UK's Rwanda asylum seeker plans 'undercut' human rights: UN

AFP , Monday 19 Feb 2024

Britain's legislation on its controversial plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing undercuts basic rights principles, the UN human rights chief said Monday.

Volker T rk
File photo: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker T rk briefs member states on his recent trip to the Middle East during an informal briefing, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. AP


Volker Turk said the legislative moves by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's goverment to facilitate removals to Rwanda ran contrary to the basic principles of the rule of law and risk delivering a serious blow to human rights.

"The combined effects of this bill, attempting to shield government action from standard legal scrutiny, directly undercut basis human rights principles," Turk said in a statement.

The British government introduced the so-called Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill late last year, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled that deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda is illegal under international law.

If passed after ongoing scrutiny in both houses of parliament, the legislation would compel British judges to treat Rwanda as a safe third country.

It would also give government ministers powers to disregard sections of international and British human rights legislation.

Turk called for the bill to be reconsidered.

"I urge the UK government to take all necessary steps to ensure full compliance with the UK's international legal obligations, and to uphold the country's proud history of effective, independent judicial scrutiny," he said.

"Such a stance is today more vital than ever."

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