"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less." Chapter 6, Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
The government’s Rwanda Bill is a bizarre and appalling piece of legislation. After the Supreme Court found that Rwanda was not a safe country, the government is seeking to pass a bill that would ban the courts from doing exactly this, forcing the independent judiciary to accept its statement that Rwanda is safe. This effectively removes any constraint or oversight of the government, which would be concerning under any circumstances, but is terrifying when it relates to life and death decisions.
Rwanda is in fact a country with an appalling human rights record, with specific instances of appalling treatment of refugees. It does not have a functioning asylum system. The UK’s highest court has made explicit findings on these matters, with the UNHCR in full agreement. The UK government’s assertion that Rwanda is safe is a crude abuse of language, legislation and the constitutional balance of powers in the UK.
To think that the Bill received significant opposition from a group of Conservative MPs who thought it didn’t go far enough illustrates the rotten state of the governing party and its approach to migration. The human cost of this is no better evidenced than by the tragic news that a refugee forcibly shoved on the Bibby Stockholm, the government’s legionella-infected floating prison, took their own life.
It is remarkable that Sunak is staking his premiership on this exceptionally flimsy and expensive policy that stands such little chance of success, but still strikes fear into refugees in the UK hoping to rebuild their lives. He should instead abandon it alongside the Illegal Migration Act, the Nationality and Borders Act, and all other policies that deny the fundamental right to international protection to those who need it most.