Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

United Kingdom: green light for the expulsion of migrants in Rwanda | The migrant crisis

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has obtained the green light from MPs for his bill which aims to deport people to Rwanda illegal migrants.

Agence France-Presse

Overcoming an attempted revolt in his majority, British Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday obtained the green light from MPs for his bill – controversial but crucial for his political survival – aimed at deporting illegal migrants to Rwanda.

After two days of high tension at the Palace of Westminster with heated debates, negotiations behind closed doors and resounding resignations, the dissidents returned to the ranks and the text was approved on third reading in the House of Commons, with 320 votes for and 276 against.

It's a relief for Rishi Sunak. Well outpaced in the polls by Labor at the start of this electoral year, he put all his weight in the balance to bring about this project supposed to show his firmness on a major concern of his base, but which will have exposed the divisions of its majority, the moderates fearing an attack on international law and the most right-wing wanting to go further.

This text aims to respond to the objections of the British Supreme Court, which judged the project illegal in its previous version, out of fear in particular for the safety of applicants. ;asylum sent to Rwanda.

According to the project, the latter, wherever they come from, would have their file examined in Rwanda and would then under no circumstances be able to return to the United Kingdom, being able to obtain asylum only in the country. African if successful.

The migrant crisis

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The migrant crisis

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During its examination, dozens of conservative MPs supported, in vain, amendments aimed at toughening the text, attempting in particular to limit the right of migrants to appeal their expulsion.

Tension also rose a notch after the resignation on Tuesday of two vice-presidents of the Conservative Party, supporters of a harder line, who received the support of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Announced in April 2022 by the latter, this project aimed to discourage the influx of migrants in small boats across the Channel: nearly 30,000 last year, after a record in 2022 (45,000).

Last weekend, five migrants died while trying to reach a boat at sea in freezing water. On Wednesday morning, other boats were seen attempting this perilous crossing, noted a photographer from Agence France-Presse (AFP).

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Protesters denounce in 2022 the government's decision to expel to Rwanda Migrants who arrived in the UK illegally. (Archive photo)

However, the text has so far never been implemented. A first plane was blocked at the last minute by a decision of the European justice system, then the British justice system had, up to the Supreme Court, declared the project illegal in its initial version.

To try to save its text, strongly criticized by humanitarian associations, the government signed a new treaty with Rwanda. It is backed by this new bill which defines Rwanda as a safe third country and prevents the return of migrants to their country of origin.

It also proposes not to apply certain provisions of the British Human Rights Act to evictions, to limit legal recourse.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday that the latest version of the draft was not compatible with international law.

A little more than a year after entering Downing Street, Rishi Sunak is counting on the success of this project to show that he is capable of holding one of the its flagship promises: to put an end to the arrival of migrant boats on British coasts.

His bill will now have to be approved by the unelected members of the House of Lords, who could well amend it.

And if it is adopted in time before the legislative elections, currently scheduled for the autumn, the Labor Party, led by Keir Starmer, has promised to repeal it if he comes to power after 14 years in opposition. also weaken the partnership with Rwanda, which has already received nearly 240 million pounds (nearly 411 million Canadian dollars) from the United Kingdom.

This money will only be used if the [migrants] come. If this is not the case, we can return it, assured Rwandan President Paul Kagame, interviewed Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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