Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office
Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, what needs to be said about the risk of torture and inhumane treatment has already been set out by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister. I simply emphasise the credibility of the reports of ongoing torture of even mild political dissenters, which continues to this day in Rwanda. Nor do freedom of expression and association exist there, however narrowly the terms are defined. However, the genocide ideology law is broadly defined and now carries criminal sanctions. The criminal code has recently been expanded to include

“creating a hostile … opinion of Rwanda”

by criticising the Government. These irrefutable reports indicate that Rwanda does not comply with the international obligations under various UN conventions, including the convention against torture. This can only add to the evidence that, at present, Rwanda cannot be regarded as a safe country.

Lord Bishop of Manchester Portrait The Lord Bishop of Manchester
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, for sponsoring Amendments 9 and 12, to which I have added my name. They take up matters that I and the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, raised in Committee. This evening, Rwanda might be the safest country in Africa for all I know, but over the last few years we have seen a number of military coups and takeovers across African countries. To enshrine in legislation the notion that Rwanda will remain safe whatever seems to beggar belief. Who knows in what state that country might be in six to 12 months’ time? Who knows how safe it will be then? The courts need the ability to take new facts into consideration, to recognise that Rwanda may not be the same in a certain number of weeks, months or years as it was on this evening at the beginning of March 2024. We must have that flexibility. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, will press these amendments to a Division. I will support him in the Lobby if he does.

Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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My Lords, as a member of the JCHR delegation, I had the benefit of visiting the very hospital in Kigali that will provide mental health support to relocated individuals. It was an impressive experience. That hospital has very capable psychiatric and psychological care. This is perhaps unsurprising given the context in which Rwanda finds itself. This is a country that, 30 years ago, was caused mass trauma as a consequence of the genocide against the Tutsi, which cost 800,000 lives in Rwanda. You can imagine the impact that has on relatives and those who knew those 800,000 people. Mental health is a widely understood and widely acknowledged issue in Rwanda. The community schemes to work on mental health are abundant. This is a country that understands mental health. The points raised against Rwanda on the basis of mental health are, in my view, unfounded. I do not accept the contentions advanced by the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister and Lady D’Souza.