GENEVA / UK RWANDA ASYLUM LAW

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As the United Kingdom passed a controversial bill to send asylum seekers to Rwanda late on Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, jointly objected to the law's likely negative effects on global responsibility-sharing, human rights, and refugee protection. UNTV / OHCHR
Description

STORY: GENEVA / UK RWANDA ASYLUM LAW
TRT: 02:42
SOURCE: UNTV / OHCHR
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 23 APRIL 2024, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / FILE

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Shotlist

FILE - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, exterior, Palais des Nations

23 APRIL 2024, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Wide shot, speakers at the podium
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Filippo Grandi and Volker Turk are calling on the UK government to reconsider its plan to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda, and instead to take practical measures to address irregular flows of refugees and migrants based on international cooperation and respect for international human rights law.”
4. Wide shot, speakers at the podium with journalists in press room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“This new legislation seriously hinders the rule of law in the UK, and it sets a perilous precedent globally. It is critical to the protection of the human rights and dignity of refugees and migrants seeking protection that all removals from the UK are carried out after assessing their specific individual circumstances in strict compliance with international human rights and refugee law.”
6. Wide shot, press briefing room with speakers at the podium and journalists
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Under the UK-Rwanda Asylum Partnership, asylum seekers in the UK will be transferred to Rwanda before their claims for asylum can be heard in the UK. And we think that that is being inconsistent with global solidarity and responsibility sharing and is also in breach of the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which the UK is, of course, a signatory. “
8. Med shot, journalists in press room
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “The UK continues to receive relatively modest numbers of asylum seekers. We know that those go up and down, and we know that the increases, particularly in the arrivals of small boats do create important challenges for the country. But it's also important to remember that those numbers are relatively modest when compared to their European peers, but also, of course, when compared to major refugee hosts in regions like Africa.”
10. Wide shot, press briefing room with journalists
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“There is a very important difference in what we're doing and what is being proposed by the UK. UNHCR does have an emergency transit mechanism, but this program is, as the name suggests, an emergency mechanism. It's temporary and it's voluntary, and it serves a very specific, limited purpose. It's a facility for receiving refugees, whose human rights and in some cases, lives, are at immediate risk.”
12. Med shot, press briefing room with journalists
13. Close up, journalist listening
14. Wide shot, Zoom operators behind the windows with camerawoman in front of it

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Storyline

As the United Kingdom passed a controversial bill to send asylum seekers to Rwanda late on Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, today (23 Apr) jointly objected to the law's likely negative effects on global responsibility-sharing, human rights, and refugee protection.

“Filippo Grandi and Volker Türk are calling on the UK government to reconsider its plan to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda, and instead to take practical measures to address irregular flows of refugees and migrants based on international cooperation and respect for international human rights law,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) at a news briefing on Tuesday at the United Nations in Geneva.

The UK government has signed an agreement with Rwanda that would allow it to send asylum-seekers to the African country to have their cases decided.

“This new legislation seriously hinders the rule of law in the UK, and it sets a perilous precedent globally,” stressed Ms. Shamdasani. “It is critical to the protection of the human rights and dignity of refugees and migrants seeking protection that all removals from the UK are carried out after assessing their specific individual circumstances in strict compliance with international human rights and refugee law.”

The passing of this landmark legislation presents a fundamental change in the global equation on migration.

“Under the UK-Rwanda Asylum Partnership, asylum seekers in the UK will be transferred to Rwanda before their claims for asylum can be heard in the UK,” said Matthew Saltmarsh, UNHCR’s spokesperson. “We think that that is being inconsistent with global solidarity and responsibility sharing and is also in breach of the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which the UK is, of course, a signatory."

The measure will drastically limit the ability for UK asylum-seekers to challenge or appeal removal decisions, with decision-makers and judges required to conclusively treat Rwanda as a “safe” country in terms of protecting asylum-seekers – regardless of any evidence to the contrary, now or in the future. The new legislation expressly authorizes the UK Government to disregard any protective interim remedies from the European Court of Human Rights.

“The UK continues to receive relatively modest numbers of asylum seekers. We know that those go up and down, and we know that the increases, particularly in the arrivals of small boats, do create important challenges for the country,” stressed Mr. Saltmarsh. “But it's also important to remember that those numbers are relatively modest when compared to their European peers, but also, of course, when compared to major refugee hosts in regions like Africa.”

Acknowledging the challenges presented by the irregular movement of refugees and migrants, often in dangerous circumstances, the UN humanitarians nonetheless expressed grave concern that the legislation would facilitate transfers under the UK-Rwanda asylum partnership, with only limited consideration of their individual circumstances or any protection risks.

“There is a very important difference in what we're doing and what is being proposed by the UK,” stressed UNHCR’s spokesperson. “UNHCR does have an emergency transit mechanism, but this program is, as the name suggests, an emergency mechanism. It's temporary and it's voluntary, and it serves a very specific, limited purpose. It's a facility for receiving refugees, whose human rights and in some cases, lives, are at immediate risk.”

The new legislation is the third in a series of progressively restrictive UK laws that have eroded access to refugee protection in the UK since 2022, including through a ban on access to asylum or other forms of permission to stay in the UK for those arriving irregularly via a third country. If enforced, the law would facilitate the swift transfer of asylum-seekers, including families with children, to Rwanda to present their asylum applications, with no opportunity for repatriation to the UK.

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OHCHR / UNTV CH
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unifeed240423d
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3199810
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3199810