Late on Monday evening, the Safety of Rwanda Bill was passed. Now set to become UK law, this legislation will enable the government to forcibly expel people seeking asylum - including children and survivors of trafficking and modern day slavery - to Rwanda, despite the very real risk of human rights abuses, or the threat of being returned to the countries individuals originally fled from. The bill sets a concerning global precedent; shifting our responsibility for refugee protection and outsourcing our asylum system to another country.

The Safety of Rwanda Bill demonstrates our government’s complete lack of regard for the rule of law. Despite the Supreme Court ruling last November that Rwanda is unsafe on grounds of the risk of refoulement, as this bill passes into law, we will be living in a world where unsafe has become safe, wrong has become right - all because this government belligerently declares it to be so.

But passing a law does not make something right.

This is a surreal and alarming moment. At Boaz our thoughts are with all those we support, and those we don’t, for whom this news is already causing tangible anxiety. Our support workers have shared this week the distress that several of the people they are working with have faced in recent days by phone calls from the Home Office offering them money to go to Rwanda and, in one case at least, indicating that the person either prepare to leave the UK voluntarily, or face removal to Rwanda. These phone calls are clearly designed to intimidate and frighten vulnerable people who often already have significant mental health issues.

Our thoughts are also with the families of the three men, woman and child who lost their lives in the Channel this week, just hours after the bill was passed. We have said this before, but it bears repeating: desperate people are forced to make desperate decisions, and this bill will not deter people from doing what they can to escape persecution, terror or misery. Furthermore, people smugglers do not board boats. As pointed out by Lou Calvey from Asylum Matters at the time, desperate people who cannot afford to pay the smugglers often steer the boat in exchange for their passage, which means the people smugglers at the heart of this trade don’t die and aren’t arrested.

For a long time, it has been clear that policies and laws that are supposed to exist to protect every member of our society can instead be weaponised to erode the fundamental human rights of certain groups of people. Along with the Nationality & Borders Act and the Illegal Migration Act, the Safety of Rwanda Act will join a catalogue of legislation that shames the UK.

It is clear that in an election year, the Safety of Rwanda Bill and the people it targets is being used as an attempt to manipulate the public into believing that people seeking sanctuary in the UK are to blame for this country’s problems. It is not lost on us what the government is trying to achieve through the optic of images of traumatised people being forcibly taken onto a plane against their will. It is a cruel, performative smokescreen that disavows the government of responsibility for people seeking sanctuary and, crucially, denies those people their humanity or right to life.

What this bill, and the Illegal Migration Act, does is stoke further divisions within our society that are being dangerously co-opted by the far right. We can ill afford this to happen. We must stand against this bill, stand against the violent and racialised nature of our asylum system, and demand that a person’s right to asylum and right to life be upheld. 

Please take action by signing this petition by our colleagues at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) to repeal the Safety of Rwanda Bill.

The Boaz Trust is registered in England and Wales under charity number 1110344 at Kath Locke Centre, 123 Moss Lane East, Manchester M15 5DD. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website.
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