It was only the agreement with Rwanda that went public after the UK signed a £120 million economic deal that could see thousands of migrants sent to the African country.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The world-leading migration partnership with Rwanda means those making dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys to the UK may be relocated to Rwanda to have their claims for asylum considered and to rebuild their lives there, helping break the people smugglers’ business model and prevent loss of life.
“This is just the first stage of the process and we know it will take time as some will seek to frustrate the process and delay removals. I will not be deterred from acting to deliver on the changes the British people voted for to take back control of our money, laws and borders.”
According to the scheme, which Patel descried as a “world-first”, will see asylum seekers who are deemed to have arrived in the UK “illegally” sent to Rwanda, where their claims will be processed. If successful, they will be granted asylum or given refugee status in the country.
The scheme has been widely condemned by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Non-Governmental Organisations and academia, and nationally from civil servants, trade unions and political opposition.
Now Lord Oates says a similar agreement was signed with Zimbabwe last year.
He told the House of Lords yesterday: “I want to touch on the issue of non-treaty agreements, which other noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, the noble Baronesses, Lady Donaghy, Lady Hayter and Lady Liddell, have referenced. They spoke specifically about the memorandum of understanding with Rwanda, but there was also an agreement last year with the Government of Zimbabwe on the resumption of deportations of foreign national offenders. To my knowledge, that has never been published. There was a reason why those deportations were suspended, which was the gross abuses of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Government have never come forward and explained why the criteria changed.”
He did not elaborate.
Below is Lord Oates’s full contribution:
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