Rwandan Opposition Platform Condemns UK’s Immigration Deportation Law to Rwanda

Etienne Masozera

On May 2, 2024, in Ottawa, Etienne Masozera, Coordinator of the Rwandan Opposition Platform, publicly denounced the recent UK legislation that permits the deportation of illegal immigrants to Rwanda. The statement highlights the opposition’s concerns that this law supports the Rwandan authoritarian regime’s widespread human rights abuses and shows blatant disregard for the lives of its victims.

The law, passed by the British Parliament on April 23, 2024, has been met with substantial criticism from various international bodies including the UN, government leaders, human rights organizations, and religious figures, urging the UK government to reconsider its stance. The Rwandan Opposition Platform, which includes political organizations such as Amahoro PC, FDU-Inkingi, PS-Imberakuri, and the RNC (Rwandan National Congress), argues that the law is not only a dangerous endorsement of the human rights violations committed by the Rwandan government but also devalues the lives of millions suffering under Kigali’s regime. Implementation of this law could severely tarnish the UK’s international credibility in fighting human rights abuses and upholding international law.

The British authorities are well aware of the significant human rights violations committed by the Rwandan government against its own people and in neighboring countries. Throughout the law’s drafting process, they were presented with various reports from human rights defense organizations, newspaper articles, public protests, and courtroom testimonies. Ignoring these alarms signals a perilous endorsement of the Rwandan government and other authoritarian regimes, echoing the words of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Furthermore, the Rwandan government is currently engaged in an aggressive war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Supporting Rwanda with substantial foreign exchange indirectly finances this conflict, which has already resulted in thousands of deaths and displaced millions. Additionally, the Rwandan government is notorious for persecuting its critics and supposed opponents abroad, including in the UK, where British security services have had to warn citizens of Rwandan origin about threats to their lives.

Justifying the deportation of immigrants to Rwanda on the grounds of underpopulation due to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis, as stated by UK Home Secretary James Cleverly, is seen as a gross misuse of the genocide narrative. This rationale lacks solid arguments, leveraging historical atrocities to manipulate public sentiment.

Rwanda, a small landlocked country of 26,338 square kilometers (of which 24,670 are land, with the remainder consisting of lakes and rivers), has a population density that more than doubles that of the UK. As of April 2024, Rwanda has approximately 14.35 million residents with a density of 571 people per square kilometer, compared to the UK’s 66.97 million inhabitants spread across 94,354 square kilometers, resulting in a density of 279 people per square kilometer.

The Rwandan Opposition Platform views the UK’s law on the deportation of immigrants to Rwanda as a significant regression and a dangerous precedent in the protection of human rights and adherence to international law. They call upon the British government to reconsider its decision and not implement the controversial law.