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Kerry Smith
We are outraged at the passing of the Safety of Rwanda Bill, which declares Rwanda to be ‘safe’ despite the opposite finding by the Supreme Court, and in doing so allows the UK government to put people seeking asylum at great risk by sending them there. This includes survivors of trafficking and torture and even children.  

The Rwanda removals scheme is designed to be deliberately cruel, and we have seen the deep and lasting damage it has already caused. Every day, we witness in real time the impact of this legal purgatory in uncertainty, fear and the mental health deterioration of our clients. For survivors of interpersonal violence, for whom trust in others is a key challenge, the constant public shaming and condemnation combined with the cruelty of the policy further erodes their belief that they will ever be treated fairly, prolonging and complicating the work of recovery.     

There is no evidence that sending people who are seeking protection from persecution to Rwanda will act as a deterrent to stop them from making dangerous journeys. To punish those who are fleeing some of the worst conflict and oppression globally — in a misguided attempt to deter others from seeking sanctuary here — is not only morally wrong but fundamentally misunderstands the lack of options available to people fleeing persecution. It is shameful that the government is funding this cruel experiment on human lives with hundreds of millions of taxpayer money.  

The government should instead ensure that people claiming asylum can have their claims heard in the UK fairly, efficiently, and with access to advice and support. It must create a system where survivors of human cruelty are able to recover from their trauma and are not pushed further into despair.   

Kerry Smith, CEO of Helen Bamber Foundation, said: 

At the Helen Bamber Foundation, we work with some of the most vulnerable people who are seeking asylum in the UK, which includes survivors of trafficking and torture, and it is heartbreaking to see how this government’s championing of the Safety of Rwanda Bill has already taken a big toll on their health and recovery. It is shameful that the government is prepared to put human rights at grave risk and the most vulnerable in harm’s way, deliberately bypassing the courts to pass legislation that will not, as they very well know, stop the men, women and children fleeing persecution from risking their lives to reach the safety of our shores.      


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