The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 has an enormous impact on the human rights of asylum
seekers, especially due to UK’s exportation of asylum obligations to Rwanda.
The two-tier system had a seismic impact on the human rights of asylum seekers especially considering the implementation of new criteria of foreigners. The system is the centrepiece of the government’s reform – it categorises the refugees into two groups based on how they entered the country.
Group 1 refugees are those that arrive to the UK directly from the country where their life was threatened, whilst presenting themselves without any delay to the authorities. Individuals who do not meet the requirements above are placed in Group 2.
The new legislation states that those who arrive in the UK via irregular means will receive fewer safeguards and less support, whilst significantly increasing the standard of proof for the establishment of a refugee status for Group 2 individuals. Furthermore, the threshold at which an individual is considered criminally liable for a reasonably serious crime will be increased, resulting in increased penalties and fewer opportunities to appeal.
Notably, the bilateral agreement reached between UK and Rwanda severely limited the human rights of the asylum seekers. In April 2022, the UK and Rwanda signed an agreement which facilitated the deportation of asylum seekers from the former to the latter. Immigration rules in relation to inadmissibility have taken the form of primary legislation, “allowing asylum seekers who have travelled through a ‘safe third country’, to have their asylum claims declared ‘inadmissible’”.
An ‘inadmissible‘ claim is raised when “a person who has a connection to a safe third State”. This is highly problematic since an individual with an ‘inadmissible’ claim will be relocated to Rwanda, despite not having any connection to that country, essentially shifting the legal responsibility of dealing with ‘inadmissible’ claims to another state.
The basic rights of asylum seekers following deportation can not be guaranteed as the Rwandan law is not compatible with that of the ECHR; significantly breaching international and domestic law. The arguably “misguided, cruel and racist” policy, simply transfers its humanitarian ‘burdens’ to Rwandan camps whilst considerably overlooking the needs of the most vulnerable parties. The Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda (MEDP) had an enormous impact on the rights of asylum seekers causing legal concern. As confirmed by the former president of the Law Society (Stephanie Boyce), following a relocation, the asylum seeker will be deprived of the right to an appeal in the UK courts; making it “entirely inappropriate for the government to introduce such a significant change in the UK’s treatment of refugees without any oversight or scrutiny by parliament”.
This is a momentous change because the individuals are not transported to another nation whilst their claims are being processed, but rather, their claims are simply rejected, and the responsibility is shifted to Rwanda. There exists sufficient evidence to conclude that the East African country does not enforce the human rights obligations set out in the ECHR, with an abundance of allegations of inhumane treatment and torture. Raza Husain KC stated that “Rwanda is a one-party authoritarian state.., a regime that repeatedly imprisons tortures and murders those it thinks is its political opponents.”; further supporting the argument that Rwanda is not fit for receiving asylum seekers.