26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Rwanda deportations ‘not illegal’

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The Permanent Secretary of the United Kingdom’s Home Office has told his staff they would not be breaking the law or be guilty of racism if they enforced Minister, Priti Patel’s plan to send people with rejected asylum claims to Rwanda.

Amid growing anger from the Department’s workforce, Matthew Rycroft fielded questions at an online staff meeting on Ms Patel’s direction, some questioning whether it was within international law.

Mr Rycroft (pictured) told Public Servants they had to implement Ministers’ decisions, and reminded them of the Public Service’s neutral role.

The online meeting was held after it emerged that Home Office staff had threatened to strike over Ms Patel plan, with some drawing comparisons to Nazi Germany’s Third Reich.

A source at the meeting said staff still did not know the criteria upon which they would be expected to decide if a recent migrant could be sent to Rwanda, a country which has been heavily criticised for its human rights record.

“It was clear from the briefing that the views of staff aren’t being taken into consideration at all,” the source said.

“It was a case of, ‘you’re Civil Servants so you have to get on with it’,” they said.

“There was little reassurance when it came to the ethical and legal concerns that were raised by multiple people in the meeting.

“The Department seems determined to go full-throttle, and myself and many other colleagues are deeply worried.”

It had earlier emerged that Mr Rycroft refused to sign off on the plan, claiming he could not be sure it would provide value for money to the taxpayer.

However, sources said he had been fully supportive of it at the online meeting.

Mr Rycroft had criticised leaks of the questions posed by staff, saying it was a breach of the Civil Service Code.

London, 24 April 2022

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