Author Archives: Ruvi Ziegler

Liberal responses to the government’s farcical (and dangerous) asylum policies

As the government rushes through the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) bill before Parliament, it was encouraging to see its unanimous rejection at York conference, which adopted ‘Beyond Rwanda: a fairer way Forward on Asylum’.

In my speech I highlighted the farce in three stages that is the government’s ‘Rwanda plan’:

First, the government passed the Nationality and Borders Act, creating a two-tier system of refugees (which it never activated), proceeding to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Rwanda.

Second, the Supreme Court finds the plan to be unlawful.

Third, the government signs a treaty, which the cross-party Lords International Agreements Committee recommends not to ratify until Parliament is satisfied that the protections it provides have been fully implemented. Why? because Parliament is essentially asked to determine that Rwanda is safe even though the Supreme Court has clearly determined it is not.

Lest we forget, in 2023, several asylum seekers received protection in the UK because of their fear of persecution in Rwanda.

The ‘Safety of Rwanda’ Bill is outrageous on multiple levels:

First, the UK, a ‘global north’ country, is paying a ‘global south’ country to both determine asylum applications and to host those of them found to be eligible for asylum – this is a manifest act of counter-responsibility-sharing

Second, unlike EU law, where Article 38 of the Asylum Procedures Directive requires that an asylum seeker sent to a country outside the EU must have a relevant connection to that country, those removed to Rwanda have no such connection

Third, those removed to Rwanda, even if found to be refugees under the Rwandan asylum system, can never come back to the UK: they face a lifetime ban for daring to seek asylum here.

Fourth, the government admits on the face of the bill, as it must under section 19 of the Human Rights Act, that it is unable to state that the bill is compatible with the ECHR; it proceeds to authorise ministers to ignore an interim order by the Strasbourg court to prevent removals; and it expects civil servants to go ahead with such prohibited removals

Finally and to top it all, the government tells our courts they cannot make a determination that Rwanda is unsafe even if the facts so require

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 10 Comments

The attacks on Southern Israel – a personal perspective

This time, it’s personal. My nephew’s fiancé‘s family was in hiding all day in a small room in Kibbutz Magen in Southern Israel that was attacked by Hamas. They survived after fierce fighting. Others were not so fortunate. Hundreds of civilians were murdered, many of whom teenagers and young adults who were at an overnight rave and were machine-gunned.

Other civilians were taken hostage. The clips of an elderly woman and a gun-shot naked young woman being paraded by Hamas and cheered in the streets of Gaza are sickening. There is a video circulating which shows toddlers harassing a 3 year-old Israeli boy who is held hostage. A woman was taken hostage with her two very young daughters. A teenage girl was shown bleeding, hands tied behind her back, dragged out of a vehicle. You cannot watch this and not be repulsed.

And, of course, there are ongoing rocket attacks, in their thousands, directed at major civilian populations – not inadvertently or recklessly but deliberately seeking to cause civilian casualties.

This concerted attack on civilians in their homes and cities is vile; the responsibility lies squarely not just with Hamas, a proscribed organisation for good reason, but with its regional supporters.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 40 Comments

West Bank settlements, Liberal values, and our Israeli sister party: time for a realignment

Our Autumn Conference passed a motion entitled ‘Towards a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine’. Critically, the motion was amended, calling for legislation ‘to cease trade with illegal settlements, unless and until a negotiated peace settlement is reached’. Speaking for this amendment, I argued that the UK has obligations under international humanitarian law to refrain in any manner from supporting illegal settlements and must therefore cease trading with them; and that if we are to retain the hope of reaching a two-state solution, it is critical to reject a one-state reality and uphold the legal – and moral – distinction between pre-1967 Israel and the occupied territories.

The illegality of settlements is unequivocal: the International Court of Justice in its Wall Opinion held that the transfer of Israeli civilian population into the occupied territories through the construction of settlements breaches Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This legal position was endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2234, which the UK supported. The motion originally proposed merely to label settlement products, but that did not go far enough: while enabling consumers to make informed choices, labelling still allows products to be sold, despite being produced in illegal settlements. Only by refraining from trade will the UK be desisting from active cooperation with the settlement project, and thus fulfilling its obligation to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments

The European ‘refugee crisis’ and the UK’s responsibilities

More than 65.3 million people are displaced globally, including 21.3 million refugees (UNHCR data); yet the vast majority are in ‘Global South’ countries. The ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe is really a crisis of solidarity.

It is a story of the inequity of the Dublin regulation, which operates as a counter-burden sharing mechanism between frontier countries, such as Italy and Greece, and far-flung places such as the UK. Britain opted into Dublin (which enables it to return asylum-seekers to their first port of EU entry) whilst opting out of other components of the Common European Asylum …

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments
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