Rwanda’s Life-Threatening Detention Centers Raise Concerns as Migrants Face Repatriation
British Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently invited a group of journalists to Rwanda to discuss her £120 million plan to relocate all migrants who enter the UK illegally, whether they seek asylum or not. However, the legitimacy of the scheme is currently under review by the UK Court of Appeal.
A recent report released by the United States State Department, in its annual human rights report, highlighted that Rwanda operates a system that includes harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, arbitrary detention, serious restrictions on free expression, and no effective collective bargaining system.
The report makes no judgment on the UK government’s intentions, but its cumulative effect implies that many refugees will be repatriated to a place where human rights are no better than in the countries from which they fled.
The proposed relocation would involve placing British migrants in a new 528-home development in Gahanga, located on the outskirts of Kigali. However, local civil society organizations have expressed concern, stating that the government has kept 84,710 prisoners in institutions with a total capacity of 61,320 people, resulting in severe overcrowding and life-threatening conditions.
The US State Department report also alleges that police in Rwanda have engaged in unlawful activities, including murdering people while in detention or trying to fight arrest or flee police custody. Police are also accused of torturing individuals in unofficial detention centers and imprisoning political opposition leaders and sympathizers.
The Rwandan government has been known to question, threaten, and arrest journalists who criticize the government or air unfavorable opinions on sensitive topics. As a result, de facto limits on freedom of speech exist in Rwanda, with the government not allowing criticism of the president and government policies on security, human rights, and other sensitive issues.
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