Humanists highlight Rwanda bill flaws in the Lords

30 January, 2024

As the Rwanda Bill passed its second reading in the House of Lords last night, Humanists UK and members of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) have warned that the designation of Rwanda as a safe country completely ignores many of its serious human rights violations.

The legislation declares that Rwanda is a ‘safe country’, in direct opposition to the ruling of the Supreme Court. This is despite the fact that Rwanda still has significant blasphemy laws. Individuals may suffer imprisonment or significant fines if they break these laws. This raises serious concerns about the safety and wellbeing of non-religious asylum seekers, as well as asylum seekers from other religious minorities.

Humanists UK is also severely concerned about the wider human rights impact of the legislation. The bill will disapply certain sections of the Human Rights Act while also ignoring the protections granted by international law.

Many of the concerns were raised by members of the APPHG last night. Baroness Whitaker raised the crucial issue of blasphemy laws, while Baroness Meacher declared that, ‘Our immigration policy must not involve breaking international law or human rights.’

In 2022 members of Humanists UK called at their Annual General Meeting that the policy of deporting asylum claimants to Rwanda be brought to an end, calling the policy ‘dehumanising and immoral’.

Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Kathy Riddick said:

‘The designation of Rwanda as a “safe country” is deeply concerning, as it disregards the glaring human rights violations persisting within its borders. Its blasphemy laws directly contradict the notion of safety, particularly for non-religious asylum seekers and minorities. 

‘This legislation not only undermines the Supreme Court’s ruling but also disregards international human rights standards. Ending the policy of deporting asylum claimants to Rwanda is not just a matter of legality, but of morality and basic human decency.’

Notes

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick at press@humanists.uk or phone 07534 248 596.

Read the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill

Read our initial response to the Rwanda Bill

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