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Rwanda might opt out of the UK-Rwanda deal

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President Paul Kagame has told the UK that the success of their deal to move migrants to Rwanda is not Rwanda’s problem but the UK’s. Kagame hinted that Rwanda might consider giving back the money the UK has already given them for the deal if the migrants don’t come.

So far, the UK has given Rwanda £240 million for the agreement, with an additional £50 million expected next year. There are doubts about whether the UK will get a refund. Rwanda’s spokesperson said they would think about it if the UK asked, but didn’t say how much money had been spent yet.

The UK’s opposition party used Kagame’s words to pressure the UK government to take the money back instead of continuing a failing plan. Some in the UK government’s own party saw Kagame’s words as a sign that the Rwandan plan might need to ignore international laws.

In a meeting in Davos, Foreign Secretary David Cameron expressed confidence that the UK’s plan for Rwanda would pass in the Commons. Chancellor Rishi Sunak defended the unusual asylum policy, saying it was needed to deal with illegal migration. 

Sunak faced questions about losing contact with 4,250 people set to be sent to Rwanda during a session in the Parliament, and the Speaker scolded him for using a prop during the discussion.

Both countries signed the deal in April 2022. Under the agreement, any migrants who enter the UK through unofficial means – for example crossing the Channel in small boats – would be removed from the UK, banned from future re-entry, and barred from applying for British citizenship.

The government will also have a legal duty to detain and remove them from Rwanda. However, the UK’s Supreme Court has ruled that there were substantial grounds to believe that genuine refugees sent to Rwanda could be at risk of being returned to countries from which they have fled – where they could be subject to inhumane treatment.

The British government later announced that it is in the “final stages” of negotiating a new treaty with Rwanda, the immigration minister says. Speaking after the ruling, UK’s Prime Minister RIshi Sunak said he was determined to “end the merry-go-round” of legal challenges. 

The new treaty would protect against the removal of asylum seekers from Rwanda back to their home country, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

The treaty would determine Rwanda as a safe country and ensure that the endless cycle of legal disputes and challenges finally comes to an end. But legal heads are being scratched as to how the emergency legislation might work.

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