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Standoff continues as MPs to vote on Rwanda bill

Parliament will resume voting on the government’s controversial Rwanda bill on Monday as MPs return to the Commons. It comes as reports suggest the UK held talks with other countries, including Armenia, about replicating the scheme.

The plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda has faced setbacks since it was first announced in April 2022. But legislation to declare Rwanda safe is likely to pass this week – with the government majority meaning amendments made by peers should be overturned.

As reported in the Times, internal government documents show Costa Rica, Ivory Coast and Armenia have been considered as options for similar schemes, if Rwanda proves successful. The BBC has seen some of the documents and understands the list is accurate.

Other African nations, including Morocco, Tunisia, Namibia and Gambia, “explicitly declined” to enter technical discussions, according to the newspaper. But Labour believes the scheme is flawed and intends to scrap it if it wins the general election, expected to be held later this year.

Sir Keir Starmer has said he would instead focus on targeting criminal gangs and negotiating new security arrangements with Europe.

Meanwhile, charities supporting asylum seekers are also planning to launch legal challenges “as quickly as possible” against deporting people to the east-central African country if the bill becomes law this week.

What is the UK’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda- – BBC News
Charities plan legal action against Rwanda removals
The government will be seeking to strip out changes made by the House of Lords – which sent the bill back to the Commons with additional provisions including the need to ensure “due regard” for domestic and international law.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has repeatedly said flights to Rwanda would take off by spring, but refused to name a specific date.

Ministers believe the legislation will pave the way for the first removals to the country within weeks.The Safety of Rwanda Bill declares the country safe and was introduced to Parliament after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government’s scheme was unlawful.

In its ruling, the court said genuine refugees being deported there would be at risk of being returned to their home countries, where they could face harm.

The Rwanda scheme was originally introduced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022 to act as a deterrent to people from arriving in the UK on small boats across the English Channel.

It has faced a number of legal challenges since, and so far no-one has been sent to the east African country under the scheme. The bill aims to protect the scheme from further legal setbacks

Source: BBC

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