Tag Archives: asylum

Patel insists Rwanda is safe for asylum-seekers – despite expert advice on torture

Priti Patel: she’s not one to listen to advice she doesn’t like.

The Home Secretary has confirmed that she is ignoring the advice of an adviser who said the Rwandan government tortures political opponents, in pushing her policy of deporting asylum-seekers there.

Priti Patel insisted that Rwanda was a “safe country”.

She said the comments had been made by “officials in a different government department”.

She added: “But of course it is the Home Office who has led the economic development migration partnership which is our resettlement partnership to Rwanda. Rwanda is a safe country and all our work with the government of Rwanda shows that.”

She was responding to a High Court judgment that seven statements by an adviser should be made public in advance of a Supreme Court ruling on whether the Rwanda deportation policy is legal.

A judge ruled that a further four statements should not be published as they could potentially harm international relations.

It is not unreasonable – on the face of it – for the government to seek advice and then ignore what it is told.

Governments may take opinions from multiple sources before forming their own opinions and policy.

But this has the potential to blow up in the Tory government’s collective face, if the decision to ignore warnings about this foreign government leads to asylum-seekers being harmed.

Court ruling on Rwanda comments that should be published forces questions on those that won’t

Illegal policy? Priti Patel announced the plan to deport asylum seekers arriving in the UK to Rwanda back in April. But a first flight there was aborted at the last minute as the legality of the scheme was challenged.

The High Court has ruled that a government adviser’s comment that Rwanda’s government tortures and kills political opponents – and six others – should be published ahead of a legal battle to decide whether deportations to that country are legal.

But four further comments by the same person were judged necessary to keep entirely secret because of the damage they would do to international relations between the UK and that country.

This leads to an obvious question:

Given the incendiary nature of the “torture” comment, how damning were the four that are being kept secret? And how can the UK’s Tory government justify sending asylum seekers to Rwanda after being provided with such information?

In his ruling, Lord Justice Lewis said:

“I recognise that there is a strong public interest in not undermining international relations with a friendly state. Nonetheless, that consideration is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring access to relevant information in this litigation and by the extent to which the information is already in the public domain.”

Migrants identified for the first aborted flight, and three media organisations – BBC News, including BBC Two’s Newsnight, The Times and The Guardian newspapers – sought the disclosure of the material.

The judge said given September’s major legal action had to decide whether sending asylum seekers to Rwanda was lawful, the claimants and the court needed to consider as much evidence as possible.

He said some of the official’s comments would have “evidential significance” – and the public interest in disclosing them outweighed the government’s case for keeping them secret.

The government has been allowed time to consider an appeal. If the judgment stands, the comments are likely to emerge in public in September.

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Why are asylum-seekers to be electronically tagged? What is their crime?

Priti Patel: it would be better if she were not only electronically tagged but also gagged, to prevent her causing further harm to innocent victims.

Priti Patel’s Home Office is planning to electronically tag asylum-seekers arriving in the UK, as though they were criminals (or people accused of criminality) rather than refugees from persecution.

The decision has been likened to “victim blaming” – an opinion endorsed by This Site – although the Home Office itself is twisting language to claim the trial will examine whether electronic monitoring can help maintain regular contact with migrants and help to progress their claims.

Perhaps someone has been in contact with the “Nudge Unit” to get help to convince us all they’re doing the right thing? If so, it’s not working!

Ministers faced calls to abandon the “farce of a policy” after suggestions that those who recently avoided being sent to Rwanda after a legal challenge could be among the first to be tagged under the programme.

Clare Moseley, founder of the Care4Calais charity, said: “I think it’s outrageous. Refugees in general do not abscond. There’s no data that shows that they do – they never have done. They are here to claim asylum, so why would they? They’re not criminals, they’re victims. Things happen to them. They didn’t cause it. It’s just another part of the government criminalising refugees, which is basically victim-blaming.”

Apparently the number of decisions on asylum applications has plummeted while Patel has been busy victimising innocent people, created a huge backlog.

And of course, by attacking victims of persecutation and exploitation, she is doing nothing to eliminate criminal people-smuggling gangs.

The Tories get away with this by “othering” the asylum-seekers and refugees.

By making them look like criminals, they are hoping enough of the electorate will be gullible enough to believe that is what they are. I hope they are mistaken.

Source: Outrage over scheme to electronically tag asylum seekers arriving in UK

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Will Tory rebels do something useful and stop the deportations to Rwanda?

Callous, immoral and possibly homicidal: Priti Patel announced the plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda in April.

There’s less than a week to go before Home Secretary Priti Patel sends the first flight of asylum seekers into exile in Rwanda.

Tory rebels who gave Boris Johnson a bloody nose with their strong response to a confidence vote in his leadership could stop it.

But will they?

There are plenty of reasons for them to do it.

The plan will break the 1951 Refugee Convention that has set the standard for the way that governments should deal with people fleeing persecution in other countries for more than 70 years.

Johnson and Patel have sidestepped the convention by ignoring the complex set of problems surrounding each asylum-seeker and refusing to accept that their arrival is to do with anything more than the criminal acts of people smugglers.

The roughly 100 men selected to be on the first flight have reacted in ways that are painful to learn: one group staged a five-day hunger strike; others have threatened suicide. At least two of those being sent out may not even be adults.

Charities including Freedom from Torture are taking legal action on grounds that the government is violating the refugee convention – and also acting irrationally in treating Rwanda as a “safe third country”.

The Home Office has acknowledged that there are grounds for concern about the way LGBTQ+ people are treated there.

And critics have correctly pointed out that Rwanda’s record on human rights is flawed.

Perhaps that is why Rwanda itself has created, and continues to create, countless refugees of its own, with at least 287,000 Rwandans – possibly as many as a million – having fled the regime of President Paul Kagame.

“Kagame is a stooge: he’s a conman of the West in dubious business including, now, human trafficking,” is how one such Rwandan exile [Etienne Mutabazi] describes the president and his £120m deal with the UK Government.

The Kagame regime is not content with creating exiles, though – and has been implicated in abducting and killing exiles across Africa for years.

Despite these facts, the UK and other Western governments are keen to send their asylum seekers into the care of the Kagame regime – from which many may become refugees for a second time, it seems.

“The West does not care because it’s not happening on its shores,” [Mutabazi] explained. “If you were caring, you wouldn’t negotiate [with Kagame]… [The deal] is immoral, unethical and illegal.”

And it isn’t even deterring refugees from coming to the UK, according to the latest figures.

About 9,000 people have arrived in the UK on small boats so far this year, almost half since the Rwanda policy was launched.

There are better ways of dealing with a refugee problem that, in the UK, is minute compared with that of other nations.

Tory backbench rebels would earn a huge amount of credibility by pushing Johnson into abandoning this lunatic cruelty and adopting sensible policies (some are suggested in the source article).

And they would be showing us that they do have the backbone to restrain the UK’s out-of-control prime ministerial maniac. But can they?

Source: The Guardian view on deportations to Rwanda: cut out the stunts

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Priti Patel told to stop lying about refugees by UN agency

Hate face: would you trust Priti Patel with a duty of care over any human beings at all?

Priti Patel should stop lying that refugees from foreign countries arriving in the UK are merely “economic migrants” looking for  a bit of easy money.

That’s the gist of a report by the United Nations’ refugee agency:

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) told the Guardian that those travelling by small boat to the UK should be considered to be asylum seekers or refugees, and not migrants.

“Based on currently available Home Office data, UNHCR considers that a clear majority of those recently arriving to the United Kingdom by boat are likely to be refugees. Refugees and asylum seekers are not, and should not be described as, ‘migrants’,” the spokesperson told the Guardian.

“Access to asylum should never be contingent on mode of arrival or nationality. Equally, the only way to establish whether people are refugees is through a fair and efficient determination of their claims, for which the UK has a clear responsibility.”

The intervention comes as the Home Office prepares to deport the first set of people to Rwanda, after Patel announced her intention to emulate a failed Israeli plan to do the same that was wound up a few years ago.

The policy is explicitly focused on people who arrive via so-called “irregular” routes, such as in small boats across the Channel or hidden in lorries.

Here’s the part of the Home Office statement referring to this (that isn’t waffle):

“Only those with inadmissible asylum claims who have made dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys will be relocated and to suggest otherwise is wrong.”

Inadmissible in what way?

Because they arrived by an “irregular” route? Who defines what is an “unnecessary” journey and what are their criteria?

Are they as described by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees? If so, is the UK breaking UN rules again, as it did with sick and disabled benefit claimants?

And will the Tory government get away with it yet again, after the UN proved utterly toothless in effecting change?

Source: Clear majority of people crossing Channel are refugees, says UNHCR

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Did Patel drop her ‘pushbacks’ policy against asylum-seekers – or did it never exist at all?

Patel: did she deliberately mislead members of the House of Lords last autumn and is the Home Office trying to cover up for her now?

This is odd.

The BBC is reporting that Priti Patel has abandoned her plan to turn back migrant boats crossing the English Channel, ahead of a court challenge.

But The Guardian has already told us that this policy never existed at all.

It certainly seems true that the High Court was going to hear a legal challenge by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), and the NGOs Care4Calais, Channel Rescue and Freedom From Torture on May 3.

But it also seems true that the court had already refused the Home Office permission for public interest immunity against publishing the details of its alleged pushback policy – and those details, once brought into the light, showed that there was never any plan to turn back asylum seekers.

The Home Office comment that “there are extremely limited circumstances when you can safely turn boats back in the English Channel” therefore rings true.

But the Graun also said that Patel had assured a House of Lords committee that turning boats full of asylum-seekers away from the UK was “absolutely still policy”, last autumn.

The claim that the policy has only now been dropped has muddied the issue.

So it seems to This Writer that the Home Office needs to publish the policy that was written into the Nationality and Borders Bill at the time she spoke those words, to allow us to establish whether she lied to Parliament then and an attempt is being made to deceive us now.

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Priti Patel accused of lying to parliament that migrant boats will be turned away

Liar: it seems clear that Priti Patel deliberately misled Lords into believing that asylum-seekers caught trying to cross the English Channel would be turned away, and tried to keep the policy stating otherwise secret.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has been accused of deliberately misleading Parliament and the public into believing that her Nationality and Borders Bill includes a plan to turn migrant boats away from the UK.

In fact, previously-unpublished clauses of the Bill explicitly state that pushbacks will not be applied against asylum-seekers.

The details came to light after the pushbacks policy was challenged by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), and the NGOs Care4Calais, Channel Rescue and Freedom From Torture.

The Home Office had applied to the High Court for public interest immunity against publishing the details – a mechanism used over sensitive issues such as organised crime, terrorism or national security. But judges said disclosure did not “give rise to a real risk of serious harm to the public interest”.

Patel gave evidence to the House of Lords’ justice and home affairs committee last autumn in which she said turning boats full of asylum-seekers away from the UK was “absolutely still policy”.

Now it has been revealed that a key part of the previously-unpublished policy states that anyone in a dinghy who indicates they wish to claim asylum in the UK should not be pushed back but instead escorted to UK shores. Almost everyone who uses this method to reach the UK is an asylum seeker according to the Home Office’s own data.

So she lied to Parliament.

Correct me if I’m mistaken, but isn’t there currently a huge row over whether Boris Johnson should be ejected from his job as a member of the government because he’s believed to have deliberately lied to Parliament?

So, shouldn’t Patel also face the same penalty?

In fact, it seems to This Writer that she should be summarily ejected; this is an open-and-shut case.

Source: Priti Patel accused of misleading parliament over refugee pushbacks

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Unrepentant, racist Johnson refuses to retract criticism of the Church over Rwanda

Justin Welby: the Archbishop is right and Boris Johnson is wrong – and racist.

If anything shows that Boris Johnson couldn’t care less about being fined for attending lockdown-busting parties, or his dishonesty to Parliament about it, it is this.

Instead of repeating his apology to each and every Conservative MP in a meeting on Tuesday evening, he instead opted to rally support by singling out an enemy for them to hate together: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Church of England.

His reason for whipping up this animosity?  Senior clergy had been “less vociferous” in their condemnation of Vladimir Putin than of plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Johnson’s claim is not true; both Mr Welby and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, have denounced the invasion of Ukraine as “an act of great evil” and have called for Russian troops to withdraw.

But it seems Johnson is upset because his racist plan to send people to Rwanda if they arrive in the UK illegally has been opposed by the Church’s leaders on moral and ethical grounds.

In Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, Johnson said he had been surprised that the Church’s top clergy had opposed what he described as a plan to  “end the deaths at sea in the Channel as a result of cruel criminal gangs”.

But he has not explained how a plan to deport people who have arrived in the UK will stop deaths, at sea, of people who have not got here yet.

The plan to resettle migrants in the African dictatorship of Rwanda is riddled with serious issues to do with race and human rights, as described in this Vox Political article.

Johnson’s claim to be trying to stop Channel deaths is an attempt to gloss over the drawbacks in his policy – along with, indeed, his own racism.

Both he and his racist Home Secretary Priti Patel simply don’t want Johnny and Janey Foreigner taking asylum – which is legally theirs – in the UK. He’s upset with Welby and Cottrell for highlighting his shortcomings.

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Patel strikes again: asylum seekers to be deported to African dictatorship

Justifying the unacceptable: as always, Priti Patel has shown herself to be callous, immoral and possibly homicidal.

Priti Patel has announced a “cruel and inhumane” deal to transport asylum seekers crossing the English Channel to Rwanda – a country where her own government has expressed concern about “extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture”.

Patel praised the record of the east African country on human rights. It was the site of the genocide of 800,000 people, exactly 28 years ago in 1994, in which members of the minority Tutsi group were murdered by the majority Hutus.

The genocide was carried out with shocking efficiency. Lists of Hutu government opponents were handed out to militias who killed them, along with all of their families. ID cards bored details of people’s ethnic group, so militias set up roadblocks where Tutsis were slaughtered. Thousands of Tutsi women were forced to become sex slaves.

The slaughter ended after 100 days, when the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front when a military victory against the Hutu government. The country is currently a dictatorship run by the RPF.

Critics of current president Paul Kagame have been murdered – or suffered assassination attempts – and concerns have been raised about the conviction on terrorism charges of Paul Rusesabagina, subject of Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda about his role saving more than 1,000 people during the genocide.

Only last year, the UK government – of which Priti Patel is Home Secretary – expressed serious concerns to the United Nations over “continued restrictions to civil and political rights and media freedom” in Rwanda, and called for independent investigations into those “allegations of extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture”.

And now Patel wants to send vulnerable refugees, who may have been victims of atrocity and torture, to this country. Perhaps she considers Rwanda’s record to be mild in comparison with her own views on what should happen to asylum-seekers.

It is – and always has been – a bizarre pose from the daughter of economic migrants from Uganda (originally of Indian origin). If she thinks the current wave of asylum seekers should not be allowed to stay in the UK, why haven’t she and all her family packed themselves off back to Uganda?

And is this really about solving the UK’s illegal immigration problem – or about saving ‘Big Dog’ Boris Johnson’s bacon?

He has been named by the Metropolitan Police as a criminal for attending illegal parties in Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdown.

According to the Telegraph, he’s facing a second fine over former communication chief Lee Cain’s leaving party, where he is understood to have made a speech and remained in attendance for a considerable amount of time.

The knock-on effect is that he has lied to Parliament – an offence for which there is only one penalty: He must resign as prime minister.

But the overprivileged, entitled criminal and liar doesn’t want to go, so it seems he is looking for a way to distract us from his crimes.

So suddenly he’s on our TV’s appealing to NIMBYs (people who say Not In My Back Yard to particular events or plans) across the UK to support what he called a “shared humanitarian impulse” with a nation whose human rights record is, let’s be honest – terrifying.

This Writer hopes it’s a grave miscalculation.

People don’t want to be overcome by waves of refugees seeking to settle in the UK in response to the foreign adventures of Tory (and other) governments who have merrily bombed their own countries into rubble, but there is an obvious answer to that: stop bombing their countries.

The excuse that asylum seekers are encouraging and enriching people smugglers is a lie. In fact, Johnson’s government – and especially Patel herself – is encouraging people smugglers by closing off all legal routes into the UK.

He says they should only take such legal routes, but that is impossible when they don’t exist!

So I hope the people of the UK see through this transparent attempt to whitewash a dirty, corrupt politician by scapegoating people who only want to be able to live in peace, in a peaceful country.

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Government votes down calls to change asylum and immigration reforms

Border Force: the government wants refugees picked up by these officials to be sent to a phenomenally expensive purpose-built site on Ascension Island. Lunacy.

The Conservative government has voted to support extremely expensive changes to the immigration and asylum system, in spite of objections from its own party.

Tory Andrew Mitchell said plans for an offshore processing system for asylum seekers – on Ascension Island, after bids to put one in Ghana, Rwanda, Albania and Denmark were all refused – were ridiculous.

He questioned how much such a policy would cost: “Judged by the costs of Australian offshoring the British taxpayer would face unprecedented costs per asylum seeker. It would be much cheaper to put each one in the The Ritz and send all the under-18s to Eton.”

David Davis previously described such a move as creating “a British Guantanamo Bay”.

Lords had removed the measure from the Nationality and Borders Bill last month, but MPs voted by 302 votes to 232, majority 70, to disagree with the Lords and put it back in.

A Lords amendment which sought to guarantee the UK takes in at least 10,000 refugees a year, which was rejected by 313 votes to 227 – a majority of 86 votes.

An attempt by peers to cut the time asylum seekers have to wait before they can work from 12 to six months was rejected by MPs by 291 votes to 232 – a majority of 59 votes – but the government did offer to meet concerned Tory MPs to discuss the issue further.

The legislation will now return to the Lords for peers to examine again in what is known as ‘parliamentary ping-pong’.

Source: Government sees off calls from some Tories to change asylum and immigrations reforms

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