United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged the House of Lords to pass his flagship Rwanda Migration Bill and also asked them not to frustrate the will of the citizens of the country. The legislation was approved by the MPs and the bill will now be presented to the Lords for further procedure. Rishi Sunak asked the House of Lords to do the right thing and pass the bill. The bill was passed by 320 to 276 votes in the House of Commons on Wednesday (Janunary 17).
SC had ruled the Rwanda migration bill as unlawful
The Supreme Court had already ruled the Rwanda migration bill as unlawful in November 2023. In a major setback ahead of voting, two of the party's deputy chairmen resigned from their positions on Tuesday (January 16).
Rishi Sunak aims to win the elections riding on the bill
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak aims to win the elections riding on his plan to send the asylum seekers to Rwanda through his Rwanda migration bill. However, the bill is expected to face strong opposition at the House of Lords as they might propose changes in the bill. This would delay the process and might hamper Rishi Sunak's plan to use the bill during elections.
What is the Rwanda Migration Bill?
The policy was initially announced by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2022. The bill aimed to decrease the number of migrant crossings in the English channel and to halt human smuggling. The bill also aims to boost Rwandan investment and development.
The governments of the United Kingdom and Rwanda came to an agreement. This deal suggested sending people seeking asylum to Rwanda, in East Africa. There, their asylum requests would be processed during a five-year test period. If everything went well, they might be given refugee status and allowed to stay.
If not, they could try to settle in Rwanda for other reasons or seek asylum in any other safe country. The government mentioned that starting from January 1, 2022, anyone entering the United Kingdom illegally could be sent to Rwanda, and there was no specific limit on the number of people.
According to the government, this policy is a fair way to handle the arrival of individuals on U.K. shores without permission. They argue that Rwanda is a safe "third country," meaning it's not the place where these individuals are seeking asylum. However, despite these plans, no one has been sent to Rwanda yet due to legal disputes surrounding the policy.
Effects of the bill on refugees seeking asylum
As per the bill, the asylum seekers would not want to relocate themselves at a place which is over 4,000 miles away from the country. Rwanda is considered to be a place where there are minimal human rights and also there have been instances of torture and also killings of the people who opposed the government.
The immigrants will be forced to live in such unhealthy conditions which will hamper their reason for immigration. The country cannot be deemed as safe for the refugees.
The Human rights groups have also opposed the government's plan to transfer the immigrants to Rwanda as the conditions in the country is not fit for living. The bill also breaches the international human rights obligations under the U.N. Refugee Convention.
The bill might reduce the number of refugees who are willing to enter United Kingdom illegally. As per the bill, any refugee caught entering the U.K. ilegally will be send to Rwanda and will be forced to stay under unhealthy conditions for atleast five years.