Sending asylum seekers to Rwanda is an “absolutely shameful” coverage that threatens to undermine Britain’s potential to guide in a altering world, the Labour peer Valerie Amos has stated.
Lady Amos, who this week grew to become the primary black member of the Order of the Garter, stated the scheme “sends a message” to different nations about “how seriously we take our responsibilities” to the UN’s safety council and constitution on refugees.
She stated that Prince Charles, additionally a member of the order as Prince of Wales, “absolutely understands his role in terms of the importance of neutrality” after he was reported to have made disapproving feedback in personal on the Rwanda scheme.
Amos, a former chief of the Lords and UN undersecretary basic for humanitarian affairs, grew to become the primary black head of an Oxford school when she was appointed grasp of University College in 2020. She added one other of many firsts together with her investiture this week within the Order of the Garter, which has a most of 24 members along with the sovereign and the Prince of Wales, throughout a glittering ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Speaking on the Rwanda coverage, she stated: “I do not think we should be sending people to Rwanda. If we look at those countries that have tried offshore processing in the past, it has not worked.
“I have gone on record as saying the government’s policy is absolutely shameful. I do not understand why with the resources we have at our disposal we can’t speed up processes and do it here.
“Our government says it wants to be an important player on the global stage. It talks about Global Britain. We have responsibilities internationally that we have signed up to. It’s really important that we demonstrate some leadership in terms of speaking to those values, and also in the way that we work and function, that we are seen as living those values.”
She added: “The message we are sending to many other countries in terms of how we treat asylum seekers and refugees, how we deal with the processing of people who are seeking asylum, how seriously we take our responsibilities in relation to the charter on refugees, how seriously we take responsibilities as a permanent member of the security council, I think this opens up so many questions for us in terms of our potential to show leadership in this area.”
On becoming a member of the order, she stated she was “flabbergasted” and “thrilled” on the honour on a private stage, and believed that the slowly rising variety of honours for black and minority ethnic individuals acted as a “signal to people who look like me that this can happen and is possible”.
It spoke to adjustments taking place in Britain that got “huge impetus” after the dying of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter motion, she stated. With these adjustments, nevertheless, Britain needed to perceive its previous, together with empire and its half within the slave commerce.
This shouldn’t be a “blame-fest”, she stated, and that it was as a substitute an opportunity for “a conversation about acknowledgment and recognition”.
“I worry, for example, so little of that history is taught in our schools, that there is so little understanding of where our wealth as a country has come from.” The Amos bursary, which she co-founded in 2009, ensures Britain’s proficient younger individuals of African and Caribbean heritage have the chance to excel in schooling and past.
She was talking as Rwanda prepares to welcome leaders to the Commonwealth heads of presidency assembly subsequent week. Charles is because of attend after reviews he privately described the federal government’s coverage to ship asylum seekers to the African nation as “appalling”.
“I have no idea whether or not Prince Charles made those remarks. What I would say is that I think he is somebody who is extremely experienced and absolutely understands his role in terms of the importance of neutrality,” she stated. “If he did make these remarks, I know he would not have wanted them to be in the public domain.”
On the Commonwealth, with 60% of its 2.6 billion individuals below 30 years of age, she stated the Commonwealth would persevere after the Queen’s reign ends however that it wanted to mirror its youthful demographic.
“I don’t see any reason why the Commonwealth should not have a future, a really important future, through that transition. But we also have to think as people of the Commonwealth about what we want from the Commonwealth,” she stated.
“I would want young people to be front and centre, less about government to government and more people to people”.
Given the Commonwealth membership of Rwanda, which has been questioned over its human rights report, and with Gabon, described by the Human Rights Foundation as a “feudal state”, changing into its fifty fifth member subsequent week, there are prone to be questions over how some nations align with the Commonwealth’s said values.
However, Amos stated it was what nations aspired to be that was necessary. “One of the things I think about the Commonwealth, the same as the European Union, is that you have countries wanting to be part of organisations that have charters and values which are about who and what you want to be going forward,” she stated.
“If you look across the Commonwealth family, there are countries that have had numerous challenges, and have a history that they have to come to terms with … and I think to have an organisation where you want to aspire to certain things, and you want to be able to work through those things, is a positive, not a negative.
“It speaks well to what the Commonwealth stands for.”