UK parliament approves bill to send migrants to Rwanda

In the night from Monday to Tuesday, the British Parliament passed its controversial bill allowing the UK to send migrants to Rwanda. The deal concerns migrants who have no right of residence in the UK and cannot return to their home countries.

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson floated the idea of paying Rwanda to take in migrants in 2022 and quickly won the approval of the government in Kigali. But the plan was struck down by the British High Court on the grounds that Rwanda could not be considered a safe country.

Now, after several rounds of amendments, both houses of parliament have approved the bill. It declares Rwanda a safe third country, which was necessary to avoid legal challenges to the deportations.

"This shameful proposal violates the constitution and international law"

Human rights organisations have long criticised the bill. "This shameful proposal violates the constitution and international law, and puts torture survivors and other refugees at risk of an uncertain future in Rwanda," a spokesperson for human rights organisations Freedom from Torture, Amnesty International and Liberty told the BBC.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said the first flights could begin within 10 to 12 weeks. The deal will cost the UK 1.8 million pounds for each of the first 300 deportees, according to The Guardian.

'Stop the boats'

The legislation is the centrepiece of Sunak's plan to "stop the boats", referring to the migrants who cross the Channel in small boats from northern France and Flanders.

The number of transmigrants - people passing through on their way to another country - has increased in Flanders in recent weeks, possibly in an attempt to get ahead of the law. Last month, the police in West Flanders found four times as many transmigrants as in March 2023.

Despite the law's approval, the police in West Flanders do not expect the number of transmigrants to decrease in the coming months. France's dismantling of refugee camps around Paris in preparation for this summer's Olympic Games could also play a role in the rising numbers.


#FlandersNewsService | British prime minister Rishi Sunak © PHOTO TOBY MELVILLE / POOL / AFP

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