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SNP: Rwanda plan is ‘dodgy deal with government guilty of human rights abuses’

Migrant crossings (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Migrant crossings (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The SNP has accused the UK Government of “absconding on its responsibility to help those fleeing conflict” with its decision to send refugees for processing to Rwanda.

The party’s foreign affairs spokesperson said Westminster has entered into a “dodgy deal with a government guilty of horrendous human rights abuses”.

The decision to send refugees to the East African country has been hit with widespread criticism, with senior Conservative MPs questioning the logic behind the proposals.

The plan would see thousands of asylum seekers who arrive in the UK in unauthorised Channel crossings being flown out to submit claims in Rwanda, with the UK Government suggesting it would reduce the number of people making the dangerous journey.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
There has been widespread criticism over the UK Government’s plans to send refugees to Rwanda for processing (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A £120 million economic deal has been struck with Rwanda and cash for each removal is expected to follow.

The Refugee Council has said it is “appalled by the government’s cruel and nasty decision” and stated the move would “do little” to deter people from coming to the UK.

Amnesty International has also been critical of the country under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, stating in its International Report for 2021/22 that “violations of the rights to a fair trial, freedom of expression and privacy continued, alongside enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and excessive use of force”.

The organisation’s refugee and migrant rights director warned the move to send people to a country with “such a dismal human rights record” was “the very height of irresponsibility”.

Alyn Smith press conference
SNP MP Alyn Smith said the policy is ‘horrific’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

The SNP’s Alyn Smith called the policy “frankly disgraceful”, and suggested Home Secretary Priti Patel is “out of her depth”.

Mr Smith, the MP for Stirling, said: “This is a horrific policy in the first place, made even worse by a dodgy deal with a government guilty of horrendous human rights abuses.

“A quick look at President Kagame’s record makes clear that ‘Global Britain’ is once again absconding on its responsibility to help those fleeing conflict and violence.

“Political repression, unjustified arrests, and political assassinations are the norm for Kagame’s government – and the UK has given him a blank cheque to maintain his authoritarianism.

“It is frankly disgraceful that a policy devoid of sense and humanity is being paraded as an example of good governance by a Home Secretary out of her depth.”

He added: “Refugees should be helped, not flown out to an unfamiliar country thousands of miles away.

“The UK government has made a rod for its own back in pursuing this policy, which will make it harder to hold Kagame’s government to account for human rights abuses.

“Scotland wants no part of this immoral and impractical policy.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Rwanda is a fundamentally safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers, including working with the UN Refugee Agency which said the country has a safe and protective environment for refugees.

“Under our Migration and Economic Development Partnership, Rwanda will process claims in accordance with national and international human rights laws, and will ensure their protection from inhuman and degrading treatment or being returned to the place they originally fled.

“The UK and Rwanda do not shy away from difficult conversations and we’re committed to working together to resolve any differences.”

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