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HOME SECRETARY James Cleverly signed a £140 million legally binding immigration treaty with Rwanda today, which campaigners immediately branded the “epitome of throwing away good money after bad.”
Mr Cleverly, the third home secretary to visit Kigali since last April, insisted that the deal addressed all the reasons that led to the the government’s flagship asylum policy being ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.
Vowing that “emergency” legislation declaring Rwanda a safe destination would come before Parliament “soon,” he claimed that he “cannot see any credible reason” to question the country’s track record.
“We’ve addressed the issues that were raised by their lordships in this treaty and that will be reflected in domestic legislation soon,” the Home Secretary added.
Freedom from Torture associate director of advocacy Natasha Tsangarides said: “It’s shameful that even after the highest court in the land unanimously found this scheme to be unlawful, the government is nonetheless pursuing a new treaty with Rwanda.
“No amount of tinkering will change the fundamental fact that this ‘cash for humans’ deal is immoral. And it needs to be shelved once and for all.
“We know from the work we do in our therapy rooms every day how terrified survivors of torture are and we’ve seen first-hand the awful toll it’s taken.
“The stakes really couldn’t be any higher. It’s time that this government starts treating survivors and other refugees with decency and stops trying to send them thousands of miles away.
“We urgently need an asylum system that is fair and has compassion at its heart.”
Nicola David, founder of campaign group One Life to Live, said: “This is the epitome of throwing away good money after bad — and also of frantic desperation.
“The Rwanda deal was kicked out of the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
“They’re so desperate not to be seen to be losing that they’re reduced to making up new laws.
“But how can UK legislation make an African country safe? It’s insane.
“British taxpayers want their £140,500,000 back and an end to the profligacy.
“As for Rwanda, they must laughing all the way to the bank and the rest of the world laughing just as loudly.”
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Director, said: “The gross political fantasy that Rwanda can simply receive these people from the UK is utterly immoral, wholly impractical and sets a terrible example on the world stage.
“Last month’s Supreme Court ruling should have acted as a reality-check on the Government’s hopeless Rwanda plan, but instead ministers are now putting at risk any notion that it respects the law, courts and the country’s international agreements.”
Weyman Bennett, co-convener for Stand Up To Racism, said: “Rwanda will never be a safe country. This is a desperate scheme to save what's left of this empty government, using racism and division, playing with people's lives, and scapegoating the most desperate.”
Refugee Council chief Enver Solomon said: “It’s time for the government to admit that the Rwanda plan just isn’t the right way forward. Instead we need to develop a fair and compassionate approach to refugee protection that focuses on providing safe routes and a fair hearing for those seeking safety in the UK.”
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