Home Office admits LGBTQI+ refugees could face persecution if sent to Rwanda | Immigration and Asylum

The Interior Ministry has admitted that lesbian, gay and bisexual refugees could face persecution if sent to Rwanda, but still plans to fly them 4,000 miles to Kigali.

The policy department’s equality impact assessment states that there are “concerns” about the treatment of some LGBTQI+ people in the East African country, and that studies indicate that “ill-treatment” of this group is “more than a one-off”.

It comes the day after the interior ministry said the first group of people would be notified this week of the government’s intention to relocate them to Rwanda. The first flights are expected to take place in the coming months, it said, adding that lawyers for some of those affected are likely to initiate proceedings to stop their removal.

The report, released Monday, said: “There are concerns about the treatment of some LGBTQI+ people, but we will continue to consider the impact on this group and consider further evidence as the partnership progresses.”

The report notes that homosexuality was decriminalized in 2010, but warns: “At this stage, studies indicate that abuse is more than a one-time thing, but it doesn’t appear to be systemic.”

According to the government’s assessment of the human rights situation in Rwanda, there are “no substantial reasons” to believe that they are at risk of being treated in violation of Article 3 (free from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights human rights in Rwanda.

At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ travel advisory for Rwanda states that “individuals may experience discrimination and abuse, including from local authorities. There are no specific anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT people.”

Lewis Mudge, director of Central Africa at Human Rights Watch, said the risk assessment was an unrealistic assessment of a country with a poor human rights record.

The Interior Ministry report reads like serious wishful thinking and they appear to be altering the facts to justify a predetermined conclusion. From claiming that refugees are not targets for exercising their freedom of expression – when Congolese refugees rot in prison for protesting their living conditions – to claiming that LGBT people will not risk serious harm in Rwanda – when evidence we have detained, beaten, insulted and harassed LGBTI people because of their sexual identity.”

“This report is not based on reality. The Rwandan government has a lousy track record of guaranteeing internationally recognized refugee rights, statues and protocols. It’s hard to imagine a less sincere assessment of Rwanda’s shocking human rights situation,” he said.

In another document released Monday evening, the government said it could send letters of intent to those coming to the UK without authorization warning them they could be sent to Rwanda.

A draft letter stated: “I am writing to inform you about how your protection claim is being managed. We have evidence that, prior to applying for asylum in the UK, you were present in or associated with: [name the safe country or countries]† This may have consequences for the admission of your application to the British asylum system.

“We can also ask Rwanda, another country we consider safe, if you would allow it, under the terms of the Rwanda-UK partnership for migration and economic development.”

Enver Solomon, the director of the Refugee Council, said letters threatening Rwanda would result in many of those waiting for their claims to disappear and hide from authorities in the UK.

Sign up for First Edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday morning at 7am BST

“The government is failing in its duty of care to people in the asylum system by failing to recognize the devastating impact the threat of deportation to Rwanda is having on them.

“The process it is setting up lacks compassion and shows an inability to see the face behind the case. It shows how this government simply wants to treat vulnerable people who have fled war and oppression like human cargo that must be transported thousands of miles out of sight and out of mind,” he said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior said:“There is no evidence to support these baseless claims.

“Illegal migrants, including those who have crossed the Channel, can be removed and we have the power to detain people before they are removed from the UK.

“Only those with inadmissible asylum applications who have made dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys will be relocated and to suggest otherwise is wrong.”

Leave a Comment