We are ending 2022 with very grim news for seekers of sanctuary. We were devastated to hear of the tragic lost of life in the Channel last week. Yet again people seeking sanctuary are losing their lives because of lack of safe routes. A number of agencies have shared their messages about the tragedy including IMIX and Together with Refugees who have produced a useful messaging guide for partners.
It was extremely disappointing that the High Court has ruled that the Government’s plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda is not, in itself, illegal. A further hearing will take place on 19 January 2023 at which applications to appeal will be considered. Free Movement has a helpful article examining both the judgement and looking at what might happen next on its website (freemovement.org.uk). It notes that the first Rwanda removal flight did not take off in June 2022 because of an interim measure granted by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg in one of the lead cases which requested the UK Government not remove that particular person until 3 weeks after the UK legal proceedings on the policy had come to an end. Whilst it is possible that the UK Government might attempt another removal flight it is considered unlikely that will happen before onward appeals are resolved.
Prime Minister’s statement on migration reforms
Also this month the Prime Minister made a statement announcing further asylum and migration reforms. The measures announced included :
The full statement can be read here and the debate in Parliament here. Free Movement published an analysis of the measures announced, and the office of the United National High Commissioner for Refugees called on the Government to uphold its international legal obligations, stating that the package of proposals ” and ‘
Across the country individuals and organisations have rejected current and proposed refugee legislation as cruel and unworkable. Voices calling for a different approach have most recently included the PCS union representing HO and Borderforce staff and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Asylum Matters reports that On 6 December, Birmingham City Council passed an amendment to sign the pledge against the #AntiRefugeeLaws, and also committed to call on the UK Government to repeal the Nationality and Borders Act (full amendment here). This action makes Birmingham City Council the first local authority to sign the Fight the #AntiRefugeeLaws Pledge, joining over 400 groups and dozens of MPs. Lib Dem Councillors (and the rest of us) should be calling on our Councils and pass a motion defending the right to seek safety in the UK using the dedicated resources provided by Asylum Matters.
Within Parliament Lib Dem MPs and Peers have repeatedly denounced the Rwanda proposals and the proposed new legislation, and continued to challenge how the Home Office is currently managing the asylum caseload. We have lots of good policies which could help address the issues including the provision of humanitarian visas, providing the right to work and improving the decision making process.
Particularly at this time of year we want to be with our families. For many refugees this will not be the case. The Families Together Coalition is made up of more than 100 organisations who want to change the UK’s unfair rules that keep refugee families apart. You can find more information about the Coalition here and the simple steps it is calling on the Government to implement today on its website: https://familiestogether.uk/
Lets hope 2023 is a fairer, more humane and kinder year.