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August 9, 2022
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UK officials raised concerns over Rwanda policy, documents show

Charity says disclosures in legal case paint picture of home secretary desperate to push policy through

The Home Office pushed through its policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda despite repeated concerns from UK government officials, it has emerged from documents submitted to a high court hearing.

The government disclosed the documents, which raise numerous concerns about the Rwanda plans, ahead of a full hearing later this year into the lawfulness of the policy.

On 10 February 2021, the UK high commissioner to Rwanda said the UK should not do a deal with Rwanda because the African country had been accused of recruiting refugees to conduct armed operations in neighbouring countries.

On 18 February 2021, Rwanda was identified as one of 14 countries assessed as presenting substantial issues in relation to asylum systems and human rights. Rwanda received an amber/red rating from the government owing to significant human rights concerns.

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office memo dated 20 May 2021 urged No 10 not to get involved with the Rwanda deal owing to significant human rights concerns.

An internal memo criticised the “limited evidence about whether these proposals will be a sufficient deterrent for those seeking to enter the UK illegally”.

A detailed internal memo that appears to be dated 12 April 2022, the day before a memorandum of understanding was signed between UK and Rwanda, stated that the “fraud risk is very high” in the deal because UK was paying so much money upfront to Rwanda.

A document from the day the memorandum was signed stated that the first group of asylum seekers due to be flown to Rwanda could “test” Rwanda’s refugee determination processes.

When the UK government conducted an independent assessment of Rwanda’s human rights record, the Home Office showed it to Rwanda to comment on the final draft and allowed officials to suggest amendments.

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