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Botswana Rejects UK Asylum Proposal Amid Controversy

BOTSWANA has firmly declined a proposal from the United Kingdom to accept asylum-seekers, mirroring concerns raised over a similar arrangement with Rwanda. The move comes amid criticism from civil society organisations and human rights advocates, denouncing the UK’s deportation plan as a violation of human rights and international conventions.

The rejection by Botswana follows the passage of a bill in the UK’s House of Lords on Monday, paving the way for the deportation of migrants to Rwanda. This controversial measure has drawn condemnation from various quarters, including the United Nations.


An umbrella of civil society organisations in Botswana urged the government to reject the UK’s proposal, highlighting uncertainties regarding the fate of the asylum-seekers. Botswana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lemogang Kwape, emphasised the government’s reluctance to commit to hosting migrants without clarity on the long-term implications.

Kutlwano Relontle, programme manager for the Botswana coalition, echoed these concerns, calling on Botswana and other nations to distance themselves from the contentious UK programme. ‘The controversial UK programme appears to prioritise certain asylum-seekers over others fleeing persecution,’ Relontle stated.

The group emphasised the importance of upholding international conventions on the treatment of asylum-seekers, urging the UK government to respect human rights principles.

Meanwhile, UK officials defended the deportation plan as a response to the influx of asylum-seekers arriving in small boats, particularly from Asia and Africa. However, critics like Jonathan Portes, a professor of economics and public policy, expressed reservations about the scheme, warning of the potential exclusion of deserving asylum-seekers.

Portes highlighted the widespread scepticism surrounding the policy, noting the heavy criticism it has faced from the United Nations and activists. ‘It will be highly unlikely for any other country to participate in this,’ Portes remarked, citing reputational and practical concerns.

The UK’s deportation policy, initially initiated two years ago but halted by a ruling from the Supreme Court, is expected to resume following the recent legislative developments. Despite the looming implementation, opposition and scrutiny persist, raising questions about the ethical and legal implications of the deportation of asylum-seekers.

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