UK Legislation Sending Asylum Seekers to Rwanda Approved After Prolonged Debate

The contentious proposal by the United Kingdom government to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda has finally received approval from the upper house of parliament after undergoing numerous amendments. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to initiate the first flights to Kigali within weeks, aiming to bolster the Conservative Party’s electoral prospects in the upcoming anticipated election.

The House of Lords, though initially resistant to the divisive plan and demanding additional safeguards, ultimately relented following Sunak’s commitment to extend parliamentary sessions until the bill’s passage. Sunak emphasized unequivocally that the flights to Rwanda would proceed as planned.

The Rwanda relocation initiative, criticized by United Nations human rights experts and asylum seeker advocacy groups, has faced legal challenges since its inception as a measure to stem the influx of asylum seekers crossing the English Channel in small boats. Legal obstacles, including an injunction from the European Court of Human Rights in 2022 and a subsequent ruling by the UK’s Supreme Court, have impeded its implementation.

The projected cost of deporting the initial 300 asylum seekers is estimated at £540 million ($665 million) by the National Audit Office. Despite criticisms from the House of Lords, which called for amendments to ensure Rwanda’s safety designation and exemptions for specific groups like Afghan allies of the British Armed Forces, the bill passed without formal changes. It is slated to receive Royal Assent from King Charles later this week, formally enacting it into law.

About Geraldine Boechat 2716 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia