Migration: Deportation deal: Why the British are betting on Rwanda

The British government cannot be dissuaded from its plan to deport migrants to Rwanda regardless of their actual origin.

Migration: Deportation deal: Why the British are betting on Rwanda

The British government cannot be dissuaded from its plan to deport migrants to Rwanda regardless of their actual origin. After much resistance in parliament, the upper house also approved a bill during the night. Now King Charles III still has to. put the law into effect with his signature. The most important questions and answers.

Who does the British government want to deport?

The British government basically wants to deport migrants who come into the country irregularly - i.e. without the necessary papers - to Rwanda. No matter where they actually come from or what their personal circumstances are. The people should then apply for asylum there so that, if in doubt, they can stay in Rwanda. There are no plans to return to Great Britain.

Why is Rwanda participating?

According to commentators, the authoritarian leadership in Kigali hopes to be perceived as a reliable partner of the West - also in order not to raise concerns about human rights. Great Britain is also paying the East African state a sum of millions for the deal. This is a point of criticism that opponents of the agreement repeatedly raise: The British government is spending a lot of money, but it is not even clear whether a plane will actually take off.

How much do the British pay Rwanda?

According to estimates by the Court of Auditors in London, the government will pay up to half a billion pounds (584 million euros). There could also be hundreds of thousands of pounds per asylum seeker. The opposition Labor MP Neil Coyle recently scoffed in Parliament: "Is the Secretary of State aware that Virgin Galactic can send six people into space for less money than the government is willing to spend to send one person to Rwanda?" There is debate not only about the costs, but also about whether one should even go that far. The Supreme Court in London declared the project illegal.

What are the judges criticizing about the project?

The court made it clear that it does not view Rwanda as a safe third country and complained that it was not guaranteed that people there would receive a fair asylum procedure. The Supreme Court cited reports from the UN Refugee Agency and previous British information about extrajudicial executions, deaths in custody, torture and a high level of rejection of asylum applications from conflict areas such as Syria. But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ignores this - with the new legislation, Rwanda is declared a safe state with the stroke of a pen. This is intended to prevent objections in British courts.

If there is so much criticism: why are the British doing this?

Mainly as a deterrent. Prime Minister Sunak of the conservative Tories has promised a tough course in migration policy. His catchphrase is "Stop the Boats": He wants to stop the inflatable boats that people use to cross the English Channel. In 2023 there were almost 30,000, and from January to March 2024 there were more than 4,600, more than ever in a first quarter.

State Secretary Michael Tomlinson defended the plans as an important way to protect borders and deter migrants from making the dangerous crossing, as people repeatedly drown trying. Many conservative politicians are hoping that the tough course will generate more support in the coming elections, which are scheduled to take place in 2024. In Germany, too, reference is sometimes made to the British's "Rwanda plans".

What exactly is being discussed in Germany?

In Germany, calls for a Rwanda model come primarily from the CDU/CSU and the FDP. Rejection comes from the Greens. The SPD is also skeptical. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the heads of government of the federal states agreed in November that the federal government would examine whether asylum procedures were possible outside of Europe. A result should be available by June.

What has so far been controversial is whether this could actually be about sending people from Germany to another country for their asylum procedure - or just about enabling them to undergo an asylum procedure there on their way to Europe. It is unclear whether it could ultimately even be an option to deny asylum seekers entry to Germany despite a legitimate reason - that would correspond to the regulation that Great Britain wants to implement with Rwanda.

Is Sunak's plan to win voters working?

In principle, success in parliament should give the prime minister a boost. However, Sunak's Conservative Party has been well behind Labor in opinion polls for months. The reasons for this are numerous; after 14 years of Tory government, many Brits are simply fed up with the party. Commentators therefore do not expect that deportations to Rwanda will help turn the tide. And Sunak has put himself under a lot of pressure. It will be a success when the boats are stopped - meaning no more migrants come across the English Channel.

How quickly will the flights happen now?

Sunak had long hoped that a deportation flight would take off to Rwanda in the spring. On Monday, however, he spoke of ten to twelve weeks after the law came into force. According to Sunak, there is a contract with a commercial provider so that the government does not have to rely on Royal Air Force aircraft. An airport is also available. According to the Daily Express newspaper, there are also considerations about flying asylum seekers out to Rwanda in advance on regular flights. The Times newspaper reported that Sunak's government wanted to explore similar agreements with Armenia, Ivory Coast, Costa Rica and Botswana.

The case could also lead to renewed conflict with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Sunak has said he wants to ignore injunctions from the “foreign court”. Hardliners demand withdrawal from the ECtHR. The Archbishop of Canterbury warns of a loss of reputation in the world in view of the plan with Rwanda. “The UK should lead internationally, as it has done in the past, not stand on the sidelines,” said Justin Welby. Taking only some of the requirements of international law into account undermines “our global reputation”.

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