Amendment to the Motion

Part of Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Amendment of List of Safe States) Regulations 2024 - Motion to Approve – in the House of Lords am 8:15 pm ar 19 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Scriven Lord Scriven Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol 8:15, 19 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, very briefly, I wish to protest that the Home Office is, again, living in the world of fantasy and fiction when it comes to safe countries. We have had the charade over the Rwanda Bill, which is going through ping-pong at the moment, and we are here again.

The Minister says from the Dispatch Box very passionately that the Government have taken a number of sources into consideration when determining whether Georgia or India are safe countries. I have done quite a bit of research myself over the last few days; I have looked at reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Home Office’s own country report and the US’s country report, and the reports of Freedom House, the UN and the EU on both countries. All those sources raise considerations and concerns—in some cases significant—about the human rights position in both countries.

Can the Minister tell the House what sources the Home Office has looked at, other than the ones that I just read out? Would he lay before the House as a matter of urgency the content of those sources? I cannot find sources which state that both India and Georgia generally are countries that have and uphold international standards of human rights for the vast majority of their citizens.

For example, the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, mentioned specific groups in India. There are 172 million Muslims in India—14.2% of the population—that are having constitutional rights significantly taken away from them. Is it generally safe for the 172 million Muslim citizens of India? Would the Minister like to comment on whether it is seen as generally safe?

I believe that the Home Office has, again, gone down the rabbit hole of believing the fantasy and fiction, rather than giving us specific facts and sources. As I say, I have looked, and I cannot find sources which would determine that these countries are generally seen as safe for human rights. It is particularly galling when the Home Office’s own country report talks about “widespread” abuses in India. Could the Minister explain the difference between general and widespread, and how the mention of widespread abuses in the Home Office’s own country notice brings it to then say that generally India is safe? It is preposterous that this has happened.

It seems to suggest that the numbers of claims determine whether the Government now look at whether a country is safe. Surely the fact that cases are rising may determine that conditions are actually getting worse, and more people are seeking asylum based on genuine issues and genuine fear for their own safety back in the countries where they lived. I am not clear what the correlation is. At the Dispatch Box, the Minister said that the numbers seem to determine whether countries are looked at by the Home Office and decided to be safe or not. If I got that wrong then I apologise to the House, but numbers have absolutely nothing to do with determining whether a country is safe, and the reverse of what the Government seem to be suggesting is that conditions could be getting worse.

I look forward to the Minister giving us the sources that the Home Office has looked at, and the evidence of those sources, to determine that India and Georgia are generally safe countries.