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Rwanda, Britain signs a new deal on asylum-seekers

Rwanda, Britain

Rwanda and Britain have signed a new treaty that will enable London to send asylum-seekers to the east African country.

Britain’s Home Secretary James Cleverly and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta signed the agreement on Tuesday in Kigali, the Rwandan capital.

The development seeks to unblock a decision of Britain’s Supreme Court that ruled last month that the government’s plan to send some migrants to Rwanda was unlawful.

After the signing, Cleverly said the “landmark treaty with Rwanda makes it clear we will do whatever it takes to stop the boats,” a reference to vessels bringing in refugees and asylum-seekers.

“We are clear that Rwanda is a safe country, and we are working at pace to move forward with this partnership to stop the boats and save lives,” he said.

Under the new treaty, a new appeals tribunal will be established under Rwandan law and overseen by two co-presidents, one Rwandan and one drawn from another Commonwealth country.

A panel of judges of various nationalities will also be set up to hear appeals in the event an applicant’s asylum claim is turned down.

The Rwandan government said: “This partnership also reflects Rwanda’s commitment to protecting vulnerable people. We have a proven record of offering a home to migrants and refugees from around the world.”

Anyone coming to Rwanda under the new treaty will be welcomed and given the safety and support they need to build new lives in the country, it said in a statement.

In April 2022, London and Kigali signed a deal to facilitate sending some migrants who arrive in Britain across the English Channel to Rwanda, where their asylum claims would be processed.

That deal, formally called the Rwanda-UK Migration and Economic Development Partnership initiative, was blocked by Britain’s Supreme Court last month.

Britain offered an upfront investment of 120 million pounds (149.5 million U.S. dollars) to facilitate the implementation of the five-year agreement.

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