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Our CEO's statement on the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act becoming law

Today the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act became law in the UK, barely four months from its introduction into Parliament by the UK Government and despite the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights saying it “seriously hinders the rule of law in the UK and sets a perilous precedent globally”.

The Act is in response to the UK Supreme Court ruling that the Government's Rwanda policy is unlawful. The Supreme Court found there are substantial reasons for believing that people seeking safety in the UK would face a real risk of serious ill-treatment due to refoulement if they were removed to Rwanda.  Refoulement happens when people seeking safety from significant danger in their own country are sent back there (or to another country) and they will likely be harmed.

However, today's Act makes it a matter of UK law that Rwanda is to be considered a safe country, irrespective of the factual situation or evidence that any particular person is at risk of serious harm.

Speaking on the day of the Act becoming law, Sanchita Hosali, BIHR's CEO said:

"In November we welcomed the judgment of our Supreme Court finding that the UK Government cannot absolve itself of the legal duty to prevent serious ill-treatment of people by quite literally shipping them somewhere else and forgetting about them. We were clear that that those with public power here in the UK must obey the law, including upholding fundamental protections against ill-treatment, to make this a reality for all people.

What we have with the Safety of Rwanda Act is a world away from that reality. In fact, the Act itself now attempts to state what reality is, that Rwanda is a safe country no matter any evidence that may show it is not. The Act seeks to remove the ability of UK officials and courts to consider the facts. It explicitly seeks to remove the protection of the Human Rights Act for people who have fled violence and persecution, no matter their situation, be they a child or trafficking victim.

The path of carving out exceptions to human rights protections here in the UK is nothing to celebrate, and has a destination which should scare us all. Our human rights are universal, for all people, not gifts to be discarded at the political whims of those with power."

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