Government's Rwanda Deportation Scheme Faces Strong Criticism from Amnesty International UK

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Amnesty International UK has condemned the UK government's recent decision to detain asylum seekers with the intention of deporting them to Rwanda. Chief Executive, Sacha Deshmukh, voiced serious concerns about the government's handling of asylum seekers and its implications for human rights.

"The entire Rwanda scheme is a human rights scandal," Deshmukh stated, emphasizing the policy's departure from the UK's previous commitment to asylum seekers fleeing persecution. "By drip-feeding updates about 'round-ups' and 'detentions', the Government is callously seeking to exploit the predicament of people – many of whom are already suffering from severe trauma due to persecution and abuse in the countries they fled, as well as the dangerous journeys they've undertaken."

Amnesty International's criticism reflects a growing outcry over the UK's refugee policy, particularly the Rwanda scheme, which some see as contrary to international obligations. Deshmukh points out that the UK has effectively shifted its responsibilities onto other nations: "The Government has made the UK an international freeloader on refugee matters, expecting other countries to comply with international law obligations to provide asylum, which the UK refuses to do."

The organisation also criticises the government's decision to cease processing asylum claims within the UK, forcing asylum seekers to seek refuge elsewhere. This move, coupled with the Rwanda deportation scheme, has led to concerns about the well-being of vulnerable individuals, both mentally and physically.

"In whipping up this febrile anti-asylum atmosphere, the Government is doing yet more damage to its fast-diminishing reputation as a law- and human-rights-abiding nation, while also potentially inflicting serious mental and physical harm on those caught up in this situation," Deshmukh concluded.

Amnesty International's critique echoes the concerns of many human rights organisations, highlighting the detrimental impact of the Rwanda deportation policy on the UK's standing in the international community, as well as the welfare of asylum seekers. The organisation urges a reconsideration of this policy and a renewed commitment to protecting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in line with international obligations.