THE RWANDA BILL being pushed through parliament by the UK government undermines the rule of law, say Quakers.

“The survival of our democracy depends not only on respect for all human beings, but also on respect for the constitutional separation of powers between government, parliament and the courts”, the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network (QARN) said.

“It is alarming to see that our executive now proposes to defy the rule of law both nationally and internationally in order to place narrow nationalistic loyalties above the things that bind us together in our global village.”

The bill, designed by the government to force through its plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda despite the Supreme Court’s factual assessment of the risks, has been widely condemned. It does not address the Supreme Court’s concerns about the Rwandan asylum system and replacing the UK’s domestic courts’ jurisdiction.

The Rwanda Bill also removes the UK’s obligation in domestic law to abide by treaties that the UK remains bound to internationally, including the European Convention on Human Rights. This undermines the UK’s commitment to the very convention which underpins the Good Friday Agreement, the Northern Ireland settlement and the UK’s treaty arrangements with the EU.

QARN said that asylum seekers came to the UK because they believed they would be protected in a country which upheld democratic freedoms and human rights. “We deeply deplore the fact that our country proposes to disapply these freedoms and these rights from those our Quaker Faith and Practice most calls us to support and cherish”, they said. “We believe that human rights are defined as universal, inalienable, indivisible and interdependent; withholding them from anybody is an attack on everybody.”

The bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons this week. It will now proceed to committee stage where a committee of MPs will examine it line by line.

The passing of this bill coincided with the death of an asylum seeker on the Bibby Stockholm barge, which houses migrants off the Dorset coast. The man is thought to have taken his own life.

Quakers have long warned of the dangers of the government’s senselessly cruel migration legislation. Under the Illegal Migration Act of July this year, there is no way for refugees to claim asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means. But the government accepts virtually no asylum routes as legal, so refugees fall back on the ‘small boats’ crossing the Channel that the government is trying to prevent.

Once they arrive refugees are criminalised by this legislation and housed in unsuitable accommodation from surplus military sites to barges.

* Source: Quakers in Britain