Police: Joe Anderson

Baroness D'Souza Excerpts
Monday 15th April 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I join the noble Lord in honouring those who died, of course; 35 years have passed since the tragedy and the impact continues to be devastating for many. The families have my sympathy. The families of the 97 have shown tremendous courage and determination and obviously their loved ones will not be forgotten. In his Statement to the other place on 6 December, the Lord Chancellor committed to a debate later this year on the Government’s response to the Bishop Jones report. It would be unwise of me to pre-empt that debate, so I shall say no more at this point.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, in view of the Minister’s repeated remarks, do I understand that he is saying that the Government have no role in influencing the police in their inquiries?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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Yes—and nor should they.

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Amendment of List of Safe States) Regulations 2024

Baroness D'Souza Excerpts
Tuesday 19th March 2024

(2 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord German Portrait Lord German (LD)
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My Lords, I declare my interest in the register—I am supported by the RAMP Project. This regret amendment is not about whether Georgia and India are safe countries for trade or tourism, but safe from a serious risk of persecution of nationals of these countries, and where removal to India or Georgia of nationals of those countries would contravene the United Kingdom’s obligations under the human rights convention. It may well be that, for certain groups of people, a return to these countries would fail these tests.

There are two main issues at fault with this legislation: one of process and one of policy. I will deal with process first. Currently, as the Minister said, the list of safe countries is all those in the EEA—the European Economic Area—plus Switzerland and Albania. Being included in the list of safe states means that an asylum or human rights claim from an Indian or Georgian national must not be considered unless exceptional circumstances apply.

It is very unusual for the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee of this House to lay such an extensive report before us, but its conclusion is:

“These draft Regulations are drawn to the special attention of the House on the ground that the explanatory material laid in support provides insufficient information to gain a clear understanding about the instrument’s policy objective and intended implementation”.


My supposition is that the Government are adding some countries to the safe list because more people can be returned to their home countries without their asylum claim being even considered; and that this legislation was produced in haste, without the necessary conditions for scrutiny being fully considered.

The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee states that consideration of

“the operation of ‘exceptional circumstances’ is critical to understanding and scrutinising the policy”.

In reply, the Government said they would issue guidance in—those famous words—“due course”. Given that this statutory instrument was laid on 8 November 2023, and that we are now discussing it more than four months later, I submit that “due course” has run out, as no such document has appeared.

In response, the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee said:

“At a minimum”—


I use that word carefully—

“the guidance describing how it will operate in practice should have been published alongside the instrument. However, we have also consistently taken the view that factors that will influence critical decisions about a person’s life or benefits should be included in the legislation considered by Parliament, not left to guidance”.

It adds that

“proper scrutiny is not possible if the guidance is not published before the debate on these Regulations takes place”.

No such document has been produced and, as a result, the Government have failed to meet the appropriate parliamentary standards required for processing this statutory instrument.

I now turn to the policy issues raised by this. As the Minister said, the criteria for deeming a country to be safe are set out in Section 80AA of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, as amended by the Illegal Migration Act 2023. The rules by which the Secretary of State may add a state are that they must be satisfied that

“there is in general in that State no serious risk of persecution of nationals of that State, and … removal to that State of nationals of that State will not in general contravene the United Kingdom’s obligations under the Human Rights Convention”.

Those are the two reasons why it can be put forward. But, in deciding that they are substantially true, the Secretary of State

“must have regard to all the circumstances”—

not just some—

“of the State (including its laws and how they are applied), and … must have regard to information from any appropriate source (including member States and international organisations)”.

We have just heard two things from the Minister: first, “exceptional circumstances” was repeated and, secondly, we heard that the information has been taken from many sources. But, crucially, we got no detail—because, of course, we are discussing this after it has been to the committee that would look at this detail—about exactly where these sources of information are, where they have come from and how balanced they are. So, this House can draw only on conclusions that we think would be appropriate for judging whether these countries are safe.

I will draw only on the United States of America and the Home Office—the very department that makes this decision. The SLSC quoted the United States Government’s 2022 country report on human rights practices in Georgia:

“Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: torture or inhuman, cruel, or degrading treatment; arbitrary arrest or incarcerations … substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; refoulement … crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons and activists”;


crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting members of national, racial, ethnic and minority groups based on religious affiliation, social status or sexual orientation; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons; and the existence of forced and compulsory labour.

The Home Office’s country policy and information note on Georgia says:

“High-profile government opponents and managers of media channels opposed to the government may be subjected to politically-motivated prosecution and detention with a politically-biased judiciary”.


That is from the United States and our Home Office. There are plenty more examples. You must add to that the position of South Ossetia in Georgia, which is under Russian control, and the considerable interchange of information between the Russian secret services and Georgian officials.

The Home Office’s country note on India says:

“Human rights abuses, including rape, torture, and deaths in custody are reported to be widespread and conducted with impunity. Excessive force by security forces in areas of conflict are also reported, including extra-judicial killings, rape, torture, arbitrary detention, kidnappings and destruction of homes”.


Finally, there were the comments and responses from Members and Ministers representing the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office here last Thursday about concerns over Muslims, Dalits and other groups in India.

These facts demonstrate that, for some groups of people, there will be a risk of persecution or a failure to provide them with human rights security under our international obligations. Since the Illegal Migration Act was passed, we do not give people the sort of interview we would need to work out whether they are subject to that persecution. In response, the Government say that these are all “isolated incidents”, not general matters of concern—“isolated” and “general” are two important words here.

Just look at the contradictions within the Home Office, let alone between government departments, on this response. Home Office view A is that human rights abuses, including rape, torture and deaths in custody, are reported to be widespread and conducted with impunity; contrast that with Home Office view B that “isolated incidents” may have been reported but the “scale and extent” of concerns were not such that the test under the Act was failed. There you have it —the Home Office looking in both directions at the same time. Widespread or isolated—both cannot be right.

I have some questions for the Minister. Are the “widespread” and “significant” human rights abuses reported by the Home Office and the US Department of State consistent with the requirements of the 2002 Act, as amended? Why has the promised guidance not been produced in the four months between the laying of this SI and this debate? Given that a significant proportion of recently processed claims from Georgia were accepted, can the Government’s description of applications from Georgian nationals as “unfounded” be justified? Given the backlog of claims from these two countries, will existing claims continue to be processed as previously or will they be deemed inadmissible retrospectively, whenever these regulations come into practical effect? Finally, why are the regulations being introduced now, when they will have no practical effect until the relevant provisions in the Illegal Migration Act 2023 are brought into force? Unless the Minister can answer these questions satisfactorily, this statutory instrument has surely stepped over the line in terms of both parliamentary process and policy. I beg to move.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D’Souza (CB)
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My Lords, India is indeed a safe country if you are a straight male Hindu citizen. It is far less safe if you happen to be female—women from religious and cultural minorities face the most gender-based violence—Muslim, Dalit, Adivasis, Sikh, Christian or a member of the LGBT community. These sectors of the population constitute about 280 million people. More than 10,000 people have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the majority from minority groups.

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To tackle unfounded and unnecessary protection and human rights claims from people in safe countries, we have considered whether any further additions to the Section 80AA(1) list should be made, focusing on countries in which we have seen an increase in the volumes of asylum intake. For this reason, consideration was given to both Georgia and India. We have reviewed and considered a wide range of relevant and reliable information and evidence on both Georgia and India, including consideration of their respect for the rule of law and human rights. To answer the question of the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, I say that this included consideration of relevant case law, information from academia, reputable domestic and international media outlets, national and international organisations including from human rights organisations, and information from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and other western Governments where appropriate. We are satisfied that both Georgia and India meet the criteria to be considered generally safe. It is considered appropriate to add these countries to the Section 80AA(1) list of countries of origin.
Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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Is the Minister able to name the human rights organisation that has deemed the countries safe?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I am afraid that I do not have that information. As I said, all the information we use is published on GOV.UK.

Regarding reporting from single sources, or drawing on isolated examples, these might not consider the situation in context or be reflective of the general situation, which is what we are required to consider. We consider evidence from a wide range of sources and source types, as I have said. We compare and contrast information across those sources to reach a balanced and, we believe, accurate view of the situation.

We recognise, of course, that groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International produce reports that are sometimes critical of human rights records. We also consider what sources are reporting as well as how, when and why they have reported. This assessment and the inclusion of these countries on the list will be regularly monitored and reviewed.

The noble Baroness, Lady D'Souza, asked about the ongoing investigations by Canada and the US into alleged Indian state involvement in various activities. We remain in close touch with our Canadian and US partners about what are very serious allegations. However, I am afraid it would be inappropriate to comment further during the ongoing investigations by their law enforcement authorities.

Even if a country is generally considered safe, it is acknowledged that there could be exceptional circumstances in which it may not be appropriate to return an individual in their particular circumstances. That is why the consideration of exceptional circumstances, incorporated into the safe country of origin inadmissibility provisions, will act as an appropriate safeguard. Where the Secretary of State accepts that there are exceptional circumstances why the person may not be removed to their country of origin in an individual’s particular circumstances, they will not be.

Once Section 59 of the Illegal Migration Act is commenced, a national of a Section 80AA(1) listed country who is subject to the duty to remove or power to remove would not be removed there if it is accepted that there are exceptional circumstances as to why they cannot be removed there. They will instead be removed to a safe third country. For all other nationals of Section 80AA(1) listed countries, if there are exceptional circumstances why their claim ought to be considered in the UK, it will be.

I will deal with a couple of specific questions in terms of published guidance—

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, I begin by saying how much I regret the death of my noble friend Lord Cormack. He was a great friend of mine and a close colleague for more than 40 years in the House of Commons and here. He was also a very close Lincolnshire neighbour, and he rendered great service to the city and county. He was a very considerable parliamentarian, and I know that he intended to participate in these debates. He would have made a significant contribution. His is a very great loss.

I hope I will be forgiven if I remind your Lordships that, for the reasons I expressed at Second Reading and in Committee, I am a root and branch opponent of the Bill. In my view, many of its provisions are objectionable in principle. Moreover, I do not think it will achieve its intended policy objective: to deter illegal migration across the channel.

However, I recognise that the Government are determined to have this Bill, so our purpose at this stage should be to address some of its more objectionable characteristics. It is in this spirit that I address the amendments in this group and adopt the approach of the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti. I can and I will support any of the substantive amendments included in this group that are moved to a Division. However, I especially commend to your Lordships Amendment 3 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, which I have signed.

One of the Bill’s great deficiencies is that it purports to describe Rwanda as presently a safe country when both the Supreme Court and this House have decided otherwise. The Government rely on the treaty as being sufficient evidence of present safety. In my view, that is clearly not a sustainable position. It is possible that Rwanda will become a safe country—that is, when the treaty is ratified, when its provisions have been implemented, when the infrastructure is in place and working, and if the country’s culture has changed. That may all happen in the future; it has not happened yet. On any view, it will require assessment.

Proposed new subsections (1B) and (1C) in the noble Baroness’s Amendment 3 are designed to provide a mechanism for such an assessment. The amendment provides that the initiative lies with the Secretary of State. That takes account of the observations my noble friend Lord Howard of Lympne made at Second Reading, when he stressed the importance of proper democratic accountability. The amendment ensures just that. I commend Amendment 3 to the House. However, if others in this group are the subject of Divisions, I shall support them.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D’Souza (CB)
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My Lords, I will speak to my Amendments 10 and 43 in this group. I remain concerned about the potential constitutional fallout from this Bill, despite what my noble friend Lord Hannay has referred to as a “sterile” issue. There must be a reference to its remarkable impact on vital constitutional elements, such as the rule of law, the separation of powers and parliamentary sovereignty. Although these are probing amendments, such is the gravity of these possible consequences that they surely deserve to be noted, if not in the Bill then at least in the record of its passage.

The Supreme Court has stated unequivocally in a former judgment:

“The courts will treat with particular suspicion … any attempt to subvert the rule of law by removing governmental action affecting the rights of the individual from all judicial scrutiny”.


In this Bill, the Government are doing just this by writing into law a demonstrably false statement—that Rwanda is a safe country to receive asylum seekers—thereby forcing all courts to treat Rwanda as a safe country despite clear findings of fact.

It is clear that the Bill subverts the rule of law, the key elements of which are abiding by international law, equality before the law, respect for fundamental human rights and guaranteeing access to the courts. These rights are negated by this Bill, and as such it is a legal fiction. The longer-term impacts might be considerable—for example, could the Supreme Court in future rule, with any authority, a Prorogation unlawful?

The Bill in its present form enjoins all relevant courts and officials to deem Rwanda a safe country and specifically disallows any rational challenge by the courts. In Committee the noble Lord, Lord Clarke of Nottingham, expressed the hope that there will be a challenge, thereby enabling the Supreme Court to strike the Bill down as unconstitutional. Should this happen, a review of the Bill’s impact on the rule of law in the UK would prove invaluable evidence.

Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Portrait The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
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My Lords, I shall speak in favour of Amendments 1, 3 and 5 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, to which I have added my name. I do not believe that we can enshrine in law a statement of fact without seeing and understanding the evidence that shows such a statement to be true, in particular when such a statement of fact is so contentious and for which the evidence may change. Ignoring for a second the strange absurdity of such declarations, we must also consider the real impact that this could have on the potentially vulnerable people whom the Government intend to send to Rwanda. As my most reverend friend the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is in his place, said at Second Reading,

“in almost every tradition of global faith and humanism around the world, the dignity of the individual is at the heart of what is believed”.—[Official Report, 29/1/24, col. 1014.]

Sending those who seek refuge in the UK to a country of questionable safety does not respect this dignity, so I support amendments that require further evidence of the safety of Rwanda before anyone is sent there.

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Baroness Lister of Burtersett Portrait Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab)
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My Lords, as well as supporting the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, I rise to speak to Amendment 16, which seeks to minimise the risk of torture arising from the Bill and to safeguard torture survivors. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, and my noble friend Lord Cashman for their support. They will speak to the first part of the amendment, while I will focus on the second. We brought it back because of our dissatisfaction with the response from the Minister in Committee. We hope that we might do better now, given the existential importance of torture, which represents one of the most serious of human rights violations.

We know from the work of organisations such as Freedom from Torture and Redress, whose help I am grateful for, that a good number of the asylum seekers in line to be sent to Rwanda will have survived torture. We also know, including from a recent report from the Mental Health Foundation, of the high incidence of mental health difficulties among asylum seekers, the risk of which is increased by traumatic experiences such as torture. These difficulties can only be exacerbated by removal to Rwanda.

In Committee, the Minister pointed out that an individual could challenge removal on the grounds of their “individual circumstances”. But Freedom from Torture warns that providing, in the time available, the necessary “compelling evidence” to meet the exceptionally high bar set by the test means that this does not offer torture survivors an effective safeguard. Indeed, the Minister himself admitted that successful claims on this basis are expected to be “rare”. That might have implications for some other amendments.

In response to my questioning about what mental health support will be available to torture survivors in Rwanda, the Minister referred me to Article 13 of the treaty, but that refers only to the special needs of victims of modern slavery or human trafficking. I can find no reference to the needs of torture survivors.

My noble friend Lady Kennedy of The Shaws interjected that the mental health situation in Rwanda is very poor, with high levels of mental illness but very few suitably trained medical professionals. Since then, I have been referred to WHO’s 2020 mental health profile for Rwanda. This confirms the low level of provision and seems to show that there are no out-patient mental health facilities. If this continues to be the case, would traumatised torture survivors have to be admitted to a mental health unit to obtain any support? As was noted in Committee, civil society remains weak and therefore is unlikely to be able to step in.

More recently, last October, a press release from Interpeace, while commending the efforts that the Rwandan Government have made in this area, warns that

“the country still faces challenges such as the scale of mental health needs that outstrips the capacity of available professionals, low awareness and knowledge of mental health issues”

and “poor mental health infrastructure”.

From the Minister’s responses, it would appear that the Government simply do not know what support will be available and have made no attempt to find out, yet they are happy to condemn this highly vulnerable group to a life in a country that, with the best will in the world, is ill placed to provide that support. Of course, ideally, I would want the Government to accept the case for not sending torture survivors to Rwanda. At the very minimum, I ask the Minister to take this issue back to the Home Office—although I am not quite sure which Minister will respond—and give an undertaking that he will ask his colleagues to talk to the Rwandan Government about support for torture survivors and, if necessary, provide the necessary resources to ensure that support is available, perhaps earmarking part of the enormous sum to be paid to Rwanda identified by the NAO.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, what needs to be said about the risk of torture and inhumane treatment has already been set out by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister. I simply emphasise the credibility of the reports of ongoing torture of even mild political dissenters, which continues to this day in Rwanda. Nor do freedom of expression and association exist there, however narrowly the terms are defined. However, the genocide ideology law is broadly defined and now carries criminal sanctions. The criminal code has recently been expanded to include

“creating a hostile … opinion of Rwanda”

by criticising the Government. These irrefutable reports indicate that Rwanda does not comply with the international obligations under various UN conventions, including the convention against torture. This can only add to the evidence that, at present, Rwanda cannot be regarded as a safe country.

Lord Bishop of Manchester Portrait The Lord Bishop of Manchester
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, for sponsoring Amendments 9 and 12, to which I have added my name. They take up matters that I and the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, raised in Committee. This evening, Rwanda might be the safest country in Africa for all I know, but over the last few years we have seen a number of military coups and takeovers across African countries. To enshrine in legislation the notion that Rwanda will remain safe whatever seems to beggar belief. Who knows in what state that country might be in six to 12 months’ time? Who knows how safe it will be then? The courts need the ability to take new facts into consideration, to recognise that Rwanda may not be the same in a certain number of weeks, months or years as it was on this evening at the beginning of March 2024. We must have that flexibility. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, will press these amendments to a Division. I will support him in the Lobby if he does.

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Baroness Lawlor Portrait Baroness Lawlor (Con)
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May I clarify that my amendment is designed to promote the aims of the Bill to remove people who come to this country illegally to Rwanda and stop obstructions on that matter?

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D’Souza (CB)
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My Lords, perhaps I might add a few words to this debate on the Human Rights Act. I point out that this is the first time that I have spoken in this group. This amendment seeks to return the responsibility of interpreting the law to the courts and specifically underlines the unacceptability of a law on the statute book that is incompatible with domestic law, which of course includes the UK Human Rights Act. Unless and until the courts affirm that the Act conforms with the strictures of the Human Rights Act, it must not have any effect; to do otherwise would be to reject the rule of law, which is one of the pillars of the UK constitution.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett Portrait Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab)
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My Lords, I wanted to make a couple of brief points in support of Amendments 20 and 21. In Committee, the Minister, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stewart, quoted at length the Lord Chancellor’s submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights to justify breaching the universality of human rights. Clearly, the Lord Chancellor did not convince the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which in its majority report concluded that the provision

“threatens the fundamental principle that human rights are universal and should be protected for everyone”.

I still do not understand, given the concerns expressed by the JCHR, as well as the EHRC, the Law Society and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, why this Government continue to try to argue that disapplication does not affect the principle of universality, which the noble and learned Lord waxed lyrical about in his speech.

Secondly, the noble and learned Lord promised to write to me in response to my concerns about the implications for the Windsor Framework and the Good Friday agreement—following on from the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey—and the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ request for a full explanation before Report as to why the Government consider Clause 3 to be consistent with these agreements. I thank the noble and learned Lord for his letter but, to echo what the noble Lord, Lord German, said earlier, I gently point out that it was sent at 3.24 pm this afternoon, after Report began. That really is not good practice, and it does not meet the JCHR’s request that a full explanation should be published before Report. It seems that the actual full publication will not be until some time on Wednesday, when we will be finishing Report.

I am not convinced that the answers to my questions would satisfy the JCHR, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission or the Human Rights Consortium of Northern Ireland. I am also not clear why the letter was not copied to the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, given that she originally challenged the Minister on this point at Second Reading. I am not going to pursue the matter here, except to point out that I do not think we yet have a satisfactory explanation of the interactions with and the implications for these agreements.

Protest Measures

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Tuesday 13th February 2024

(3 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I am very happy to join in the congratulations to my noble friend Lord Hailsham on his lion-climbing expertise, but I am afraid that I disagree with my noble friend when it comes to climbing war memorials as a normal part of protest. What is normal about climbing a war memorial?

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, if ever there was an example of the slow attrition of our democratic freedoms, it is this. First, experience tells us that, once a law is on the statute books, it will in future, merely as a convenience, be abused to exert control. Secondly, why on earth would wearing a face covering be made a criminal offence, if not to prepare to punish someone who has committed no crime whatsoever as yet?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, I have already largely answered that question on face masks, but, for the avoidance of doubt, I will say it again: we are creating a new criminal offence of wearing a face covering for the purpose of concealing identity when the police place a particular authorisation on a protest. The particular authorisation point is surely the key.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D’Souza (CB)
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My Lords, I wish to make three points, which have already been made several times in the context of this debate but will not suffer from repetition and which will also allow me to contribute to later stages of the Bill.

It is unreasonable that the Bill asks parliamentarians to override the rulings of the Supreme Court, thereby touching on the constitutional convention of the separation of powers. It is equally unreasonable that the Bill insists that Rwanda is safe—not “could be safe” or “might be safe” but “is safe”. It is also unreasonable that the Bill asks parliamentarians to vote to undermine very important international conventions and much UK domestic law.

The Bill needs radical scrutiny and amendment, and thereafter it needs a steadfast resistance to the pressure of the Government to accept what is, to my mind, a very bad Bill.

Immigration and Nationality (Fees) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2023

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Monday 4th December 2023

(5 months, 3 weeks ago)

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The fee and visa increases implemented as a result of these regulations have caused considerable concern. Do we really want to push people who are trying to make a life for themselves in our country into undocumented penury and ill health, and make it even harder for children to make good their citizenship rights? I beg to move.
Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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I will briefly underline some of the concerns expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and also, once again, point to the technical anomalies in the laying of this instrument, which we should not ride roughshod over. These unprecedented increases in fees introduced on 4 October put, for example, fees for a skilled worker’s three-year permit 540% above other leading science nations. This has enormous economic implications for any would-be immigrant skilled worker, as well as for employers. It seems to me that at the very least the Home Office must introduce policies to minimise the regulatory and economic burdens on businesses, especially SMEs. We all recognise that this is a difficult area, but, if we are to increase UK productivity, we need more skilled workers, who are currently threatened with impoverishment or indeed so demotivated that they do not attempt to come to this country at all.

As, again, the noble Baroness has said, the real hardship and heartache disproportionately affect children. Quite simply, the new fees now demanded for children to have indefinite leave to remain have become extortionate. The fee waivers scheme for parents is so impenetrable and expensive that we risk exposing a whole generation of entirely blameless and extremely vulnerable children to an insecure and uncertain future. Is this really what the Government want to do?

Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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My Lords, I rise briefly to speak in support of at least one of the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister of Burtersett. It is a point I have made before.

Nobody is entitled under any form of international law to succeed in an application for naturalisation as a British subject. In fact, we as a country are not obliged to grant naturalisation, but Parliament chooses that we should do so. In doing so, it understandably sets conditions; these conditions might relate to good character, how long one has lived here and things like that. Of course, part of those conditions will include the setting of the fee that needs to be paid. There are other immigration processes that people who are not British subjects may wish to apply for, which again may rightly and properly involve a fee. Nobody disputes that; the noble Baroness does not dispute that as a matter of principle at all. There are practical considerations, some of which the noble Baroness has explored in quite considerable detail in her remarks, about what the effects of those fees might be, and the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, raised the question of the effects, particularly in relation to people coming here with scientific qualifications and in the scope of education. All of those are matters which are very properly the subject of public policy.

Pakistan: Evacuation of Afghans

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Thursday 9th November 2023

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I confirm to the noble Lord that I remember the question. At the time, I committed to write to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup. That letter is being prepared and I will share it with him in due course if he will allow me a little more time.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, there is evidence that the Taliban are pursuing ethnocentric policies by ensuring that Hazara and Indo-Tajik people repatriated from Pakistan are settled among Pashtun communities, which has long-term consequences. Are His Majesty’s Government in touch with Pakistan about what it is effecting, because there will be future consequences of this policy in Afghanistan?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I am afraid that I am not really qualified to answer on that matter, which I would imagine falls very much within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but I will take the question back and ask whether it can shed some light on it.

Rwanda: Memorandum of Understanding

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Monday 6th February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, there is much to desire in the MoU with Rwanda with regard to consistency, clarity and process. There will continue to be legal challenges. The wording of the MoU, together with various ministerial Statements in this and the other place, has revealed not only laughable errors in the Home Office decision-making process but has created confusion as to who is eligible for removal to Rwanda, what the criteria are and who makes the decisions.

Let me quote from some of these ministerial speeches and letters to parliamentarians:

“For every stage in the process, … our approach is to ensure that the needs and vulnerabilities of asylum seekers are identified and taken into consideration where appropriate. … Everyone considered for relocation will be screened and interviewed and have access to legal advice.”—[Official Report, 20/12/22; cols. 1070-71.]


“nobody will be removed if it is unsafe or inappropriate for them.”— [Official Report, Commons, 19/4/22; cols. 46.]

So the Home Office will apparently consider each individual’s particular circumstances before deporting to Rwanda. The Minister then says, unequivocally, that asylum claims will be determined in Rwanda. I ask the Minister: which is right? If it is the former, can the Minister enlighten the House on the time and resources required to assess each individual case in light of the legal advice that they are guaranteed? And how precisely would this lengthy process be an effective deterrent to the people traffickers?

Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda

Baroness D'Souza Excerpts
Tuesday 20th December 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his careful explanation, but how confident is he that the criteria used to assess the asylum status of people being sent to Rwanda by the UK will conform closely with international standards? I ask this because President Kagame has publicly stated that he is interested in abstracting, as it were, the skills that he feels his country lacks and needs from the refugees who will be coming his way.

Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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Yes, certainly. The starting point is that Rwanda is a signatory to the 1951 refugee convention and the seven other principal United Nations conventions. As part of the memorandum, it was clear that the Rwandan Government agreed to adhere to international norms in the consideration of all applications for asylum and protection.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, like others in this Second Reading debate, I welcome the Bill. It updates security legislation that was designed to protect UK security in the context of the Second World War, as has been written recently by those who know. Threats to the security of this country and others have changed fundamentally in the last 20 years or so and, as has been pointed out by experts, are increasingly concerned with state-promoted terrorist action that includes undermining democratic institutions. Countering these threats before they can become destructive action is clearly necessary. That said, there are areas in the draft Bill that would benefit from clarification and, in some clauses, a serious rethink. Of the latter, I refer mainly to Clause 28, Clauses 82 to 85 and Clause 86, supported by Schedule 15.

My approach is informed by universal rights, the prohibition of involvement in criminal acts by Ministers and/or officers of the state and the implied legal cover for those who are. Such criminal acts might include targeted torture and killing. The Bill also appears to protect officials in the UK rather than those operating overseas. It was argued during the passage of the Bill in the other place that Clause 28, as written, could condone foreign assassination, for which we severely castigate other states, and not only make the UK liable to accusations of hypocrisy but undermine any moral leadership it continues to hold. It is worth recalling, as both my noble colleagues fore and aft have already done, that the ISC has documented the extent to which UK politicians and officials were involved in abuses overseas; for example, in the extraordinary rendition and subsequent torture of Abdel Hakim Belhaj in 2004 in Libya.

UK Ministers and officials already have a defence under the Serious Crime Act 2007 against criminal prosecution for “reasonable action”, taking into account the purpose of the action and any authority under which action is taken. It is questionable therefore if the extended legal cover in this Bill is necessary.

Clauses 82 to 86 pose a serious blow to those seeking legitimate damages awarded in civil cases by citing the newly introduced “national security factors”. Efforts in the other place to delete this clause on Report were unsuccessful. Instead, the Government introduced the all-encompassing phrase of “terrorist wrongdoing”, which can be invoked to discredit any such claim and prevent recompense. The phrase is to too broad to be meaningful and once on the statute book would exist as a hostage to fortune.

Terrorist wrongdoing would certainly cover direct efforts to build destructive weaponry, such as bomb making, but it could also encompass merely the purchase of hydrogen peroxide. A further rationale has been advanced that it is necessary to limit any financial recompense in a civil case, from re-investment in terrorist action. This restriction does not apply however to other sorts of revenue such as the lottery, and given the extremely low standard of proof for terrorist wrongdoing, protection and justified recompense for survivors of state-sponsored torture remain paper-thin.

Bearing in mind too that many states around the world use the accusation of terrorism activity to silence legitimate dissenters, these clauses could very easily act as an obstacle to claims made by torture survivors against unsubstantiated allegations. As is now universally accepted, survivors of torture require a formal acknowledgment of the wrong that has been done to them as part of their recovery. These clauses, if applied, would undermine the very notion of justice, so important to them.

The human rights organisation Reprieve has documented several ongoing cases where this clause, as currently set out, adversely affects torture survivors in their quest for redress. Other human rights bodies, including Redress and Freedom from Torture, similarly question the clauses in that they provide Ministers and officials with immunity from crimes that are specifically mentioned in the international treaties as crimes against humanity. I am sure that there will be reasoned debate and amendments to the Bill that will allow it to go through speedily, as it should, but many of us will press for amendments to Clause 28 and Clauses 82 to 86.