The Stream

Is the UK’s plan to ship asylum seekers to Rwanda ethical?

On Wednesday, April 20 at 19:30GMT: 

The United Kingdom and Rwanda have inked a deal to send people seeking asylum in the UK to the East African nation. There they will be given the option to stay in Rwanda, be sent home, or to try to seek asylum in any country other than the UK.

The announcement, which drew swift criticism from refugee groups and UK opposition politicians, is raising moral and legal questions about a country’s obligation to asylum seekers.

In exchange for offshoring migrants, the British government will pay Rwanda 120m pounds plus the cost of flights and lodging. The government says flights could begin with weeks and would first focus on single men who’ve arrived on the country’s doorsteps by small boats or lorries.

A similar policy has been used in Australia since 2001 as a way to deter migrants from seeking refuge there. Gillian Triggs, an assistant secretary-general with UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, says like Australia’s policy the UK’s decision is also ‘an egregious breach of international law, and refugee law, and human rights law’. Triggs made the admonishment last week during an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme.

On this episode of The Stream we take an in-depth look at the UK’s plan as we discuss the ethics of remote processing.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Emilie McDonnell, @DrEmMcDonnell
Advocacy & Communications Coordinator, Human Rights Watch

Moya Lothian-Mclean, @mlothianmclean
Contributing Editor, Novara Media

Frank Habineza, @FrankHabineza
Member of Parliament, Rwanda