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    Foreign Ministry tried to prevent deportations from Rwanda, leaked documents show

    Rishi Sunak will seek approval for his Rwanda Security Bill by forcing the House of Lords and House of Commons to sit until they agree to the plans . Credit : Paul Grover/Telegraph

    The Foreign Office tried to scuttle a deportation scheme from Rwanda over concerns it could breach human rights laws, leaked government documents show.

    A government memo seen by The Telegraph shows the Foreign Office was seeking to remove Rwanda from the list of countries where “offshore” processing of asylum seekers deported from the UK takes place, warning it could also anger Commonwealth partners.< /p>

    Civil servants have warned that any scheme could lead to “potentially serious” problems under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and have questioned the legality of the plans.

    They also raised concerns that sending asylum seekers to Rwanda could anger Commonwealth partners.

    The revelation comes ahead of crucial parliamentary elections on Monday, when Rishi Sunak will try to force approval of his Rwanda security bill, forcing the House of Lords and the House of Commons to sit until they agree to the plans.

    The leaked documents will likely be greeted by critics of the legislation on both sides of the debate. The Lords are seeking to introduce extra checks to protect asylum seekers, ensuring Rwanda is safe and unlikely to treat them in a way that could violate their human rights.

    Sunak 'failed to heed warnings'

    Right-wing MPs Tolka said the memo showed the government had failed to heed warnings to address legal risks under the ECHR that could have prevented two years of flight delays.

    A senior Conservative Party source said: “These are stunning revelations. The government knew from the outset that ECHR rights would interfere with the Rwandan scheme, and yet it went ahead. They deceived the public and everything will be fine.

    “The Prime Minister was then Chancellor – he knew it all along, and when he became Prime Minister he was repeatedly warned that his measures did not go far enough. “.

    The document, drawn up ahead of the announcement of the Rwanda scheme in 2022, shows the government was considering nine countries to enter into partnership agreements to take in migrants deported from the UK with their asylum claims processed overseas.

    Officials Representatives of the Foreign Office, then headed by Dominic Raab, were asked to provide the department's opinion on the suitability of each country to receive migrants to process their asylum claims.

    The Foreign Office advocated for Rwanda to be “totally excluded” from consideration of the scheme. “We have been given clear instructions from the Foreign Secretary's Office to take no action in light of our Commonwealth actions in the run-up to the Chogma [Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting],” the document says.

    ” We would also like to highlight human rights issues, set out in the country report, which have the potential to create serious problems under Article 3 [of the European Convention on Human Rights].”

    Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that Rwanda's scheme was illegal on the grounds that the country was unsafe for asylum seekers. This was due to the risk that they could be returned to their home countries, where they could face persecution or torture in violation of their rights under Article 3 ECHR.

    Rwanda's security bill blocks systemic legal challenges but still gives individual migrants the right to appeal. Right-wing MPs tried unsuccessfully to further tighten call limits before Christmas.

    Other countries considered for “partnership” agreements to take in deported migrants included Angola, Georgia, Kenya, Morocco and Tunisia, but the ministry Foreign Affairs recommended against using all five countries due to their poor record in handling refugees, which could create “serious” legal problems.

    Foreign Ministry officials said there would be “political” problems with Albania and North Macedonia as their governments feared a public backlash if they were seen processing migrants from other countries. There were also concerns that migrants could flee countries due to weaker border security.

    The Foreign Office also “strongly” advised against Georgia and Moldova asking for a partnership agreement “given the possibility of Russian interference.”

    Mps are expected to reject Mr Sunak's two Lords amendments to Rwanda. The bill before being sent back to the Upper House, where peers will decide whether to start a fifth round of parliamentary ping-pong by reinstating the changes.

    Downing Street has said there will be no concessions, while Labor prepares to embolden its colleagues to continue to support the amendments if the government does not compromise.

    The source of the opposition comes down to two amendments. one demanding exemption from deportation for Afghans who worked with the British military, and the second demanding tougher checks on whether Rwanda remains safe for asylum seekers.

    Mr Sunak has consistently said he wants Rwanda there were deportation flights. will take off this spring, but the first 150 migrants earmarked for the first flights cannot be notified until the bill receives royal assent. There is then a legal appeal process required by law for migrants, which is expected to take between four and eight weeks.

    A government spokesman said: “The British people have made it clear they want us to stop the boats. Rwanda's plan is a bold and innovative solution to deter illegal migrants coming to the UK.

    “The longer this bill is delayed, the more vulnerable migrants will be lured onto unseaworthy boats and risking their lives.”

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