Prince Charles Critical of Planned Deportation of Rwandans

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | LONDON (IDN) — As the United Kingdom moves ahead with the planned deportation of asylum seekers to the faraway nation of Rwanda, Prince Charles has privately described the plans as “appalling”, according to two media reports. The first flight taking refugees to the East African country is due to leave on June 14.

The UK’s controversial deal to relocate certain asylum seekers thousands of miles away is not for offshore processing but as a permanent destination. It symbolizes the broader policy push that some high-income countries are taking to dump migration management far away from their shores.

If the UK-Rwanda deal survives expected legal challenges, the damage to the post-World War II protection system can hardly be overstated, writes the Migration Policy Institute in a recent commentary.

Not only does it cancel the right to apply for asylum upon setting foot on land, but it also advances the idea that states can pay to avoid responsibilities they signed up to under the 1951 Geneva Convention.

(The UK government will pay Rwanda an initial US$150 million for economic development and growth and will pick up operational costs of the program and other expenses.)

Under the new arrangement, the global protection system is reshaped from a shared moral commitment to a crude business deal. As for the refugees themselves, it further makes them pawns, removing any sense of control over their destiny and pushing them more into the hands of smugglers and traffickers.

The agreement’s flexibility gives the UK leeway to grant admission to “sympathetic” asylum seekers who have not used “safe and legal pathways”—for example Ukrainians—and claim asylum in the UK, undermining the government’s rationale of blocking asylum seekers from jumping the line.

Less sympathetic asylum seekers who arrive in Britain as stowaways on trucks or in small boats would be flown 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometres) to Rwanda, apparently for good.

The policy is unlikely to reduce the number of refugees trying to enter the country. In the Americas, enforcement policies have not slowed the large numbers trying to enter the U.S. Instead, refugees just avoid popular routes and take more dangerous chances, going underground upon arrival, setting the stage for futures marred by uncertainty and the potential for exploitation or abuse.

Meanwhile, Charles, heir to the British throne, in an unusual departure from royal protocol, was heard criticizing the policy, The Times and Daily Mail newspapers reported.

He is reportedly concerned that the controversial asylum policy will overshadow a Commonwealth summit in Rwanda where he is due to represent his mother Queen Elizabeth from June 20 to June 25.

Finally, Rwanda cannot be considered a safe third country to send asylum seekers to, with Human Rights Watch and other groups, including the U.S. Government, having routinely reported on the serious human rights violations in Rwanda. The UK government is aware of this, having denounced Rwanda’s human rights record just last year at the Human Rights Council.

Arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture in official and unofficial detention facilities are commonplace in Rwanda. Since 2010, Human Rights Watch has extensively documented the use of unlawful detention and torture in safe houses and other facilities. [IDN-InDepthNews — 13 June 2022]

Photo: Protest as legal case is heard over halting deportation of asylum seekers, at the Royal Courts of Justice, London. (File photo). Source: Vatican News.

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