‘I joined 25 Bishops in condemning plans to send refugees to Rwanda – here’s why’ – Bishop of Durham


The following article by the Bishop of Durham appeared in the Independent on 15th June 2022

The Bishop of Durham,
Rt Revd Paul Butler

It is a deeply regrettable moment for us as a nation that the government is pursuing a policy that intends to transport asylum seekers to another country thousands of miles away, before and without considering their claim to asylum in the UK.

We have a rich history of providing sanctuary to those around the world fleeing war and persecution, and it is intolerable to see us abdicate both our moral responsibility and commitment to international law. This week, all of the 26 bishops of the Church of England who serve in the House of Lords signed a letter voicing our alarm over the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

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Bishops’ letter to The Times on the Rwanda asylum removals policy


14/06/2022

All of the Lords Spiritual signed a letter to The Times voicing alarm about the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. They wrote:

Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation. Rwanda is a brave country recovering from catastrophic genocide. The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries. Those to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal, or reunite with family in Britain. They have had no consideration of their asylum claim, recognition of their medical or other needs, or any attempt to understand their predicament.

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Bishop of Southwark asks about the government’s asylum agreement with Rwanda

The Bishop of Southwark received the following written answers on 26th May 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark asked Her Majesty’s Government:

  • in respect of paragraph 9.1.2 of the Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Rwanda for an asylum partnership arrangement signed in Kigali on 13 April, what equivalent standard applies in Rwanda for the Home Office requirement that interpreters are members of the Institute of Translating and Interpreting, The Chartered Institute of Linguists, or if with a company, then the latter is a member of the Association of Translation Companies.
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Archbishop of Canterbury asks about the government’s asylum policy

The Archbishop of Canterbury received the following written answers on 24th May 2022:

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury asked Her Majesty’s Government:

  • what criteria they will use to determine whether someone arriving in the UK, outside of the authorised channels, is eligible for being relocated to Rwanda.
  • whether families will be split up through the new Asylum Partnership Arrangement with Rwanda; and if not, what evidence they have that the policy will not lead to increased trafficking of women and children.
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Bishop of Southwark asks about government’s asylum policy

The Bishop of Southwark received the following written answers on 24th May 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark asked Her Majesty’s Government when they expect the removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda will begin under the Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda.

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Bishop of Durham asks about government’s immigration policy

The Bishop of Durham received the following written answer on 28th April 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Durham asked Her Majesty’s Government who will be on the Independent Monitoring Board referred to in the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the government of Rwanda for the provision of an asylum partnership arrangement; and when will the Board be fully operational.

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Bishop of Chelmsford asks about government’s immigration policy

The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question about the government’s immigration agreement with Rwanda on 25th April 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, Amnesty International’s latest annual report sets out that, in Rwanda:

“Violations of the rights to a fair trial, freedom of expression and privacy continued, alongside enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and excessive use of force.”

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Bishop of Durham asks about development, environment and prosperity in Burundi, Lesotho and Rwanda

On 30th December the Bishop of Durham received written answers to questions about Burundi, Lesotho and Rwanda and the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index 2020:

 The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Legatum Institute The Legatum Prosperity Index 2020, published on 16 November; and in particular that report’s findings that Burundi is (1) 157th out of 167 countries ranked in terms of overall prosperity, and (2) among the top 10 worst countries in the world in the categories of (a) economic quality, (b) living conditions, and (c) health. [HL11204] Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about development, environment and prosperity in Burundi, Lesotho and Rwanda”

Bishop of Durham asks about Burundi, human rights, refugees and relations with Rwanda

On 2nd November 2020 the Bishop of Durham received answers to three written questions on Burundi, human rights, refugees and relations with Rwanda:

Burundi: Human Rights

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking in response to the report by the UN Human Rights Council Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, published on 16 September. [HL9364] Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about Burundi, human rights, refugees and relations with Rwanda”

Bishops of Durham and St Albans debate international response to Covid-19

On 18th May 2020 a virtual sitting of the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Sugg, “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the international response to COVID-19.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

20.04.30 Durham 2The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, thankfully, the virus appears to be spreading slowly in most African countries, with Lesotho declaring its first case only last week. However, the World Bank forecasts that Covid-19 could push 49 million people into extreme poverty. The economic impact on some poorer nations could be more detrimental than the health threat. The aid Her Majesty’s Government committed at the international pledging event will be vital for the poorest nations, but our international response must be sustainable, which requires trade, not simply aid. What actions have Her Majesty’s Government taken to ensure that good free trade agreements are made with poorer nations?

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