A former Rwandan ambassador to the US has warned the government that the east African country “more resembles a detention center than a state where the people are sovereign” as controversial immigration reforms edge closer to becoming law.
Theogene Rudasingwa, who was the country’s representative in the United States from 1996 to 1999, has lived in American exile since 2004 after falling out with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The UK government has said it trusts Rwanda to treat asylum seekers sent there humanely, said Dr. Rudasingwa.
“As a Rwandan with decades of political and diplomatic experience, I believe that under President Kagame’s regime such confidence is unfounded,” said Dr. Rudasingwa.
“Regardless of Rwanda’s history, the world must have no illusions about the truth. Rwanda is hostage to the Kagame dictatorship and resembles more of a detention center than a state where the people are sovereign.”
It comes after senior Conservative MPs questioned the logic behind the Citizenship and Borders Act, which would allow the UK to send asylum seekers to a “safe third country” and to send applications at a “designated place” set by the Foreign Secretary place.
Tory MP Simon Hoare (North Dorset) said on Wednesday: “I fail to see how moving people to Rwanda will in any way disrupt this money-making scheme by these traffickers. They will just use other routes to land people on our shores.”
Meanwhile, Conservative former minister Sir Bob Neill proposed investing the money earmarked for the Rwanda immigration deal to improve Britain’s system for processing applications.
In a letter to the Times editor on Saturday, Dr. Rudasingwa: “Human rights abuses in Rwanda are so egregious that over the past year Britain has joined international criticism of unlawful killings, torture and other violence.
“Only months later, Boris Johnson appears to have forgotten all of this in order for a transfer deal to go through.
“I write now as a refugee, rootless, but constantly under threat of retaliation from a vicious regime. I sympathize with outsiders struggling to reach Britain only to face rendition to Kagame State.
“For the poor souls it means: get out of the pan and into the fire.”
A £120million economic deal has been struck with Rwanda and cash is expected to follow for any move.
The bill is currently at a stage known as parliamentary ping-pong – where a bill is being deferred between the two houses until agreement on the wording can be reached.