The human cost of the U.K.’s cruel Rwanda Bill

Survivor fighting to protect her child: the human cost of the U.K.’s cruel Rwanda Bill

  • Published on
    April 22, 2024
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  • Category:
    Human Trafficking, Law & Policy, Survivor Stories
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The U.K. recently passed the much-contested Rwanda Bill that allows asylum seekers arriving in the U.K. to be sent to the East African nation for their claims to be considered. But rights groups and government officials decry the human cost of its passage, such as the story of a young mother and sex trafficking survivor who is now terrified for her and her daughter’s future.

“Her life reads like a horror story”

In 2016, Joaddan (name changed to protect her identity) fled her home country of Cameroon in fear for her life after her father was arrested for opposing the government as part of the pro-independence movement. She landed in Nigeria where she was abandoned by smugglers and targeted by sex traffickers, being raped by multiple men a night. With help, Joaddan finally escaped to Europe only to be further trafficked into domestic servitude and modern slavery by the man who helped her get into Europe.

Joaddan managed to escape again and was identified ­”conclusively” as a trafficking victim under the U.K. Government’s own system, the National Referral Mechanism. She also provided evidence of her father’s arrest in Cameroon. Despite all this, she was still refused the right to stay in Scotland where she has been living with her 5-year-old daughter since her daughter’s birth.

Joaddan’s MP Anne McGlaughlin for Glasgow North condemned the decision 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?

McLaughlin further dubbed the decision as “cruel”, stating that Joaddan’s life reads “like a horror story” and pointing out that Joaddan has suffered unimaginable cruelty at the hands of numerous individuals. Tragically, the British Government has now been added to that list, and thanks to the passage of the Rwanda Bill, the suffering may not be over for Joaddan and her daughter.

Trafficked into modern slavery, refused the right to stay, now facing deportation

Amnesty International U.K. has called the new legislation “a stain on this country’s moral reputation” that “takes a hatchet to international legal protections for some of the most vulnerable people in the world.” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement that this policy wrongly shifts responsibility for refugee protection, undermines international cooperation and sets a worrying global precedent.

For Joaddan, concerns for her and her daughter are much more personal, saying,

My daughter is Scottish. Scotland is the only home she has ever known, her school is here, her friends are here…it is terrifying to me that we could be sent to Rwanda or Cameroon, where we would be in serious danger.

Last year the Supreme Court of the U.K. ruled the Rwanda policy unlawful because there are substantial grounds to believe asylum seekers sent to Rwanda might be forcibly returned to the very country they fled from harm in the first place, a practice called refoulement. In addition, as recently as 2021 the U.K. government criticized Rwanda for “extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture.”

Currently Joaddan and her daughter are receiving legal and emotional support from the charity Survivors of Human Trafficking ­Scotland. She agreed to share her story as she wants people to know how cruel the new policy is. Joaddan is rightly terrified of being sent to Rwanda or worse, back to Cameroon, and simply wants to raise her child in her home of Scotland. Her MP, Ms. McGlaughlin, wants to know how the government can justify “sending a wee five-year-old Scottish girl to a similar fate as her mum?”

Stand with us

We stand in solidarity with those who now face heightened fear for their future in the U.K. due to this unjust law. Safe migration is crucial in combatting human trafficking, and it’s imperative that we demand policies that prioritize the safety and well-being of vulnerable individuals like Joaddan and her daughter. Sign our petition to demand genuine anti-human trafficking immigration policies, because legislating that certain people deserve fewer human rights than others in something we will never accept.

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