Johnson: Ukrainians who come to UK illegally could be sent to Rwanda
UK PM Boris Johnson says Ukrainian refugees traveling to the UK without authorization may be sent to Rwanda.
In an escalation of his government's plans to deport those crossing into the UK to seek sanctuary, PM Boris Johnson has said that Ukrainian refugees entering the UK without authorization may be deported to Rwanda.
Johnson defended, on Thursday, his contentious deal to deport migrants to Rwanda, urging critics to "keep an open mind."
It is worth noting that the London-Kigali scheme, which involves Britain deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda thousands of miles away, has sparked outrage.
The migrant arrangement has been strongly condemned by rights groups, church leaders, and the United Nations, not to mention that it threatens to overshadow this week's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
One of the most outspoken opponents is the British heir to the throne, Prince Charles, who has been quoted in the British media as calling it "appalling".
Johnson had previously said the prospect of Ukrainian refugees being sent to Rwanda was "simply not going to happen."
However, when asked ahead of the CHOGM meeting on whether Ukrainians arriving to the UK by boat may be deported to East Africa, he said: “The only circumstances in which people will be sent to Rwanda would be if they come to the UK illegally," adding moments later "if you come here illegally, you’re undermining all those who come here legally. And it’s crazy. So I’m afraid the answer is I suppose, yes, in theory that could happen. But I think it’s very unlikely.”
UK and Ukrainian refugees
Critics of the UK government's response to the war have said that the UK in fact takes in fewer Ukrainians per capita than most of Europe.
“In stark contrast to the British public who have opened their doors to welcome Ukrainians in desperate search of safety, our prime minister has confirmed that the government is intent on treating them as human cargo to be transported from the UK to Rwanda," Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council said regarding Johnson's statements.
The first flight carrying migrants was scheduled for June 14, following the rejection of a lawsuit filed by human rights activists seeking to halt the government's decision to send illegal migrants to Rwanda. According to the court's statement, the flight was canceled after the ECHR ruled that an Iraqi migrant involved might face "a real risk of irreversible harm."
Rwanda's government announced that it has already begun spending the 120 million pound downpayment given by the UK on the asylum scheme, as the government's spokesperson said that part of it was spent to prepare accommodations to receive the first batch of migrants that was supposed to arrive on the 14th.
Meanwhile, to counter the EHCR's decision, Britain began legislating for a new bill of rights on Wednesday, which would state unequivocally that Britain's Supreme Court, which approved the Rwanda flights, had legal supremacy and that ECHR judgments did not necessarily have to be followed by British courts.
According to the Ministry of Justice, it would certify that injunctions ordered by the ECHR under Rule 39, which halted the Rwandan flight, were not binding.
Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said it would create an acceptable class of human rights violations, while Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Amnesty International UK, said it was unsurprising that politicians held accountable by human rights laws wanted them removed.
"This is not about tinkering with rights. It's about removing them," Deshmukh said.