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UK, Rwanda leaders discuss deportation plan amid legislative standoff

UK, Rwanda leaders discuss deportation plan amid legislative standoff
By Yagiz Efe Parmaksiz
Apr 9, 2024 7:08 PM

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Rwandan President Paul Kagame reaffirm their commitment to relocating undocumented migrants to Rwanda

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom and Rwandan President Paul Kagame reaffirmed their commitment Tuesday to the plan of relocating undocumented migrants to Rwanda, amid recent scrutiny surrounding the initiative.

The meeting took place at Prime Minister Sunak’s official residence in London, coinciding with a report from a British newspaper alleging that properties in Kigali designated for the deported migrants had been sold to local buyers instead.

A spokesperson for the U.K. government indicated that Sunak briefed President Kagame on the progress of the legislation in parliament, a matter that has stirred considerable debate.

“Both leaders anticipate flights departing to Rwanda in the spring,” the spokesperson remarked.

The relocation of individuals to Rwanda forms a significant component of Sunak’s strategy to address the influx of asylum seekers, particularly those risking perilous Channel crossings from France in small vessels.

The proposed legislation is currently undergoing what is colloquially termed “ping-pong” in the legislative process, where the elected House of Commons and the unelected House of Lords volley the bill back and forth for amendments.

On April 15, the Commons is slated to review the latest proposals from the Lords.

The deportation plan has encountered significant controversy and legal challenges since its introduction by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2022.

Sunak intervened with emergency legislation last year following a Supreme Court ruling that deemed the deportation of asylum seekers to Kigali unlawful under international law.

The legislation seeks to compel judges to recognize Rwanda as a safe third country, while also granting U.K. ministers authority to bypass certain provisions of international and British human rights laws.

A report in The Times on Tuesday highlighted that 70% of the 163 homes constructed in the Rwandan capital have been sold, leaving limited accommodations for asylum seekers.

A spokesperson for the Rwandan government contested the figures regarding property sales, emphasizing that the housing estate in question is just one of several projects where migrants would reside alongside local communities.

Source: AFP

Last Updated:  Jun 3, 2024 4:36 PM