The UK’s High Commissioner to Rwanda warned against the government’s plan to send refugees to Rwanda, documents presented at a High Court hearing yesterday revealed.
Kigali has been “accused of recruiting refugees to conduct armed operations in neighbouring countries,” revealed papers in the legal challenge brought by the two charities Detention Action and Care4Calais and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).
Lawyers representing asylum seekers from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, and Albania who were scheduled to be removed to Rwanda on 14 June obtained thousands of documents on the policy.
The documents revealed that Rwanda was struck off the shortlist of 14 potential countries that the UK would send refugees to and that the High Commissioner believed Rwanda should not be pursued because of its poor human rights record.
Rwanda was “assessed as presenting substantial issues in relation to asylum systems and human rights and/or political negotiability” and given an amber / red warning due to rights concerns.
These concerns include extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearance, torture and a crackdown on dissidents.
Paul O’Connor of PCS said: “The documents before the court indicate that the home secretary is well aware of human rights violations in Rwanda.”
“They also indicate that the government is prepared to dampen down its criticism of those violations in order to preserve this policy.”
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has spearheaded an immigration scheme under which asylum seekers arriving in the UK via the English Channel will be sent to the east African country for their claims to be processed.
The government has said it will deter other asylum seekers from making the crossing, but earlier this week a group of MPs said there is “no clear evidence” that the scheme will result in less Channel crossings.
Following the information disclosed in the papers, Clare Moseley of Care4Calais said: “Our view has always been that the Rwanda policy will not work as a deterrent.”
Last month, Britain’s High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court refused to block the first flight scheduled to take refugees from the UK to Rwanda so at the last minute the European Court of Human Rights stepped in and ruled that it could not take off.
The government has vowed to press ahead with its scheme.