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British Parliament approves deportations to Rwanda

“Stop the boats” is Prime Minister Sunak's promise: Anyone who comes to Great Britain without papers should be deported to Rwanda. Parliament has now approved this controversial project.

Christoph Prössl

In the end, the majority of MPs in the upper house gave up resistance. Throughout the evening there were several votes in the upper and lower houses, the so-called ping-pong process, a back and forth with amendments.

Yesterday morning, Lord Alex Carlile made it clear on the BBC why, in his view, it was wrong to declare Rwanda a safe third country by law: “Rishi Sunak is asking Parliament to decide that an untruth is true.” The Supreme Court ruled that Rwanda was not a safe third country. And Rwanda has not implemented the agreements reached with the United Kingdom, ssaid the MP.

Sunak increased the pressure again

This is what it's about: After a ruling by the Supreme Court, deportation to Rwanda was stopped. The judges had argued that several international agreements were being violated: the Convention on Human Rights, the UN Refugee Convention and the Convention against Torture. The reason: There are no safe asylum procedures in Rwanda and no protection from persecution. The conservative government then put forward a proposal to simply declare Rwanda safe and thus prevent any possibility of taking legal action against the deportation.

Before the votes in the upper and lower houses, Sunak appeared before the press again and significantly increased the pressure. “No ifs and buts, the flights will go to Rwanda,” said the prime minister. The conservative government is of the opinion that the deportations are setting an example and preventing refugees from making the dangerous journey across the English Channel.

The first flight is scheduled to take off in ten to twelve weeks

Boris Johnson had already initiated the agreement with Rwanda in 2022, when he was still Prime Minister. Sunak now wants to finally implement the promise, shortly before the regional and national elections, which are likely to take place in October. Sunak has reached a new low in the polls.

Sunak said his government is now providing this deterrent and thereby disrupting the business of criminal smugglers. The first flight is scheduled to take off in ten to twelve weeks. An airline accepted the government's order for deportation. 500 people who are supposed to accompany refugees have already been trained. “The success of the deterrence depends on the further flights we undertake over the summer until the boats are stopped,” Sunak said.

There are still many open questions

Experts doubt whether refugees are really deterred by the deportations. The opposition criticizes the high costs, which are disproportionate. Whether planes with refugees will actually take off for Rwanda in a few weeks will probably depend on the courts. Individuals can still sue. And the fundamental question of whether the judiciary can be curtailed so severely by this law that has just been passed has apparently not yet been clarified.

Christoph Prössl, ARD London, tagesschau, April 23, 2024 5:14 a.m

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