by Aly Jonas

Will Rwanda become the United Kingdom's Guantanamo?

Le Rwanda va-t-il devenir le Guantanamo du Royaume-Uni ?

London and Kigali have signed an agreement to deport illegal migrants from Britain to Rwanda, which thus becomes Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Guantanamo.

Will Rwanda be London's next open-air prison? The UK is overwhelmed by asylum applications from citizens of many nationalities. In 2021, nearly 30,000 people crossed the Channel, between France and England. This is a hundred times more than three years earlier. Enough to worry the British, who had decided to finance France, to the tune of more than 60 million euros for the years 2021 and 2022, to help the latter equip itself in its “fight against irregular immigration” and strengthen border controls.

And while Paris and London fell apart after a payment default on the part of the United Kingdom, last October, the British authorities opted for another solution. More radical. The United Kingdom has just signed an agreement with Rwanda which plans to send migrants and asylum seekers who have managed to set foot on British soil to Kigali.

This Thursday, the English Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, went to Rwanda to finalize this agreement. The objective is to deter illegal migrants as much as possible from crossing the Channel. But the agreement raises eyebrows, particularly among English NGOs who speak of the “inhumanity” of its sponsor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Wishing to keep his post-Brexit commitments, including that of reducing the number of migrants, Johnson spoke with several countries that could accept his proposal. Ghana, according to the British press, was approached, which the African country immediately denied. It will ultimately be Paul Kagame's Rwanda which will be London's partner in this new migration policy.

An agreement contrary to the Geneva Convention for refugees

Unscrupulous in terms of human rights, Rwanda accepted London's offer for a sum of around 144 million euros. If Kigali "welcomes this partnership with the United Kingdom to welcome asylum seekers and migrants, and offer them legal avenues to live", in the words of the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vincent Biruta, the agreement is shocking.

Rwanda is, of course, a welcoming land. In recent years, it has welcomed several convoys of refugees, particularly from Libya, promising access to education and health to exiles. But morally, this poses a real problem when it comes to the conditions of refugees in Europe. “The European Union and the United Kingdom are outsourcing the issue of migrants to avoid having to manage them on their territories,” laments a member of an African NGO. And to encourage African countries to become Europe's subcontractors, the EU finances the donor of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

For Amnesty International United Kingdom, this agreement with Kigali is a “scandal”, synonymous with “barbarism”. The NGO Refugee Action believes that this is an “inhumane” way of treating people fleeing persecution and war. No matter, the British Parliament is currently working on a law which will allow London to create detention centers abroad, although this text would be contrary to the Geneva Convention for refugees, although signed by the United Kingdom.