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UK Parliament passes controversial law on deportation of immigrants to Rwanda

The UK Parliament approved a law to send asylum seekers to Rwanda this Monday (22). It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to start the process within 10 to 12 weeks.

Sunak said the government has booked commercial charter planes and trained staff to fly migrants to Rwanda, a policy he hopes will boost the Conservative Party's popularity ahead of elections later this year.

The House of Lords refused to support the legislation, but eventually relented after Sunak said the government would force Parliament to meet overnight as necessary to pass it.

“No ifs, no buts. These flights go to Rwanda,” Sunak said at a press conference this Monday.

Tens of thousands of migrants, many of them fleeing war and poverty in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, have arrived in the UK in recent years, crossing the English Channel in small boats on risky journeys organized by people-smuggling gangs. .

Stopping the flow is a priority for the British government, but critics say the plan to deport people to Rwanda rather than treat asylum seekers at home is inhumane.

They cite concerns about the East African country's own human rights record and the risk of asylum seekers being sent back to countries where they face danger.

Sunak's new law states that some existing UK human rights statutes will not apply to the scheme and that Rwanda must be treated by British judges as a safe destination, in a bid to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that declared the scheme illegal. .

This also limits individual recourse options to exceptional cases only.

Other European countries, including Austria and Germany, are also considering agreements to process asylum seekers abroad.

Legislation awaits royal assent

The bill returned to the House of Commons – the Lower House – this Monday, where lawmakers removed the changes proposed by the Lords (MPs from the Upper House) before it was assessed again by the other House.

Some Labor Party members and other unaffiliated people wanted the legislation to include exceptions for Afghans who previously helped British troops and to establish a committee to monitor the safety of asylum seekers in Rwanda.

But eventually the Upper House let the legislation pass any formal changes.

The legislation is expected to receive royal assent from King Charles later this week and will then become law.

Speaking before the legislation was passed, Sunak highlighted that an airfield was on standby and 500 staff were ready to escort migrants “to Rwanda”.

Under policy formulated two years ago, and agreed with Rwanda, any asylum seeker who arrives in the UK illegally will be sent to the African country.

The British government says the scheme will deter Channel crossings and destroy the business model of people smugglers.

Sunak's team hopes the pre-election compromise will help impact his performance, especially among hesitant Conservative voters who want to see less immigration.

He had previously said he expected the policy to be operational by spring, without providing a precise date.

Polls suggest the Conservative Party will be heavily defeated in this year's election by the Labor Party, which has said it will abandon this law if it comes to power.

Labor highlights that it will seek an agreement with the European Union to return some people arriving in continental Europe.

Even after successfully overcoming parliamentary hurdles, Sunak could still face legal challenges to the law.

Charities and human rights groups warn they will try to stop individual deportations and the union representing border force officers promises to argue that the new legislation is illegal “within days” after the first asylum seekers are informed that will be sent to Rwanda.

“We urgently need the UK government to start treating refugees with decency and stop trying to send them to an unsafe future in Rwanda,” added Lucy Gregg, interim head of advocacy at Freedom from Torture, in a statement.

Source: CNN Brasil

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