Previously unseen internal documents from the UK’s Home Office relating to the controversial asylum deal made with Rwanda have come to light.
One reveals that the supposedly “objective, impartial and independent” assessment of Rwanda’s safety by the Home Office’s Country Policy Information Team (CPIT) was passed to Rwanda’s government for comment and amendment before publication.
In a skeleton argument presented to the High Court, lawyers for those challenging the Rwanda policy said assertions the CPIT was independent “are difficult to reconcile with a scenario whereby the Rwandan government was given the opportunity to comment on the final draft, and to suggest amendments to passages concerning its own human rights record”.
Also it has emerged that last year, the UK High Commissioner to Rwanda sent a memo to the Home Office advising against any asylum deal with the country.
He criticised its human rights record and “heavy-handed” security, warning a deal could “cause problems reputationally and impact our ability, as directed by Ministers, to raise difficult issues with the regime”.
Opposition to the policy was also raised by officials in the Home Office and Foreign Office, with warnings that, if the deal was signed, “we would need to be prepared to constrain UK positions on Rwanda’s human rights record, and to absorb resulting criticism from UK Parliament and NGOs”.
In response, the Home Office said that Rwanda was “a safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers”.
“We remain committed to delivering this policy to break the business model of criminal gangs and save lives.”