Swella Braverman: UK Home Secretary visits Rwanda to discuss deportation scheme
British Home Secretary Swella Braverman arrived in Rwanda on Saturday to discuss controversial agreement which resulted in the UK deporting asylum seekers who are believed to have arrived illegally in an African country.
The scheme has been mired in legal difficulties—no one has yet been deported, and Braverman’s visit has been criticized because she invited journalists from right-wing publications to accompany her, with the exception of liberal ones.
Before leaving, Braverman reaffirmed her commitment to the scheme, saying it would “serve as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal travel,” PA reported.
Braverman landed in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, where she was met by Rwandan Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Clementine Mukeka and British High Commissioner for Rwanda Omar Dair.
The visit comes 11 months after the UK government outlined its plan to send thousands of migrants believed to have entered the country illegally to Rwanda to have their asylum claims processed.
The government insisted that the program was aimed at destroying human smuggling networks and deterring migrants from the dangerous sea journey across the English Channel from France to England.
A plan that would see the UK pay $145m (£120m) to Rwanda over the next five years has faced backlash from NGOs, asylum seekers and a civil servants’ union, who have questioned its legality, forcing the government to delay its implementation. .
There were no flights yet, after the first scheduled flight to Rwanda was stopped at 11 o’clock back in June due to intervention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), followed by months of lawsuits that have stalled the program ever since.
The UK government has made stopping migrants coming in small boats to its shores a top priority.
The Illegal Migration Bill, which is being debated in Parliament, gives the government the power to deport anyone who enters the UK illegally. In many cases there are no safe and legal routes to the UK, meaning that many asylum seekers can only arrive illegally.
Under the bill, people arriving in the UK “will not be allowed to have their asylum application examined, even if they are refugees from war-torn societies,” said Alexander Betts, director of Oxford University’s Center for Refugee Studies.
Instead, they face immediate deportation either to their country of origin or to a third country such as Rwanda.
But there are concerns that the proposed law is illegal.
“When you open the bill, there’s a big red flag on the front page that says, ‘This could be a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights,'” Betts told CNN.
He added that the proposed bill is of “historic significance” because it represents “a liberal, democratic state that is abandoning the principle of the right to asylum.”
United Nations Court of Human Rights warned that the bill, if passed, would be a “clear violation” of the Refugee Convention.
There are also fears that the bill is unworkable. The Government of Rwanda has stated that it could only process 1,000 asylum seekers during an initial five-year period.
On the contrary, there are 45,755 people. rated arrived in the UK in small boats crossed the English Channel only in 2022.