Paul Kagame Discusses Controversial UK Migrant Deal

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Rwandan president at Downing Street

In an interview with François Soudan, the Editor-in-Chief of the French publication Jeune Afrique, Rwandan President Paul Kagame candidly discussed Rwanda’s migrant deal with the United Kingdom on September 19, 2023. The crux of the issue lay in a previous ruling by British courts in June 2023, which deemed the UK’s project to deport migrants to Rwanda as “illegal.” The court pointed out that Rwanda was not considered a “safe country,” and as a result, no migrants had been sent to Rwanda since the signing of the agreement.

Kagame was unequivocal in his stance, placing the onus of responsibility squarely on the British authorities. According to him, the dilemma was entirely a British one, rooted in the legal and asylum procedures of the United Kingdom. Kagame stressed that Rwandan authorities were simply prepared to host the migrants under the negotiated terms with their UK counterparts. The legality of the agreement, he argued, was a matter that pertained mainly to the UK, not Rwanda. If the British judicial system concluded the deal was illegal, Kagame posited that it was not Rwanda’s concern. He made it clear that Rwanda had no complaints against the British courts, the British government, or any other related entity.

Kagame’s interview not only clarified Rwanda’s position but also emphasized that any legal or ethical issues connected with the agreement were for the UK to resolve. The interview took place at a time when the migrant issue was causing significant political and social discussions, both in Rwanda and the UK. Yet Kagame remained steadfast, reiterating that Rwanda would not back out of the deal unless issues were sorted out on the British end.