A few days before the first planned departures, the British justice authorized, on Friday June 10, the controversial government project to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, rejecting the appeal of human rights associations.

London High Court Judge Jonathan Swift, who was hearing the case on an urgent basis, said it was “important in the public interest for the Home Secretary to be able to implement immigration control orders “.

The plaintiffs, including the associations Care4Calais and Detention Action, have lodged an appeal, which will be heard on Monday on the eve of a first flight transporting around 30 asylum seekers to the East African country, to the chagrin of the United Nations (UN) and refugee aid associations, who denounce an “illegal” policy. On Monday, the High Court is also due to hear another appeal, brought by refugee aid charity Asylum Aid.

Associations denounce a “neocolonial program”

Sonya Sceats, executive director of Freedom From Torture, said she was “disappointed” but stressed that the fight was “far from over”, vowing to use “every means available” to bring it down what she considers a “neo-colonial agenda”. This much criticized project was also denounced Friday by the Labor opposition as an attempt to “divert” from the political scandals weakening the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

By sending asylum seekers more than 6,000 kilometers from London, which recalls the policy pursued by Australia, the Conservative government intends to deter illegal crossings of the Channel, which are ever more numerous. Since the start of the year, more than 10,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel illegally to reach British shores in small boats, a considerable increase on previous years.

During the hearing, the UN strongly condemned this strategy, through the voice of its lawyer. Representing the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Laura Dubinsky said the UN agency was concerned about the risk of “serious and irreparable harm” to refugees sent to Rwanda, and did not “in no case the Anglo-Rwandan arrangement”. “The UNHCR is not involved in the arrangement between the UK and Rwanda, despite claims to the contrary by the Minister of State,” she stressed, accusing the government of lies.

According to London, thirty-two asylum seekers sent as early as next week

According to the organization Care4Calais, some thirty-five Sudanese, eighteen Syrians, fourteen Iranians, eleven Egyptians, but also nine Afghans who fled the Taliban, are among the more than 130 asylum seekers who have been notified of their possible departure. . According to British government lawyer Mathew Gullick, 32 migrants are due to be sent to Rwanda next week, with more flights expected to follow in the coming months.

Rwanda, ruled by Paul Kagame since the end of the 1994 genocide, which killed 800,000 people, according to the UN, is regularly accused by NGOs of repressing freedom of expression, criticism and political opposition. On Friday, 23 NGOs called on Commonwealth leaders to put pressure on Rwanda, which will host a meeting of the organization from June 20, to release critics of power and allow greater freedom of expression. expression.

However, the British Home Office says it is “determined” to implement its project, insisting that it is “fully compliant with international and national law”. Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said the plan is “the right approach, especially to combat criminal gangs that exploit migrants on the French coast and force them into unseaworthy boats to make an incredibly dangerous to the UK”.

The government has hinted that asylum seekers could settle permanently in Rwanda. The manager of the Hope Hostel in Kigali, which is preparing to welcome them, stressed that his establishment “is not a prison”, but a hotel from which residents will be “free” to leave.