Humanists call for end to Rwanda deportation policy

26 June, 2022

At their Annual General Meeting in Belfast today, members of Humanists UK adopted a call for the policy of deporting asylum claimants to Rwanda to be brought to an end, calling the policy ‘dehumanising and immoral’.

Their call has been welcomed by Humanists UK patron and leading child refugee campaigner Alf Dubs, who said that ‘being a refugee is one of the hardest things imaginable’ and that asylum seekers need ‘compassion and support’.

Humanists UK provides assistance to non-religious refugees in the process of seeking asylum in the UK, and is part of the Home Office’s asylum stakeholder forum.

The full motion adopted by the General Meeting reads:

From our work supporting humanist asylum seekers, persecuted because of their beliefs, we know the extreme difficulties faced by refugees in the UK. In seeking safe haven abroad, they suffer arduous journeys, deplorable treatment, and harsh conditions. Throughout this hostile process, they suffer with the uncertainty of whether their cases will be fairly heard and properly processed.

The UK Government’s new policy of deporting refugees from the UK to Rwanda plainly makes their situation worse. For those asylum seekers we specialise in helping, who have already faced persecution on the basis of being non-religious, Rwanda represents an especially unsafe destination, and a potential site of further persecution and unfair handling of their claims. But the problem is broader than that.

This policy loses sight of refugees as human beings with human rights. Every human being has the right to life, the right to express themselves and to express their beliefs, the right to start a family and lead a normal life.

We want to see this dehumanising and immoral policy abolished and for refugees in the UK to have their claims for asylum assessed and resolved within the UK.

Humanists UK has written to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to raise its concerns about the scheme in general, and the impact on non-religious asylum seekers in particular.

Alf Dubs. Photo: Alamy.

Welcoming the motion, Humanists UK patron Alf Dubs commented:

‘Humanists believe that everyone should have the right to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, including through enjoyment of freedom of thought and expression. Sadly, for many people, that is not possible in their home countries, and so they have to seek that life elsewhere. These are people who need our compassion and support.

‘Refugees have contributed so much to the life and character of the UK, and to see them be instead sent to suffer more elsewhere is a travesty. Being a refugee is already one of the hardest things imaginable. We should be doing what we can to support them, not making things even worse.’

For information on the discriminatory treatment experienced by non-religious people in Rwanda, see the Humanists International Freedom of Thought Report. The report details high levels of social stigma towards humanists and the non-religious, repressive laws against ‘blasphemy’ and other restrictions on free speech, and discriminatory treatment of the non-religious throughout society.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.