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All UK taxpayers will from now on be complicit in legalised human trafficking, following the unveiling of the government plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda (UK Rwanda plan for asylum seekers decried as inhumane, expensive and deadly, 14 April). Rwanda has a dubious human rights record. The UK is handing over the safety and human rights of possible refugees, allegedly persecuted in their own countries, to Rwanda, a country that in 2010 was among the 10 lowest-ranked countries in the world for press freedom.
History seems to be in danger of repeating itself. In the first half of the 19th century, the Royal Navy was dispatched to west Africa to intercept the shipment of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic. Many of the naval initiatives were considered illegal at the time. Those “liberated” by naval action were then sent around the Atlantic world. They were given no choice as to where they would be “resettled”. Under the policy, perhaps 100,000 Africans were “rescued” from transatlantic slavery, but a further 3.5 million were still shipped to the Americas between 1807 and 1867, a million of them illegally. One suspects that the UK government’s politically motivated scheme will fare no better in inhibiting the activities of 21st-century people traffickers.
Prof David Richardson
Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull
As a historian, I was reminded of the suggestions by several 1930s British fascist organisations that Jews should be exiled to Madagascar. Tory leaders’ contempt towards parliament also recalls the interwar fascist view of parliamentary democracy as an effete anachronism that could be undermined and superseded. While the Conservative party is not a fascist party, it is undoubtedly halfway down the road to fascism.
Dr Martin Pugh
Having worked in Rwanda, I believe the Home Office plan will be ineffective and poor value for money. Many of the people crossing the Channel originate from Iran, Iraq and Syria. Culturally, they are unlikely to integrate into Rwandan society, which is of a predominantly Christian tradition and has different cultural values. In view of Israel’s abortive attempt at a similar plan for the resettlement of its African migrants and the closure of the Australia’s offshore processing in Papua New Guinea, it would be folly to proceed.
Dr Joseph Mullen
Former UN adviser to Rwanda
The minister for Brexit opportunities once again excels in ambiguity (Rwanda asylum plan is ‘almost Easter story of redemption’, says Rees-Mogg, 17 April). Yes, the plan to send refugees to Rwanda is reminiscent of some aspects of the Easter story. Possibly the part where an innocent man is arrested, detained, tortured and killed, to satisfy an angry nationalist mob. And the part where due legal process is abandoned to help an incompetent, amoral administrator out of his personal political mire. Yes, so much like Easter.
The government claims that sending asylum seekers to Rwanda is a challenge to the people traffickers’ business model. What next? Take on the loan sharks by moving their victims into workhouses?
Source: This post first appeared on The Guardian