René Cassin is dismayed by the government’s shameful plans to initiate offshore processing of asylum seekers in Rwanda. These measures are inhumane, dangerous, and ineffective, contravening the Refugee Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, established in the wake of the bitter experience of the horrors the Holocaust.
This asylum processing method is inspired by Australia’s widely condemned offshore detention camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. These did not deter people from seeking asylum and contained cruel policies, which led to avoidable deaths and abuses of power. Similar conditions are likely in Rwanda, where LGBTQ+ people as well as general political opposition and independent media are criminalised. This belies not just international law, but basic human dignity, making access to healthcare, legal advice for those detained, and proper scrutiny of conditions extremely difficult.
Throughout history, Jewish people have been forced to seek asylum from persecution many times and were interned on the Isle of Man during WW2. As ‘speakers by experience’, we know what it is like to be dehumanised and deprived of our freedom when seeking refuge. This policy poses a serious threat to our integrity and international reputation as a nation which values compassion, fairness, and human dignity, and René Cassin firmly reject this actively prejudicial and hostile approach to asylum processing.
“My late mother arrived in London in August 1939 on the last Kindertransport out of Prague. She loved this country and was always grateful for the welcome she received during her wartime years while she awaited news of her Czech family. I can only wonder what treatment or welcome she would have received had she been a child refugee awaiting offshore processing in Rwanda. She would have been shocked and dismayed by this appalling, heartless and (very likely) unlawful policy of this government” – Danny Silverstone, Chair, René Cassin