Glasgow immigration lawyer raises ‘serious deficiencies’ in UK Rwanda policy for refugees

A Glasgow immigration lawyer has raised "serious deficiencies" in the UK Government's policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda after published documents admitted the system may not be able to meet processing timeframes.

Usman Aslam, senior associate at Mukhtar & Co, said the policies document, published last week by the UK Government, also questions the independence of the appeals process for people earmarked for the Rwandan scheme.

The scheme has come under heavy criticism since it was announced last month.

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Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said 50 migrants had now been told they would be the first to be sent to Rwanda in east Africa as part of the new resettlement policy. People judged to have entered the UK illegally – such as on boats crossing the Channel, or in the back of lorries – could be flown to Rwanda for resettlement.

A group of migrants disembark from a UK Border Force boat at the port of Dover having being picked up crossing the English Channel from France.

Even refugee children could be shipped to the east African nation under the new plans, which will see refugees who arrive in the UK and are considered “inadmissible”, for potential processing in Rwanda, where they will stay indefinitely even if their application is granted.

Mr Aslam said: “The policies on Rwanda have been published and, as expected, show that this is one of the most ludicrous plans that this country has ever come across. The report reveals serious deficiencies in the Rwandan process.

"The Home Office say that the Rwandan Government have an asylum system in place, but may not be able to meet processing timeframes and that ‘it is unclear how often this occurs and what the exact process for monitoring case progression is. Other sources were also aware of some delays in processing claims’.

“And this is before the scheme has even started. Why do they not know this? The policy also states ‘trafficking of persons for both labour and sex is also an issue, with young women and girls and persons living in refugee camps among those identified as vulnerable groups, and traffickers reportedly targeting those who are vulnerable’. It identifies that LGBT communities live in fear and same-sex relationships are taboo in Rwanda. And they want to send human beings there?”

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Mr Aslam added: "The policy even questions the independence of the appeals process. Access to legal advice is apparently available, but their policy document confirms that between 2015 and 2020, 77 asylum seekers received free legal advice. This is extremely worrying. Believe me, these are only a few of the issues from the policy.

The immigration lawyer said: “It is regrettable, as well as laughable, that the Government wants to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to Rwanda, a country not fit for the task, and additionally pay for housing, travel, food for refugees. Why couldn’t they spend considerably less and solve the issue in the UK? Especially when we barely get any refugees to enter the UK anyway, another fact that the Government routinely ignore.

"The real question, however, is how could our home secretary have legitimately determined that Rwandan scheme was fit for purpose? The Rwanda plan, really is a shambles.”

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.

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