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Charities hail victory for refugees as government loses Rwanda case

This news post is 6 months old

The Supreme Court ruled against the UK Government on Wednesday.

Charities and campaigners have welcomed a monumental Supreme Court ruling against the UK Government’s plan to move asylum seekers to Rwanda. 

On Wednesday the country’s highest court ruled the plan, outlined by the Conservatives, unlawful following an appeal led by charities. 

Last April ministers announced a five-year trial that would have seen asylum seekers sent to Rwanda with a one-way ticket. 

No asylum seekers were sent to Rwanda, and no flights took place following the beginnings of a legal challenge. 

Judges argued the plan to deport migrants who arrived in the UK across the Channel was not compatible with our obligations under national and international agreements.

The decision was welcomed by a number of groups, including the UN’s refugee agency. 

Steve Smith, CEO of refugee charity Care4Calais - who were a claimant in the initial legal challenge against the Rwanda plan and continues to support the individuals claimants in the case - said this represented “a victory for humanity”.

He added: “This grubby, cash-for-people deal was always cruel and immoral but, most importantly, it is unlawful.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on this cruel policy, and the only receipts the Government has are the pain and torment inflicted on the thousands of survivors of war, torture and modern slavery they have targeted with it. The responsibility for the trauma, the incidences of self-harm, and the attempted suicides this policy has caused, today lies as a great weight on the shoulders of every Government Minister who has supported it.

“Today’s judgement should bring this shameful mark on the UK’s history to a close. Never again should our Government seek to shirk our country's responsibility to offer sanctuary to those caught up in horrors around the world. All the architects of the Rwanda plan may be gone but, unless the Government changes course and introduces a policy of safe passage, then the rest should follow them out the door. There can be no more time wasted attacking the vulnerable when all they seek is our help.”

Other groups echoed this sentiment, including the Scottish Refugee Council. 

They wrote in a statement that the plan was part of a wider, deeply troubling hostile environment towards people who have come to the UK seeking sanctuary.

Chief executive, Sabir Zazai, said: “We’re relieved at this potentially life-saving decision from the Supreme Court. Given the evidence of Rwanda’s failure to comply with human rights obligations, it is shocking to think a UK government ever proposed this plan.

“People have had this threat hanging over them for a whole year. We’ve seen an increase in anxiety and distress that can be traced back directly to this.

“It’s also been a huge waste of government time and resources that should have been invested in making the current system fairer and more effective.”

Other groups across the UK shared similar feelings. Katy Chakrabortty, head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam GB, said: “It will be a great relief for many that the Supreme Court has ruled against this inhumane scheme which sought to punish rather than protect those fleeing conflict and persecution.

“The government now needs to look again at its asylum policies. The only solution to stop people risking their lives on dangerous small-boat crossings is for the government to open more safe and legal routes for those seeking asylum.”

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) were also claimants against the government in this case, with their workers affected by the decision, raising concerns in solidarity with refugees who were being subjected to this inhumanity.

General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “PCS wholeheartedly welcomes this decision from the Supreme Court. But we still recognise that our campaigning against this government’s dangerous anti-refugee agenda is far from over.

"It is not refugees that have driven down wages and starved public services of the resources they need – it is the fault of successive Tory governments that have overseen a sustained attack on living standards.

“The only way to protect human life and prevent people from drowning in the Channel is to give them safe passage, which we call on the government to adopt.”

Scottish refugee charity Positive Action in Housing described the ruling as “ a victory for those fighting for human rights and compassion”, while third sector coalition Together with Refugees thanked those involved in mobilising against the policy. 

They wrote on social media: “Today's ruling against the Rwanda scheme is down to the tens of thousands of ordinary people who stood up for compassion. Together we are strong.

“The UK is tired of divisive and hostile policies. Now is the time for a fair, kind and workable system for refugees.”



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Katie Larsen
6 months ago

Not really a victory-the government can simply change the law so that Rwanda can be used, moreover the ruling didn't dispute the principle, just the safeness of the country of deportation.

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