Boris Johnson to meet Charles in Rwanda after criticism of asylum removal policy

Boris Johnson will hold talks with the Prince of Meczyki in Rwanda after the heir to the throne reportedly criticized a policy of sending asylum seekers to the African country on one-way tickets. The prime minister is planning to avoid visiting the accommodation in Kigali where migrants deported from the UK will be sent as part of the key policy.

Mr Johnson will join Charles on Thursday in the capital of the East African nation, where he is attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). This will be the first meeting between the Prime Minister and Charles since the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee service.

It was later reported that Charles, in private comments, described the policy of sending asylum seekers to the UK after unauthorized travel as “horrendous”. The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “They will face each other during the summit, but they also have bilateral discussions.”

The first flight to ferry people to Rwanda was due to take off last week, but was grounded in successful legal challenges ahead of a full hearing on the plan’s legality in UK courts. The policy is an element of a £120 million economic deal with Kigali, but has been widely criticized due to concerns about Rwanda’s human rights record.

Despite this being Johnson’s first visit to the country when he was number 10, he does not plan to visit any of the accommodations earmarked for the scheme. His spokesman said, “You would know that the prime minister’s time is always limited and to take the time to do so he has to leave out elements of the program that makes him work on important issues with a unique group in the world.” “

“We think the best use of his time in Rwanda for this short period is to devote himself to some of the issues that will be raised at the summit and to work with other world leaders on some of those issues. I’ve talked about, at least not Ukraine and global security.”

Downing Street said it was likely Mr Johnson would discuss the plans with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, but insisted there are “a host of other issues to discuss”. Mr. Kagame has been praised for his role in ending the 1994 genocide, in which ethnic Hutu extremists killed some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus during the 100 days of the civil war. But his regime has since been accused of political repression, alleged murders and the imprisonment of critics.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s Director of Refugee and Migrant Rights, said: “With its brutal and illegal refugee plan, the Prime Minister and Home Secretary can effectively support the continued repression of people in Rwanda under President Kagame’s regime. No country should pass its asylum responsibilities onto another, yet less so with current, largely asylum responsibilities for a country like Rwanda with a troubled human rights record.

“The UK should use its influence and the opportunity of Commonwealth leaders’ meetings to encourage meaningful human rights progress in Rwanda, not to make excuses and potentially add to Rwanda’s troubled human rights record.”

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said he is expected to “raise human rights issues as he has done in the past”. “We want Rwanda to uphold and champion Commonwealth values, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. And we want due process and fair and transparent application of the rule of law to all those involved,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, will join him at the summit and is expected to attend a program of events for his partners. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will also be there, as will Cop26 Climate Summit chairman Alok Sharma. The prime minister also wants to use the 54-nation meeting, mostly former British colonies, to tackle food and energy insecurity caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Commonwealth countries find themselves on the front lines on many of these issues, from climate change to rising food prices,” his spokesman said. Promoting green economic growth, girls’ education and working with the Commonwealth to increase business and job creation for UK businesses are also among number 10 priorities.

Charles is representing the Queen as head of the Commonwealth at the summit, which is usually held every two years but was postponed during the coronavirus pandemic. It was not yet clear what day he would hold talks with Mr Johnson, among other events expected to be an informal meeting.

Another item of the CHOGM program is the selection of the next Secretary General. Mr Johnson is opposing current, Labor peer Baroness Scotland, and instead supports Kamina Johnson Smith of Jamaica.

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