Rwanda’s government has attacked what it called a “disappointing” verdict from the UK’s top court which ruled a scheme to deport asylum seekers to the African country was unlawful.
But a spokesperson for Rwanda’s government rejected the idea the East African nation was unsafe for refugees, and argued there was “nothing wrong” with how it processes asylum claims.
Spokesperson Yolande Makolo told Sky News the judgment had been based on “hypocritical” and “dishonest” assessments by the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR).
Asked what she thought of the verdict, she said: “It’s ultimately a decision for the UK judicial system. It’s disappointing – we have a really good record of hosting and welcoming migrants and refugees in this country.”
Rwanda remains “committed” to the partnership and is “ready” to receive migrants, she said.
The Supreme Court had said in its unanimous judgment that those sent to Rwanda would be at “real risk” of being returned home, whether their grounds to claim asylum were justified or not – breaching international law.
Sky’s Mark Austin pressed Ms Makolo on this, to which she said the court had been referring to the risk of refoulement – the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they could be subjected to persecution – and that this was based on “hypocritical criticism from the UNHCR”.
She said Rwanda had worked with the UNHCR for a “long time” and had not refouled anyone.
Austin then asked about another issue brought up by the Supreme Court, which said there had been an instance of Rwanda’s directorate-general of immigration dismissing 8% of claims without any written reason or right of appeal.
Ms Makolo said these were again examples given by the UNHCR that were “either dishonest or do not have the full context”.
She added that “any deficiencies they have found have been corrected since last year”.
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The spokesperson said she thought the Supreme Court ruling was “political”, telling Austin: “It was not Rwanda being judged. Rwanda is not in the dock.”
Despite the setback, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to push ahead with the policy and suggested the UK could bring forward legislation that would declare Rwanda a “safe” country.