Boris Johnson arrives in Rwanda amid storm over immigration policy

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Aurice Johnson has arrived in Rwanda ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which is being held under the auspices of Britain’s controversial new immigration policy.

The Prime Minister tweeted Thursday morning: “I arrived in Rwanda for CHOGM to address global challenges to everything from hunger to climate change, and turbocharged trade with some of the world’s most dynamic economies. Our shared values.” , With history and language – the Commonwealth is a unique and important association. ”

The prime minister, who spent the night in the African nation’s capital, Kigali, for a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government, has faced criticism over the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Before his flight on Wednesday evening, he called opponents of the scheme “ridiculous” and told reporters that his trip was “an opportunity for all of us to understand what this partnership has to offer.” ۔

He added: “Let’s hope maybe help others to break some of their soft-spoken attitude towards Rwanda and how this partnership can work.”

But Mr Johnson has no plans to visit Kigali for immigrants who come to the UK from unauthorized sources.

A spokesman for the prime minister said: “You will find that the prime minister’s time is always limited and in order to find the time he will have to leave out the elements of the program under which he has a unique set of world leaders. Are doing very important work together. Problems. “

“We believe that the best use of our time in Rwanda for this short period is to dedicate ourselves to some of the issues that will be raised at the summit and to work with other world leaders on these issues. We’ve talked about. At least not Ukraine and global security. “

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The first flight to Rwanda was scheduled to take off last week, but was canceled due to successful legal challenges before a full hearing on the legal status of the scheme in UK courts.

The policy is part of a £ 120 million economic agreement with Kagali, but has been widely criticized for concerns over Rwanda’s human rights record.

Mr Johnson noted that despite the agreement being signed two months ago, he would arrive before any refugees arrived.

“I am aware that I am arriving before anyone who has traveled illegally across the Channel. I cannot hide this fact from you – there it is – but it is still the case that the UK No court and no international court has ruled on our plan. Illegal, “he said.

But Mr Johnson said he would “no doubt” discuss the plans with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Thursday.

Mr Kagame has been praised for his role in ending the 1994 genocide in which ethnic Houthi extremists killed nearly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Houthis during the 100-day civil war.

But since then, his government has been accused of political repression, alleged murder and imprisonment of critics.

Steve Valdez Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s Director of Refugees and Immigrants’ Rights, said: Effective support.

“No country should shift its asylum responsibilities to another, which is even less so for a country like Rwanda which has a disturbing record of human rights with its current, large-scale asylum obligations. ۔

“The UK should use its influence and the meetings of the Commonwealth leaders to encourage meaningful progress on human rights in Rwanda, not on excuses and potentially disturbing Rwandan human rights records. Should increase. “

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Mr Johnson’s spokesman said he was expected to raise “human rights issues” as he had done in the past.

“We want Rwanda to uphold and support the values ​​of the Commonwealth, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. And we want appropriate action for all those detained and for the rule of law. We want fair and transparent application. “

The prime minister’s wife, Kerry Johnson, will accompany him to the summit and is expected to attend a partnership program.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will also be there, as Alok Sharma will chair the Cop26 Climate Summit.

The prime minister also wants to use the 54-nation summit, which includes former British colonies, to address food and energy insecurity caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Commonwealth countries are on the front lines for many of these issues, from climate change to rising food prices,” the spokesman said.

Green economic growth, boosting girls’ education and working with the Commonwealth to boost trade and job creation for UK businesses are also among the top 10 priorities.