I was not going to add anything new here on the UK government’s announcement on Thursday regarding asylum seekers. I’ve already written before about offshore processing, why it’s a bad idea and why it doesn’t deal with the crisis.
However, today has been a day for the tabloid press to lower its game even further into the mud. One publication in particular joining with the prime minister in suggesting that it is only the left who are letting out howls and seeking to oppose the changes.
This in itself should set alarm bells ringing. When anyone who disagrees with a political proposal is accused of howling and seen as to be opposed and defeated at all costs then that is not good for democracy. We rely on a system here where ideas can be debated and challenged.
Concerns about the Rwanda scheme come not just from the left but across the political spectrum from those who note that Rwanda’s own human rights track record hasn’t been too hot, those who recognise that this will not deal with the root cause criminality that drives trafficking gangs (they’ll find other reasons to exploit and abuse) and those who have spotted how costly and inefficient such schemes are likely to be.
As is often the case, the press wheels out the usual rhetoric about lawyers making money by making repeat appeals on behalf of failed asylum seekers.
Now, there are no doubt those who seek to benefit from the system and I’ve certainly come into contact with people who happily make money without the asylum seeker benefitting. But the reality is that many people are dedicated and working hard because they care in one of the less lucrative areas of law ( after all many cases are paid for by legal aid).
It bears repeating but the reason why there are so many appeals is because of the hash of things made at the start. That’s why, bluntly, cases are won on appeal or via Judicial Review.
The classic scenario I’ve seen is for claimants to be told “yes we accept that you probably were tortured and abused. Yes we accept that family members have been killed. However we think you will be okay if you go back. Maybe those hunting you will have given up? Perhaps you could try and move to another bit of the country where they won’t find you?” Asylum seekers are basically asked to cross their fingers and hope it will be okay. Even though there is a real risk of physical and emotional violence from those who use beatings, kidnaps, FGM, rape and murder to get their way.
There is a reason why asylum seekers take the risk of crossing the channel in dinghies. It’s because they see the risk from the sea and traffickers as worth it compared to the risk of torture and persecution at home. Until our leaders get that basic point they simply won’t get it
Please write to the media, to your MP and to Priti Patel explaining why the Rwanda scheme is so wrong, so cruel, so stupid and urge them to play their part in getting this policy reversed.