Macron blasts ‘ineffective’ UK’s Rwanda law

“I don’t believe in the model … which would involve finding third countries on the African continent or elsewhere where we’d send people who arrive on our soil illegally,” says Macron…reports Asian Lite News

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said Britain’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was “ineffective” and showed “cynicism” while praising the two countries’ cooperation on defense.

“I don’t believe in the model … which would involve finding third countries on the African continent or elsewhere where we’d send people who arrive on our soil illegally, who don’t come from these countries,” Macron said.

“We’re creating a geopolitics of cynicism which betrays our values and will build new dependencies, and which will prove completely ineffective,” he added in a wide-ranging speech on the future of the European Union at Paris’ Sorbonne University.

British MPs on Tuesday passed a law providing for undocumented asylum seekers to be sent to Rwanda, where their asylum claims would be processed and where they would stay if the claims succeed.

The law is a flagship policy for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government, which badly lags the opposition Labour Party in the polls, with an election expected within months.

Britain pays Paris to support policing of France’s northern coast, which aims to prevent migrants from setting off for perilous crossings in small boats.

Five people, including one child, were killed in an attempted crossing Tuesday, bringing the toll on the route so far this year to 15 — already higher than the 12 deaths in 2023.

But Macron had warm words for London when he praised the two NATO allies’ bilateral military cooperation, which endured through the contentious years of Britain’s departure from the EU.

“The British are deep natural allies (for France), and the treaties that bind us together … lay a solid foundation,” he said.

“We have to follow them up and strengthen them because Brexit has not affected this relationship,” Macron added.

The president also said France should seek similar “partnerships” with fellow EU members.

King Charles grants Royal assent

King Charles has given his assent to legislation central to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Royal assent is the final stage in the legislative process, and effectively rubber stamps the decision taken by parliament earlier this week to approve the bill after a long battle between the government and opponents of the plan.

The Royal Assent was announced in the House of Lords on Thursday, meaning the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill will now become law.

Parliament approved the legislation in the early hours of Tuesday morning. On Monday, Sunak said he expected the first flights to Rwanda to take off in 10 to 12 weeks after it was passed.

UN express concerns

United Nations (UN) leaders have raised the alarm over the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill passed by the United Kingdom (UK) this week.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, and High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk highlighted the law’s detrimental effects on human rights and refugee protection.

The bill identifies Rwanda as a secure nation, and is a crucial component of the government’s strategy to relocate certain asylum seekers there. It is set to become law after months of wrangling ended in a parliamentary showdown on Monday night.

On Tuesday, Grandi and Turk called on the UK government to reconsider its plan to transfer asylum-seekers to Rwanda. Instead, the UN leaders asked the UK to take practical measures to address irregular flows of refugees and migrants, based on international cooperation and respect for international human rights law.

“The new legislation marks a further step away from the UK’s long tradition of providing refuge to those in need, in breach of the Refugee Convention,” said Grandi. “This arrangement seeks to shift responsibility for refugee protection, undermining international cooperation and setting a worrying global precedent.”

Meanwhile, Turk said: “By shifting responsibility for refugees, reducing the UK’s courts’ ability to scrutinize removal decisions, restricting access to legal remedies in the UK and limiting the scope of domestic and international human rights protections for a specific group of people, this new legislation seriously hinders the rule of law in the UK and sets a perilous precedent globally.”

In April 2022, Britain struck a deal with Rwanda whereby illegal immigrants and asylum seekers would be transferred to Rwanda for their claims to be processed. Once approved, they would receive permanent residency in Rwanda instead of being permitted to go back to the UK.

“The adoption of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill by the UK Parliament raises major issues about the human rights of asylum seekers and the rule of law more generally”, said Michael O’Flaherty, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. “The United Kingdom government should refrain from removing people under the Rwanda policy and reverse the Bill’s effective infringement of judicial independence”, he underlined.

“Managing asylum and migration is undoubtedly a complex endeavour for states, but it must always be done in full compliance with international standards. In this regard, I am concerned that the Rwanda Bill enables the implementation of a policy of removing people to Rwanda without any prior assessment of their asylum claims by the UK authorities in the majority of cases. Specifically, the Bill prevents individuals faced with removal to Rwanda from accessing remedies for potential violations of the absolute prohibition of refoulement, while it also significantly excludes the ability of UK courts to fully and independently scrutinise the issues brought before them.

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