UK government is embarrassed following Rwandan diplomat’s critique on migration

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Britain’s government faced embarrassment Sunday after Rwanda’s high commissioner in London was filmed criticizing the UK’s historic human rights record and saying its hardline interior minister was “absolutely wrong” about migration.

Former Rwandan justice minister Johnston Busingye, now its top diplomat in Britain, was covertly filmed by campaign group Led By Donkeys hitting out at London’s centuries-old rights abuses while dismissing concerns about his own country’s contemporary record.

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Britain has agreed an “asylum partnership arrangement” with Rwanda in order to send thousands of migrants regularly arriving in southeast England on small boats from northern France to the east African country for permanent resettlement.

However, the plan which has been widely criticized by rights groups and others is stalled amid a UK court challenge.

Meanwhile, interior minister Suella Braverman has repeatedly stirred controversy over migration, most recently by questioning whether the United Nations Refugee Convention was “fit for our modern age”.

Asked what he would tell UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak or Braverman about their stances on migrants, Busingye said in the undercover recording he would reply that they were “absolutely wrong”.

“They should have a long-term policy of making it a choice for people not to risk their lives coming to the UK,” he added, noting migrants were coming “because they are hopeless” and “have no future”.

“It is immoral for this country to still see themselves as the refugee country, the solace country, the protection country, the compassion country,” he went on.

“They enslaved millions of people for 400 years. They destroyed India, they destroyed China, they destroyed Africa,” he said of Britain’s imperial history.

Britain, and Braverman in particular, have insisted Rwanda is one of the safest countries in the world to send asylum-seekers and refugees, despite evidence of consistent rights abuses.

In the covert filming, Busingye appeared to casually dismiss concerns over the previous killing of refugees there.

“Well, there is an incident... where the police shot 10 refugees. Yes, it might have happened, but so what?” he said.

Responding to the Led By Donkeys sting, the Rwandan government said there were “several factual inaccuracies” in the 24-minute undercover film posted on social media.

“Rwanda is the right place to support those looking for sanctuary and opportunity,” it said, claiming the country is “committed to the principle that every person... is treated equally.”

It added: “Rwanda and the UK operate from a position of mutual respect and open dialogue,” noting Busingye “plays an important role in maintaining our strong bilateral relationship” with London.

A British government spokesperson reiterated its defense of the Rwanda partnership.

“We need innovative solutions to stop the boats and break the business model of the people smuggling gangs,” he added.

“We remain fully committed to this policy, as does the Rwandan government.”

A UK Supreme Court decision on the legality of it is expected later this year.

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