Human Rights Watch concluded in its 2023 World Report that the UK government’s recent immigration and asylum policies violate domestic human rights duties and compromise international human rights norms.
The Nationality and Border Act and the Rwanda Agreement are the main topics of the study. However, it does not disregard other legislation passed last year, such as the judicial review measure passed in April 2022, which restricts the ability to judicially examine, among other things, decisions made by immigration tribunals. It also draws attention to the fact that, in contrast to the majority of European nations, the UK does not have a law imposing a maximum term of detention for purposes of immigration.
It implies that these policies disregard human rights concerns and undermine the refugee protection system. The Nationality and Borders Act’s introduction of separate treatment for people who enter the UK illegally violates their human rights and is discriminatory.
According to the research, by sending asylum seekers to Rwanda to process their claims, the UK government will be endangering their lives. The World Report’s section on Rwanda is equally harsh. In Rwanda, arbitrary incarceration and mistreatment in unofficial detention facilities are still prevalent, and the government there continues to target people who it believes support opposition parties (with activists reportedly being killed by Rwandan authorities even abroad in countries like Mozambique and Uganda). In addition, stigma against LGBT persons still exists. The Rwandan government typically rejects asylum requests based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The research casts no favourable light on the UK’s immigration programmes for asylum seekers seeking “legal” entrance into the country. Given that the vast majority of Afghans eligible for the programme are unable to find safety in the UK, questions are raised regarding the effectiveness of the Afghan resettlement programme and the UK’s commitment to it. Sadly, the Afghan plan is frequently cited as a successful method of entering the UK.
The Home Office has indicated that by the end of 2023, they intend to cease their current system of housing Afghan refugees in hotels. According to reports, hotels in London will shut down at the end of February. More than 9,000 Afghan refugees are still staying in hotels all around the UK. For the past 15 months, many people have been staying in motels. Although the government is still considering alternatives, such as abandoned service facilities, it is still not apparent if these are better solutions. Plans call for encouraging refugees to obtain their own housing as part of the local authorities’ efforts to help with refugee accommodations more permanently. Only 44 families have received permanent housing to this point.
For Ukrainian migrants, the situation is a little different. The article claims that the UK has not exempted Ukrainians fleeing violence from visa requirements in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, once in the UK, the Home Office at least seems to recognise that it has a continuing duty to help and house those with visas issued under the Ukraine system.
The UK Director of Human Rights Watch summarised the report’s findings by stating that, despite its claim that it wants to play a significant role in defending democracy and freedom around the world, the UK government “has taken a sledgehammer to its fundamental international commitments,” particularly in light of the immigration and asylum policies implemented over the past year. It is unclear whether the administration would be successful in putting this policy into effect while litigation is still going on against the Rwanda accord. Human rights continue to be impeded by immigration policy for everyone still living in the UK.
Here at Law Lane Solicitors, we have the experience and expertise to advise you on Immigration and Asylum. If you would like to speak to one of our specialists, then please call us on 0207 870 4870 today.
Tahir Shahab Khan