UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman, currently under fire for the Illegal Immigration Bill introduced in the UK parliament Tuesday, is expected in Rwanda in the coming days.
While details of her trip are yet to be made public, The EastAfrican has learnt Ms Braverman will visit Kigali to meet with Rwanda’s Foreign minister Vincent Biruta to discuss the pending implementation of a controversial deal that seeks to control illegal immigration in the UK.
The UK government is under pressure to curb immigration to deliver on its 2019 election pledge to “take back control” of its borders.
Ahead of the launch of a new separate Illegal Immigration Bill, UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak phoned President Paul Kagame on March 6 to discuss the UK-Rwanda migration partnership.
“They (leaders) discussed the UK-Rwanda migration partnership and joint efforts to break the business model of people smugglers and address humanitarian issues.
The leaders committed to continue working together to ensure this important partnership is delivered successfully,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office March 7 reads.
It added that the Prime Minister and President Kagame also discussed the escalation in violence in the DRC and international efforts to support a lasting peaceful resolution.
Both countries are waiting for the verdict on an appeal lodged by asylum seekers challenging the legality of the framework.
However, this week the UK introduced a separate illegal immigration bill that would make it impossible to claim asylum for those arriving on small boats.
It also grants powers to the government to remove “as soon as reasonably practicable”, on a one-way ticket to a “safe third country” like Rwanda.
“They will not stop coming here until the world knows, if you enter Britain illegally, you will be detained and swiftly moved back to your country if it’s safe, or to a safe third country like Rwanda. That is what this bill will do. That is how we will stop the boats,’’ Ms Braverman told the House of Commons this week, adding that the bill will enable the detention of illegal arrivals, without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention, until they can be removed.
Critics led by the UNHCR say the bill violates international law (the Refugee Convention) as it may deny protection to many asylum-seekers in need of safety and protection, and even deny them the opportunity to put forward their case.
“The legislation, if passed, would amount to an asylum ban – extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how genuine and compelling their claim may be, and with no consideration of their individual circumstances,” UNHCR said in a statement released on 7th March.
Kigali says migrants will be entitled to full protection under Rwandan law, equal access to employment, and enrolment in healthcare and social care services as well as the issuance of necessary identification documents.
The deal made public on April 14, 2022 has been delayed due to multiple legal challenges lodged by human rights activists who have concerns about the arrangement and Rwanda’s suitability as a host country.