Britain accused of “double standards” in deporting asylum seekers to Africa

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Botswanan experts have accused Britain of “double standards” regarding the deportation of asylum seekers to Africa.

Late last month, the British parliament passed a controversial bill that paved the way for the country to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Thapelo Bulawa, a senior law lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB), told Xinhua in a telephone interview that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had pushed for the bill to be passed over the past two years despite strong opposition.

Bulawa said lawmakers and activists did everything within their power to scupper the legislation on human rights grounds, but the British government remained determined.

“Imagine a refugee from Palestine, Afghanistan, or some war-torn country finding his or her way into Britain, only to be deported to Rwanda under the deal that the two countries agreed to,” Bulawa said.

“This kind of hypocrisy is what is happening under the Rwanda Asylum Plan,” said Bulawa of the plan, which has already seen the first asylum seeker sent to Rwanda from Britain on April 30 this year.

Tendai Rueben Mbofana, a human rights activist and the director at Botswana Network for Social Justice, a local think-tank on human rights issues, said that those fleeing persecution should be provided with protection.

“There is a moral imperative to help people escape violence and upheavals. And Britain has shown a lack of moral obligation by rejecting asylum seekers before passing them to another country,” said Mbofana.

Mbofana said the actions taken by Britain clearly show that “it does not care about the humanity and dignity of those seeking assistance.”

Botswanan Minister of Foreign Affairs Lemogang Kwape said Botswana was approached by British authorities but turned down the proposal “because it is riddled with controversy.”

“We have got a reputation to protect as a country. It is not that we are refusing to host asylum seekers, but things have to be done correctly,” Kwape told Xinhua.

Britain was offering large sums of money to many African countries to accept rejected asylum seekers, but Botswana could not fall into the trap because “we did not want to regret in future for entering into a dodgy deal with Britain,” said Kwape.

Source: Xinhua

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