Britain's Home Secretary Suella Braverman, left, and Rwanda's Minister of Infrastructure Ernest Nsabimana, right, lay bricks at another housing development for migrants in Kigali, Rwanda on Sunday, March 19, 2023. Britain's government said Sunday it could start deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda in the next few months, but only if U.K. courts rule that the policy is legal. AP Photo KIGALI, Rwanda - Britain s government said Sunday it could start deporting asylum-seekers to Rwanda in the next few months, but only if U.K. courts rule that the controversial policy is legal.
Home Office said it was aiming to begin flights before the summer, as Home Secretary Suella Braverman visited the east African country to reinforce the commitment of the Conservative government to the plan.
In Rwandan capital, Kigali met President Paul Kagame and Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, visited accommodation intended to house deportees from the U.K. and laid a brick at another housing development for migrants.
Braverman said that he had thoroughly enjoyed seeing the rich opportunities this country can provide to relocated people through our partnership.
Biruta said Rwanda would give migrants the opportunity to build new lives in a safe, secure place through accommodation, education and vocational training. A year ago, the U.K. and Rwanda struck a deal whereby a number of migrants arrive in the U.K. in small boats would be flown to Rwanda, where their asylum claims would be processed. Those who were granted asylum would stay in Rwanda rather than return to Britain.
The U.K. government believes that the policy will destroy the business model of people-smuggling gangs and deter migrants from taking risky journeys across the English Channel.
In 2022, more than 45,000 people arrived in Britain by boat, compared to 8,500 in 2020.
The 140 million-pound plan is hampered by legal challenges, and no one has yet been sent to Rwanda. In December, the High Court ruled the policy was legal, but a group of asylum seekers from countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria have been granted permission to appeal.
Human rights groups cite Rwanda's poor human rights record, and argue that it is inhumane to send people more than 4,000 miles 6,400 kilometers to a country they don't want to live in.
The government has drafted legislation banning anyone who arrives in the U.K. in small boats or other unauthorized means from applying for asylum. If passed by Parliament, the Illegal Migration Bill would require the government to deport all such arrivals to their homeland or a safe third country such as Rwanda.
The U.N. refugee agency says the law breaches U.K. commitments under the international refugee convention.
Braverman faces criticism for inviting only selected media on her taxpayer-funded trip to Rwanda. Journalists from right-leaning outlets including The Times and The Telegraph newspapers and the television channel GB News were invited to speak to, while the BBC and the left-leaning Guardian newspaper were not.