Rwanda Unsafe Destination for Asylum Seekers

The Joint Committee on Human Rights said Rwanda was not a safe destination for asylum seekers and pointed to government documents revealing that the country was initially excluded from the shortlist of potential partner countries on human rights grounds.

Joanna Cherry QC said the Joint Committee on Human Rights was not satisfied that Rwanda was a safe destination for asylum seekers.

The High Court was told that the Foreign Office and UK High Commissioner to Rwanda advised against the deal, and that Rwanda had a poor human rights record and had been criticised for extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances, torture and crackdowns on anyone critical of the regime.

The UN warned that the agreement offered no legal recourse to people who were removed to Rwanda and treated incompatibly with their human rights.

The UK government’s memorandum of understanding with Rwanda does not exclude vulnerable groups, such as LGBTQ asylum seekers, victims of torture or children. The lack of established limits increases the risk that the policy could be applied too widely.

Government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said the internal government warnings were “based on wrong information” and wanted to challenge the information.