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UK Parliament Passes Controversial Bill Allowing Asylum Seekers to be Sent to Rwanda

Asylum Seekers

After two years of legal and legislative challenges, the UK Parliament has passed a contentious bill that will allow the British government to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for their claims to be processed by the East African nation. The passage of this bill marks a significant step for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government in its efforts to address irregular migration, particularly from people crossing the English Channel in small boats. Here are some details from the report of CNN International.

Background and Legal Challenges

The bill’s journey through Parliament has been fraught with challenges, including opposition in the House of Lords and rulings from the British Supreme Court deeming the policy unlawful. The Court cited concerns about the risk of refoulement and Rwanda’s record on human rights, suggesting that asylum seekers sent there could face serious risks. The UK government responded to these challenges by enacting the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, effectively declaring Rwanda a safe country in UK law.

Home Secretary James Cleverly announced on X (formerly Twitter) that the bill had passed in Parliament and would become law within days, giving the government the power to implement the policy despite previous legal hurdles.

Political Implications and Potential Challenges

Despite the bill’s passage, the UK government may still face legal challenges from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as the UK is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. The European court has previously blocked attempts to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. The bill’s passage does not guarantee the success of Sunak’s policy, especially as it faces criticism on multiple fronts.

Sunak’s handling of the bill has also led to political implications within his own party and in the broader political landscape. The bill underwent a protracted passage, with lawmakers “ping ponging” it back and forth between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This drawn-out process highlighted divisions within the Conservative Party and set the stage for broader debates about the UK’s adherence to the ECHR.

The bill’s impact on Sunak’s political future remains uncertain, with a general election looming before the end of this year. The controversial policy, which has already cost the British government £220 million ($274 million), could face further financial and legal scrutiny, especially if deportations are delayed or blocked by the ECHR.

Reaction from Opposition and Broader Political Landscape

The opposition Labour Party has already announced its intention to scrap the policy if it comes to power. Sunak’s efforts to stop small boat crossings may resonate with some voters, but the policy’s expense and potential human rights violations open him up to criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.

Overall, the bill’s passage signals a pivotal moment for the UK’s approach to irregular migration and asylum, but its future implementation and impact remain subject to legal, political, and ethical considerations.

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