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21 QCs announce opposition to UK's Rwanda immigration scheme

21 Queens Counsel have added their names to a list of public figures who oppose the government’s controversial scheme to deport refugees who arrive in the UK to Rwanda for processing [@Care4Calais/Twitter]

Twenty-one QCs have added their names to a list of public figures who oppose the government's controversial scheme to deport refugees who arrive in the UK to Rwanda for processing.

Yesterday the charity Care4Calais's campaign, #StopRwanda, was trending on Twitter in a bid to build up momentum to stop asylum seekers being sent to the East African country.

Under the hashtag, people held up signs in a show of support against the policy.

The Twitter storm follows a High Court hearing brought by Care4Calais, another charity Detention Action, and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) during which documents were revealed showing UK officials warned the government against pressing ahead with the plan.

Among the concerns was that Rwanda has been accused of recruiting refugees to conduct armed operations in neighbouring countries, and that it was given an amber / red warning over human rights concerns including extrajudicial killings and the persecution of dissidents.

READ: UK MPs warn Rwanda makes 'good headlines' but does not deter Channel crossings

Paul O'Connor of PCS said that not only is the home secretary aware of rights violations in the countries but that she's prepared to dampen down criticism to uphold the policy.

In June, celebrities including Dame Emma Thompson and Olympic athlete Anita Asante called on commonwealth leaders to take a stand against Britain's "ill-planned" and "offensive" Rwanda scheme.

Actresses and actors Sophie Okonedo, Martins Imhangbe, Lucian Msamati and Olivia Coleman were just some of the 20 names that wrote an open letter to figures at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kigali that week.

The scheme "tells us much about the British Government's colonial and insulting view of Africa," read the letter, "as a place that is no better than a dumping ground for things – in this case people – it considers a problem."

Ahead of that Commonwealth meeting Prince Charles is reported to have described the Rwanda policy as "appalling."

Earlier this week a group of British MPs accused the government of searching for "radical new policies" to hit the headlines but doing little to actually stop people from crossing the Channel.

Politicians including MP Zarah Sultana and MP Claudia Webbe have also spoken out against the policy.

The archbishops of Canterbury and York and the entire senior leadership of the Church of England described the Rwanda scheme as "an immoral policy that shames Britain."

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