- UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says he will work on Plan B after the country’s Supreme Court ruled against the Rwanda asylum deportation deal.
- Fired home secretary Suella Braverman blames the collapse of the deal on Sunak.
- Rwanda is not amused by being called an unsafe destination while respecting the judgment.
UK judges ruled on Wednesday Rwanda cannot be regarded as a secure place to transfer asylum seekers, halting a flagship plan to transfer migrants there.
Since there was a chance genuine refugees would be repatriated to the countries from which they fled in the first place, the UK could not send people to Rwanda, the Supreme Court said.
“There are substantial grounds for believing that asylum seekers would face a real risk of ill-treatment by reason of refoulement [repression] to their country of origin if they were removed to Rwanda,” the judgment read.
In an address to the media, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it was not the end of the road; they would work on another strategy to deal with the migration crisis, a policy first introduced by Boris Johnson in April 2022.
“This was not the outcome we wanted, but we have spent the last few months planning for all eventualities, and we remain completely committed to stopping the boats,” he added.
Rwanda’s response to the judgment
Rwanda accepted it was a judicial matter in the UK but took offence at being labelled unsafe.
In a statement, government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said: “This is ultimately a decision for the UK’s judicial system.
“However, we take issue with the ruling that Rwanda is not a safe third country for asylum seekers and refugees in terms of refoulement.”
She added Rwanda was in this arrangement because of its track record.
“Rwanda and the UK have been working together to ensure the integration of relocated asylum seekers into Rwandan society.
“Rwanda is committed to its international obligations. We have been recognised by the UNHCR and other international institutions for our exemplary treatment of refugees.
“Throughout this legal process, we’ve been busy delivering progress for Rwandans and working with international partners to solve some of the biggest challenges that Africa and the wider world face.
“We take our humanitarian responsibilities seriously and will continue to live up to them,” Makolo said.
Why Rwanda, and at what cost?
In Paul Kagame’s words, the UK approached him because, in 2014, he had helped refugees during his time as African Union chairperson.
“We are not trading human beings, please. This is not the case. We are actually helping,” he said in his address during a virtual seminar hosted by Brown University, a private Ivy League college in the US, in April last year.
“But let me talk about 2018, when we helped deal with the situation in Libya. These people [refugees] were stuck in Libya, trying to cross into Europe.
“Some had already died trying to cross the Mediterranean; others were kept in prisons in Libya,” Kagame added.
Rwanda initially received R2.37 billion from the British government to build homes for asylum seekers.
In March of this year, then-UK home secretary Suella Braverman visited Rwanda and was impressed by the housing prepared for asylum seekers.
But Yvette Cooper, a Labour Party legislator, argued the policy was opaque, shrouded in secrecy, a breeding ground for corruption, and had no guarantee of solving the UK’s immigration crisis.
She said this in the House of Commons last December, adding Rwanda would take about 200 people, and that would translate to more than a million pounds per person.
By December last year, Rwanda had already received 120 million pounds (about R2.37 billion), with another 20 million being due.
Braverman hits back
Braverman was fired this week.
In a letter address to Sunak on the eve of the ruling, Braverman said the prime minister was “weak and dishonest”.
On the Rwanda deal, which she said was one of the reasons she accepted her appointment last year, she added Sunak was a letdown.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had issued an interim judgment stopping the UK from deporting illegal immigrants to Rwanda in December last year.
Thereafter, Braverman called for the UK, to leave the ECHR.
In her scathing letter, she claimed Sunak was against this move, and in the long run, it could come to bite him.
“I was clear from day one that if you did not wish to leave the ECHR, the way to securely and swiftly deliver our Rwanda partnership would be to block off the ECHR, the HRA [Human Rights Act], and any other obligations which inhibit our ability to remove those with no right to be in the UK,” Braverman said.
Your rejection of this path was not merely a betrayal of our agreement, but a betrayal of your promise to the nation that you would do ‘whatever it takes’ to stop the boats.
Braverman claimed to have warned Sunak of the possibility of a loss at the Supreme Court, which came to pass today.
“At every stage of litigation, I cautioned you and your team against assuming we would win,” she said.
Now that the Rwanda deal has collapsed, for Braverman, they “wasted a year and an act of Parliament, only to arrive back at square one”.
She went on to say all that fell on Sunak’s “magical thinking – believing that you can will your way through this without upsetting polite opinion”.
The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
Source link : https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/uks-rwanda-deportation-plan-collapses-amid-blame-gameand-an-unamused-rwanda-20231115
Publish date : 2023-11-15 17:56:25