New UK immigration law is in its final step of being realized, sending asylum seekers to Rwanda to get their asylum requests processed, with the first flight with 15 Syrian refugees set to leave this June 14.
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According to recent reports, 15 Syrian asylum seekers in the UK have received the governmental notice for a deportation flight to Rwanda in two weeks. These individuals are currently held in a UK detention facility where they received the removal direction letter from the UK Home Department. Human Rights Activist and Author Hassan Akkad reported recently that this group of Asylum seekers is currently protesting by carrying out a hunger strike.
Targeted by this new deportation practice are all the asylum seekers who reached the UK by crossing the English Channel, which is considered an “illegal entrance.” Since the declaration of this new deportation act in April, around 4,800 people seeking asylum from Afghanistan, Syria, Chad, and Iraq have entered the UK by crossing the English Channel.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 14) states that everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution in other countries. Furthermore, the 1951 UN Refugee Convention (and its 1967 Protocol) protects refugees from returning to countries where they risk being persecuted. Host countries must make sure that refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants are safe and are not tortured, discriminated against, or left living in poverty.
Civil society organizations such as Freedom from Torture and Detention Action have raised concerns about the legal and security conditions of asylum seekers in Rwanda. Furthermore, access to medical and mental health treatment is also an obstacle. As Amnesty International uncovered, Rwanda has a record of abusing the right to a fair trial as well as a history of unlawful torture practices. The Human Rights Watch documented in 2022 that several Rwandan refugees were being forcibly disappeared or killed when they returned to Rwanda. Additionally, in 2018, several Congolese Refugees who participated in a demonstration against funding cuts by the UN and their precarious living conditions were murdered by Rwandan police. It is evident that Rwanda cannot be categorized as a safe country for Asylum Seekers.
This new deportation practice is another step further toward the complete externalization and securitization of European borders to prevent refugees and migrants from entering European countries.
ACHRS strongly condemns this UK deportation policy and the bilateral agreement between the UK and Rwanda. ACHRS recommends that the UK adheres to international asylum law and grants those seeking asylum protection. ACHRS supports the Syrian asylum seekers in their protest against this unlawful practice.