London Daily

Focus on the big picture.
Monday, Feb 06, 2023

How red flags were brushed aside to push through Rwanda deal

How red flags were brushed aside to push through Rwanda deal

Documents disclosed to high court case show repeated warnings about asylum processing plan

Until the then home secretary Priti Patel and Rwanda’s foreign minister, Vincent Biruta, sat together at a table in Kigali on 14 April and signed a deal to send asylum seekers to the east African country, few thought the agreement would actually happen.

Rumours had swirled for months about the controversial plans but nothing had come of previous Home Office ideas, both confirmed and unconfirmed, to halt the growing number of asylum seekers arriving in the UK on small boats, including wave machines in the Channel and a policy to turn around dinghies.

While the government was undoubtedly under political pressure due to the huge rise in crossings – more than 25,000 so far this year – the policy to export asylum seekers from one of the world’s richest countries to one of the world’s poorer nations, 4,000 miles away, was so radical that no other country had attempted anything like it.

The five-day hearing into the way the home secretary handled asylum and human rights claims for Rwanda cases and key aspects of the removals policy opened on Monday and concluded on Friday.

When the deal was announced, details about how it would work were scant. But the high court case challenging various aspects of the policy has revealed what went on behind the scenes, thanks to the government’s disclosure of a mass of internal documents.

Although Sir James Eadie KC, representing the government, assured the court on Thursday that the scheme has specific safeguarding elements built into it and “there has been the most intensive investigation of that scheme imaginable”, little emerged in the documents to give comfort to critics.

What the documents show, beginning with a diplomatic telegram from the British high commissioner to Rwanda, dated 18 September 2020, are repeated concerns about the unsuitability of Rwanda as a destination country for asylum seekers. The high commissioner expressed alarm about a lack of freedom of speech and the disappearance of opponents of the country’s president, Paul Kagame.

As the plans developed, the criticisms from government officials multiplied: extrajudicial killings; the recruitment of refugees to conduct armed operations in neighbouring countries, including children aged 15-17 to fight across Rwanda’s border in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a red traffic-light rating in relation to human rights; and a clear recommendation made to the director general at the Home Office on 23 April 2021 not to pursue Rwanda as an option.

Rwanda was not on the shortlist of seven countries with which to further explore the plans. Indeed, it was on a separate list of 14 countries to not do a deal with.

But from April 2021, the then prime minister Boris Johnson, along with Patel, took an energetic interest in Rwanda, along with two unnamed countries. A disclosure from 1 April 2021 says: “The PM himself is chasing.” No 10 asked if only sending a small number of asylum seekers would change the “political calculus”. The answer from officials continued to be a loud “no”.

On 2 June 2021, Rwanda was not on a shortlist of six countries. On 27 July, a stark warning about Rwanda was issued due to “human rights concerns and reputational risk”. The disclosures do not explain what happened in the following 24 hours, but by 28 July, Rwanda had been prioritised.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which has had a significant presence in Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, was not informed of the details of the deal until it was publicly announced on 14 April.

Protesters against the Rwanda policy gather outside the high court in London.

Disclosures show the agency’s opposition to offshore processing deals as “burden shifting rather than responsibility sharing” was well known by the government. It was decided not to brief UNHCR before the announcement because “engagement with UNHCR gives them more time to organise their campaign against these measures when they are announced”.

When the UNHCR found out about the deal, it raised concerns about refoulement – forcing a refugee or asylum seeker to return to a country or territory where they are likely to face persecution – and an underdeveloped system to process individual asylum claims.

The UNHCR provided evidence that almost all LGBTQ+ asylum seekers had left Rwanda due to an inability to progress their claims there and it identified a 100% refusal rate for Afghan, Syrian and Yemeni cases. Many of the people the Home Office wants to send to Rwanda come from these countries.

Further evidence of torture emerged, with disclosures stating that “techniques like mock execution, asphyxiation and electric shocks is routine and widespread in Rwanda”.

During the court hearing, Laura Dubinsky KC, acting for UNHCR, issued a stark warning to the court that the agency did not consider Rwanda to be a safe third country to send asylum seekers to.

“UNHCR does make an unequivocal warning,” she said, calling for an “embargo” on the scheme “because it will lead to a real risk of refoulement and breach of the [UN refugee] convention”.

Alongside a £120m payment of development money, Rwanda was paid a previously undisclosed £20m as an incentive to abide by the memorandum of understanding signed in April.

However, if Rwanda breaches the memorandum, it cannot be held to account by any court. It emerged in the case that while asylum seekers sent to Rwanda will receive food and accommodation, they will have to pay their own legal fees for the first two stages of the asylum process.

The two judges in the case, Lord Justice Lewis and Mr Justice Swift, are unlikely to hand down judgment for a couple of months as a related case by the charity Asylum Aid will be heard next month, followed by one judgment delivered for both cases.

At one point, as Eadie was providing assurances to the court about the safeguards put in place by the government, Lewis said: “Unless we are satisfied Rwanda is safe, it doesn’t really matter what the secretary of state has done.”

Some of the eight asylum seekers who are claimants in the high court action, alongside the charities Care4Calais and Detention Action, and the PCS union, were under the control of traffickers en route to the UK, so they did not have the freedom to claim asylum in other European countries they passed through, as Patel frequently urged asylum seekers to do. Some had learning difficulties and survived torture.

One of the those involved in the case, a Syrian man known only as AAA, said of Rwanda: “If I go there, I will end my life.”


Related Articles

London Daily
Powerful Earthquake Strikes Turkey and Syria, Killing More Than 1,300 People.
You're Beautiful - James Blunt (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Turkish photographer Ugur Gallenkus portrays two different worlds within a single image. Brilliant work
You Are So Beautiful
Tennessee Bill Would Imprison People for 3 Years If They 'Lie' About Rape to Get an Abortion.
Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
An old French tune (by Georges Brassens) Pomplamoose ft. John Schroeder
Shell reports highest profits in 115 years
Sattahip Motor Show 20
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
SONATE AU CLAIR DE LUNE - Moonlight sonata
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
A kiss to build a dream on
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Wiz Khalifa - See You Again ft. Charlie Puth, Furious
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
Mean Blues
What is ChatGPT?
La Chansonnette
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Pattaya Addicts
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Franz Liszt - Liebestraum - Love Dream
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Dream a little dream of me
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Tu Vuo' Fa' L'Americano - Hetty & the Jazzato Band
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Unchained Melody sung like you've NEVER heard!
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Dave Brubeck - Take Five
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Édith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (Sofie)
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Rondo Alla Turca
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
Kiss of fire
China's first population drop in six decades
Ed Sheeran - Perfect (Amadeus violin cover instrumental)
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tom Jones - I´ll Never Fall In Love Again 1967, 1989, 2001
Israelis rally in three cities against Netanyahu legal reforms
Israel Cachao López - Guajira Clásica
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Edward Maya - Stereo Love (feat. Vika Jigulina) (Extended Mix)
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Strauss - Radetzky March - Karajan
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
La vie en rose
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
Despacito (Piano Cover) - Peter Bence
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
The Temptations - My Girl (Smokey Robinson Tribute) 2006 Kennedy Cent
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
Orlando Cachaito Lopez Redencion
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
RADETZKY MARCH-2008-Wien, New Year Concert
Dirty bomb fears as URANIUM is found in cargo at Heathrow
Only you (And you alone)
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Beautiful in White x Canon in D (Piano Cover by Riyandi Kusuma)
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Strangers In The Night
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Charles Aznavour - La Boheme
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
Summer time
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
Sting and Stevie Wonder - Fragile (from Sting's 60th birthday concert)
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
Aux Champs Elysees
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Stand By Me - Ben E. King (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
La Mer (Beyond the Sea) – Avalon Jazz Band
Saudi Arabia’s female ambassadors: Who are the five women representing the Kingdom?
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Nathalie Song by Enzo Petrachi Stjepan Hauser Cello
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
Shape of My Heart - Sting (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Radiohead - Creep
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Quizás,Quizás,Quizás - Andrea Bocelli - Jennifer Lopez
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps - Multi-Couples
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
Pentatonix Havana
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Paula Cole - Autumn Leaves
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Oscar Benton Bensonhurst Blues
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
Nina Simone - ”I Put A Spell On You”. Vezi aici cum cântă Jeremy Ragsd
NIGHTWISH - The Phantom Of The Opera
Motorshow 2016 Tanjay Negros Oriental
Monica Bellucci - Ti Amo
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean Milena The Voice France 2018
Michael Buble (Help Me Make It Through The Night) feat Loren Allred
Memories Canon In D - Maroon 5 (Boyce Avenue piano acoustic cover)
Matteo Simoni - Marina
Maroon 5 - One More Night
Maroon 5 - Memories
Mark Knopfler - Brothers In Arms (Berlin 2007 Live)
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - Romeo And Juliet (Real Live Roadrunni
Marina, Marina - The LUCKY DUCKIES intimist live concert at Guimarães
Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On Mauranne The Voice France 2016
Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet - Joslin - Henri Mancini, Nino Rota
LoLa & Hauser - Love Story
Linkin Park Jay-Z - Numb Encore (Live 8 2005)
Hallelujah Mennel Ibtissem, The Voice France Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen - Dance Me to the End of Love
Leonard Cohen & Natasha Rostova - Dance me to the end of love
La casa de papel - Bella Ciao
La Camisa Negra
L'italiano (Toto Cutugno) - The Gypsy Queens
Juanes - La Camisa Negra
Jonathan and Charlotte - Britain's Got Talent 2012 Live Semi Final - U
John Powell - Assassin's Tango
Joe Cocker - You Can Leave Your Hat On (LIVE in Dortmund)
Joe Cocker - Unchain My Heart 2002 Live
Joe Cocker - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Jay Z & Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind LIVE
Jason Mraz - Im Yours (live)
Jarrod Radnich - Bohemian Rhapsody - Virtuosic Piano Solo
James Blunt - You're Beautiful
James Blunt - You're Beautiful & Bonfire Heart (Live at The Nobel Peac)
If You Go Away - Helen Merrill & Stan Getz (Tribute to Virna Lisi)
I Say a Little Prayer
Hotel California ( Eagles ) 1994 Live
Historia de un amor - Luz Casal. Vezi interpretarea Biancăi Sumanariu
Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover) on Spot
Heart - Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin - Kennedy Center Honors
HAVANA by Camila Cabello Zumba Pre Cooldown TML Crew Kramer Pastra
HAUSER and Señorita - I Will Always Love You
HAUSER - Waka Waka
HAUSER - Lambada
HAUSER - Historia de un Amor
HAUSER - Despacito
Great Pretender
Georgia May Foote & Giovanni Pernice Samba to 'Volare' - Strictly Come
Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues
Fugees - Killing Me Softly With His Song
French Latino - Historia de un Amor
For A Few Dollars More The Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Live)
Flashdance • What a Feeling • Irene Cara
Filip Rudan - “Someone You Loved” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sez
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
Enya - Only Time
Enrique Iglesias - Bailando (English Version) ft. Sean Paul
Enrique Iglesias - Bailamos
Elena Yerevan Historia de un amor
Ed Sheeran - Shape of You (Official Music Video)
Ed Sheeran - Perfect Symphony [with Andrea Bocelli]
Ed Sheeran - Perfect (Official Music Video)
Easy On Me - Adele (Boyce Avenue 90’s style piano acoustic cover) on S
ERA - Ameno
ELENA YEREVAN- Cancion Del Mariachi-IN STUDIO-2017 DPR
Dust In The Wind - Kansas (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Despacito x Shape Of You - Pentatonix
Deep Purple - Child In Time - Live (1970)
David Foster When A Man Loves A WomanIt's A Mans World (SealMichael Bo
Dance me to the end of Love ( Pi-Air Design )
Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (feat. L.V.) [Official Music Video]
Conquest Of Paradise (Vangelis), played on Böhm Emporio organ
Cielito Lindo
Chico & The Gypsies - Bamboleo
Canción Del Mariachi - Antonio Banderas, Los Lobos • Desperado
Camila Cabello - Havana (Audio) ft. Young Thug
Camila Cabello - Havana ( cover by J.Fla )
California Dreamin' - The Mamas & The Papas José Feliciano (Boyce Ave
Buster Benton - Money Is The Name of The Game
Hallelujah Pentatonix
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy (Official Music Video)
Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heaven's Door Emilia The Voice Kids France
Besame Mucho - Cesaria Evora
Ben E. King - Stand by Me Sax Cover Alexandra Ilieva Thomann
Bella Ciao
Beautiful in White x Canon in D (Piano Cover by Riyandi Kusuma)
Bad Romance - Vintage 1920's Gatsby Style Lady Gaga Cover ft. Ariana Savalas & Sarah Reich(1)
BAMBOLEO - Gipsy Kings • Antonio Banderas, Katya Virshilas
BAILANDO (original)
Awesome Ukrainian yodeler - SOFIA SHKIDCHENKO (with English subtitles)
Avicii - The Nights
Atom - The Great Gig in the Sky
Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Official Ly
Antonio Banderas - Cancion del Mariachi (Desperado)
André Rieu - Zorba's Dance (Sirtaki)
André Rieu - Can't Help Falling In Love
André Rieu & Mirusia - Ave Maria
Andrew Reyes Elton John - Don't Let The Sun Go Down The Voice 2020 (
Andreas Kümmert Whiter Shade Of Pale The Voice of Germany 2013 Showd
And I Love You So
All About That Bass - Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
Alan Walker - Faded (Piano Cover)
Ain't No Sunshine -- Bill Withers (cover by Canen 12 y.o.)
African music
Adriana Vidović - “Creep” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
Adriana Vidović - “Believer” Nokaut 3 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
A Fistful of Dollars - The Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Tuva
4 Beautiful Soundtracks Relaxing Piano [10min]
2CELLOS - Whole Lotta Love vs. Beethoven 5th Symphony [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
2CELLOS - Smooth Criminal (Live at Suntory Hall, Tokyo)
2CELLOS - Smells Like Teen Spirit [Live at Sydney Opera House]
13 Year Old Girl Playing Il Silenzio (The Silence) - André Rieu
094.All About That Bass
(Ghost) Riders In the Sky (American Outlaws Live at Nassau Coliseum, 1
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You - Bryan Adams (Boyce Avenue ft. Conn
What a wonderful world
Moon river