modern slavery

Rwanda Bill passes with no concessions for modern slavery survivors

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The Rwanda Bill was passed this week with no concessions for survivors of modern slavery.

The Bill is part of a series of Government measures aimed at reducing illegal migration and will allow asylum seekers in the UK to be removed to Rwanda to have their claims decided by the Rwandan government.

This means that anyone identified as a modern slavery survivor, who also wants to claim asylum in the UK, will be processed in Rwanda where the standards of care are unknown.

Organisations such as Causeway have highlighted the complex recovery needs of survivors, and are concerned the Rwanda Bill will prevent many from receiving appropriate support.

The Government has committing to publishing an annual report on the modern slavery provisions of the Bill, but as people look likely to be sent to Rwanda as soon as possible, urgent clarity is needed over how survivors will be identified and supported.

The 2023 US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report highlighted that Rwanda does not currently meet the minimum standards in its response to modern slavery and trafficking.

A legal analysis conducted by the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre also concluded that the Rwanda Treaty and Bill were not compliant with the UK’s international legal obligations towards survivors of modern slavery.

We are therefore very disappointed that the Safety of Rwanda Bill has been passed without addressing serious concerns about its impact on survivors of modern slavery.

While some survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking may have chosen to enter the UK illegally, this is due to a lack of safe and legal routes into safe countries for those escaping desperate circumstances such as war, persecution and poverty.

Other survivors are coerced or forced to cross borders for the purpose of exploitation. Causeway have worked with hundreds of people forced into the UK by traffickers, sometimes across whole continents, only to find themselves held hostage for years in exploitation.

Some we have supported came to the UK legally, but were targeted by criminals who forced them to overstay their visas, then threatened them with deportation and arrest if they asked for help.

Every single survivor, irrespective of their method of arrival, is a human being who has experienced exploitation and abuse.

They deserve, and are legally entitled, to receive support with dignity regardless of how they entered the UK, not find themselves without choice, without stability, and once again forced across borders against their will.