By Isabel Ringrose
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Tories cover up the brutality of Rwanda deportations

This article is over 1 years, 9 months old
On 5 September an important court case will rule on the lawfulness of the deportation scheme
Issue 2819
image of stand up to racism protests fighting against Rwanda deportations

Protesting at the Home Office in June against the Rwanda deportations (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The Tories are defending their plans to ship refugees off to Rwanda, and covering up major human rights concerns. This week a court granted the government permission to keep key internal documents about their deportation plans secret.

Charities, campaign groups and unions are challenging plans that will send refugees who arrive in Britain without documentation on a one-way ticket to the east African country. If their asylum application is granted, refugees have no route back to Britain.

The only attempted deportation flight to Rwanda so far has been unsuccessful following legal challenges and protests.

On 5 September a key court case will rule on the lawfulness of the scheme. The government wants to hide documents that reveal conditions for refugees in Rwanda.

The documents consist of an email from 26 April 2022 and the annotated draft of the government’s policy in Rwanda.

The Foreign Office said its comments on the draft and emails could not be shared due to public interest immunity and could harm international relations. Lord Justice Lewis ruled that four extracts could be withheld, as could specific words in others.

Some of the redacted words were already in the public domain. They have “evidential significance” to the challenge brought against the Home Office by charity Care4Calais and the PCS union.

Christopher Knight represents eight asylum seekers, PCS, Detention Action and Care4Calais who called for the documents to be made public. He said the Home Office has already provided “a significant array of evidence addressing the critical views advanced by the government about the government of Rwanda”.

One of the documents written by the unnamed official said torture and “even killings” are accepted in Rwanda.

And Britain’s high commissioner to Rwanda warned against the scheme because the nation “has been accused of recruiting refugees to conduct armed operations in neighbouring countries”.

Clare Moseley from Care4Calais said “the public has a right to know” these details. “Previously disclosed documents show the Foreign Office warned the government that refugees should not be sent to Rwanda due to its poor record on human rights,” she said.

“The Home Office must stop trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes and just be straight with them. The Rwanda policy is brutal and inhumane, it will not work and the Home Office and its ministers know it.”

The Rwanda deal was announced by home secretary Priti Patel in April. Following the recent judgment, the Home Office peddled its lie that the policy is for good.

 “Rwanda is a safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers,” a government spokesperson said. “We remain committed to delivering this policy to break the business model of criminal gangs and save lives.”

Meanwhile, Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss has been accused of stalling the Foreign Office’s annual human rights report because it contains criticism of Rwanda.

The report details how Britain views other countries’ human rights. It was due in June before parliament’s summer recess.

Truss said she absolutely supports and would extend the racist policy. The last edition published in July 2021 said “critical voices continued to face heavy restrictions” in Rwanda”.

Anti-racists are planning big mobilisations for 5 September when the next case is due to be heard in the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

The TUC union federation, Care4Calais and Stand Up To Racism have called a protest. It is backed by unions including PCS, Unison, Unite, NEU, GMB, CWU, FBU, NASUWT, ASLEF, UCU and BFAWU.

Every trade unionist and activist should build for the day to show that the Tories’ savage immigration policies are detested by ordinary people. And to make sure that not a single refugee is put on a flight to Rwanda.

  • Presence from 9am on Monday 5 September, rally 1pm-2pm outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL
  • For more information and activities outside of London go to Stand Up To Racism’s Facebook page or website

Cop targeted for truthful book

The Met police is taking one of its former senior officers to court after she revealed allegations of racism and sexism during her time on the force. The Met says this broke a gagging agreement.

Former chief superintendent Parm Sandhu has been told to pay £60,000 plus 8 percent interest after breaking a non-disclosure agreement. Sandhu left the Met after 30 years and was paid £120,000 in an employment tribunal claim in 2020. She wrote a book about her experiences and spoke out against the Met after cop Wayne Couzens murdered Sarah Everard.

The Met has now lodged a court order to claim the book breaches the confidentiality agreement. The gag banned Sandhu from making “disparaging” or “derogatory” comments about the Met or its commissioner.

Stop and search up on demo days  

Stop and searches in central London have increased by more than a fifth on weekends when protests are held. Currently stop and searches can only be used for specific reasons, such as looking for drugs, weapons and stolen goods. But civil liberties group Big Brother Watch says Metropolitan police are deliberately misusing the practice to target protesters.

During the summers of 2020 and 2021 the number of stop and searches rose by 20.5 percent on weekends with protests compared to those without. And the disproportionate targeting of black people is clear as the highest increase in stop and searches was during the Black Lives Matter protests. 

Home secretary Priti Patel is planning to extend the grounds for stop and search. Her new bill would allow police to search anyone near to or on a protest causing “annoyance”.

The bill is currently at committee stage in the House of Commons. It will extend the “reasonable grounds” for a search to include a suspicion that someone is carrying items “made, adapted or intended to be used in connection with protest-related offences”. This includes locking on or going equipped to lock on, obstructing transport, interfering with infrastructure and tunnelling.

It also grants new powers to stop and search without suspicion. Patel attempted to push these measures through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court bill, but they were knocked out by the House of Lords. In the run up to the act passing, Patel had singled out environmental groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain as targets. 

  • New figures show that black people were more than twice as likely than white people to be given fines for breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules. 

Police fines equated to a rate of 15.3 fines for every 10,000 white people. Black people’s fines equated to a rate of 39.7, meaning they were 2.6 times more likely to be fined.

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