The UK Parliament passed a bill to deport migrants to Rwanda

“We're ready”, “These planes take off no matter what”Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave the assurance during a press conference.
Toby Melville / REUTERS

Announced two years ago by Rishi Sunak's conservative government, the highly controversial law is being touted as the flagship measure of its policy to combat illegal immigration.

Reluctant to face the controversial speech, the British Parliament on Tuesday night (April 23) approved a controversial bill to deport asylum seekers who entered the UK illegally to Rwanda after an incessant battle between the House of Commons and the House of Commons. Announced two years ago by Rishi Sunak's Conservative government and presented as the flagship measure of a policy to combat illegal immigration, the scheme aims to send asylum seekers to Rwanda – wherever they come from – who entered the UK illegally through the canal on inflatable boats.

Backed by a new agreement between London and Kigali that provides Rwanda with substantial sums of money in return for welcoming the migrants, the text debated in parliament on Monday was aimed at responding to Supreme Court rulings that deemed the initial plan illegal. November. Specifically, it defines Rwanda as a safe third country. However, if Rwanda presents itself as one of the most stable countries on the African continent, its leader, Paul Kagame, has been accused of ruling in an environment of fear, dissent and stifling freedom of expression.

“Parliamentary Ping-Pong”

The House of Lords, where the Conservatives lacked a majority, delayed final adoption of the text, sending it back to the House of Commons with subsequent amendments, which were formally rejected by MPs. A belated maneuver called “parliamentary ping-pong”. The nobles wanted to demand that Rwanda not be considered a safe country unless an independent monitoring body said so. They also wanted UK agents, allies and personnel abroad, including Afghans who had fought alongside the British armed forces, to be exempt from deportation. In the end, the Upper House, whose members were not elected, decided to comply with the will of the House of Commons, appointed by universal suffrage, and decided not to amend the text any further, guaranteeing its entry into force.

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Earlier on Monday, Rishi Sunak had promised that his Govt “ready” Once the law is adopted, asylum seekers must be deported to Rwanda within 10 to 12 weeks. Elections are also at stake for a prime minister with 18 months in power, while conservatives are largely losers in upcoming legislative elections. “We're ready”, “These planes take off no matter what”, the Prime Minister emphasized during a press conference in the morning. The government has mobilized hundreds of staff, particularly judges, to speed up potential appeals from illegal immigrants and freed up 2,200 detention spaces for them while their cases await review. “Charter flights” have been booked, Rishi Sunak said, while the government struggled to convince airlines to contribute to the evacuations, according to media reports.

No foreign court can stop the planes from landing. »

Rishi Sunak

“No foreign court can prevent the grounding of planes”, asserted Rishi Sunak, repeating the conservatives' mantra since the first evacuations to Rwanda were blocked by European justice. The government's bill has been heavily criticized by the Labor opposition, migrant aid organisations, the head of the Anglican Church and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Dürk. “against basic principles of human rights”. On Monday, the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Human Trafficking, Migrants' Rights and Torture warned airlines and officials that facilitate the affected flights. “may be complicit in the violation of internationally protected human rights”.

In a statement to AFP, Steve Smith, director general of the Care4Calais organization, described the plan. “Impossible”, “brutal” And “It will not succeed in ending Channel crossings”. Government should “Focus on core task of fair and speedy processing of asylum applications”, Enver Salomon from the Refugee Council responded further. After reaching a record high in 2022 (45,000), then falling in 2023 (nearly 30,000), Number of people crossing the channel illegally There has been a 20% increase in temporary boats since the beginning of the year compared to last year.

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