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Calls for Government to ‘reconsider’ Rwanda deal

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA)
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A group of MPs and peers has called on Priti Patel to “reconsider” the plan to send migrants to Rwanda.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) wrote to the Home Secretary warning of safety concerns and questioning the legality of the deal.

In the letter, dated July 21 and published on Monday, committee chairman Joanna Cherry said: “The Joint Committee on Human Rights hopes that the Government will demonstrate commitment to human rights and the protection of refugees and reconsider the UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP).”

She said the JCHR was “concerned that the agreement has been put in place without adequate assurances as to the safety of those removed to Rwanda.”

The letter said: “Removing asylum seekers to a state where they face a real risk of serious human rights abuses, or of being sent on to a dangerous third country as a result of an inadequate asylum system, is inconsistent with the UK’s human rights obligations.

“While we have received mixed reports on the safety of Rwanda, particularly for vulnerable groups, and the adequacy of its asylum system, we are not satisfied that it is a sufficiently safe destination to be a partner in this kind of asylum agreement.”

The agreement could be seen as “outsourcing of the UK’s own obligations under the Refugee Convention to another country”, it added.

Migrant Crisis
The Hope Hostel in Kigali, Rwanda (Victoria Jones/PA)

The committee said it shared the Home Office’s desire to curb the number of Channel crossings but said it was “unconvinced” the plan is an “appropriate, or indeed effective, way to achieve this aim”.

The MPs and peers also warned it was “unclear” from evidence heard by the committee so far whether those selected to be sent to Rwanda will have “adequate opportunity to challenge their removal.”

Last week, a High Court hearing revealed the Foreign Office advised the UK Government against sending asylum seekers to the east African nation and that the country had been accused of recruiting refugees for military conflicts.

But Rwandan government officials defended its human rights recorded and said the information was inaccurate.

The first deportation flight was grounded in June after a series of legal challenges, and another attempt is yet to be scheduled.

Both governments have insisted the plan is legally sound.

The letter comes after the Commons Home Affairs Committee found there was “no evidence” the Rwanda policy was acting as a deterrent.

More than 15,300 people have reached the UK after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in small boats such as dinghies since the start of this year, according to provisional Government figures.