UNHCR: Offshoring asylum seekers 'deeply inhumane'
Although the UK will be relieved of the responsibility to process asylum seekers claims, this will in no way help to resolve the immigration crisis plaguing Europe.
UN’s human rights chief Volker Türk warned on Friday that the British government's plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda could result in a "deeply inhumane" treatment and called for the controversial scheme to be reconsidered after a High Court ruling on Monday deemed the plan lawful.
"You cannot offshore your responsibilities to another state in the way that is envisaged [by the UK government]," Türk told the Guardian. "It does raise very serious concerns, both from an international human rights and international refugee law perspective."
"Certainly…it’s not common sense," he said while urging the government to soften its rhetoric surrounding "illegal" migration.
For the UNHCR chief, it is clear that such a scheme will in no way resolve the crisis of immigration, nor will it provide protection for refugees as he mentioned the horrendous crimes that occurred in Australia's offshore processing centers on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
"The way that asylum seekers were treated in Nauru and Manus was deeply, deeply inhumane," Türk told the Guardian.
According to a spokesperson from the British Home Office, the plan in Rwanda is intended "to build new lives there, while disrupting the business model of people smuggling gangs".
"It was found to be lawful by the High Court on Monday and the Home Secretary is committed to making it work to help prevent dangerous, illegal, and unnecessary journeys."
"Comparing this policy and the Australian model is fundamentally wrong and inaccurate; under our approach people sent to Rwanda are not detained but relocated, and are free to leave if they wish."
Asylum seekers in Rwanda will reportedly give their claims processed in accordance with national and international human rights law.
Therefore, refugees will not be detained or placed in indefinite detention.
Moreover, the UK will be relieved of the responsibility to process claims.
The British government has already expressed that Rwanda was a safe and secure country with a clear record of supporting refugees.
While the first flight is scheduled to take place on June 14, it is expected that the Court's ruling on legalizing the program will be challenged in the Court of Appeal to take at least until Easter.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said on Wednesday that disused cruise ships may be used to carry asylum seekers.
On Rwanda's part, the country expressed appreciation for the Court's decision in London that determined a contentious British government proposal to deport migrants to Rwanda was legal.
"We welcome this decision and stand ready to offer asylum seekers and migrants safety and the opportunity to build a new life in Rwanda," Rwanda government Spokesperson Yolande Makolo told AFP, describing it as a "positive step" to solving the global migration crisis.
More than 40,000 people, a record number, have entered France this year, as per statistics. Many of them traveled from Afghanistan among other nations to seek asylum in Britain before continuing their trek through Europe.
The topic of immigration has frequently dominated British political debacle over the past ten years and is anticipated to come up frequently during the 2024 presidential campaign.
One of Sunak's first policy declarations included a plan to crack down on illegal immigration and declared his desire to resume flights to Rwanda against objections from MPs from all major political parties, the UN, not to mention King Charles.
A last-minute injunction issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) prevented the first scheduled deportation aircraft to Rwanda in June, and the legality of the operation was subsequently contested in London's High Court.
Read more: Cross-Channel migrants top 40,000: UK