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UK Rwanda deportees include victims of torture, human trafficking: Study

September 2, 2022 at 9:01 am

Hundreds of demonstrators gather during a protest against the UK’s plan to send migrants and asylum seekers to Rwanda and the court’s decision on the matter in front of the Ministry of Interior in London, United Kingdom on June 13, 2022. [Raşid Necati Aslım – Anadolu Agency ]

Asylum seekers in the UK who will be deported to Rwanda as part of the government’s controversial deportation scheme include victims of torture and human trafficking, a critical report revealed on Thursday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

In a study of 36 asylum seekers in the UK, human rights group, Medical Justice, discovered that extremely vulnerable people have been targeted for deportation by the government. These include men, women and children who are survivors of trafficking and torture, and with a history of mental health conditions.

“The UK Government has entered a cruel and unconscionable agreement, which will forcibly remove people who have come to the UK seeking safety and protection, to Rwanda, with no return to the UK. Vulnerable asylum seekers are already paying the human cost of the agreement, before any removals have taken place,” the report said.

“The agreement has been widely condemned by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, parliamentary committees, campaigners, legal bodies and medical experts. The Government has been criticised for undermining the asylum system by shirking its international responsibility and challenged on the legality of this agreement,” it added.

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The report revealed, of the 36 asylum seekers interviewed, 26 people had a history of torture and 17 people had indicators of trafficking. Fifteen individuals displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and 11 were found to have suicidal thoughts and ideas during detention in immigration UK centres.

All the individuals involved in the study sought safety and security in the UK, with some having family already residing in the country. There are no specific screening processes that identify asylum seekers as victims of torture and trafficking, and the government, according to Medical Justice, has acknowledged that many people targeted for removal may not be safe or appropriate for the scheme.

In addition to the lack of transparency, this group of asylum seekers have been subjected to an accelerated process of removal. It has been documented by the rights group that people have been notified of removal between two to 28 days after having first arrived in the UK.

Many asylum seekers have had a lack of access to legal representation and advice, and with no access to translated documents from the Home Office relating to their imminent removal and deportation to Rwanda.

The deportation scheme has also had a damning effect on the mental well-being of many individuals targeted by the government. It has resulted in people experiencing fear, confusion, uncertainty about their safety and a loss of hope. Such conditions have exacerbated already existing conditions that include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The analysis demonstrates how, even without removals taking place, the Migration and Economic Development Partnership is already having a profound impact on those affected by it, including those who are still held in indefinite detention pending removal to Rwanda,” the report said.

In April, the UK government pushed forward a highly controversial plan that would see asylum seekers being sent on a one-way trip to Rwanda.

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The plan attracted criticism throughout the UK, from opposition parties and human rights organisations, as well across the international community with the UN criticising it.

The new asylum scheme has been confronted by legal action and the government’s first flight to Rwanda was cancelled by a last-minute legal ruling in June.