Please see below statement from Refugees International Senior Advocate for Europe Daphne Panayotatos:
“The United Kingdom’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda violates the fundamental right of people to seek asylum. By neglecting its obligations, the UK risks causing significant harm to individuals, separating families, and setting a dangerous precedent that exploits lower-resourced countries and undermines the international protection regime.
Refugees International welcomes the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to halt implementation of the plan pending further domestic judicial proceedings. But we are deeply concerned by suggestions from British officials that the UK government may in response seek to limit the jurisdiction of the Court.
The UK plan seeks to target asylum seekers who arrive in the UK without authorization. But such differential treatment for one category of people fleeing persecution is unfair and unjustified, and undermines access to protection. Moreover, sending asylum seekers to a country with which they may have no connection—and which has a questionable human rights record—conflicts with both international refugee law and long-established guidance on the application of the “safe third country” concept. Failing to even consider asylum claims before expelling people puts individuals at risk of mistreatment or refoulement.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned the plan conflicts with States’ duties under the UN Refugee Convention, which obliges them to share responsibility for granting international protection to those in need. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers already live in Rwanda, most in camps with limited opportunities for social and economic integration. The UK, by contrast, is capable of conducting the requisite individual assessments of asylum claims it receives and hosting those who qualify for refugee status. Its willing reception of Ukrainian refugees proves it has the capacity to welcome.
Indeed, the UK’s plan is the latest, egregious example of States externalizing their asylum by shifting responsibilities to other countries with more limited capacity to receive people at risk of persecution in their countries of origin. Past experience shows these practices are ineffective, costly, and inhumane.
The United Kingdom should immediately withdraw its plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda or any other third country. It must fulfill its moral and legal obligations to provide access to asylum and share—not shift—responsibility for providing international protection.”
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Refugees International’s VP for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at email@example.com.
PHOTO CAPTION: A British police officer stands guard on the beach of Dungeness, England, on June 15, 2022, as Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) staff help migrants disembark from one of their lifeboats. (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)