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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024

UK civil servants asked to relocate to Rwanda amid controversial deportation plan

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Home Office moves ahead with plans to deploy UK civil servants to Rwanda to implement a new deportation program, despite widespread criticism

The UK Home Office is actively recruiting civil servants to relocate to Rwanda as part of its controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to the East African nation. This move follows the enactment of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, which solidifies the legal framework for the deportation scheme criticized by both domestic campaigners and international leaders.

The relocation initiative aims to bolster Rwandan officials’ capacity to handle asylum claims effectively. Civil servants in the asylum decision-making team are encouraged to apply for roles that would require them to work in Kigali, with deployments starting as early as next month. These positions are part of a rotational program, indicating that staff may be stationed in Rwanda for several weeks at a time.

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Despite the bill’s recent passage in Parliament after vigorous debate and opposition, the government is pressing forward. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been a staunch advocate of the plan, labelling it as an essential deterrent to illegal immigration and a cornerstone of his policy to “stop the boats.”

This strategy, however, has faced significant setbacks since its inception two years ago, including a ruling by the Supreme Court declaring previous actions under the plan unlawful. Nevertheless, the new legislation is designed to make the deportation process legally robust, designating Rwanda as a safe country for asylum seekers.

Critics argue that the policy could lead to a system meltdown and exorbitant costs to taxpayers. Fran Heathcote, General Secretary of the PCS union, which represents civil servants, voiced concerns about the hasty and chaotic implementation of the policy. The union has raised serious questions regarding the welfare, living conditions, management, and legal jurisdiction of the civil servants expected to work in Rwanda.

International criticism has also been vocal, with French President Emmanuel Macron denouncing the plan as cynical and a betrayal of European values. Macron also expressed scepticism about the effectiveness of the deportation scheme, suggesting it would fail to deter asylum seekers.

As the Home Office gears up to potentially send the first group of asylum seekers to Rwanda in July, the program remains a focal point of heated debate, reflecting broader tensions in global immigration policy

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