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Review from Rwanda: “We introduce different types of asylum seekers”

Review from Rwanda: “We introduce different types of asylum seekers”

Amnesty's UK representative Sacha Deshmukh said:

– This policy has thrown the UK asylum process into complete disarray and the humiliating deal with Rwanda has made the situation worse.

The background is that the British right-wing government has promised to, if not stop, at least drastically reduce immigration to the country, but has failed to deliver on its promises. That's why they make asylum seekers an identity issue, even though they're a small part of the immigration.

Even relative to the number of asylum seekers, only a minority are vulnerable to deportation to Rwanda. The new law makes it possible to send asylum seekers who have arrived in the UK illegally, mostly by small boats across the English Channel.

Peter Walsh is an expert on migration at the University of Oxford:

– We know that the 200 to 300 asylum seekers sent to Rwanda at the start of the program will not be taken care of when it comes to the total of 29,000 people seeking asylum illegally by derailed boat. Sky News says.

25 million per asylum seeker

Rishi Sunak and the government are all about the need to show that they are doing something, but at an incredibly high cost.

The British newspaper The Guardian calculated that each of the 300 asylum seekers deported to Rwanda under the framework of the deal would cost the British taxpayer SEK 25 million. Although no one will be deported to Rwanda, Rishi Sunak has signed a deal that will cost the UK over five billion kroner.

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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Image: AP/TT

For Rwanda, this agreement is very important economically. Great Britain has pledged five billion kroner in financial aid to the country, and close to 700 million kroner for the reception costs of the 300 deportees within the framework of the agreement.

The figures have created a new scandal in Great Britain, with the opposition raging against the billions in cash transfers.

But the harshest criticism is that it violates the European Convention and could force deportees to leave Britain because their protection is deemed inadequate.

Rwanda is an authoritarian country that is in conflict with neighboring Congo. In addition, the country already has 135,000 refugees, people forced to flee their home countries to seek protection in Rwanda. A series of incidents occurred over their reception, with several being shot dead in clashes with Rwandan police.

“Excellent Position”

Compared to ordinary citizens of Rwanda, many who wanted to move to the UK were given privileged status.

Even in Rwanda there is skepticism about the deal with Great Britain. A senior official in the country, who requested anonymity, tells Dagens ETC:

– I understand that our government likes the deal, it brings a lot of money to Rwanda. But instead we introduce different types of asylum seekers. Poor, destitute people from Burundi and Congo are forced to live in refugee camps with minimal food, while many who want to go to the UK are given privileged status compared to ordinary citizens of Rwanda.

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– They may come from other African countries and they don't want to be here. How will our society see them?

From human rights organizations and the European Convention, there are criticisms taken by the British Supreme Court:

– Britain must stop sending people to Rwanda under the new law, says Michael O'Flaherty, the Council of Europe's human rights officer.

In his report, he notes that deported asylum-seekers have no opportunity to appeal judgments or proceedings in British courts, even if it concerns rejection and deportation to the countries they have fled.

“Harmful”

The British Supreme Court also addressed the issue, saying that if Rwanda decides to deport an asylum seeker to another country, even if the person wants to seek asylum in the UK, British courts are prevented by law from reviewing those decisions.

Michael O'Flaherty added that the law means that the European Convention on Human Rights is out of play in many respects.

Even the UN Human Rights Commission has been highly critical of the British law, writing that it “harms global responsibility, human rights and refugee protection”.

But for the British Conservative Party, the possibility of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda has become a heartland issue despite all the criticism. The bill has survived three Conservative governments, first under Boris Johnson, then Liz Truss and finally Rishi Sunak.

Denmark inquired

When Brexit did not lead to a reduction in immigration as promised, the Conservative government was forced to show it was prepared to undertake extensive efforts to reduce the number of people coming to the country. Therefore, withdrawing the proposal has become impossible – despite the fact that it will not have much effect and will be hugely expensive. It has become the symbol of the government.

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Labour's shadow minister for home affairs, Yvette Cooper, says it is a national scandal.

– Rishi Sunak has staked his credibility as Prime Minister on this bill. He must take responsibility for its failure.

The government in Denmark also investigated the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda, but concluded that it did not go as planned. They are now investigating whether to send them to Albania.