Lawsuit: British officials concerned about deportations from Rwanda

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LONDON (AP) — British Foreign Office officials have warned of UK plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, citing the African country’s human rights record East, according to documents cited in a lawsuit against the British government.

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In written submissions filed on Tuesday, lawyer Raza Husain said Foreign Office officials told then-foreign minister Dominic Raab in March that if Rwanda was selected for the policy, » we should be prepared to restrain UK positions on Rwanda’s human rights record and absorb resulting criticism from the UK Parliament and NGOs.

The government initially excluded Rwanda from a shortlist of potential destination countries for deported migrants « on human rights grounds », according to Husain, who represents a group of asylum seekers, charities and labor unions. officials.

The group has taken legal action against the UK government over the deportation deal it reached with Rwanda in April.

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Under this plan, Britain would deport people who entered the UK illegally and in exchange for their acceptance, Rwanda would receive millions in development aid. Deportees would be allowed to seek asylum in Rwanda, not Britain.

Authorities have defended the plan, arguing it would deter asylum seekers from making dangerous and « unnecessary » trips on small boats across the English Channel. But it has sparked outrage from human rights activists, the United Nations and many others who say it is illegal and inhumane to send people thousands of miles to a country where they don’t want to live.

Some have denounced the policy as an attack on refugee rights that most countries have recognized since the end of World War II.

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Citing internal memos and other government documents, Husain said an April Foreign Ministry memo indicated that human rights concerns about Rwanda included the potential for « torture or degrading treatment » of the deportees.

Husain also said that the UK High Commissioner to Rwanda had indicated last year that the country should not be used for several reasons, including that it « has been accused of recruiting refugees to carry out armed operations in neighboring countries ».

Britain was forced to cancel the first deportation flight at the last minute last month after the European Court of Human Rights ruled the plan carried « a real risk of irreversible harm ».

Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed her government will not be put off by such legal challenges.

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The British government has argued that while Rwanda was the scene of a genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of people in 1994, the country has built a reputation for stability and economic progress since then. Critics say stability comes at the cost of political repression.

Yvette Cooper, an opposition Labor MP, said the documents were proof that Rwanda’s deportation plan was « unworkable and unethical ».

« Today’s revelations show ministers knew the policy was unenforceable, would be at a very high risk of fraud and would undermine UK foreign policy and our ability to raise the issue of Rwanda’s human rights record. “, said Cooper.

Two judges are expected to rule on Wednesday on when a full hearing into the case will take place.


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