Trafficking And Torture Victims Will Be Deported To Rwanda Under Sunak's Plan To 'Stop The Boats'

Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson made the admission as he clashed with Mishal Husain.
STEFAN ROUSSEAU via Getty Images

Victims of torture and human trafficking will be deported to Rwanda under Rishi Sunak’s plan to tackle illegal immigration, a minister has confirmed.

Michael Tomlinson made the admission as he clashed with Mishal Husain on Radio Four’s Today programme this morning.

His comments came after parliament finally passed the prime minister’s flagship Safety of Rwanda Bill last night.

The PM said yesterday that the first deportation flights to east Africa will take place in 10-12 weeks and that it would deter people from trying to make the perilous crossing.

It came as five people including a seven-year-old girl died while trying to make the crossing on Tuesday morning.

Tomlinson, the illegal migration minister, was asked by Husain whether some asylum seekers will be exempted because of the circumstances behind their arrival in the UK.

She said: “If you’re a victim of torture, can you still be removed under this?”

The minister replied: “Rwanda is a safe country and yes, it will be possible to remove those to Rwanda.”

Husain said: “Understood. So any victim of torture, no point applying [for exemption] on that basis. Victim of trafficking?”

Tomlinson responded: “Rwanda is a safe country, Mishal.”

As Husain tried to interrupt, the minister said: “This is rather frustrating. You’ve asked me a question. You could ask me a series of questions: could you do this challenge, could you do that. You could ask me an infinite number of challenges.

“You’re not going to get that clarity because the Act hasn’t yet come into force.”

Husain replied: “You’re trying to stop the legal challenges, aren’t you? For example, that’s why a lawyer could say ’OK, if my client is a victim of torture there’s no point applying on that basis because that doesn’t rule them out.

“Whatever physical or mental state they are in, they’re still eligible to be on a place to Rwanda.”

Tomlinson admitted there were “likely to be legal challenges” but he added: “We will meet them and the planes will take off.”

Earlier, Tomlinson had been shown footage on BBC Breakfast of asylum seekers trying to set off from France for the UK this morning.

Presenter John Kay told him: “It has been the case that people crossing the Channel for a year or so have known that they could be sent to Rwanda and yet what we’re seeing right now on our screens this morning are people still prepared to take that risk. They are not deterred.”


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