- BBC News World
Some people seeking asylum in the UK will be taken to Rwanda – more than 6,500km away – for processing in the African country, according to plans by the new British government.
The controversial program is part of strict new government measures to reduce the number of migrants arriving in the country on small boats across the English Channel.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is in the African country to sign a $150 million deal that includes testing the scheme. With single men coming to the UK It will be sent to Rwanda.
In a speech on Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the programme, saying it was needed to “save countless lives” and prevent “human traffickers” from turning the ocean into a “water graveyard”.
Under the new scheme, he said, anyone arriving in the UK illegally could be “transferred” to Rwanda.
“This policy has no limits,” he said. He added that Rwanda has increased its capacity to absorb tens of thousands in recent years.
“We cannot maintain a parallel illegal system,” Johnson said. “Our mercy may be infinite, but our ability to help people is not.”
It is known that last year, 28,526 people crossed the canal in small boatscompared to 8404 in 2020.
About 600 people crossed the channel on Wednesday, and according to Johnson, the number could reach 1,000 per day in the coming weeks.
The BBC has seen the accommodations the asylum seekers will be housed in, which are believed to hold around 100 people at a time and process up to 500 people a year.
‘Impractical and immoral’
The new program has been widely criticized by both humanitarian organizations, who have described the plans as harsh, and opposition parties, who say it would be “impractical, immoral, wasteful and ineffective”.
Opposition parties have also said that the annual cost of the entire plan will be significantly higher than the initial payment of $150 million, and have raised concerns about Rwanda’s human rights record.
The BBC’s national affairs editor, Mark Easton, from Rwanda, explained that the government faces significant legal hurdles and costs in launching the scheme.
Exact details of the plan have yet to be confirmed, but he said the trial program will mostly be limited to single men who British authorities have said. They consider it unacceptable.
Under the proposal, Rwanda will take responsibility for people who make the journey over 6,500 km, put them through an asylum process, and at the end of that process, if they are successful, they will have a long-term stay in Rwanda.
The Rwandan government indicated that migrants “will enjoy full protection under Rwandan law, equal access to work and access to health and social care services.”
The British Home Office believes that the current asylum law will be sufficient to implement the plan, But doubts remain about the legitimacy of the scheme.
Suspicions have also been raised On the Rwandan government’s human rights record Its president is Paul Kagame.
Many of his critics died or were victims of assassination attempts, but Rwanda has always rejected suggestions that its government was involved.
Concerns have also been raised about the indictment of Paul Rusabagina on terrorism charges, who was portrayed in the Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda for his role in saving more than 1,000 people during the 1994 genocide in that country.
Last year, the UK government itself expressed its concern at the United Nations For “continued restrictions on civil and political rights and freedom of the press”In Rwanda, he called for independent investigations into “allegations of extrajudicial executions, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture.”
Very controversial plan
Analysis by Mark Easton, national affairs editor, BBC
The partnership with Rwanda is the cornerstone of a broader political campaign to address what has been a humiliation for ministers who promised that Brexit would mean they could control Britain’s borders.
Instead, a record number of asylum seekers showed up on boats off the white cliffs of Dover.
This year there were 4,578 arrivals and it seems that It will be a new record.
However, sending asylum seekers to Rwanda is likely to be highly controversial and legally difficult.
Critics point to Rwanda’s poor human rights record. Last year, the United Kingdom demanded at the United Nations an investigation into the alleged murders, disappearances and torture.
Ministers will have to explain why Rwanda is the right place to mandate the protection of the human rights of vulnerable asylum seekers who had hoped the UK would protect them.
Human rights activists highlight the negative impact on the human rights of refugees, the cost of the program and question whether it will be able to achieve its goals.
Enver Solomon, executive director of the Refugee Council, said the proposal did not address the reasons for desperate people to travel to the UK.
Amnesty International UK described the plan as a ‘A surprisingly wrong idea’ That would waste public money.
The opposition Labor Party’s Culture Secretary Lucy Powell said her party was calling for “boring measures” such as restrictions on human traffickers who promote business online.
The Liberal Democrats said the government was “close the door” to refugees, while Ian Blackford of the Scottish National Party called the plan “absolutely appalling”.
Is it legal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda?
The British government wants to introduce new laws, under the Citizenship and Borders Act, to make it easier for the UK to send refugees to another country to process their asylum claims.
But the country must be ‘safe’ and the UK has signed up too two major international treaties that guarantee the rights of refugees:
- The United Nations Refugee Convention, which protects people from being sent to a country where they face serious threats to life or liberty.
- The European Convention on Human Rights states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
So if there is a risk of someone being mistreated in Rwanda, they cannot be sent there.
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