• UK : Government considers ’Rwanda-like’ deals with four other countries

    The UK’s so-called Rwanda deal, which would see asylum seekers in the UK flown out to Rwanda to be processed, has yet to be passed into law; but already, the government is reportedly considering similar deals with four other countries.

    The UK government’s Rwanda deal, which intends to fly asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda to have their claims assessed there, may pass into law within days despite strong opposition.

    The plan has been highly contested, both within parliament and by organizations supporting migrant and refugee rights.

    But despite facing setbacks for almost two years, the British government is now reportedly also considering striking similar deals with at least four other countries, modelled after the same principle.

    The Times newspaper revealed at the weekend that it had obtained “leaked documents” from government officials, listing Armenia, Ivory Coast, Costa Rica and Botswana as potential target countries for the government to set up similar deals to process asylum seekers in third countries.

    The Daily Mail, which reported on the Times’ exclusive, adds that the British Foreign Office was also considering deals with other Latin American countries, including Paraguay, Peru, Brazil and Ecuador, adding, however, that these governments are thought to have “less interest” in signing up to such a scheme compared to the four aforementioned governments.

    According to the reports, bilateral talks on asylum pacts are being scheduled to take place in the foreseeable future.

    ’Reserve list’ of potential partners

    The Daily Mail highlights that a series of other countries are also on a “reserve list,” including Cape Verde, Senegal, Tanzania and Sierra Leone.

    According to the right-wing newspaper, these governments could be “approached, if talks with other, more favored countries didn’t succeed.”

    The leaked information also suggests that other countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Namibia all “explicitly declined” to enter discussions about becoming third-country processing centers for the UK, and were thus ruled out by UK officials as “non-starters.”

    Some of the information reported suggests that civil servants have laid out specific “feasibility criteria” reported the Daily Mail, which included assessing “the size of the territory and its population.”

    The Daily Mail added that this had resulted in some smaller states such as Suriname and Belize being ruled out.

    ’Following the Rwanda process closely’

    These new plans have, however, reportedly been hampered by fears that the problems that have dogged the Rwanda plan for two years could put potential new partners off.

    Reports highlighting the costs of the Rwanda scheme, compared to the actual number of potential asylum seekers who might eventually be flown, there have also recently drawn increased criticism from political opposition within the UK parliament.

    Armenia, is reported to be waiting for the outcome of the current Rwanda policy to become finalized and public before it decides whether to enter talks with the UK.

    Meanwhile, the Daily Mail also reported that officials working at the Home Office expressed fears about the problems the Rwanda Bill is having an impact on discussions with officials at the Foreign Office hoping to expand the model to other countries.

    According to the Daily Mail, one unnamed senior Foreign Office official was reported to have written the following in communications with the Home Office:

    “We are conscious that many potential partner countries are following the UK legal process on the partnership with Rwanda and may be cautious about engaging substantively until this process is satisfactorily resolved.”

    Although the government has not commented directly on specific countries nor confirmed or denied the reports, a government spokesperson told the Daily Mail that the UK was “continuing to work with a range of international partners to tackle global illegal migration challenges.”

    Government focus on passing Rwanda bill first

    The spokesperson continued: “Our focus right now is passing the Safety of Rwanda Bill, which builds on the Illegal Migration Act, and putting plans in place to get flights off the ground as soon as possible.”

    Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meanwhile met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame last week in London for further talks about the bill.

    At the time, both leaders were reportedly looking forward to seeing planes taking off “in spring” — i.e. within a matter of weeks.

    The Rwanda plan was first announced in spring 2022, and has gone through several iterations under the leadership of various Home Secretaries as part of UK government efforts to actually get a plane carrying asylum seekers to take off from the UK to Rwanda to be processed there.
    From file: Stopping boats from crossing the English Channel is one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s five main pledges - something he has so far failed to successfully accomplish | Photo: James Manning/AP/picture alliance

    Last week, as the British and Rwandan leaders met, the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail also reported that some of the homes earmarked for asylum seekers in Rwanda and built with British funding in a private-public partnership in Rwanda had since been sold off to Rwandan clients.

    Government still looking for airline partner

    Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported on April 15, that it is unlikely that any asylum seekers will head to Rwanda “before June” despite the UK government marking spring as the launch window of flights.

    The newspaper added that this was due to the UK government having “so far failed to secure an airline to carry out the flights.”

    In the past, campaigners have targeted airlines which had agreed to operate government deportation flights in a bid to try and stop them participating in such schemes.

    This has resulted in some airline partners withdrawing from potential agreements; others were reported to loathe to have their reputations associated with the scheme.

    In 2022, the Spain-based Privilege Style airline, which had been hired to operate government flights to Rwanda, pulled out of the deal following pressure from campaigners, reports the newspaper.

    Even Rwanda’s state-owned airline, RwandAir, reportedly turned down any involvement with the scheme, states the Daily Mail.
    Political ping-pong

    Before the Easter recess, parliament’s upper house, the House of Lords, pushed the Safety of Rwanda Bill back to the lower house, the House of Commons, with a reinsertion of a number of amendments and recommendations.

    This is part of a parliamentary process in the UK which has become known as ’political ping pong.’

    The bill, now in its final stages, has to be voted on again by the House of Commons before it is then passed to the final Royal Assent stage before it can become law. This requires the signature of the Sovereign, which currently is King Charles III, who cannot break with tradition and reject the bill.

    The divisive Bill is expected to win a majority in the parliament this week but many of the amendments suggested by the Lords have meanwhile caused further ruptures in the ruling Conservative Party, which tabled the bill and the entire Rwanda plan in the first place.

    Some right-wing members of the Conservative Party, such as former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, have declared the bill ineffective if it is allowed to pass with the current amendments.
    New bill ’seeks to respond to [court] findings’

    The British government continues to insist that the “quicker we can begin flights, the quicker we can stop the boats,” meaning migrant boats departing from the French and Belgian coasts for the UK.

    Rishi Sunak, who is currently experiencing new lows in his popularity ratings, has staked part of his and his government’s reputation on making the Rwanda bill work. “Stopping the small boats” from crossing the Channel is one of his five main pledges for this legislature.

    With mere months to go to fresh elections in the UK, it is unclear whether Sunak will succeed in achieving this as his legacy. Even if the Safety of Rwanda Bill passes as expected, it remains uncertain if and how airplanes will be cleared to take asylum seekers to the small African nation.

    According to the government fact sheet on the Safety of Rwanda Bill, the new bill does not seek to override the UK Supreme Court’s judgement which deemed that Rwanda is not safe for migrants, but rather seeks to “respond to its key findings to ensure the policy can go ahead.”

    The bill, says the government, “ensures asylum seekers relocated to Rwanda … are not at risk of being returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened — known as refoulement.”

    The new treaty, they say, will also strengthen Rwanda’s asylum system, requiring the country to establish a new appeal body within its court system in order to hear appeals against refusals of asylum or humanitarian protection claims.

    Finally, under the new bill, the government has also set up an independent monitoring committee, which will oblige all signatories to make sure the terms and obligations of the treaty are upheld and adhered to in practice.


    #Arménie #Côte_d'Ivoire #Costa_Rica #Botswana #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #UK #Angleterre #externalisation_de_la_procédure


    et ajouté à la métaliste sur la mise en place de l’#externalisation des #procédures_d'asile au #Rwanda par l’#Angleterre (2022) :