On 19 December, the “dream” of Suella Braverman, the British Interior Minister, was almost realised: who had dreamed of seeing the first aircraft carrying migrants to Rwanda before 25 December had not entered English soil illegally. It would have received a “Christmas gift”, but at the very least it would have had the satisfaction of hearing London’s High Court validate the device’s legal viability.
Far from the circle of experts in the United Kingdom’s borders and migration issues, this decision bears witness to the stakes of a reckless mechanism by which the British government intends to show its voters – as this will probably be its main influence – that Brexit The “control of borders”, promised during the 2014 election, is on its agenda, and so there are few reasons to vote “conservative” in the next elections.
What does this contract provide?
The official ambition of this “memorandum of understanding” is to limit the arrival of foreigners without the right to enter and reside in English territory. This is to discourage crossings of the Channel on improvised boats, which are expected to multiply in recent months to more than 40,000 in 2022.
As a result of an MoU signed on 13 April 2022, the system provides for the routing to Rwanda of asylum seekers who have arrived in the United Kingdom “illegally or by dangerous or unnecessary means from safe countries” and who have been admitted to English Can go to the area. After a “screening” of their status, if these people are covered by the agreement, they will be deported to Rwanda – regardless of their nationality, and even if they have never had contact with that state Have been Most of those crossing the Channel on makeshift boats in 2022 are from Albania, Afghanistan or Iran.
Once in Rwanda, this state would be responsible for welcoming them and examining their asylum applications. If this prospers, they will be allowed to remain in Rwanda with little or no chance of returning to the United Kingdom. If the application is rejected, Rwanda must grant residence permits to persons so rejected on some other basis, or deport them to a third country that will accept them. Finally, the agreement is defined by its drafters as legally “non-binding” and non-appealable.
This will not prevent the European Court of Human Rights from requesting an emergency suspension of the first flight planned on this basis on June 14, 2022, and the English High Court on December 19 from validating the agreement.
a legally problematic device
The device, conceived by the United Kingdom, is part of “these apo-politics” aimed at “keeping migrants at a distance” from western territories.
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Australia was a pioneer by assigning the investigation of asylum applications to Nauru; The European Union facilitated the return to Turkey of people arriving irregularly on Greek shores in mid-2010; Denmark is considering it. However, the United Kingdom is the first country to entrust a third state with the task of not only examining asylum applications in general, but also receiving protected or rejected persons on its territory. Such a system raises a number of legal difficulties, as noted in particular by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
One of the main ones is Rwanda’s qualification as a “safe country”. Under Article 33§1 of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and Customary International Law, states may not return foreigners to a state, even in an irregular situation, where there is a “risk to their life or liberty”. Are. grounds provided for in the Convention (political opinion, race or nationality, religion or membership of a social group).
In addition, torture and inhuman or degrading treatment are prohibited under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which the UK is no longer a party, which also prohibits the transportation of foreigners to countries where such Risk is the cure. Foreigners are also barred from returning to states to which they do not belong.
opposite of this, removal is therefore possible – for states – known as “safe” – where no such risk exists. It is still necessary to ensure that this is in fact the case: it examines the personal status of the distant alien, ensures that the eligibility for a safe state is well established, and that the alien has the right to live in that state. have a relationship with. However, in the present case, none of these criteria is satisfied.
Any foreigner can be deported back to Rwanda. The individual’s status check will typically be conducted by telephone while the foreign national is in custody. As far as Rwanda is concerned, it is a far cry from the asylum system, justice and government guarantees that people transferred from the United Kingdom are not subjected to such treatment. Known for its arbitrary detentions and extrajudicial executions, Rwanda recently distinguished itself by arrests, detentions – and even summary executions for twelve of them! Refugees are protesting their inadequate access to the most basic services. Furthermore, the country has been hardly proactive, to say the least, in the fight against discrimination against LBTQ+ people.
For what reasons the United Kingdom, a fifth world power with a population of 67 million, may decide to cede Rwanda, with 13 million inhabitants, famous for its founding texts in defense of freedom, 144I Poor guarantee of the global economy and human rights, instead of managing asylum issues? And what interest does this small African country have in accepting it ” Asylum Deal » ?
From a British perspective, the agreement aims to demonstrate that the Conservative government is working to deliver on one of its Brexit promises: to limit so-called irregular migration on English territory. It is unlikely that the agreement will actually achieve this – the government has not ventured to determine the number of people who will be affected. As is often the case, political performance seems to be valued more than practical efficiency – which is undoubtedly a pleasure in this case, as the compromise is “appalling” in the words of King Charles III himself.
From Rwanda’s point of view, the agreement is a nice economic and diplomatic coup. First economic, as it involves payment by London of 120 million pounds sterling in development aid, to which 12,000 pounds per transferred foreigner must be added. Diplomatic, therefore, because the agreement is a tool of pressure on the United Kingdom in their bilateral relations with Kigali – Rwandan President Paul Kagame has already used the agreement as a pretext to request the extradition of one of his citizens – only one case In a more general context, where London’s support can be invaluable – think for example of allegations of Rwandan support for the M23 rebels in the context of the conflict in the DRC.
By signing the Geneva Conventions, participating in the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees, the UK has committed to co-operating on asylum in a way that guarantees the protection of refugees, the shared responsibility between states and the rights of those in need of international protection. Promotes: London is clearly not done with abandoning its international commitments.