Rwanda plan and put more energy in the broken asylum system, for example through the fast-tracking specific cases from countries with a very high grant-rate, speeding up the process of family reunion applications and giving people seeking asylum the right to work. 

  7. Forced relocation to a culturally unfamiliar environment can exacerbate psychological distress, disrupt vital support networks, limit access to legal representation, and create a perpetual state of uncertainty about the future. This approach disregards the well-being and dignity of vulnerable individuals seeking refuge, highlighting the need for a more humane and compassionate asylum policy. 

  8. Sending people to Rwanda will cost, per person £169,000 – an astronomical amount of public funds

  9. Some of us have had to flee the DRC Congo, with whom Rwanda is still in conflict, decimating neighbouring villages and claiming our land. no one wants to speak about the genocide Rwanda is causing in DRC. No one has ever held Kagame and his government accountable for their crimes in DRC and it saddens me greatly me to see the willingness of the UK government to collaborate with mass murderers only for the sake of winning elections based on immigration! This also shows that the UK is not willing to help the Congolese secure their lands and claim back our territorial integrity. The UK claims to want to toughen their borders and make it safer but Rwanda has not had safe borders since 1990.

  10. Proposing a bill to counteract a Supreme Court decision and declaring Rwanda as always secure raises important concerns. Such a move could limit the judiciary’s ability to assess new evidence, potentially jeopardizing fairness. Remembering Quinton Halsham’s warnings about the dangers of a government leaning towards dictatorship, it’s vital to uphold the balance of power outlined in our constitution. While parliamentary authority holds weight, it must be guided by the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Deliberate thought is necessary to safeguard our democratic processes and ensure the integrity of our legal system.  

 

Thank you in advance for using your power to amplify the voices of people with lived experience of seeking protection in the UK. 

The VOICES Network Ambassadors 

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