Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 54 Number 15, June 22, 2024 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

An Election Issue

Inhumane Racist Law to Expel Migrants and Refugees

The British Supreme Court has ordered that the Home Secretary must respond to the evidence of the UN agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in a judicial review. As reported, the Supreme Court has granted the UN agency permission to prepare a dossier before any flights of asylum seekers can leave the UK. The deadline for response set by the Supreme Court is July 5, the day after the general election. It is acknowledged that the Labour Party will have the majority of seats in the new Parliament, and their election manifesto states that the agreement with Rwanda will end under their government. But, it must be remembered, Starmer's criticism of Sunak's revised Rwanda Act is that it is a gesture, and will do nothing to "stop the boats".

The "Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act" was passed by Parliament on April 22, 2024, and received the Royal Assent on April 25, the day that the UK-Rwanda Treaty, signed in December 2023, was also ratified, and the Home Office began its "Operation Vector" on April 29. "Operation Vector" involves police raids on homes and hotels across the country, handcuffing "failed asylum seekers" and detaining them with a view to deporting them to Rwanda. Here, "failed asylum seekers" are deemed "illegal" because they left a "safe third country" such as France to seek asylum in Britain, and their appeals to remain in Britain have been rejected by the Home Office. And Rwanda itself, a country in central Africa, more than 4,000 miles from Britain, is deemed "safe" because no matter what the conditions are in that long-suffering country, the British government declares it to be "safe", according to the Act. [1]

These raids have been the subject of many protests. And the Act itself has been denounced by human rights activists who point out that it is illegal, racist and criminalises refugees. They say that they will do everything in their power to stop any deportation plane leaving for Rwanda. In fact, it is now established that no flights will leave before July 4. In its letter, the law is inoperable. It should be emphasised that against all humanitarian principles and the principles underlying refugee laws and conventions passed by the United Nations since World War II, the British government had thought that it had succeeded in getting the green light to expel people from the British mainland who have managed to arrive at its shores. These are people who have been turned into migrants and refugees by Britain's own policies of exploitation and wars of destruction, and genocide against tribal peoples in Asia and Africa.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, stated, "The new legislation marks a further step away from the UK's long tradition of providing refuge to those in need, in breach of the Refugee Convention." Grandi pointed out, "Protecting refugees requires all countries - not just those neighbouring crisis zones - to uphold their obligations."

In fact, time and time again the government has been condemned for trying to expel migrants and refugees seeking asylum in Britain. The racism and arrogance of the ruling elites has revealed the essence of British empire-building values promoted in the mid-nineteenth century of "white man's burden" whereby it can do whatever it wishes in its colonies and possessions according to what it considers to be its "god given right". In this case, it has persisted in using its position of privilege and power to manipulate the process of passing law until it can claim a majority as if this is what is required to give what it is doing legitimacy and credibility.

Not long ago, on a trip to Poland, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that the aim of the Safety of Rwanda Act is to curb illegal criminal gangs who exploit and endanger asylum seekers. But he left himself and those with power and privilege out of that category. Whatever criminal gangs exist are thanks to the British state that rules on the basis of keeping such criminal gangs, his own included, in place. No matter what Sunak says and has said, his government's legislation violates British law, international humanitarian law and the UN Refugee Convention. It provides credible evidence that the British state itself is engaged in large-scale illegal human trafficking.

Background and Boris Johnson's Legacy

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The UK and Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership, also known as the Rwanda Asylum Plan, was first proposed by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In 2022, he reached an agreement with Rwanda to accept asylum seekers from Britain in exchange for more than £100 million and other aid money with more to come. It was thanks to the broad opposition in Britain and the actions of migrant advocates and legal challenges that the deportations were stopped in 2022.

When the first group of deportees were set to depart for Rwanda in June 2022, two organisations, Detention Actions and Care4Calais, joined with the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and four asylum seekers to challenge the plan and request a last-minute injunction to stop the first flight from taking off. The British High Court refused the injunction but the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) intervened on the grounds that "the plan carried real risk of irreparable harm" and the flight was cancelled.

The ruling elites in Britain can never be forgiven for the crimes they are committing against the asylum seekers and refugees today. Britain built its wealth and power on the Atlantic Slave Trade, growing rich on the bodies of Africans and causing irreparable damage as the master of colonies in Africa. To now use Rwanda as a dumping ground for human beings it does not want is unconscionable and shows that what are called British values and civilisation are as rotten today as they were in colonial times. Britain, through its participation in NATO and wars against countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, is one of the big powers responsible for the refugee crisis, for millions of people forced to take desperate measures to find refuge in countries where they hope to start new lives.

Demands of the Working Class and People

To divert attention from the crisis in which the so-called liberal democratic institutions in Britain are mired and the need to remove from power those who serve narrow private interests, monopoly media pretend that Britain is a victim of too many people wishing to come to its shores because it is such a great country. In this vein, they claim that thousands of refugees from around the world travel to northern France each year in hopes of crossing the Channel to be reunited with friends or family or because they speak English or feel that they would integrate more easily into British society. Meanwhile, Britain receives fewer asylum seekers than many European nations, including France, Germany and Italy, because it is far from their point of origin and is, on top of this, an island.

In opposition, the demand of the peoples of Britain and the world is for Britain to make amends for its historic crimes. However, the deeper the crisis of the liberal democratic institutions at Britain's core, the more the cartel parties clutch at straws to remain in power and consolidate themselves as instruments of the state itself, and the more racist, criminal and genocidal they show themselves to be. The working class and people have demonstrated that they will not put up with the racist immigration and refugee policies of the British state. It is a crucial election issue that, besides demanding the rights of all refugee claimants be respected, the people take a stand against the racism of the British state and its apologists and refuse to vote for them, furthermore strengthening their unity and resistance to this racism.

1. This legislation was the response of the Rishi Sunak government to bypass the November 2023 ruling of the Supreme Court. That ruling found that his government's "Rwanda Policy" of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda was unlawful because Rwanda is not a safe country for asylum seekers to be sent to. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom - which is the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom for all civil cases, and for criminal cases originating in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - found that there is a substantial risk of the expelled asylum seekers being returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened. In response to the Supreme Court decision, Sunak's government negotiated a treaty with Rwanda which it claims addresses the Court's concerns. It then crafted legislation that designates Rwanda as a safe country and furthermore denies asylum seekers the right to return to the UK.

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