Suella Braverman has made her first trip to Rwanda as home secretary, amid criticism that the BBC, other liberal newspapers and the Guardian have been shut out from the publicly funded visit.
Ahead of the trip on Friday, Braverman said her policy to deport asylum seekers to the African country will act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys. Her predecessor Priti Patel signed an agreement with Rwanda in April last year in a bid to deter small boat crossings, but the 140 m deal remains embroiled in legal battles.
Charity Freedom from Torture labeled it a showboat trip after it emerged that the Guardian, the BBC, the Daily Mirror, the Independent and the i newspaper were not invited. The home secretary will be joined by journalists from organisations such as the Daily Mail, the GB News and the Telegraph.
Sonya Sceats, chief executive at Freedom from Torture, described the policy as a cash-for-human scheme.
She said that Braverman is going to Rwanda on a showboat trip this week, and the Court of Appeal has accepted that there are serious questions to be answered over the legality of the government's cash-for-human scheme.
Following the outpouring of support for Gary Lineker and his compassionate stand on behalf of refugees, this government knows it is on the back foot and is ramping up the cruelty to distract from their own failures. The Index on Censorship, which works to defend freedom of expression, also criticised the exclusion of some news organisations. The editor at large Martin Bright said: "We are concerned to hear that journalists from organisations judged to be critical of the government's immigration policy have not been invited. Democracy depends on an open and transparent relationship between government and media, where all journalists are able to scrutinise the government.
Access to government ministers, both domestically and as part of international visits, should not be treated as a reward for favourable coverage, according to the Index on Censorship. During her trip, Braverman will meet President Paul Kagame and her counterpart Vincent Biruta to discuss the deal.
She said that they are going to Rwanda this weekend to reinforce the commitment to the partnership as part of their plan to stop the boats and discuss plans to operationalise our agreement soon.
Braverman said that Rwanda could hold many thousands of people, although none of them have yet to be relocated.
She said that Rwanda can only take 200 people, which is a false narrative peddled by critics who want to scrap the deal.
Rwanda has the capacity to resettle many thousands of people and can quickly stand up to their accommodation once flights begin.