Readers' Letters: Rwanda’s a dangerous place for asylum seekers

Readers will have heard, perhaps with disgust and or even disbelief, the latest wild plans of the Conservative government to send refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda for “processing” (Scotsman, 15 April).

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Vincent Biruta, sign the agreement for asylum seekers to be sent to Rwanda
Home Secretary Priti Patel and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Vincent Biruta, sign the agreement for asylum seekers to be sent to Rwanda

Rwanda already has a population of over 12.6 million people (average age 19) and is one of the most densely populated mainland African countries and the fifth most densely populated country in the world. One million people live in the capital and largest city Kigali.

It has a poor human rights record of being very hostile to its own people who are part of its own LGBT community.

Despite progress since the 1994 genocide, with hundreds of thousands murdered, it is still a questionable example of democracy.

Is this the sort of example of a country Westminster wants to pay for taking on what are really Britain's responsibilities?

Consider for a moment the suitability, never mind the contrast to our own moral standards.

Norman Lockhart, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

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Tourist trap

After listening to Boris Johnson and Co singing the praises of Rwanda and its safety, stability, opportunities etc I was left wondering why I have not yet seen it feature as a holiday destination in travel brochures or articles.

Is it because return flights are not available, I wonder?

John Rhind, Beadnell, Northumberland

Not too corrupt

Following the PM's plan to relocate illegal migrants to Rwanda I checked the World Population Review to see what its Corruption Index was.

Corruption is defined as “the abuse of public power for private profit” – the lower the number, the more corrupt the country is deemed to be. At the bottom is Somalia at 12, and at the top are Denmark and New Zealand at 88.

The UK comes in at 77 while Rwanda is at 54. This compares favourably with the other African countries and is ahead of Italy on 53. Ukraine scores 33, China 32, and Russia 30.

William Loneskie, Lauder, Scottish Borders

Tenants’ rights

A Scottish Government information poster grandly proclaims that "Tenants have rights – set in stone". This is a rare excursion into the truth. However, it is now almost impossible to remove tenants for persistent non-payment of rent and so many private landlords have simply quit the business.

The separatists' Housing to 2040 legislation is likely to accelerate this process, thanks to its rent controls and total ban on winter evictions. Combined with shortages of affordable property on the market and an increasing cost of living, this ongoing contraction of Scotland's private rental sector is set to worsen an already serious housing crisis.

Inspired by auld grievances like The Clearances and Glasgow Rent Strike, it's unlikely that misty-eyed Green minister Patrick Harvie (overseeing this policy) will have the insight to reflect on the unintended consequences of his administration's latest piece of public virtue-signalling.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Dial down hysteria

The outcry over the so-called Partygate is beginning to verge on hysteria. In my opinion the gatherings at Downing Street were in no way a party.

Boris Johnson has not had the best start to his premiership, firstly Covid and now Ukraine. The pressures have obviously been extreme so any breaches of the rules regarding gatherings were to me not deliberate. Indeed they should not have happened, but some of these were in places of work. The government were trying to run the country at the time of unprecedented crisis. They should have thought about how it would look but everyone is human and in stressful times I do not think the breaches were intended to deceive.

I fully appreciate the feelings of those who were not allowed to visit loved ones but to say Mr Johnson was taking people for fools is a bit extreme. I would understand if those involved had said “we could not care less if people are affected, we will please ourselves” but any gatherings were simply an oversight. Those involved should have been better advised.

The rules were found to have been breached, fines given and apologies made; but for the opposition parties to accuse Boris Johnson of being a criminal is extreme. Those fined will not have a criminal record. The Prime Minister has been accused of lying to parliament but I honestly believe that he did not think he had.

Boris Johnson can sometimes appear to be a loose cannon but he has been a breath of fresh air compared to previous PMs and the work he has done to get Covid vaccines has to be commended, while the support he, on behalf of the UK, is giving to Ukraine is unprecedented.

Let us not get carried away and let us look at the big picture and focus on those things which are really important.

Gordon Bannatyne, Glasgow

Johnson saved

As things stand, if Boris Johnson’s party is behind him, he will stay until the next general election, possibly a year away.

It has often been said that Boris is Labour and the SNP's best recruiting sergeant and the last thing they need is a new Prime Minister and a honeymoon period that thwarts their chances.

But what if the current PM rides the storm? What if, by luck or design he succeeds, or is perceived to succeed, on Covid, Brexit, levelling up, energy policy, energy prices, taxation, Ukraine, immigration, and now Rwanda?

He'd win a landslide – Keir Starmer would go, as would Sturgeon and Scottish independence. Isn't that what all this is about? Not so much what's good for the UK but what's good for the opposition leaders and their parties?

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Shameful state

While some choose to dismiss the importance of Partygate as Russia continues to inflict a horrendous war on Ukraine, true democracy in the UK is disintegrating under a UK Government leadership that is dishonest, blatantly corrupt, and totally out-of-touch with the day-to-day problems confronting most of the UK’s citizens.

The UK Government’s intention to exile those desperately seeking asylum in the UK to Rwanda, while Ukrainians fleeing war continue to be subjected to a bureaucratic nightmare, are further manifestations of a perverse ideological political direction of the United Kingdom in which all citizens referred to as “British” are shamed.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Under pressure

Did Douglas Ross really say that we have a truthful Prime Minister (Scotsman, 14 April)? I hope his fingernails are recovering from the thumbscrews applied to them by the Tory whips.

Michael Grey, Edinburgh

Free museums

You kindly published a letter from me this week concerning the benefits for Edinburgh, and indeed for the whole of Scotland, of a tourist tax (13 April).

I would go further and encourage Edinburgh’s new administration to consider introducing entrance charges for our local museums and galleries. My wife and I make a point of visiting cultural venues in countries we visit and in every single case, there is an entrance charge. I cannot remember ever getting free entry into an overseas museum or gallery.

As a volunteer Edinburgh Festival Guide showing visitors round our historic city, I get regular expressions of astonishment when I point out that the four City Museums on the Royal Mile are free of charge.

It would be perfectly possible to continue with free entrance for local residents. In York, for example, entrance is free for York citizens on Saturdays and Sundays. Alternatively, the existing council leisure card scheme could be extended to include entrance to our museums and galleries. With the council about to introduce a scheme of charging for entrance by tour groups into some of the city’s cemeteries, then why not our museums and galleries?

The hard, unavoidable fact is that Scotland’s local authority budgets are under severe pressure. With the continued delay in replacing the council tax, local authorities must look at ways of adding to their funding. Perhaps then we would see our potholes filled, our streets cleaned, litter bins emptied and the public toilets restored.

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh

Broken promise

It is striking but not wholly unexpected that the Tories have broken yet another manifesto pledge by failing to match billions of pounds worth of EU development funding for Scotland after Brexit.

The government pledged in its 2019 election manifesto that a new Shared Prosperity Fund would “at a minimum” match the EU regional funds that were returned to the UK from its EU membership contributions, and “reaffirmed” that commitment in last October’s Budget.

These “EU structural funds” were designed to support economic development and reduce regional inequalities, particularly through investment in small businesses, skills and innovation, the green economy and other infrastructure projects.

However, the recent announcement of this Fund will see only £32 million allocated to Scotland for 2022-23, a staggering £151m short of the £183m estimated to be an appropriate replacement for EU Structural Funds.

It is clear that despite UK Government assurances, the funding promised will not be delivered and this will hit key projects and communities.

Like so many aspects of Brexit, this broken promise is yet another addition to a growing list of broken promises.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

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