Rwanda Gov’t Accused of Using Torture, Killings as ‘Accepted Methods’ of Control: Report
09:47 GMT 17.08.2022 (Updated: 15:20 GMT 28.05.2023)
In April, the UK clinched a deal with Rwanda that stipulates illegal migrants arriving in Britain via the English Channel will be sent to the East African nation, where their asylum claims will be processed.
An unnamed Foreign Office official has accused Rwanda’s government of resorting to “arbitrary detention, torture and even killings” as “accepted methods of enforcing control,” The Guardian reports referring to documents revealed during a High Court hearing on London’s plans to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda.
The official also claimed that “There are state control, security, surveillance structures from the national level down to [households]” in Rwanda, according to The Guardian.
This comes as the UK government is seeking to keep parts of the documents secret for fear the contents could damage international relations and threaten national security. In particular, No 10’s application for a public interest immunity (PII) certificate calls for keeping “10 short passages confidential.”
The Guardian, along with the BBC and The Times, urges the disclosure of all 10 passages, insisting that it is in the public interest, a view supported by the PCS union, as well as the charities Care4Calais and Detention Action.
A government spokesperson, in turn, praised Rwanda as “a safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers." They underscored that the government remains “committed to delivering this policy to break the business model of criminal gangs and save lives.”
A draft ruling from Lord Justice Lewis on the PII application is expected tomorrow, while a full High Court hearing into the London-Kigali deal on asylum seekers is scheduled for September 5.
The London-Kigali asylum pact, which was inked by Home Secretary Priti Patel and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Vincent Biruta on April 14, 2022, stipulates that adult migrants who illegally arrived in the UK seeking sanctuary since January would be given a one-way ticket for the 4,000-mile (6,400-km) trip to the East African nation for processing and resettlement.
Under the deal, those relocated to Rwanda will receive “support, including up to five years of education, vocational and skills training, as well as integration, accommodation, and healthcare, so that they can resettle and thrive.”
The outgoing UK prime minister’s government described the Rwanda scheme as a legitimate way to protect lives and thwart the criminal gangs that send migrants on risky journeys across the English Channel.
The implementation of the deal is currently on standby after a last-ditch order by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) led to the cancellation of the UK’s first flight to take asylum seekers to Rwanda in mid-June. Home Secretary Priti Patel made it clear that the ECHR’s move would not prevent London from going ahead with its plans to send some illegal migrants to the East African nation.