Rwanda Bill ignores history, isn’t humane

Rwanda Bill ignores history, isn’t humane

The United Kingdom (UK) has codified the xenophobic tendencies of a section of its citizens into legislation. Under the Rwanda Bill, refugees deemed to have entered the UK illegally will be deported to Rwanda, against payments from the former to house them for “processing”. Even if their asylum requests are found to be genuine, they can’t return to the UK and must stay in the African nation or move to another country that will accept them.

(FILES) Migrants travel in an inflatable boat across the English Channel, bound for Dover on the south coast of England. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on April 22, 2024, promised to begin deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda in coming months as part of a plan to deter arrivals that has sparked controversy. “We are ready, plans are in place and these flights will go, come what may,” Sunak told a Downing Street news conference, hours before parliament is set to approve a key part of the proposal. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP)(AFP)

The ruling Conservative Party is pandering to the misplaced anxieties of a subset of its voters, in the hope of propping up its dwindling electoral appeal before the elections due this year. It is anybody’s guess if the party — or the UK — will gain from the Bill. For one, the Bill won’t deter people whose desperation to escape a precarious life in their homeland pushes them to undertake extremely fraught journeys. Two, it is not going to satiate the xenophobes — the number that Rwanda has agreed to house is a fraction of the multitudes crossing the English Channel. In any case, as data from the UK government shows, the population of legal migrants has risen sharply, fuelling anxieties about jobs, culture, and a host of other things among locals.

Most important, however, is that the law is patently inhuman: A similar but non-legislated arrangement was struck down last year by the UK Supreme Court for violating the European Convention on Human Rights, of which the UK is a signatory as a member of the Council of Europe. The arrangement with Rwanda, by no means novel given a set of rich nations having similar pacts with low-income nations (including former colonies), reeks of an exclusionary mindset that goes against the tenets of an open society, promised by a liberal State.

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