Law Centre NI is deeply concerned that the first plane scheduled to send people seeking sanctuary in the UK to Rwanda is due to depart this evening.
As we have previously stated, this policy flies in the face of the protections enshrined in the UN Refugee Convention. People fleeing war, conflict and human rights abuses are human beings who are owed protections under international law and should be treated with dignity and respect. Under this Government policy, asylum seekers are effectively being treated as human cargo.
The Law Centre has witnessed first-hand the compassion shown to Ukrainians as they arrive in Northern Ireland seeking safety and sanctuary. It is a privilege to be involved in the Ukraine Assistance Centres initiative, however the disparity between Government policy on Ukrainians compared to asylum seekers fleeing conflict and persecution is stark.
We are also dismayed to see Prime Minister Boris Johnson again criticising immigration lawyers who are advising individuals facing removal to Rwanda by implying that the lawyers are “abetting the work of the criminal gangs” involved in people smuggling. The Law Centre rejects this criticism and condemns the Government’s hostile rhetoric that undermines lawyers’ integrity. Just 18 months ago, the Law Society wrote to the Home Office asking it to change the language it is using. President Simon Davis said: “Slinging insults at lawyers risks leading not just to verbal abuse but to lawyers being physically attacked for doing their job [and] it undermines a legal system which has evolved over many centuries, which helps ensure that power is not abused.”
Law Centre NI is not aware of any asylum seeker in Northern Ireland affected by the Rwanda policy but would be happy to assist if we can. You can contact our immigration advice line on 028 9024 4401