Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”Rwanda, Madam Deputy Speaker, is a safe and secure country with an outstanding track record of supporting asylum seekers.”

Priti Patel, Home Office Secretary of State, Home Office Statement

Facts

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, told MPs that Rwanda was a safe country for asylum seekers and refugees. This statement came after the Home Office’s assessment on Rwanda. 

Amnesty International have reported numerous human rights violations in Rwanda. They include political repression, including murder and kidnapping, hindrance to the right to a free trial and government use of spyware. 

Human Rights Watch have described the Rwandan government’s use of ‘arbitrary detention’ and ‘torture’ inside detention facilities as being common, and that rights to justice are ‘routinely flouted’. These assessments of Rwanda by respected human rights agencies paint a picture of a country troubled by human rights violations. 

Patel’s claim  that Rwanda has a good track record with asylum seekers is not supported by recent events. 12 Congolese refugees were killed by the Rwandese police in 2018, and over 60 were charged with illegally protesting in the same year. There has been no trial for the police officers responsible for what Human Rights Watch describes as ‘an excessive’ use of force. The ECHR, in stopping a June 2022 deportation flight to Rwanda, stated that there were doubts about whether refugees would be able access to a free and fair trial in Rwanda. 

The Home Office’s assessment of Rwanda contradicts these organisations. Human rights violations are downplayed within the assessment. This includes LGBT rights. Despite same-sex relationships being legal in Rwanda, Human Rights Watch reported that in 2021 over a dozen LGBT people were ‘arbitrarily detained’ as being ‘socially undesirable’. The Home Office admitted that there exists evidence of ‘discrimination and intolerance’ against LGBT people, but dismiss this as having no ‘substantial ground’. Similarly, the Home Office dismissed domestic and sexual violence, described by the US State Department as ‘common’ and ‘culturally accepted’, as having no real risk of materialising.

Other human rights violations reported by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, including limited freedom of expression  and mistreatment of refugees, have been dismissed by the Home Office assessment as ‘not common’ or ‘unlikely’ to materialise. 

Human Rights Watch described the Home Office’s assessment on Rwanda as ‘hard to square’ and as an attempt to ‘sugar-coat’ based on selective assessments. 

Verdict

Priti Patel’s statement ignored numerous human rights violation which occur in Rwanda.

We emailed Priti Patel’s office offering her the chance to respond. The email was received, but no reply. 

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