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UK detaining asylum-seekers for deportation to Rwanda

Britain has detained an unspecified number of migrants for deportation to Rwanda under its new immigration policy, government officials said Wednesday.

The announcement followed last month’s parliamentary passage of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s flagship immigration law, which allows asylum-seekers who arrive in Britain without permission to be deported to so-called safe third countries.

The law dodged a 2023 Supreme Court ruling that prohibited sending migrants to Rwanda because it “would expose them to a real risk of ill-treatment.” With a population of 13 million, Rwanda, which has received praise for its modern infrastructure, claims to be one of the most stable nations in Africa. But human rights groups routinely criticize the government for restricting free speech.

The government said Wednesday that it booked commercial charter planes and increased detention capacity to more than 2,200 spaces in preparation for the first Rwanda-bound flights. Sunak on Monday said flights should begin within 10 to 12 weeks, and his spokesperson said the prime minister was pleased “the first detentions have taken place.”

The government expects to deport 5,700 migrants to Rwanda this year, a senior minister said Tuesday. Of those, 2,143 “can be located for detention,” the ministry said, leaving more than 3,500 migrants unaccounted for. Ministers said the enforcement teams would find them.

More than 7,500 migrants have entered England from France by crossing the English Channel on small boats this year. Sunak’s ruling Conservative Party argues that the threat of being deported will dissuade people from making the dangerous trip. Five people died last week attempting to cross the channel.

Labor opposition members have dismissed the new policy as a “gimmick” that will not deter cross-channel arrivals, and some public resistance to deportations remains. The FDA, a civil service trade union, recently said it had lodged an appeal against the new law, arguing that it forces its members to violate their governing code.

“Civil servants should never be left in a position where they are conflicted between the instructions of ministers and adhering to the Civil Service Code, yet that is exactly what the government has chosen to do,” FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said.

Source: VOA