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WILPF UK sign an open letter to the Prime Minister expressing outrage at the Rwanda Bill

This week the Rwanda Bill passed.

We are one of over 250 organisations who signed a joint open letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressing our shared outrage.

The Bill contains clauses ignoring international law and our Human Rights Act, forcing our courts and civil servants to ‘conclusively’ treat Rwanda as safe even when it’s not, severely limiting appeals and judicial remedies.

The Government has used legislation to magically declare a country safe, overriding the Supreme Court, and disregarding international and domestic law. As well as offshoring, offloading, and absconding on the UK’s asylum responsibilities.

Read the letter here:

Read the joint press release from Care 4 Calais:

An open letter, signed by over 250 organisations from across civil society in the UK, has been sent to the Prime Minister following the passage of the Government’s Rwanda Act.

The civil society organisations have come together to make a stand against the Government’s Rwanda Plan, which they say breaks international law and “abandons our duty to share in the global responsibility towards those forced to seek safety”.

The Rwanda Act is described in the letter as “a shameful and performatively cruel law that will risk people’s lives”, whilst the UK Government is accused of rewriting facts following the UK Supreme Court’s ruling that Rwanda is not a safe country in which to send refugees. 

The letter has been signed by charities, human rights organisations, organisations supporting children, women, LGBTQ+, and disabled communities, and faith groups. 

Signatures across the refugee sector include the Refugee Council, JCWI, Jesuit Refugee Service UK, Detention Action, Refugee Action, Freedom from Torture and Care4Calais. 

Other high profile signatories include Oxfam GB, Human Rights Watch, Children’s Rights Alliance for England and Disability Rights UK.

Yasmin Halima, Executive Director, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), said:

“At a time when our politicians should be focused on supporting struggling communities and protecting our NHS, they have instead sat in parliament, and decided to tear up our commitment towards refugees, in shameful and unprecedented ways. 

“This Act of performative cruelty does nothing to improve anyone’s lives. It simply punishes people in most need, by allowing the government to forcibly expel people who’ve fled danger, including children & survivors of trafficking, to a place they’ve never been, where they could face further abuse. 

“Most of us recognise this desperate act of political theatre for what it is, and urge the government to stop relentlessly attacking refugees, and focus on creating a fairer and more caring society.” 

James Wilson, Director of Detention Action, said:

“With this Act, this government has turned its back on reality, as well as on our responsibility to protect refugees.

“People seeking asylum here should have their claims heard in the UK, fairly and efficiently, so they are not returned to danger and can, instead, rebuild their lives in our communities.”

Steve Smith, CEO of Care4Calais, said:

“People who have survived war, torture and persecution should not be facing forced removal to a country that the UK Supreme Court ruled is unsafe.

“This Bill does nothing to make Rwanda a safe country for refugees. All the problems with Rwanda’s asylum system, including, for example, the fact they haven’t granted refugee status to the single largest nationality claiming asylum in the UK, Afghans, remain. Politicians are playing fast and loose with the future of human beings, and it must be stopped.”

Sarah Teather, Director at Jesuit Refugee Service UK, added:

“The Safety of Rwanda Bill is as inhumane as it is absurd. Its passage into law is another step towards enacting a cash-for-humans scheme that will destroy lives and plunge vulnerable people into danger.  

“The point of this Bill is simply to pretend, in the face of all the evidence, that such danger doesn’t exist. It marks a continued abandonment of our duty towards people seeking sanctuary here. We call on politicians to scrap the cruel Rwanda plan and all attempts to outsource asylum. This is not who we are.”

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