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Rwanda says UN refugee agency lying in British asylum policy case

June 12, 2024 at 10:43 am

A view of Hope Hostel, where the irregular immigrants from United Kingdom to be deported to, is seen after King Charles III approved the bill regarding the deportation, in Kigali, Rwanda on April 25, 2024 [Cyrile Ndegeya – Anadolu Agency]

Rwanda has said that the UN refugee agency lied when the organisation told a British court this week that asylum seekers sent to the East African country could be moved on again to states where they risked torture or death, Reuters has reported.

Lawyers representing the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told the court on Monday that Rwanda’s asylum system was inadequate, as part of a challenge to the British government’s policy to deport asylum seekers there.

The lawyers said removing asylum seekers to Rwanda put them at risk of being transferred again in a banned process known as refoulement, building on past evidence which formed an important part of the UK Supreme Court’s reasoning when it ruled last year that the British plan was unlawful.

“UNHCR is lying,” a Rwandan government spokesperson said late on Tuesday. “The organisation seems intent on presenting fabricated allegations to UK courts about Rwanda’s treatment of asylum seekers, while still partnering with us to bring African migrants from Libya to safety in Rwanda.”

A UNHCR spokesperson in Rwanda said that she had no immediate comment.

Rwanda’s government said that cases raised by the UNHCR lawyers in court had involved people arriving in Rwanda who had legal status in other countries but did not meet entry requirements, or of people leaving Rwanda voluntarily.

Britain said last week that the first flight to Rwanda would take off on 24 July, although that will be dependent on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party winning the General Election on 4 July. That looks unlikely as Britain’s opposition Labour Party, leading by about 20 points in opinion polls, has pledged to scrap the plan if elected.

READ: UK trade union says Rwanda deportation policy makes officials break law