Force the government to U-turn on Rwanda

Thursday, 16th June

Parliament

‘It is shameful for Britain that the seven most welcoming countries face immense difficulties themselves’

• BRITISH ministers’ repeated condemnation of “the people smugglers” helps hide the government’s direct responsibility in the creation of millions of refugees in the world.

Between 2011 and 2020 the majority of UK defence exports went to the Middle East (60 per cent), followed by North America (17 per cent ) and Europe (15 per cent).

There are 70 to 80 million war refugees roaming worldwide. In the list of countries welcoming refugees, Britain is a long way down.

It is shameful for Britain that the seven most welcoming countries face immense difficulties themselves: Uganda, Pakistan, Lebanon, Sudan, Bangladesh, Iran and Ethiopia.

Like the practice of extraordinary rendition, the off-shoring of refugees turns people into objects to be sent out of sight, perhaps only one step away from having them disappear.

Both practices rely on no clear accountability in law, let alone reparations for victims generally too powerless to defend themselves, if they survive.

Most of those who reach Britain get eventually recognised as refugees. This contradicts the government’s claim that they had been economic migrants in the first place.

Prince Charles has spoken out. So have the archbishops of Canterbury and York, plus 23 bishops and the UN Human Rights Council.

The PCS civil service trade union, which represents some 80 per cent of those employed by Border Force, says it could boycott certain government actions.

For those in power all this serves to show political forces are uniting for alternatives, not just to Boris Johnson but to the Tories as well.

The International Maritime Organisation said in late 2021 that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea creates “an obligation to rescue anyone in danger at sea”. Article 98 obliges the master of a ship to help anyone in danger at sea.

Any government’s instruction to Border Force to turn away migrant boats from British waters infringes the law of the sea. The government uses state powers and the power of secrecy to pretend that it respects the law.

Calling on the government’s better nature to reverse its policy on Rwanda is therefore less important than to campaign vigorously to make it U-turn on Rwanda. Our MP Tulip Siddiq could help in leading such a campaign.

MARIE LYNAM
Hampstead & Kilburn Constituency Labour Party

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