Asylum seekers face ongoing inhumanity by U.K. government

Asylum seekers face ongoing inhumanity by U.K. government

  • Published on
    May 15, 2024
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    Law & Policy
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The Rwanda Bill, discriminatory GPS tagging coupled with a raft of other inhumane legislation, all underline the U.K. government’s current uncompassionate and often brutal response to those seeking asylum at its shores. And despite ample evidence of the ruthless results these policies have led to, the government is expanding its scope and remains unapologetic. Meanwhile migrants, often fleeing violence and exploitation including modern slavery, pay the price.

Flawed from the start

The Rwanda bill faced criticism its very inception. Once it passed, Amnesty International U.K. called it “a stain on this country’s moral reputation” and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the policy “wrongly shifted responsibility for refugee protection, undermined international cooperation and set a worrying global precedent”. However, far from heeding these statements, the BBC reports the government has now expanded the scope of who can be sent to Rwanda. Under the original plan, only those who arrived in the U.K. on or after 1 January 2022 could be deemed eligible for deportation. Now the agreement has been expanded to include people who have already had a claim refused or withdrawn and are unable to appeal.

Asylum Aid, one of the U.K.’s leading organizations helping victims of torture and trafficking said:

“(we) intend to take ministers to court because the rulebook for officials now implementing the scheme undermines a key safeguard for refugees that remained in the plan.”

The Rwanda plan was previously declared unlawful by the U.K. Supreme Court due to the risk that those sent to Rwanda could end up being sent back to the country they fled, where they could face torture and abuse. Rights groups and some government officials have decried the human cost of its passage. And the government’s decision to not exempt victims of modern slavery from the scheme has also sparked criticism. The heartless legislation leaves modern slavery victims in a precarious position, potentially subject to further harm and exploitation.

“How can (the government) be so brutal?”

In addition, asylum seekers and migrant modern slavery survivors have reported degrading, discriminatory and unfeeling treatment at the hands of the U.K. asylum system. The Independent told the story of MM, an Afghan asylum seeker who was under “constant stress” due to a GPS ankle tag monitoring his movements. He was forced to wear the tag for 20 months without any explanation from the authorities. Followed in shops like a criminal and losing sleep due to chafing and beeping, the tag caused MM to suffer depression, anxiety, and stress. Other asylum seekers living in the same quarters were not fitted with the monitor. If the law was applied equally, why was he fitted with a tag when others were not?

Niamh Grahame, solicitor at Public Law Project (PLP) stated:

“Our client has been subject to a harmful and unnecessary experiment. There is mounting evidence of the harm caused by GPS tagging and incredibly limited evidence of asylum seekers absconding in significant numbers.”

MM’s story comes on the heels of another story a few weeks ago in Mirror about a modern slavery survivor and mother who was denied asylum in the U.K. despite being identified “conclusively” as a trafficking victim under the U.K. Government’s own system, the National Referral Mechanism. She has been refused the right to stay in Scotland where she has been living with her 5-year-old daughter since her daughter’s birth and is now facing deportation to Rwanda. MP Anne McGlaughlin for Glasgow North called the decision “cruel”, saying, “The Home Office agrees she was trafficked here, it knows the barbarity she faced for years but it doesn’t think she is worthy of our help. How can it be so brutal?” Freedom United echoes that sentiment, how indeed?

Stand with asylum seekers and survivors

We stand in solidarity with those who now face heightened fear for their future in the U.K. due to unjust laws and inhumane treatment. Safe migration is crucial in combatting modern slavery, and stories like these highlight how imperative it is to demand policies that prioritize the safety and well-being of vulnerable individuals like MM and do away with harmful legislation like the Rwanda bill. Sign our petition demanding genuine anti-human trafficking immigration policies, because legitimizing inhumane treatment of anyone, regardless of their immigration status should NEVER be allowed to pass.

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Tamsin Mc Cormick
Tamsin Mc Cormick
21 days ago

I am hopeful for a lot of changes on direction after our Election on July the 4th. Already 100 Tories have stood down not seeking re-election.So these terrible policies will not proceed.

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