Rwanda bill could be delayed past Easter by parliamentary ping-pong

Rwanda bill could be delayed past Easter by parliamentary ping-pong

Controversial UK legislation providing for the permanent deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda may not now be enacted before Easter.

MPs yesterday voted to undo 10 amendments to the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill which were made in the House of Lords earlier this month.

Among other things, the amendments would have obliged the UK government to act in accordance with international law, while exempting certain groups of asylum seekers – such as people who have worked for the British armed forces – from the Rwanda scheme.

The bill will now return to the Lords tomorrow and, if amended again, will end up back in the Commons under the ‘ping-pong’ process.

If this happens, the bill will probably not become law until after Westminster’s Easter recess, making it unlikely that the government will be able to make its first deportations under the scheme before June as intended, the BBC reports.

Commenting on yesterday’s votes in the Commons, Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s chief executive, said: “Today’s vote shows that the rights of refugees in this country are crumbling before our eyes.

“Not only is the Rwanda scheme a deeply immoral way to treat people fleeing conflict and persecution, it is also unlawful and risks undermining global respect for international law.

“Rather than this brazen attempt to palm off the UK’s international obligations onto another country, the UK should be offering proper protection to people fleeing conflict and persecution from places like Afghanistan, Iran, Syria and Eritrea.

“The asylum system is in freefall, with a refusal to process cases and thousands of people stuck in limbo with devastating consequences.

“Instead of putting an end to the government’s policy disaster, the bill increases the harms being done by tearing up the ability of courts to decide on the facts or rule that clear breaches of human rights are unlawful. These are the most basic aspects of rights protection, and this is a deeply alarming development for the UK.

“Once again – and in the strongest terms – we’re calling on the government to scrap the deeply authoritarian Rwanda bill in its entirety. This shocking spectacle of forcing – or even bribing – people onto planes must end now.”

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