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UK plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is illegal, says UN

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The United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is illegal, the United Nations (UN) said on Friday, with its refugee agency slamming the proposal as an ‘egregious breach of international law’.

The Government announced this week its plans to provide failed asylum seekers, including those crossing the Channel in small boats, with a one-way ticket to Rwanda, where they will have the right to apply to live in the African country.

A UNHCR assistant secretary-general, Gillian Triggs said the agency ‘strongly condemns outsourcing the primary responsibility to consider the refugee status’, as proposed by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Put to her that Australia had effectively deployed a similar tactic to cut migration numbers, Triggs said: “My point is, just as the Australian policy is an egregious breach of international law and refugee law and human rights law, so too is this proposal by the United Kingdom Government.

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“It is very unusual, very few states have tried this, and the purpose is primarily deterrent – and it can be effective, I don’t think we’re denying that.

“But what we’re saying at the UN refugee agency is that there are much more legally effective ways of achieving the same outcome.”

She said attempting to ‘shift responsibility’ for asylum seekers arriving in Britain was ‘really unacceptable’.

Triggs pointed out that Israel had attempted to send Eritrean and Sudanese refugees to Rwanda, but that they “simply left the country and started the process all over again.”

“In other words, it is not actually a long-term deterrent,” she added.

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