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Gaborone turns down London after Rwanda law comes into force

Botswana has rejected another 'cash-for-asylum-seekers' deal saying it cannot commit to hosting people not knowing what the end game will be

Days after the UK Parliament finally passed a law that will allow asylum-seekers to be sent to Rwanda where their claims will be considered, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appears determined to expand the policy.

Botswana's foreign minister Lemogang Kwape revealed last week that Gaborone had been offered a similar arrangement but had rejected it on the grounds that they could not commit to 'hosting people not knowing what the end game would be'.

The UK's Supreme Court ruled last year that the policy was unlawful 'because there are substantial grounds for believing that asylum-seekers would face a real risk of ill-treatment by reason of refoulement to their country of origin if they were removed to Rwanda'.

In response, the Sunak government tabled a new law that enshrined Rwanda as a safe country in UK law (Dispatches 6/12/23, London moves to salvage 'cash for asylum seekers' deal).

UK ministers say that claimants will start to be sent to Rwanda by mid-July.

Having made the Rwanda bill a key part of its offer on migration control to UK voters ahead of a general election in the coming months, the Sunak government has been looking for other African states to partner with. The UK has already paid Paul Kagame's government in Kigali more than £200 million, with the likely cost of the policy set to rise to £600m when the first 300 asylum-seekers are flown to Rwanda.

Though the European Union has been critical of the UK/Rwanda pact, which it says breaches the European Convention on Human Rights, a non-EU body, it is moving in a similar policy direction (Dispatches 21/3/23, After meeting with Kagame, Braverman ploughs on with cash for asylum-seekers scheme).

The European People's Party, the centre-right grouping to which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen belongs, has put provisions for Rwanda-style arrangements in its manifesto ahead of the June European Parliament elections.

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