A few days before the first planned departures, the British justice authorized, on Friday June 10, the controversial government project to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, rejecting the appeal of human rights associations.
London High Court Judge Jonathan Swift, who was reviewing the case as a matter of urgency, said “important, in the public interest, that the Minister of the Interior can implement immigration control decisions”.
The plaintiffs, including the associations Care4Calais and Detention Action, have lodged an appeal, which will be heard on Monday on the eve of a first flight transporting around 30 asylum seekers to the East African country, to the chagrin of the United Nations (UN) and refugee aid associations, who denounce a policy “illegal”. On Monday, the High Court is also due to hear another appeal, brought by refugee aid charity Asylum Aid.
Associations denounce a “neocolonial program”
Sonya Sceats, executive director of the association Freedom From Torture, said to herself “disappointed”but stressed that the fight was “far from over”promising to use “all available means” so that what she considers to be a “neocolonial program”. This much criticized project was also denounced on Friday by the Labor opposition as an attempt to “diversion” in the face of political scandals weakening Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
By sending asylum seekers more than 6,000 kilometers from London, which recalls the policy pursued by Australia, the Conservative government intends to deter illegal crossings of the Channel, which are ever more numerous. Since the start of the year, more than 10,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel illegally to reach British shores in small boats, a considerable increase on previous years.
During the hearing, the UN strongly condemned this strategy, through the voice of its lawyer. Representing the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mre Laura Dubinsky said the UN agency was concerned about the risk of “serious and irreparable harm” caused to the refugees sent to Rwanda, and did not approve “in no way the Anglo-Rwandan arrangement”. “The UNHCR is not involved in the arrangement between the United Kingdom and Rwanda, despite the assertions to the contrary by the Minister of State”she pointed out, accusing the government of lies.
London says 32 asylum seekers sent next week
According to the organization Care4Calais, some thirty-five Sudanese, eighteen Syrians, fourteen Iranians, eleven Egyptians, but also nine Afghans who fled the Taliban, are among the more than 130 asylum seekers who have been notified of their possible departure. . According to British government lawyer Mathew Gullick, 32 migrants are due to be sent to Rwanda next week, with more flights expected to follow in the coming months.
Rwanda, ruled by Paul Kagame since the end of the 1994 genocide, which killed 800,000 people, according to the UN, is regularly accused by NGOs of repressing freedom of expression, criticism and political opposition. On Friday, 23 NGOs called on Commonwealth leaders to put pressure on Rwanda, which will host a meeting of the organization from June 20, to release critics of power and allow greater freedom of expression. expression.
However, the British Home Office says it is ” determined “ to implement his project, insisting that he is “fully consistent with international and national law”. For Mr. Johnson’s spokesman, this plan is “the right approach, especially to tackle the criminal gangs that exploit migrants on French shores and force them into unseaworthy boats to make the incredibly dangerous crossing to the UK”.
The government has hinted that asylum seekers could settle permanently in Rwanda. The manager of the Hope Hostel in Kigali, which is preparing to welcome them, stressed that his establishment “is not a prison”but a hotel whose residents will be “free” to get out.