Suella Braverman's insistence is Rwanda is 'safe' for asylum seekers flies in face of evidence - Martyn McLaughlin

Given the shambolic and extreme measures being advocated by the UK government in an attempt to deter people crossing the English Channel, it is perhaps no surprise that home secretary Suella Braverman continues to play fast and loose with the facts surrounding the controversial plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

In an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday, Ms Braverman stressed that she was convinced the central African country was safe for such individuals. After being presented with evidence of Congolese refugees being shot dead by police during protests over conditions in a Rwandan camp in 2018, Ms Braverman initially said she was not familiar with the case, later adding: “That might be 2018, we’re looking at 2023 and beyond.” She went on to insist that senior judges in the High Court found Rwanda to be a safe country, and that the government’s plans were lawful.

There is a lot to unpick here. For starters, the home secretary’s implication that the government won outright in the High Court is misleading. That judicial review, currently subject to appeal, concluded that in the cases of eight people that the Home Office had tried to forcibly remove, there were nearly 20 decisions made that were “legally flawed.”

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Perhaps more significantly, Ms Braverman’s repeated assertion that Rwanda is a safe country for refugees sits completely at odds with the conclusions of charities and agencies who work on the ground in the landlocked country. And if, as was the case during her interview with Ms Kuenssberg, she takes issue with evidence that is five years old, fine, let’s look at more recent examples.

A good place to start is the operational update for February from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It found that in that month alone, there were 35 incidents of gender based violence in refugee camps. They included rape, sexual assault, and physical assault. In January, meanwhile, there were 52 new incidents. The monthly total stood at 14 in December, and 31 in November.

These are not isolated flashpoints. They speak to a sustained systemic problem in which some of the most vulnerable people are being subjected to horrific harm. Ms Braverman’s continued insistence that Rwanda is safe is deeply disingenuous, and she should be called out on it.



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