Rwandan government affirms commitment to UK asylum deal despite court ruling

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The Rwandan government said Thursday it remained committed to a British plan to send asylum seekers to the African country despite a ruling by the UK’s Court of Appeal that the scheme was unlawful.

“Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work,” government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo told AFP.

“While this is ultimately a decision for the UK’s judicial system, we do take issue with the ruling that Rwanda is not a safe country for asylum seekers and refugees.”

The Court of Appeal judges said in their ruling that “unless deficiencies” in Rwanda’s asylum system were corrected, “removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda will be unlawful.”

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Former British prime minister Boris Johnson brought in the proposal to try to tackle record numbers of migrants crossing the Channel from northern France by small boats.

But it triggered a wave of protests from rights groups and charities, while last-gasp legal challenges successfully blocked the first deportation flights in June last year.

Makolo insisted that Rwanda was “one of the safest countries in the world” and said “we have been recognized by the UNHCR and other international institutions for our exemplary treatment of refugees.”

“As a society, and as a government, we have built a safe, secure, dignified environment, in which migrants and refugees have equal rights and opportunities as Rwandans. Everyone relocated here under this partnership will benefit from this,” she added.

“When the migrants do arrive, we will welcome them and provide them with the support they’ll need to build new lives in Rwanda.”

Rwanda has a record of crushing political dissent and free speech under President Paul Kagame, who has been de facto leader since the end of the 1994 genocide.

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