April 24, 2024

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Rishi Sunak

The UK Parliament Backs Controversial Rwanda Asylum Plan Amid Criticism

In a pivotal vote, the UK Parliament voted 313-269 to support the government’s Rwanda Asylum and Immigration Plan, aiming to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda, a policy that has drawn criticism from human rights groups. The bill, known as the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, received initial approval, avoiding a potential defeat that could have undermined Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s authority.

The legislation addresses a UK Supreme Court ruling, deeming the plan to send migrants arriving by boat to Rwanda illegal. Critics within the Conservative Party argue the bill either skirts international law or falls short enabling deportation of undocumented migrants.

Despite party concerns, the bill’s initial approval offers Sunak relief, enabling the government to pursue its controversial policy. The Rwanda plan, deterring unauthorized migrants, incurs substantial costs, with payments to Rwanda totaling at least $300 million. The policy has faced legal challenges, including a recent Supreme Court ruling declaring it illegal.

Sunak deems the plan crucial to his vow to “stop the boats” and address the surge of migrants in the English Channel. While the policy has not resulted in sending anyone to Rwanda, Sunak believes that fulfilling this promise could help close the political gap between the Conservatives and the Labour Party.

The bill faced criticism from both ends of the Conservative spectrum, with centrists expressing concerns about potential violations of international law and hard-liners abstaining from voting in hopes of amending the bill later in the legislative process.

Human rights groups argue the plan is impractical and unethical, highlighting challenges in sending asylum-seekers to a country without return possibilities to the UK. Additionally, they highlight Rwanda’s poor human rights record, raising allegations of torture and killings.

The bill’s approval sparks debate, underscoring the complexities of immigration policies and their implications for human rights and international law.