Urgent notice: Home Office offers of ‘voluntary departure’ to Rwanda

14 March 2024:We have received reports that the Home Office is calling people to offer ‘voluntary departure’ to Rwanda. 

This scheme is separate to the initial Rwanda policy (which was defeated in the Supreme Court), the Rwanda Treaty which was recently signed by the Home Secretary, and the Safety of Rwanda Bill which is currently being rushed through Parliament. 

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MPs vote to throw out amendments to Rwanda deportation bill

Shameful …

19 March 2024: Guardian: MPs vote to throw out amendments to Rwanda deportation bill

All 10 amendments made by peers voted down, giving much-needed boost to beleaguered PM

Rishi Sunak’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda took a step forward on Monday night after MPs voted overwhelmingly to throw out a series of amendments made to the Rwanda bill by the House of Lords.

MPs voted down all 10 amendments made by peers over the past few weeks to return the bill to the form in which it was initially passed by the Commons in January, giving a much-needed boost to the beleaguered prime minister.

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Home Office immigration database errors hit more than 76,000 people

14 March 2024: Guardian: Exclusive: Names, photos and migration status being mixed up, preventing people applying for jobs and housing

Major flaws in a huge Home Office immigration database have resulted in more than 76,000 people being listed with incorrect names, photographs or immigration status.

Leaked internal documents reveal the scale of the database fiasco at the Home Office, which has recently been criticised for delays in immigration application processing, long queues at borders and the distribution of incorrect identity cards.

The Home Office has been relatively silent about the database failures, referring vaguely to them as “IT issues”. Ministers have denied there is a “systemic” problem with Atlas, the tool used by border officials and immigration officers which operates off the flawed database.

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Civil servants threaten ministers with legal action over Rwanda bill

12 March 2024: Guardian: Civil servants threaten ministers with legal action over Rwanda bill

Exclusive: Union says Home Office staff could be in breach of international law if they implement deportations

Civil servants have threatened ministers with legal action over concerns that senior Home Office staff could be in breach of international law if they implement the government’s Rwanda deportation bill.

The FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, have warned they could also be in violation of the civil service code – and open to possible prosecution – if they followed a minister’s demands to ignore an urgent injunction from Strasbourg banning a deportation.

It has sent a pre-action legal letter to James Cleverly, the home secretary, calling for clarity – with a request to either amend the legislation or change the code.

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People seeking asylum in London face malnutrition, but there is scope for local action

12 March 2024: Sustain: People seeking asylum in London face malnutrition, but there is scope for local action

New report finds food insecurity and malnutrition are commonplace for people seeking asylum in London, and outlines key areas for local action.

New report, Food experiences of people seeking asylum in London: areas for local action, published today by Sustain, finds serious issues with food access for people seeking asylum in London. Key areas for local action are outlined, with recommendations of how councils can work with local actors to improve the situation.

Serious concerns were raised about food provided in catered accommodation, with evidence of poor food safety and lack of provision for people with medical conditions and allergies, in some cases leading to hospitalisation. Key issues were raised around unsafe infant feeding with parents lacking access to equipment to sterilise and store bottles, and food being inappropriate for children, who were losing significant amounts of weight. People want to have choice over what they eat and be able to cook their own meals. This was particularly important to mothers, who were deeply impacted by not being able to provide for their children, who were becoming malnourished.

Sustain worked with Jesuit Refugee Service UK and Life Seekers Aid to conduct the research between October 2023 and February 2024. This included focus groups with people with lived experience of the asylum system, interviews with local authorities, healthcare providers and voluntary and community sector organisations, and a workshop with local authorities.

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Looking tough on migration is eroding human rights

6 March 2024: Politico: Looking tough on migration is eroding human rights

Curtailing migrant rights may help score quick political gains, but electoral success doesn’t give governments carte blanche to place themselves above the law.

Europe’s insistence on looking tough on migration is endangering rule of law across the Continent.

Pursuing ever more stringent asylum and migration policies, European countries are not only perpetuating human rights violations against asylum seekers and migrants; they are also dismantling collective human rights safeguards, as well as eroding wider legal and democratic checks and balances that protect all our rights.

The upcoming adoption of the United Kingdom’s Safety of Rwanda Bill, currently working its way through the House of Lords, is perhaps the starkest illustration of this dangerous trajectory.

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The chief inspector of borders and immigration angered ministers by exposing an ineffective, cruel system

4 March 2024: Hansard: Dame Diana Johnson  (Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Office if he will make a statement on the publication of 13 reports by the former independent chief inspector of borders and immigration on 29 February and how the inspectorate will now operate in the absence of a chief inspector or deputy?

Read more: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2024-03-04/debates/97CB98BE-699C-408F-8B53-1CA4500848D6/IndependentChiefInspectorOfBordersAndImmigration


3 March 2024: Guardian: The Guardian view on asylum failures: David Neal was sacked for telling the truth

The chief inspector of borders and immigration angered ministers by exposing an ineffective, cruel system

here is a role in public life, for sure, for people who speak truth to power,” said David Neal, the sacked UK borders inspector, at a hearing of the home affairs select committee last week. It is a role that Mr Neal, who once commanded the 1st Military Police Brigade, did his best to perform. Independent inspectorates play a vital role in upholding standards – particularly when their job is to inspect places otherwise hidden from view. Often, they reveal problems that make ministers uncomfortable. But the truths unearthed by Mr Neal about the borders and asylum system are ones they do not want even to hear.

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New reports from ICIBI and Home Office responses

Dave Neal, who has been ICIBI was sacked – see this report: https://qarn.org.uk/its-scandalous/. He has complained throughout his time as ICIBI that the Home Office was slow, sometimes very slow to publish his Department’s reports. They have now published 13 of them all at once. In his absence the ICIBI team will be unable to act until there is a new appointee.

The role of the Independent Chief Inspector is to help improve the efficiency, effectiveness and consistency of the Home Office’s border and immigration functions through unfettered, impartial and evidence-based inspection.

His findings and recommendations for improvement to the Home Office are captured in inspection reports. They are submitted to the Home Secretary and laid before Parliament before publication.

The Independent Chief Inspector has developed a set of expectations against which his staff conduct inspections.

The Home Office publishes official responses to the ICIBI reports.


29 Feb 2024: Inspection reports by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) 12 long-awaited reports have now been released by the Home Office. Some have been delayed

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Publication of correspondence: Letter to Home Secretary following David Neal session

29 February 2024: Home Affairs Select Committee: The Home Affairs Committee has written to the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, with questions following its evidence session with former Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI), David Neal.

The letter highlights key concerns raised in the session and request further information on an number of issues, including the role of ICIBI and the impact of the post remaining vacant; outstanding ICIBI reports and their publication; the situation at Wethersfield asylum accommodation centre; and UK border operations.

Chair’s comment

Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Dame Diana Johnson said:

“We were deeply troubled by what we heard at yesterday’s session with David Neal. Irrespective of the whys and wherefores of his dismissal, we are left with yet another Home Office mess. The ICIBI is a vital part of scrutinising border operations but it is left without leadership for months. 15 reports remain unpublished by the Home Office and we have to wonder how far the Home Office will have taken on board their findings to improve border operations. We have asked them to set out how they intend to restore the authority and effectiveness of this vital role.

“We are also concerned about the conditions at Wethersfield and have asked the Home Office to allow us to see for ourselves what is going on here.”

https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/83/home-affairs-committee/news/200152/