Help us challenge the shameful Rwanda deal
Help us challenge the shameful Rwanda deal
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Care4Calais are challenging this Government’s proposals to forcibly remove people seeking UK to Rwanda, a country with a notorious history of human right abuses. We’re bringing this claim alongside the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and Detention Action.
PCS represent civil servants charged with identifying and facilitating the removal of refugees and partnered with us in our successful challenge to the Home Office’s previous policy to pushback small boats in the Channel. Detention Action support and advocate for people in immigration detention, as we expect those identified for transfer to Rwanda to first be detained.
Why are we doing this?
The government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is a threat to lives of refugees, the international reputation of the United Kingdom and an unnecessary drain on the finances of British people. From the suspiciously sparse detail presented so far, it is already clear that the plan poses multiple risks.
Innocent people will be needlessly and cruelly traumatised. Refugees who have already suffered much at home and on their journeys will now be forced on 4000-mile journeys to an unfamiliar destination. This will cause immeasurable fear, anguish and distress.
Refugees will not be safe. Rwanda is a dictatorship that imprisons, tortures and murders people who speak out against the government. International human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have raised serious concerns. It would be impossible to ensure the safety of people the UK intends to send there.
Rwanda does not have a strong record on human rights. Freedom of expression is severely curtailed, with academics, journalists, bloggers and YouTubers among those imprisoned; the right to privacy is abused, with thousands of people believed to be spied on by the authorities; and Amnesty International has documented widespread corruption which frustrates individual access to justice.
British taxpayers will pay more. Surprisingly, the government has not costed the exercise – although the reluctance to release figures may be telling in itself. Australia’s notorious offshore scheme reportedly cost more than £5bn.
It is essential that the UK government is held to account. A democratic government’s decisions must be transparent, and ministers must be accountable, so that we know what is being done to us, and to others in our name. If governments are not challenged, they may try to act illegally; this was amply demonstrated when the UK government was forced to withdraw its illegal pushbacks policy when we challenged them in court.
Sending asylum seekers to Rwanda would breach the UK’s legal obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Refugee Convention. The government cannot act with impunity, these proposals violate the most fundamental tenets of domestic and international law.
It cannot be allowed to happen, and the Government must be held to account for its decisions, which should be made with transparency and decency, not without the opportunity for public scrutiny.
What do we know about the policy?
We know there is a policy. It was announced on 14 April. However, the Secretary of State has not published it.
So what are we challenging?
First, we’re challenging the lack of transparency. The Home Office has failed to disclosed her policy determining which individuals will be considered suitable for removal. It is fundamental to the rule of law that this policy should be made known. The reason for this is simple; to ensure that people can see how, when and in what ways a policy will affect them. In this case, where the supposed policy risks removing people to a country where they may be at real risk of human rights abuses and harm, it is all the more important that the public knows who will be sent to Rwanda and on what basis, and what safeguards exist to protect lives.
Second, we are challenging the way in which this plan will unlawfully penalise refugees based on their irregular entry. The proposal is likely to breach a myriad of human rights obligations under both domestic and international law, including the principle of non-refoulement and basic protections against inhuman and degrading treatment.
Care4Calais supports refugees in northern France who simply want to claim their right of asylum in the UK. These are the people most often vilified by this Government’s anti refugee policies. Evidence shows that 98% of these people claim asylum on arrival in the UK, and between 70-80% of them are granted it, having passed through a system which is prejudiced against them. They tell us their stories of escaping the worst horrors in the world and making incredibly brave journeys to arrive here. We know they have lost friends and relatives in conflicts and on the journey, and suffered persecution and torture at home; to us it is cruel and callous in the extreme to consider that the UK might put our brave and resilient friends through the further trauma of anther deportation.
When they arrive in the UK we help them with donated aid, access to legal and medical services and guidance through their daily lives in the UK. We work in 147 hotels across England and Wales supporting over 8.000 asylum seekers who are housed by the Government. We have a group of over 5,000 volunteers and we are supported by over 100,000 public supporters and donors. The vast majority of volunteers and supporters are British citizens who care about how refugees are treated by our Government and who give up their time and their money to support them and to stand up for their rights. Many hundreds of our volunteers host refugees in their homes.
We know the fear and distress the Rwanda announcement has caused; however, we also know that it will not act as a ‘deterrent’ to people who have already been forced to risk their lives. This proposal risks our reputation as a safe haven where people fleeing conflict and persecution can live in peace and stability.
The legal team
We have instructed the Public Law Team at Duncan Lewis Solicitors which has an excellent track record of bringing complex judicial review claims that are of wider public importance. We recently instructed them in a challenge to the Home Office’s ‘pushback’ policy, which resulted in the Home Office’s withdrawal of the policy. The Duncan Lewis legal team are Toufique Hossain, Lewis Kett, Sophie Lucas, Charlotte McLean and Manini Menon.
Duncan Lewis have instructed a formidable counsel team comprising:
- Raza Husain QC
- Chris Buttler QC
- Jason Pobjoy
- Eleanor Mitchell
- Katy Sheridan
- Rayan Fakhoury
Why are your donations needed?
We are raising funds for our own legal costs, and to protect us from paying the Home Office’s legal fees if the case gets to court and we don’t win. Any unused funds will be allocated according to Crowd Justice’s Unused Funds policy.
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