Saturday June 15, 2024

Rwanda scheme would ‘completely erode’ UK’s standing on world stage

March 27, 2023

LONDON: The UK’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda would “completely erode” Britain’s standing on the world stage, the new head of Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

Tirana Hassan, who takes over as HRW’s executive director on Monday, also said other conservative governments in Europe were considering following Britain’s lead and looking at African states as an offshore dumping ground for asylum seekers, potentially dealing further blows to established refugee protections.

“Everyone should care about this. This isn’t just about what’s happening in the UK,” Hassan told the Guardian, on the eve of her confirmation as HRW’s permanent new chief, succeeding Kenneth Roth, who did the job for nearly three decades.

The UK government’s deportation scheme was agreed with Rwanda nearly a year ago but has been held up by legal challenges since then, including the intervention of the European court of human rights. The home secretary, Suella Braverman, visited Kigali earlier this month to see accommodation blocks being built for deported asylum seekers from Britain, causing additional controversy by taking only the rightwing press with her.

The government has also proposed a restrictive new immigration bill under the slogan “stop the boats” aimed at cutting down refugee crossings of the Channel. “It’s cheap politics, divisive and completely contrary to human rights,” Hassan said. “I think that this current government in the UK is essentially scraping the bottom of the barrel.”