Fatal Channel tragedy as Home Office pushes forward with Rwanda Plan

1 March 2024

This week, one person has died and a further two are missing after attempting to seek asylum in the UK. The Home Office has been warned, time and time again, of the impacts of increasingly hostile policies and yet still, they pursue the failed, unworkable and inhumane Rwanda plan.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights only a few weeks ago vehemently condemned the UK Government’s attempted amendments to the Safety of Rwanda Bill. Alongside a chorus of experts, academics, third-sector organisations and people seeking asylum, they highlighted the fundamental incompatibility of the Bill with UK human rights obligations. As Amnesty International stated, the Bill is an ‘abuse of the rule of law’.  Joanna Cherry MP, chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights stated:  

“This bill is designed to remove vital safeguards against persecution and human rights abuses, including the fundamental right to access a court. Hostility to human rights is at its heart and no amendments can salvage it.” 

This week, a report from the IPPR has emerged suggesting that there will be likely around 50,000 people left in a permanent backlog by the pursuit of the Rwanda plan. Without allowing those arriving access to our asylum system, and without a workable and humane alternative, tens of thousands will be left in limbo.  

As can be seen from multiple international examples, policies that are based on restrictive, punitive and hostile measures are ineffective in achieving their policy goals, costly to taxpayers and inhumane. The ‘stop the boats’ slogan that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak displays proudly across podiums and banners, reflects the policy campaigning of former Australian Prime Ministers. Under Australia’s policies, thousands of people seeking asylum have been subject to indefinite offshore detention in ‘prison camps’ across Christmas Island, Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Countless research papers, academic articles and investigations of these camps and policies have reiterated how they violate basic human rights and rules of international law, and do not achieve their own objectives. Researchers from the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law critically analysed Australia’s offshore processing policy and its failure to achieve its border protection, humanitarian and foreign policy aims. It did not ‘stop the boats’, ‘save lives at sea’ or ‘break the business model’ of people smuggling networks.  

As the fatal tragedy in the Channel this week, the history of deterrent strategies in Australia and the multiple reports have shown us, the Illegal Migration Act is set to cause disaster and crisis to people seeking asylum. Whilst families and friends of those missing in the Channel are left in limbo, unable to grieve, all efforts must be applied to stop this Safety of Rwanda Bill and the barrage of associated hostile policies. 

Maeve (Advocacy Volunteer) and Iona Taylor (Advocacy and Campaigns Lead).

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