Category Archives: Asylum

Why would the UK give asylum to refugees from Rwanda if that country is safe?

Rishi Sunak – stop the boats: is he trying to trick us, claiming it is safe to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda while GRANTING asylum to people from that country who are endangered by the regime there?

The Tory government’s argument that Rwanda is a safe country to which the UK can send “illegal” migrants has been called into question after it was revealed that the Home Office gave asylum in this country to refugees from there.

While Rishi Sunak and a succession of Home Secretaries have been arguing in court and Parliament that Rwanda is a safe place to send asylum-seekers, they were also giving four Rwandans refugee status in the UK.

The in-private finding that their fears of persecution were “well-founded” undermines public claims that the country is safe; if people indigenous to that country are in danger there, how can foreign nationals be safe?

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The revelation, after an investigation by The Observer and Led By Donkeys, raises fresh questions about UK police ahead of this week’s debate in the House of Lords of the Rwanda Bill that claims Rwanda is “unequivocally” safe.

The investigation has also seen details of a dossier compiled by a western intelligence agency that accused Rwanda of orchestrating a dirty tricks campaign to smear and undermine critics including those based in the UK. It is further claimed that a London PR firm set up social media accounts to target a British author, but the company has denied this.

One of the Rwandans was granted asylum by the Home Office on 12 October, the day after the government concluded a case in the supreme court arguing the country was safe.

The refugee was a supporter of an opposition party led by Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who is campaigning for justice for colleagues who have been killed or disappeared. The Rwandan also witnessed alleged atrocities committed by president Paul Kagame’s forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

He and his wife were granted asylum with the Home Office stating in a letter: “We accept that you have a well-founded fear of persecution and therefore cannot return to your country Rwanda, and we have recognised that you are a refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention.”

The refugee, who still fears for his safety, said: “Britain should stop pretending this is a safe place. Find some other excuse for sending people to Rwanda but don’t say it’s because the place is ‘safe’, because that’s just insulting to people like me.”

More information is available in the Observer article (link below).

Will it be enough to foil the Tory government’s attempt to say Rwanda is safe? Probably not, due to the huge Tory majority in the House of Commons.

But it may be enough to persuade voters – during an election year – that we have a government that says one thing in public and does another in private. And we don’t want liars and hypocrites like that.

Source: Revealed: UK granted asylum to Rwandan refugees while arguing country was safe | Migration | The Guardian


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Keir Starmer and Labour’s big idea for ‘illegal’ migration is as bad as the Tories’

Keir Starmer: yet again, he has opened his mouth only to put his foot in it. And he is the favourite to form a government after the next general election – but only because, while he certainly appears to be incompetent, the Tories under Rishi Sunak have proven themselves to be both incompetent and corrupt. Who else can we support instead?

Keir Starmer has come under fire over a plan to process migrants’ asylum claims in other countries – “offshore”.

Here‘s the idea, as explained by The Guardian:

Keir Starmer said this month that he would look at offshore schemes where migrants are processed in a third country “usually en route to their country of destination”, saying that other European countries are also considering this.

The Times reported on Monday that Labour was also looking at all options for offshore processing of asylum claims as long as British officials did the assessment and migrants were not barred from claiming asylum if they had arrived by illegal means – unlike the government’s Rwanda scheme.

The report states that “charities, the SNP and the leftwing pressure group Momentum have said it would be a dangerous path to go down”.

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Alison Thewliss of the SNP said, “Offshoring our fellow human beings is inhumane and immoral. The Labour party should be ruling out Rwanda-style plans, not helping to enable them.”

A Momentum spokesperson said it was “disturbing” that Labour was reportedly considering such a plan… “As migration experts have said, the way to minimise perilous small boat crossings is to expand safe routes for refugees. Instead of aping inhumane Tory policies like offshoring asylum seekers, Keir Starmer should be standing up for progressive values and migrants’ rights.”

Steve Smith, the chief executive of Care4Calais, said: “The colour of their party rosettes may be different but it seems their morals aren’t. Outsourcing our international obligations to other countries is a shameful policy where everyone loses.

“It does nothing to protect people who are fleeing war, torture and persecution. Just like the outsourcing racket in public services, UK taxpayers’ money will be sent to other countries for no return.”

He said the answer was obvious: open safe routes for refugees to claim asylum in the UK.

Starmer’s plan has been rubbished on the social media too:

Once again, Keir Starmer makes himself and his silly Substitute Tory Party look ridiculous.

But once again, he leaves those of us who have a political conscience wrestling with the big question for 2024:

Who do we ask to form a government, when neither of the most powerful and well-publicised parties should be allowed to?


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Suella Braverman has deliberately endangered a lawyer acting for asylum-seekers

Face of evil? Suella Braverman’s dossier attacking immigration lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie seems to be not only dishonest and illegal, but also racist.

Let’s see if I’ve got this right: the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom has deliberately released a dossier filled with lies in order to get the media to harass an immigration lawyer, thereby putting her in danger. Is that correct?

I refer to a four-page document created by Suella Braverman (or ordered by her), and sent to right wing papers the Telegraph, Mail, Sun and Express.

It contained a series of falsehoods about Jacqueline McKenzie, head of immigration and asylum at the law firm Leigh Day, which she herself described as follows, in an article for The Guardian:

Someone had drawn a diagram linking Keir Starmer to anyone who challenged the Conservatives’ Rwanda plan. There was mention of a case in which I represented a Jamaican man who had lived in the UK from the age of nine and was facing deportation. It said that I was a hired adviser on race to Starmer, when in fact I am an unpaid volunteer on a working group set up by Labour to look at race disparities across a number of indicators, just as the Conservatives did with the Sewell report.

It also “outed” me as a trustee of Detention Action, a well-respected NGO supporting people in immigration detention centres, presumably because the organisation challenged the Rwanda scheme in the courts. The dossier did not mention that I had become a trustee after that challenge. I did represent a man who was one of seven shackled on the tarmac waiting to be flown to Rwanda before the flight was grounded by the courts. I feel no shame: a doctor in the immigration detention centre confirmed that my client displayed signs of being a victim of torture.

A statement in support of Ms McKenzie by her colleagues at Leigh Day points out:

Omitted from the briefing was Jacqueline’s involvement on another group chaired by Priti Patel MP on the Windrush Scandal and the 90% of her work which is focused on legal support for victims of the Windrush Scandal.

Another Guardian report quoted the actual Tory document:

The party’s document, which had the heading, “Revealed: senior Labour advisor is lefty lawyer blocking Rwanda deportations”, sought to highlight McKenzie’s links to the party and her work on immigration cases, she said.

The Tory dossier said: “Just last year, she [McKenzie] helped a Jamaican criminal lodge last-minute appeal to deportation because of his high blood pressure. The foreign-born crook had just served an eight-year prison sentence for kidnapping.

“[Labour leader Keir] Starmer has been keen to distance himself from previous remarks and convince voters that he can be trusted on immigration.

“But his decision to hire lefty lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie is further proof that ‘Sir Softie’ can’t be trusted.”

A spokesperson for the Conservative Party intensified the attack in a comment for the same article, stating:

“It’s no secret that an activist blob of leftwing lawyers, dubious campaign groups and the Labour party are trying to frustrate our efforts to stop the boats and deport more foreign criminals.”

Ms McKenzie has made her opinion on the reasons for the Tory attack on her abundantly clear:

There is no doubt this story was timed to accompany the moving of asylum seekers, many traumatised, on to the Bibby Stockholm. The government attacks vulnerable people and those like myself, who represent them in order to distract from issues that the electorate prioritise: the cost-of-living crisis, the environment and the NHS.

This flagrant attack on me and my work, built on misinformation and mischaracterisation and underpinned by racism and misogyny, is a dark day for our political sphere. It represents a serious slur on the integrity and independence of thousands of hardworking and upstanding lawyers.

I’ve saved the worst for last: The attack on Ms McKenzie has put her in danger, along with those around her:

The hit job on me was vile and self-serving, and put me and those close to me at considerable risk of physical harm. I’m having to take security advice and precautions, such is the seriousness I place on ominous emails I have received.

The Tory dossier was not only full of lies; it deliberately and falsely alleged that Ms McKenzie was politically biased – a claim that has outraged members of the legal profession, not just at Leigh Day but across the UK.

According to the Leigh Day statement,

Lawyers should not be criticised for doing their jobs. People are entitled to have legal representation when faced with removal from the country, or indeed being moved to accommodation which may be unsuitable. Many of the clients represented by Jacqueline’s team have been through trauma, torture or incredible hardship. In a civilised society they should be treated with compassion and understanding as well as having the law applied accurately and fairly to the individual circumstances of their case.

While the work we do as a firm is not always popular we strive to provide access to justice to all whether that is bereaved families who need help finding answers through the inquest process, those who have been seriously injured on our roads, employees who have been discriminated against by their employers and international communities who bear the brunt of multinational corporations wreaking havoc on their local environments. This commitment to access to justice for all extends to those seeking asylum in this country or who need support with their immigration status.

We are proud of the work we do and will not be cowed by a government whose strategy appears to be to attack and demonise lawyers, and the judiciary, merely for working to ensure the laws of this country are upheld.

It is a position that the Law Society, which represents and supports solicitors across England and Wales, and the Bar Council, its counterpart organisation for barristers, fully supports:

Their full statement runs as follows:

“Everyone is entitled to legal representation, and it is a United Nations basic principle that lawyers should not be identified with the causes of their clients as a result of representing them.

“The legal community is gravely concerned by the experience of immigration solicitor Jacqueline McKenzie.

“That is why – as we have said repeatedly – it is wrong to describe lawyers as ‘lefty’ or ‘activist’ simply on the basis of the causes they advocate on behalf of their clients.

“Lawyers who represent their clients are not only doing nothing wrong, they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do in playing their part in ensuring that the rule of law is upheld. Ms McKenzie has been doing exactly what she is supposed to do as an immigration solicitor, acting in the best interests of her clients within the constraints of the law.

“Political leaders know that lawyers represent their clients within the legal framework that parliament creates and CCHQ should seriously reflect on what has happened in this case.

“Language and actions that unfairly undermine confidence in the independence of the legal professions, and potentially risk the safety of lawyers, will ultimately undermine confidence in our entire justice system and the rule of law.”

It seems clear to This Writer that the dossier of lies about Ms McKenzie is part of the “crackdown” on “rogue lawyers” that the Tory government announced earlier this month.

At the time, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk claimed that the aim was to stop a minority of lawyers who were making false claims in order to allow people who should be deported to stay in the UK.

He seemed to be having trouble getting his words out and, if the attack on Ms McKenzie is representative of the Tory plan, this should be unsurprising. It can be hard to present a pack of lies as factual information.

Even then, the Law Society was pointing out the errors in the Tory claims:

So:

The Tories’ claim to be cracking down on a small number of lawyers who are dishonestly and illegally playing the system on behalf of foreigners who should not be in the UK seems to be a cover for an attack on entirely respectable lawyers that is itself dishonest and illegal.

But then, what can we expect from a Home Secretary whose own word cannot be trusted?

One final point that I haven’t mentioned before: Ms McKenzie is black. This Tory “crackdown” on asylum-seekers and those who represent them is not only dishonest and illegal; it is also racist.


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