19 December 2022

Rwanda plan will ‘do nothing to stop dangerous Channel crossings’

19 December 2022

Campaigners have called on the Government to completely abandon sending migrants to Rwanda after judges ruled the plan was lawful.

Opposition politicians, charities and other organisations lined up to condemn the multimillion-pound deal, arguing it will “do nothing” to stop Channel crossings.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper branded the Government’s Rwanda plan “unworkable”, “unethical” and “extortionately expensive”, adding that it was a “damaging distraction from the urgent action the Government should be taking to go after the criminal gangs and sort out the asylum system”.

Amnesty International UK said the Rwanda plan should be “abandoned in its entirety” and called on Home Secretary Suella Braverman to “stop playing politics with people’s lives and get down to the serious task of fixing the disastrously dysfunctional asylum system and policies that she recklessly adopted from her predecessor.”

Refugee and migrant rights director Steve Valdez-Symonds said the charity “remains gravely concerned that the Government’s Rwanda deal profoundly undermines international refugee law and rides roughshod over the rights of people seeking asylum in the UK”.

He added: “Transporting people thousands of miles away to Rwanda – a country with its own asylum and human rights challenges – is expensive, unjust and deeply cruel.”

Christina Marriott, British Red Cross director of policy, said the “offshoring of human beings should play no part in our asylum system. It will do little to prevent people from risking their lives to reach safety”, and urged the Government instead to focus on establishing safe and legal routes for asylum seekers.

Freedom from Torture’s policy advocacy director Steve Crawshaw described the ruling as “deeply troubling” and said the policy was “terrible”.

Sending migrants to Rwanda is “immoral, ineffective and incredibly costly for taxpayers”, the Liberal Democrats said, warning it will “do nothing to stop the dangerous Channel crossings or combat people smuggling and human trafficking; instead it will give criminal gangs more power and profits”.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said the plans will “damage the UK’s reputation as a country that values human rights”, adding: “Treating people who are in search of safety like human cargo and shipping them off to another country is a cruel policy that will cause great human suffering.”

Josie Naughton, chief executive of migrant charity Choose Love, said the ruling “flies in the face of international commitments and accountability”, adding that campaigners will “continue to fight” for the “human right to seek asylum”.

She said: “A dark cloud is now hanging over the UK’s once celebrated record on human rights. Hostility has come at the expense of compassion, and the country is turning its back on the principle that all should have rights to live in freedom and without pain. It sets a dangerous precedent for evading international and moral commitments towards those seeking asylum.”

Katy Chakrabortty, head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam, said: “Just because something is legal does not make it humane.

“We need a reversal of this barbaric policy, and the creation of more safe and legal routes for those fleeing conflict and persecution to the UK.”

But Boris Johnson, who was prime minister when the deal was signed, said: “It is one of the only humane ways of dealing with the vile people trafficking gangs who are exploiting so many people.”

Then-home secretary Priti Patel urged ministers to “press ahead” with implementing the plan, adding: “No single policy will stop the Channel crossings, but this important policy will save lives, help break the business model of the criminal gangs and prevent asylum abuse.”

Meanwhile, Conservative MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke took aim at “left-wing organisations” and said they “need to stop using endless appeals to overturn democracy and waste taxpayers’ money. It’s time they accepted the determination of UK courts”.

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